Cat lovers might think that the ultimate experience in their lives may be to have a big non-domestic cat as a pet. The idea of having a big cat of one type or another may seem fascinating, alluring and possibly even beneficial to the animal but there are a number of very serious considerations to take into account. Here we look at the main issues.
Let’s start with the purely practical – keeping a big cat is extremely expensive. Just buying the cat is a sizeable chunk of money with a Bobcat costing in the region of $900, a serval or caracal around the $1500-2000 mark, a tiger cub £2500 and an ocelot as high as $15,000. This is just for the initial outlay for the animal itself and doesn’t cover any of the other expenses such as housing and of course the big one – food.
In addition to the cost of buying the animal, you will also need to have state and federal permits that can be expensive, awkward to obtain and will keep needing to be renewed, with a cost associated each time. If the permits aren’t correct, your animal can be seized. You will also often be required to have special liability insurance in place in case the cat causes damage or harm.
Many states have specific requirements about the amount of land and other facilities you need before you can consider getting a big cat. For most, this is at least 5 acres of land and this land must have an eight-foot perimeter fence around it. This wall cannot be part of a cage either so if you are keeping them in an enclosure, this needs to be inside and separate to the perimeter fence. You must also have a roof on the area to prevent them escaping.
Another issue is finding a vet able and willing to deal with this kind of animal and who will be on call is there is a problem. Most don’t want the risk of having themselves or their staff exposed to this kid of animal. You will need a piece of equipment called a squeeze cage that can handle the entirety of your cat’s weight and their full size to be able to have people check it if there is a problem and these can cost anywhere up to $2000 alone. Not only that but the logistics of getting an 800 pound animal anywhere will likely involve a fork lift truck as well as very substantial a transport vehicle.
Big cats need meat and a lot of it. There are no commercial big cat foods you will find in the supermarket so this means finding a butcher or other supplier who will be able to fulfil your needs. And these cats need a diet that cannot be varied without risking the cat’s physical and mental health. Dealing with all of that raw meat is also a health hazard so needs to be done in a careful and specific way to protect both the cat and the humans in the home.