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What is a Hybrid Cat Breed?

Updated on December 16, 2014

When it comes to selecting a breed of cat to bring into your home, one of the more unusual groups of species to consider are the hybrid breeds. A hybrid cat breed is where a domestic cat breed has been crossed with a wild cat and the resulting cat has then been bred back with a domestic cat. These cats can be wilder than longer domesticated breeds and there are some rules about owning them.

The ideal of taking in a wild animal to your home may appeal to some people but isn’t practical, safe or even legal in some cases. However if you like the idea of having a cat whose heritage includes a wild cat much more recently than most breeds, a hybrid breed is worth considering. Here is an overview of some of the most common.

Marbled Bengal


The F System

When it comes to hybrid breeds, you will hear mention of something called the F system. This is a way or indicating how wild a cat is by how close in generations it is to a wild ancestor. For example, an F1 has one parent that is a wild cat and is considered too wild to be a house cat. An F2 is the offspring of this cat with another domestic cat. F3 is another generation again mixed with domestic cats and is the first generation that can safely be considered as a pet.

F1 males are often infertile but females can breed with both domestic cats and their wild relative, as can F2. Sometimes F2 grade cats are then mated with F5 or F6 cats from another bloodline to strengthen the breed but keep the domestic side strong.


The Bengal is believed to be the oldest hybrid breed and is a cross between the domestic cat and the Asian Leopard Cat. Stories of these crosses go back hundreds of years but the earliest confirmed hybrid kittens were in 1934. The modern breed stems from the work of geneticist Jean Sugden-Mills who worked in the 1960s crossing domestic cats with the ALC. Twenty years later, the breed was accepted by one of the largest cat registries, The International Cat Association (TICA).

These are large cats with distinctive markings and are only considered suitable as pets from F4 onwards. They feature the large spots and rosettes of the wild breed along with a physical size and shape that is also similar. They are usually either brown spotted or snow spotted in colours though other colours such as seal lynx point, mink, silver and sepia are now being recognised.



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The savannah comes from the crossing of a Siamese with an African Serval. The first known savannah was bred in 1986 by a breeder called Judee Frank. This inspired other breeders to work on developing the breed and it has continued to be popular, though it can be illegal to own in some US states.

Savannahs are the largest domestic cat and are said to be intelligent and curious cats that have many personality traits more associated with dogs than cats. They are tall and slim but don’t weigh a great deal for their size. Their coats are spotted, the only accepted show standard pattern though other colours have occurred such as marble, blue, cinnamon, chocolate, lilac and other dilute shades from the domestic side of their heritage.




The Toyger is the result of work by Los Angeles breeder Judy Sugden who has worked since the 1980s to create a domestic breed that looks like a tiger to help inspire people to care about wild tiger conservation. The Toyger is the result of a cross between domestic shorthair breeds and the Bengals, selected for their markings. The breed is still classified as in development but is available around the world and is classified by TICA as a championship breed.

Hybrids: An Overview

Country of Origin

Bengal Enjoying a Bath


The Chausie is a blend of domestic cat and the Jungle cat, the largest member of the genus Felis that is found in Asia. The first instances of this breed come from Egypt going back thousands of years and many ancient Egyptians kept them as pets. The modern breed was first started in the 1960s but a concentrated effort in the 1990s led to the firm establishment of the breed. It became the newest championship breed of TICA in May 2013.

These cats are suitable as pets from F4 onwards and are good-sized cats only slightly smaller than a Maine Coon. They are runners and jumpers with long bodies and legs but are relatively light for their size. The breed standard allows for three colours; solid black, black grizzled tabby and black ticked tabby. They are described as very busy cats and retain a curiosity and playfulness into adulthood. They don’t like to be alone and need company of either humans or other cats to be contented, though can live happily with dogs if both are raised from a young age together.

Black Ticked Chausie



The Serengeti is a breed that looks like the Serval but doesn’t have any of its genetics. Instead, it is the result of a crossing of a Bengal and an Oriental Shorthair breed so it contains the bloodlines of the Asian Leopard Cat. The breed comes from the work of Karen Sausman, of the Kingsmark Cattery in California. These cats are described as active, agile and very vocal, with long ears and long legs.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      i m very very very interested in big cats

    • Angela Tempest profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Tempest 

      4 years ago from Lanchester, Durham, United Kingdom

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed the article!

    • Ann1Az2 profile image


      4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      How interesting! As a cat owner, I found this all to be fascinating. The Savannah looks a lot like a bobcat. These are beautiful cats. Thanks for sharing and raising awareness of this particular form of cat breeding.


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