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Hybrid-cat ban urged in California

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Five animal welfare organizations are asking the state of California to ban the breeding of so-called hybrid cats, saying these domestic-wild mixes are not suited to be pets.

Hybrids are larger than house cats and often exhibit aggressiveness, such as biting and spraying, putting them at higher risk of abandonment by owners “unprepared for their wild behavior," according to a petition led by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and signed by four big-cat sanctuaries. Most animal shelters are not equipped to accept hybrids.

The petition also says there is no approved rabies vaccine for hybrids, and that such cats are more likely than domestic cats to have serious medical conditions. In addition, hybrids, which have an “amplified hunting prowess,” threaten native wildlife if they escape or are released outdoors, the five groups contend.

A spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told Examiner.com that the agency received the 66-page petition July 2 and is reviewing it. Two breeder groups mentioned in the document – SavannahCat.com and the International Bengal Cat Society – did not respond to requests for comment.

Popularized by celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian and Kristen Stewart, hybrids result from mating between domestic and wild cats, as breeders seek to create exotic-looking pets that can sell for tens of thousands of dollars, the petition says. The most common hybrids include the Bengal, a cross between a domestic shorthaired cat and an Asian Leopard Cat, and the Savannah, a cross between a domestic cat and an African Serval.

While hybrids have become a thriving industry in California, with dozens of breeders selling animals, such cats are regulated in 21 states and Washington, D.C., and five of those states ban hybrids, according to the petition.

“California’s total lack of restrictions on hybrid cats stands in stark contrast to the progress other states have made in regulating these animals,” the petition argues.

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