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Top 12 Exotic Cat Breeds That Are Legal to Keep as Pets!


Top 12 Exotic Cat Breeds That Are Legal to Keep as Pets in the United States of America (With Pictures)


The American Shorthaired Cat is most likely the most common breed in the United States. If a cat has the appearance of a typical cat, then it is most likely of this breed.

Many cats found in shelters are mixed breeds, but they have a strong preference for American Shorthaired cats, one of the most popular breeds in this part of the world, and thus attract the most attention.

Although many exotic breeds are not legal to own in the United States, quite a few are. Some breeds are only considered exotic in the United States because they resemble nothing like the American Shorthair in appearance.

When it comes to these one-of-a-kind cats, the laws in each state in the United States are frequently different. A completely legal cat in one state may be illegal in another state. It may be necessary to obtain a license to own certain cat breeds in some areas.

Some jurisdictions have confusing and complicated laws, such as those prohibiting the export of cats from other jurisdictions. This is because exotic cats, such as wildcats, are not suitable as household pets.

They are typically not domesticated, and they would probably prefer to live in the wild rather than in a human household if given a choice.

It is preferable to adopt a regular cat from a shelter rather than paying the often exorbitant prices for an exotic cat on the market. However, if you have your heart set on one, make sure to check your local laws before making the purchase.

1). Serval

A Serval is a wildcat from Africa that is legal to own and hunt in some parts of the United States. They are approximately the size of a medium-sized dog, weighing between 20 and 40 pounds on average.

serval cat

They have cheetah-like patterns on their coat, making them appear tall and slender. They look a lot like a cheetah and are frequently mistaken for one when they are not. They are, on the other hand, significantly smaller.

These cats are reserved and self-sufficient. It is common for them to flee and hide from people they do not know or are not overly affectionate. Most of the time, they are not threatening or dangerous to others unless they feel cornered.

When they are stressed, they would prefer to flee rather than face a confrontation. In the wild, they prey on small animals. Typically, this includes rats and other rodents of a similar nature.

They will occasionally prey on a bird or a small antelope, but this is rare. They will consume approximately 2-3 pounds of meat per day while in captivity. They prefer to run rather than climb, so they are less difficult to care for than some other exotic cats.

Because they prefer to keep all four of their feet on the ground, they are less likely to get into trouble or attempt to flee. They do not meow in the same way that domestic cats do.

Instead, hissing is used to communicate with one another for the most part. This frequently indicates that their hissing is not necessarily harmful. It is simply the only means of communication available to them.

2). Caracals cat

This cat is native to Africa, the Middle East, India, and Central Asia, where it can be found in large numbers. They are available in different weights, ranging from 19 to 40 pounds each. Females, on the other hand, are significantly smaller than males.

caracals cat

This cat species preys on small mammals, rodents, and, on rare occasions, antelopes in their natural habitat. These cats behave in a manner similar to how you would expect a domestic cat to behave.

When they want to, they are playful and interact with their owners, but this is only when they are asked. They appear to have the independence of a domestic feline but to a much greater extent than that.

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They could ignore their owners for days before deciding that they want to cuddle with them again. The cats in this group are more active than the other cats. They can engage in destructive behavior, such as tearing up furniture if they are not given the proper exercise.

They require an enclosed space to run and play, which is why “catios” are frequently recommended. On the other hand, these outdoor areas must be significantly larger than those used by domestic cats.

Like many medium-sized wild cats, Caracal cats use hissing to communicate almost everything, including their location. Although it may appear threatening, these cats are rarely aggressive toward humans.

3). Ocelots

Ocelots are occasionally kept as domestic pets in the United States. On the other hand, they are illegal in many places and extremely rare in others.


Because there are no domestic breeders in the United States, unlike the other cats on this list, they tend to be much wilder than the other cats. They are generally more difficult pets to care for.

Because of their fierce independence, ocelots will not listen to anyone who approaches them. They are difficult to train because they are deafeningly unresponsive to any commands.

They can be a little playful with their companions, but they are generally reserved and prefer to be alone.

These cats are not particularly social, and they will flee if anyone comes to the door. They are not suggested for most pet owners because they do not adapt well to living in a home environment. There’s a good reason why they’re not commonly kept as pets.

4). Canadian Lynx 

As its name implies, this particular Lynx is indigenous to northern North America. They are extremely active climbers who prefer to be at the top of the mountain above everyone else. It is essential that the home is designed with this in mind.

canadian lynx

If you do not provide this cat with appropriate climbing opportunities, they will find other ways to get to a higher perch. This frequently results in them getting into things they shouldn’t be in and attempting to climb things too tall for them, such as televisions.

They have difficulty forming close relationships with others and tend to live solitary lives. Although they are adaptable and not particularly temperamental, they can be easily integrated into human society.

Just don’t expect them to interact with you as much as you would expect from domestic cats. They’re far more likely to do their own thing than participate in games.

They are one of the exotic cats on this list who do not enjoy being walked, perhaps because they prefer to climb instead of walking. They do have a lot of furs and shed a lot, which is understandable. Grooming is frequently necessary.

5). Bobcats

These short, muscular cats are native to North America and are known as bobcats. As one of the few exotic cats that enjoy being around people and will often form strong bonds with their owners, this species stands out.


The fact is that they are one of the few cats capable of killing an adult human being. Consequently, they can be quite dangerous to keep if they are not raised properly from birth.

In this way, they are similar to large dogs, except that dogs have been domesticated for a much longer period. Due to their strength and size, they are not recommended for use in households with children. They have the ability to injure or even kill a small child.

Although constant supervision is required, it is not always enough to keep up with these elegant felines. Bobcats can be friendly and affectionate if humans have raised them.

Because these cats require specialized care, finding a high-quality breeder is essential, as proper care is frequently required to ensure that these cats are safe to keep as pets.

6). Asian Leopard Cat 

Leopard of the Orient Cats are occasionally kept as pets, but they are not the best choice. Their habits are nocturnal, and they are extremely shy. The vast majority will flee from humans and take an extremely long time to warm up to their new families.

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asian leopard cat

Their guests or anyone outside the household is rarely welcomed into their homes. They are easily startled and will flee or become aggressive if they are frightened. On the other hand, they can become relatively docile pets if they are extensively socialized.

It is common for this cat to require a license to be owned. They can be difficult to obtain legally and necessitate the submission of specific documentation.

Some subspecies are threatened with extinction, making them even more difficult to obtain and maintain. The laws differ significantly from one state to the next.

7). Jungle Cat 

Asian, Egyptian, and Sri Lankan populations are native to the region. Because they are frequently used to produce domestic hybrids, they are one of the more common cats to find and adopt.

jungle cat 

When kept in captivity and well-cared for, they can live for 15 to 20 years in most circumstances. They are fearful, docile cats who prefer to spend most of their time hiding. They are apprehensive in the presence of loud noises and a large number of people.

Quiet households and single owners are the best candidates for owning a Jungle cat. They require a great deal of privacy, so make sure you provide them with various hiding places throughout the house.

If you cannot provide privacy in other ways, you can also keep them in a large, outside enclosure for the majority of the time.

8). Geoffroy’s cat 

The Geoffroy’s Cat is the world’s tiniest wildcat. They weigh about 4 to 8 pounds when fully grown, making them significantly smaller than most of the other cats on this list.

geoffroy's cat 

This makes them not particularly dangerous to humans, explaining why so many people keep them as pets. They are about the same size as domestic cats, though they don’t behave the same way as cats.

These cats are extremely rare, even though they are being bred in captivity. As a result of having a small gene pool in captivity, breeding them is a little more difficult than with other cats. Because of their smaller body stature, they are more timid and docile than other exotic felines.

The training process takes time, and they require extensive socialization before being accepted into a household. Even if they were raised in captivity, many dogs are prone to stress-related problems due to their difficulty adjusting to their new life as pets.

They are not particularly social, though they will form bonds with others if given the opportunity and time. We do not advise them for larger families because they require a relatively quiet environment to thrive.

These cats can become aggressive if they believe they are being pursued. Even though they are small, they have the potential to cause significant damage. Even if they aren’t much larger than a domestic cat, you must still treat them as if they were wild.

9). Siberian Lynx

The Siberian Lynx is a completely different species from the Canadian Lynx, although closely related. Because both species are Lynxes, they tend to act similarly when kept as domestic pets.

siberian lynx

Moreover, in the United States, they are more difficult to come by and more expensive. This is most likely because anyone interested in purchasing a cat of this type typically purchases a Canadian Lynx, which is less expensive and easier to come by.

Males are typically significantly larger than females and can weigh up to 80 pounds in some cases. An adult human can be killed in seconds by a cat of that size, so extreme caution should be exercised when keeping one of these animals as a pet.

Females are much smaller than males and can weigh as little as 40 pounds, which is still a substantial amount in terms of cat weight. Males can weigh as much as 100 pounds.

These Lynxes are playful and hyperactive, and they enjoy playing with each other. They need a very great deal of exercise and plenty of space to roam. Otherwise, they may become disinterested and end up in trouble.

Even if you want to keep them indoors most of the time, many owners recommend providing them with a safe outdoor space to run around and play. They enjoy walking on a leash and are well-known for having a dog-like demeanor and disposition.

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10). Savannah Cat

The Savannah cat has the best of both worlds in appearance and temperament. They’re a cross between a domestic cat and a Serval in appearance. Most of the time, they are sold to the next generation.

savannah cat

Because F1 Savannah cats have the highest concentration of Serval blood, they are larger and behave more like wild cats. When you move down the line, the cats become smaller and tamer in their appearance.

This allows you to select the exact combination of wild and domestic animals you require for your lifestyle. Savannah-colored cats are typically more expensive than cats with domestic patterns, bred for domestication.

If you are willing to give up the wild-looking pattern, you could save a significant amount of money on these cats. Although many breeders in the United States, there is a high demand for their products. You may have to wait for a long period before one of these cats becomes available.

11). Chausie

The Chausie is a hybrid cat that is a cross between a Jungle cat and a domestic cat in appearance and personality. They were first bred and recognized in 1995, which means they have been around longer than other cats.


The majority of Chausie cats that are sold are from the fourth generation, and as a result, they are relatively docile. These cats are also fully fertile, which is not the case for cats further up the family tree in the pecking order.

These cats are, on the whole, intelligent and outgoing creatures. However, the domestic cat that was used in the breeding process has an impact on this outcome. When they are kittens, Chausies can be hyperactive and appear all over the place.

Adult cats have the ability to be a little more subdued and quieter, though they are still more playful than the average cat. The Chausie, in contrast to many of the other cats on this list, does not like to be left alone.

It is necessary for their happiness that they have regular human contact. They will get along fine if they are raised in the same household as other cats and even dogs.

You should make certain that you can commit to caring for them for the rest of their lives before adopting one of them as an adult.

12). BengalCat

A domestic cat and an Asian Leopard cat are bred together to produce this unique hybrid. Because they are spotted and resemble an Asian Leopard cat, the Egyptian Mau is the most common domestic cat breed.


They have a wild appearance and a gleaming coat, making them stand out. Many people choose these cats because of their appearance, but it is critical to ensure that you have the space and the time to care for them before making your decision properly.

They are extremely active cats, which means that they require a lot of play and exercise regularly. It is possible that they will become irritable and attempt to ruin their enjoyment if their needs are not met.

Typically, this entails engaging in destructive behavior and getting into things that they shouldn’t be involved in. Their high demands for mental and physical stimulation require more time and effort than the average cat.

These cats are strictly regulated in a few states, and they are outright prohibited in some municipalities. On the other hand, cats of the F5 generation and higher are considered completely legal and can be kept in almost any environment.

To sum up

Exotic cats frequently necessitate more effort and preparation than your average domestic cat. Even hybrids demand a significant amount of time from their owners, though this does not necessarily imply that they are more affectionate or loving.

Many are not as adaptable to human environments as possible, which means they are not an excellent fit for everyone.

This means that before making a purchase, you must be completely aware of what you’re getting yourself into before proceeding. Exotic cats are frequently only suitable for certain types of people.

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