As the song says “everybody wants to be a cat”. It was, however, with the idea that every small cat wants to be a big cat that some of the recent hybrid breeds have been created.
Genetta: Out of Africa
The African genet is an indigenous species of small, furry carnivore that’s found from the Cape of Good Hope to the Sahara.
The genetta, on the other hand, is a breed of cat registered with the Rare and Exotic Feline Registry (“REFR”) that has been created specifically to resemble the long-bodied, spotted and ring-tailed genet.
Genettas are basically a combination of Munchkins and Bengals, but some also have a dash of Savannah and Oriental Shorthair.
Pantherette: Black is Back
The pantherette is such a new breed that it isn’t even formally registered with the REFR yet, and is currently recognized only as a Breed in Development.
Here, although they are genetically unrelated to the panther family, the cats are bred specifically to resemble black panthers.
The breed is a mix between melanistic black Bengals and several outcrosses, one of which is the Smoke Mojave breed.
Unfortunately for those looking to own a mini-panther, no cats belonging to this exciting new breed are yet available for sale.
Jaguarundi Curl: Down Argentine Way
Native to South America, the jaguarundi is one of the smaller species of big cat and can be recognized by its small rounded ears, low-to-the-ground long bodies and short legs.
Munchkins and Highland Lynxes have been cross-bred to create the Jaguarundi Curl, and the breed was created to deliberately resemble the Jaguarundi.
Most kittens are born with the characteristic Highland Lynx ear-curl, and those that aren’t are called Jaguarettes.
Bengals: A Bengal By Any Other Name
Crossbreeding the domestic cat with the Asian Leopard Cat, one of the four subspecies of the Leopard Cats of eastern and southern Asia, has produced the Bengal.
Bengals have extremely distinctive tri-color marbled or spotted coats, and breeding programs have been tailored to ensure the Bengal’s close resemblance to a number of wild cat species.
Not only do they look like both leopards and clouded leopards, Bengals are also similar in size and coloration to South American nocturnal margays and ocelots, also known as dwarf leopards.
Savannah: Half And Half
Not only do Savannahs look like wild African servals, first generation Savannahs are half serval!
The first of these huge and engagingly playful felines were Siamese/serval mixes, and the breed has inherited the Siamese’s colorful character as well as the serval’s keen hunting instinct.
Savannahs are also among the largest of the domestic cat species, if not the largest in the world.
As the popularity of cross-breeding programs increases, there will, no doubt, be further small cats bred to resemble big cats.
Whether or not any breeder will be successful in crossbreeding any more of the big cat species to the domestic cat, however, remains to be seen.