Requirements for Owning a Big Cat as a Pet

by beaconpet
Legal Considerations

If you have ever dreamed of owning a big cat as a pet then there are some important things that Beaconpet has in store for you. “Requirements for Keeping Lions, Tigers, and Other Big Cats as Pets” is an informative article that covers the legalities and considerations of owning these magnificent creatures. From understanding the term “big cat” and its specific species to financial aspects and responsibilities, this article provides a comprehensive overview. It emphasizes the need for spacious, safe enclosures and plenty of enrichment opportunities to keep these animals happy and stimulated. Raising a big cat is not an easy task as they require a significant financial investment due to their carnivorous nature. Furthermore, finding a technician who is knowledgeable and understands the different cat diseases they are susceptible to can be a challenge. No matter how much exercise they need, a big cat’s enclosure must accommodate their natural behaviors. It’s worth noting that not all areas allow big cat ownership, and finding a reputable breeder can pose its own challenges. If the idea of ​​owning a big cat still appeals to you, there are other breeds of cats that may be more suitable as pets, such as the Siberian, Savannah and Ocicat.

Legal Considerations

Legal Considerations

The Captive Wildlife Safety Act

When considering owning a big cat as a pet, it is crucial to understand the legal aspects surrounding this decision. The Captive Wildlife Safety Act serves as a key piece of legislation that prohibits the trade of exotic cats for the pet trade. This act aims to protect both the animals and the general public from the potential dangers and risks associated with owning big cats. However, it is important to note that there are exceptions to this act for licensed facilities. Therefore, if you are interested in owning a big cat, it is essential to ensure that you are in compliance with the regulations and acquire the necessary permits or licenses.

Exceptions for Licensed Facilities

Licensed facilities, such as qualified zoos, sanctuaries, and educational institutions, may have the ability to keep and care for big cats legally. These facilities undergo rigorous inspections and adhere to strict guidelines to ensure the welfare and safety of both the animals and those interacting with them. It is important to recognize that the requirements and responsibilities associated with owning big cats are significantly different for licensed facilities compared to private individuals. If you are considering owning a big cat, it is advisable to explore the options available to you that comply with the law and promote the wellbeing of these magnificent animals.

Illegal Ownership in Certain Areas

While the legality of owning big cats as pets may vary from region to region, it is essential to ascertain whether it is legal in your specific area. Many jurisdictions have strict regulations surrounding the ownership of these animals due to the potential risks they may pose to public safety and the welfare of the animals themselves. It is crucial to research and understand the laws, permits, and licenses required to own a big cat in your jurisdiction. Engaging in illegal ownership not only puts you at risk of legal penalties but also jeopardizes the wellbeing of the animal and the integrity of conservation efforts. Be sure to consult with local authorities or legal professionals to fully comprehend the legal considerations associated with owning a big cat as a pet.

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Financial Responsibilities

Cost of Large Secure Enclosures

Owning a big cat comes with considerable financial responsibilities, starting with the construction of a large and secure enclosure. Big cats require ample space to roam, play, and exhibit their natural behaviors. Building an enclosure that meets their needs can be a significant investment. The enclosure must be sturdy and provide adequate protection to prevent the animals from escaping or endangering themselves or others. The materials required and the professional assistance needed to construct such an enclosure can add up to a substantial expense.

Expense of Enrichment Opportunities

In addition to providing a secure enclosure, it is essential to offer enrichment opportunities to keep big cats mentally and physically stimulated. Big cats in captivity can become bored and develop behavioral problems if they are not provided with activities and environmental enhancements to mimic their natural habitat. These enrichment opportunities can include the provision of toys, climbing structures, hiding spots, and opportunities for hunting or scavenging. Enrichment items often need to be replaced or replenished regularly, adding to the ongoing financial responsibilities of owning a big cat.

Significant Financial Burden for Feeding

Feeding a big cat is a considerable financial burden. As carnivorous animals, big cats have specific dietary requirements that consist primarily of raw meat. Their diet may include a variety of meats, such as beef, chicken, and venison, as well as specialized nutritional supplements. The quantity and quality of the meat required to meet their nutritional needs can be costly. Furthermore, as big cats are larger animals, the amount of food they consume is significant. The costs associated with feeding a big cat should not be underestimated and should be factored into your financial considerations before deciding to own one.

Enclosure Requirements

Enclosure Requirements

Large and Secure Enclosure

When it comes to housing big cats, their enclosure must be spacious and secure. These animals require adequate room to move around, explore, and engage in natural behaviors. The size of the enclosure should be commensurate with the size and needs of the specific species of big cat you are considering. It is crucial to adhere to the guidelines provided by experts in the field of big cat care and consult with professionals or organizations experienced in constructing appropriate enclosures. The enclosure should be designed to prevent escapes and ensure the safety of both the animals and those around them.

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Accommodating Natural Behaviors

Big cats have instinctual behaviors that they need to express even in a captive environment. This includes climbing, scratching, and hunting. Therefore, the enclosure should offer opportunities for these natural behaviors. Providing sturdy climbing structures, elevated platforms, and appropriate scratching surfaces can help satisfy these instincts. Additionally, the enclosure should allow for the simulation of hunting activities, such as hiding food or providing puzzle toys to encourage the cats to engage their natural hunting skills. Ensuring that the enclosure meets these needs will contribute to the overall physical and psychological wellbeing of the animal.

Proper Exercise Opportunities

Exercise is essential for the health and happiness of big cats. They require ample space to roam and engage in physical activities. Regular exercise aids in maintaining their muscle strength, cardiovascular health, and mental stimulation. Therefore, the enclosure should provide enough room for running and jumping. Including features like large toys, tunnels, and platforms can encourage the cats to engage in play and exercise. It is essential to provide opportunities for physical activity that align with their natural instincts and capabilities.

Healthcare Challenges

Finding a Veterinarian Experienced with Big Cats

Big cats require specialized veterinary care to ensure their health and wellbeing. However, finding a veterinarian who is experienced in treating these unique animals can be a challenge. The medical needs of big cats differ from those of domesticated cats, and it is paramount to find a professional who is knowledgeable about their specific health requirements. Ensuring the availability of a veterinarian with expertise in big cat medicine is essential before considering ownership. Regular check-ups, vaccinations, and prompt healthcare intervention when necessary are vital for maintaining the health of these magnificent animals.

Prone to Feline Diseases

Big cats, like domestic cats, are susceptible to various feline diseases. However, due to their size and unique physiology, the impact of these diseases can be more severe for big cats. Some diseases that can pose a threat to the health of big cats include feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, and various respiratory infections. It is essential to have a thorough understanding of these diseases, the preventative measures that need to be taken, and the potential challenges associated with their treatment. A veterinarian experienced in big cat medicine can guide you in ensuring the health of your big cat and help minimize the risk of infectious diseases.

Challenges in Providing Proper Care

Caring for big cats presents unique challenges compared to caring for domesticated cats. The responsibility requires a great deal of knowledge, time, and effort to provide adequate care for these magnificent animals. They have specific dietary, environmental, and social needs that must be met to ensure their wellbeing. The physical demands of managing their large enclosure, providing enrichment opportunities, and ensuring proper exercise can be physically and mentally taxing. It is crucial to educate yourself thoroughly about the responsibilities and challenges associated with owning a big cat before making a decision.

Suitability of Big Cats as Pets

Suitability of Big Cats as Pets

Musky Odor and Spraying Urine

Big cats have distinctive behaviors that may not be suitable for keeping them as pets. One of these behaviors is the musky odor they emit. This musky scent is natural and can be quite strong, making it challenging to keep big cats indoors. Additionally, big cats have a tendency to spray urine to mark their territory. This behavior can be difficult to manage and may cause undesirable smells and stains in a household environment. Considering the potential challenges associated with these behaviors is crucial when contemplating owning a big cat.

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Grooming and Bathing Needs

Unlike domesticated cats, big cats are generally able to groom themselves adequately and do not require regular bathing or brushing. They have well-developed tongues and teeth that they use for grooming, similar to their relatives in the wild. However, it is essential to ensure that their enclosure is kept clean and hygienic to prevent any potential health issues. While grooming and bathing needs may be less demanding for big cats compared to domesticated cats, maintaining a clean and suitable living environment is of utmost importance for their health and wellbeing.

Size Variations Among Different Species

It is important to note that there are significant size variations among the different species of big cats. For example, the snow leopard is the smallest of the big cats, while the Siberian or Amur tiger is the largest. When considering owning a big cat, it is crucial to understand the specific size of the species you are interested in and ensure that the enclosure and facilities can adequately accommodate their size. Providing a suitable living space that meets the needs of the specific species is essential for their overall comfort and welfare.

Alternative Feline Species

Siberian Cat

If owning a big cat is not a feasible option for you, there are alternative feline species that might be more suitable as pets. The Siberian cat is known for its striking appearance with a beautiful, thick coat and captivating eyes. These cats have a friendly and playful nature, making them great companions. They are known to be intelligent and adaptable, making them suitable for various living environments. However, it is important to remember that even with smaller domesticated cat species, responsible ownership and proper care are essential.

Savannah Cat

Another alternative feline species to consider is the Savannah cat. This breed is a cross between a domestic cat and a serval, a medium-sized wild African cat. Savannah cats are known for their striking appearance and playful temperament. They require ample space to exercise and climb, so providing a suitable environment is important. Additionally, it is crucial to research local regulations as some areas may have restrictions or specific requirements regarding ownership of Savannah cats. Understanding the specific needs and considerations associated with this unique breed is crucial for a successful and responsible ownership experience.



The Ocicat is another alternative feline species that can be considered for those interested in owning a feline companion. These cats resemble the ocelot, a small wild cat, with their distinctive spots and sleek appearance. Ocicats have a friendly and outgoing temperament, making them great companions. They are known to be active and playful, demanding regular interactive play sessions and mental stimulation. Providing a suitable environment and engaging with them in play and interaction are important for their overall wellbeing.

In summary, owning a big cat as a pet requires careful consideration and extensive preparation. It is crucial to be well-informed about the legal considerations, financial responsibilities, enclosure requirements, healthcare challenges, and suitability of big cats as pets. Big cats have unique needs and behaviors that must be met to ensure their wellbeing. It is essential to explore alternative feline species if owning a big cat is not a viable option for you. Responsible ownership and a genuine commitment to providing the best possible care and environment for these magnificent animals should always be the top priority.

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