You’ve probably heard stories of different experiments of cats being crossbred with other animals. But how accurate are these stories? Do animals like cabbits and cacoons exist, or are they just myths, or can cats crossbreed with other animals?
Cats can’t crossbreed with other animals because of the difference in genetics, species, taxonomic genera, and gestation periods. However, cats can crossbreed with other cats if they’re in the same genus or family. Some examples of cat hybrids are Bengal cats, savannah cats, Chausies, and Toygers.
In this article, I’ll go into specific details on why interbreeding a cat with another animal is impossible. You’ll also learn why cats can crossbreed with each other and why animals like ligers and tigons exist.
Why Cats Can’t Cross Breed With Other Animals
The main reason why cats can’t crossbreed with other animals is the difference in their genetic configurations. Crossbreeding can only happen if the other animal belongs to the same genus, species, family, or subfamily as the cat.
As a result, only a cat can crossbreed with a cat.
Even when there is no behavioral or physical barrier preventing a cat from mating with another animal, there is always the question of whether their gametes will be compatible.
So, if a cat is artificially inseminated with the sperm of an X animal, there is no scientific evidence to prove that it can fertilize the cat’s ovum. The genetic differences in their chromosomes also mean that the zygotes can’t develop into a cat-X hybrid.
Also, cats have different gestation periods from other animals, and their external and internal features will most likely be different. Depending on the size of the animal in question, the cat’s womb may not accommodate the fetus.
Although it may be possible with animals other than the cat, these differences reduce the chances of success. For example, creating a hybrid from animals in different genera may be more feasible than those from different families.
At present, no breeder has tried to create a hybrid of a cat and another animal, and it seems no one is willing to try. At least, no experiment has been reported. However, from a practical and scientific standpoint, we can conclude that cats can’t crossbreed with other animals.
Crossbreeding of Bigger Cats
Bigger cats can, to some extent, interbreed with each other. For example, the liger is a mix of a male lion and a female tiger. And then there’s the tigon, which results from the interbreeding of a female lion and male tiger.
However, these mixed breeds are only developed from animals in captivity, such as the zoo. This happens either through artificial insemination or animals getting accustomed to each other and mating with species they would avoid in the wild. Natural cat hybrids are very rare in the wild.
These animals are the biggest enemies of each other, and they don’t overlap. A tiger isn’t interested in a lion and doesn’t cross the species line.
In rare cases where the mating of animals of different species is successful, the offspring are often infertile when fully matured and won’t produce their own live babies. And for any crossbreeding to be considered successful, the hybrid must be fertile and have the ability to reproduce.
That said, this still confirms my earlier statement that cats can only crossbreed with cats.
Although they are of different species, both the lion and tiger belong to the same genus (Panthera) and family (Felidae), making crossbreeding possible.
Some Common Cat Hybrids
Breeders have created several cat hybrids for different reasons, including unique coat colors, sizes, and body marking. Some of them are made by crossing a domestic cat with an undomesticated or wild cat. The results are usually cats with strange colors, wild patterns and spots, and other extreme physical traits.
The most common hybrids created from domestic and wild cats are the Bengal cats, savannah cats, and Chausies. Let’s take a closer look at them.
These cats are the result of a mix between the domestic cat and the Asian leopard. They have characteristic wild-looking marbling and spots on their bodies. And while they have been domesticated, they still possess the strength and agility of a wild cat.
Despite their wild and intimidating appearance, Bengal cats are friendly and affectionate with their owners. They can weigh about 8 to 15 lbs (3.62 to 6.80 kg) or more. Also, if you’re a first-time cat owner, the Bengal may not be for you as it is incredibly active and athletic.
To get an idea of how active and athletic Bengal cats are, take a look at this YouTube video of Bengal kittens playing:
Bengal kittens from a reputable breeder can cost anywhere from $2,000.
The savannah cat is a product of a crossing between the domestic cat and the Serval. Like Bengals cats, savannah cats have exotic markings and spots on their bodies. However, they are larger and taller than most other cats.
Since Servals are wild cats, the savannah cat retains its parent’s hunting instincts and athleticism. But they are easy to groom, intelligent, and incredibly affectionate with their owners.
They can cost anywhere between $2,000 to $12,000 depending on the cat’s age, gender, or coat color.
This graceful and large cat is the product of a cross between domestic cats and jungle cats. It gained its recognition from the International Cat Association in 1995 and has gained traction over the past decades.
These cats have long, lean bodies, high cheekbones, long, sloping foreheads, deep chests, and long legs. You can compare their size to that of mountain lions. Despite their size, these cats are loyal and affectionate with their owners.
They get along well with children and other pets in the house.
Also, like other domestic breeds with a wild parent, Chausies are athletic, active, and energetic. It needs a lot of company and mental stimulation, so this cat may not be for you if you’re the busy type.
If you’re considering getting one as a pet, be prepared to spend at least $1,500 for a Chausie kitten. Prices vary and can be up to $10,000 depending on the cat’s age, gender, lineage, and upbringing.
The Toyger is the closest thing to a tiger in terms of appearance, but don’t worry, it won’t eat you up. It is the product of the crossing of shorthaired tabbies with Bengal cats and is only bred because of its unique markings.
Although it has the appearance of a small tiger, the Toyger is friendly, playful, and easygoing. It’s not as energetic as the previously mentioned breeds, but it also requires mental stimulation and constant activity to prevent it from getting bored. It’s also highly intelligent and gets along well with kids and other pets.
However, because of its close resemblance to a wild animal, it’s illegal to own in some places in the United States.
Even if it’s legal to own one in your state, these cats are rare, and buying a kitten from a reputable breeder will cost you between $1,500 and $5,000.
Cats can’t crossbreed with other animals. The difference in genetics, taxonomic genera, and gestation periods make it impossible to interbreed them.
Cats, however, can crossbreed with other cats. These hybrid cats are either created by crossing domestic cats with wild cats or by crossing two different domestic breeds.
These hybrids typically have unique characteristics like large eyes, striped furs, dark markings, or large and bulky bodies. Some of them include savannah cats, Bengal cats, Toygers, and Chausies.
If you’ve set your eyes on one of them as a pet, be ready to dig deep into your pocket.
- National Geographic: Cat Experts: Ligers and Other Designer Hybrids Pointless and Unethical
- Pictures of Cats: Can a domestic cat mate with a lion or a tiger?
- The Spruce Pets: 7 Hybrid Cats Breeds
- Pet Coach: What Is a Hybrid Cat Breed?
- Wikipedia: Toyger
- ASPCA Pet Health Insurance: Mixed Breed Cat Facts
- Tica.org: Chausie Breed
- Pet Finder: Bengal
- Purina: Savannah Cat Breed Profile
- Science News For Students: The mixed-up world of hybrid animals
- YouTube: Bengal Kittens Can’t Stop Screaming, Chirping, and Meowing
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.