When it comes to exotic cat species, the word exotic means that the particular cat is either a hybrid of a domestic species or part feral (wild). However, cats belonging to some breeds are classified as true exotic animals. These felines differ from other domestic cats in the way they behave and in their genetic structure. Some common characteristics of true exotic felines include:
The Bobcat: The Bobcat is a true hybrid. It is a result of two different cat breeds – the Bobcat strain of cat originated in Britain and is today recognized as a British breed, while the British Bobcat was introduced in the USA during the Middle East wars and became a US breed. As such, the Bobcat is not truly an exotic breed; instead, it is an example of a cat that might have its origins in a domestic cat, but has been altered by man.
Persian Cat: Persian cats are native to Asia, but in recent history have branched out across the Middle East and parts of North Africa. Pardofelis Badia, also known as Persian Nightsher, was domesticated in Iran around 500 B.C., and is the only domestic cat documented to have been domesticated in this way. It is the only truly modern-day Persian breed; in fact, there are only about three known ancestors still alive.
Wildcat: The wildcat is one of the most ancient domesticates in the world. It lived for centuries in regions of Southeast Asia. It is believed that these cats appeared on the scene around five thousand years ago. Today, they are seen in the central and southern parts of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. They are also believed to be prevalent in Burma. There are currently thought to be less than ten remaining wildcats left in the wild.
Tiger: Perhaps the most famous cat in the history of mankind is the tiger. Though it is often incorrectly referred to as “tiger” due to its striped coat, this is incorrect. Lions, leopards and jaguars are larger felines with much broader stripes. A true tiger, the Asian Leopard Cat, weighs in the range of twenty to thirty pounds and is anywhere from sixteen to twenty-four inches in length. Their coarse hair makes them good candidates for hunters, and in fact, many tribes throughout history have used tigers in various hunting tasks. While no true tiger lives in the United States, there are several hybrid species that are considered to be in the same category as a tiger.
Crocodile: This is probably the most famous cat known to man. Captured legally and transported illegally throughout the world, crocs have earned their fearsome reputation. While most people think that crocs come primarily in a yellowish color, this is far from the truth. Commonly known as the American crocodile, they are actually white or cream in color, but may also have black stripes.