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An Extremely Rare Hybrid Mix of Wild and Domestic Cat

Safari

The Safari is an extremely rare and relatively new hybrid cat breed produced by crossing a wild Geoffroy’s cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) with a domestic cat. The first Safaris were produced in the early 1970s for two purposes. While some were designated as pets, some were created for facilitating research within a Washington State University leukemia program. The Geoffroy's cat is a wild cat in the southern and central regions of South America. It is about the size of an ordinary domestic cat. While the species is relatively common in many areas, it has recently been cited as "Near Threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Geoffrey’s cat is primarily a solitary nocturnal hunter, preying on its choice of rabbits, rodents, insects, frogs, fish and small reptiles. Other than during mating season which occurs during winter months, this cat prefers total isolation, acting as a lone wolf, so to speak. Its average life span is about 14 years.

The Safari cat is unusual in that it combines the exotic look of the wild Geoffrey’s cat with a level of affection rarely found even in completely domesticated cats. When successfully bred, the Safari cat possesses traits that manifest a high level of activity and friskiness. Unusual for a cat of any genetic background, the Safari cat demonstrates more affectionate inclinations than all other first-generation hybrids, not to mention every other cat breed alive.

With dramatic dark markings on a lighter background, whose tones range from colors within the beige/cream family to those within a more muted grey representation, this cat’s coat resembles the impressive appearance of the South American parent cat who itself is reminiscent of an ocelot or margay.

A unique characteristic of the Geoffroy's cat is its tendency to stand up on its hind legs to monitor impending danger, using its tail as a brace. This behavior is also commonly observed in weasels, meerkats and prairie dogs, but infrequently in other felines.

The reason for the rarity of the Safari cat lies in developmental difficulties with reproduction. The normal domestic cat has 38 chromosomes but the Geoffroy’s cat has only 36. When the two breeds are combined, 37 chromosomes, an odd number, is the result. This genetic formula is responsible for the production of a significantly larger cat. Although the Geoffroy’s cat and the average domestic cat are very similar in size, weighing about 5 - 10 pounds, offspring from breeding attempts between the two can produce a hybrid weighing up to 25 pounds! With barely 100 registered in The International Cat Association, it is clear that impediments must be addressed.

Because of the intimidating breeding circumstances and risks of reproductive complications, healthy Safari kittens are extremely expensive when available. Also, it is important to be aware that some regions place restrictions on the adoption of hybrids originating from wild animals.

References
http://hybridcatbreeds.com/safari-cats/
www.wikipedia.org