Cheetahs and other large cats as pets? - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2011, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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Cheetahs and other large cats as pets?

I'll start off by saying that I am currently in no position to own an exotic animal or even a dog (I've been to ranches where dozens of dogs have hundreds of acres of land to run around, and after seeing that I could never leave a dog at home while I go to work). My research, love of animals, and common sense tells me that there are only several circumstances in which ownership of these animals would be moral. Plus, I live in California, here you can't even own a ferret lol.

However, I am planning on moving to either West Virginia (long-time friends live their) or Australia (another story of its own) within the next several years. 3 of my biggest goals in life are 1) become certified in falconry 2) live on a large, farm-like environment: working the land and owning lots of farm animals I've always wanted 3) taming a big cat

I have always been fascinated by cats in general, my sister and I have had awesome cats and volunteer at the local PetSmart cat shelter several times a month. Although I can get plenty of information on my first 2 goals, I can find hardly anything on taming/owning a big cat. It seems that whenever anyone asks about owning them, where to buy them, the legality of owning them (etc etc): the only responses are "you should never keep wild animals as pets", or "it's not legal".

So hopefully someone here can help answer my questions, which are:
1) where could I find legitimate information on owning a big cat (primarely a Cheetah)
2) the initial cost of the Cheetah itself, along with medical expenses and any other significant expenses (such as food)

Although I respect everyone's opinion, please don't inform me of why you believe it is immoral to keep wild animals as pets. I respectfully disagree: many "wild" animals live much longer, healthier and prosperous lives in captivity. With proper care and circumstances, I have personally seem over 10 "wild animals" become incredibly loyal and happy house-pets (a neighbor of mine took an injured possum she found to a vet; after a successful operation, she let the possum out in her backyard, free to go. Not only did it never leave, it became friendly with their dog, lived in the house, used the doggie-door to go in and out, and even became potty trained within days!).

Also, wild animals usually have 3 instints: eat, sleep, reproduce. With the occasional exception of an apex predator, they live a life of constant agitation, fear, paranoia, etc. They are always worrying about their next meal, protecting their offspring, etc. On the contrary, tamed animals often enjoy relaxation, great diets, human love/companionship, and are "happy".

Im just getting that out of the way because I don't want this to turn into a moral discussion, I'm just looking for some information.

Thanks, Darron

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2011, 12:54 PM
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First, you need to check with state fish & wildlife, your county and your municipality to see if you legally can possess a cheetah in your area, and what licensing requirements will be. Then you need to contact the USDA to see what minimum requirements for room and caging are. You will also need a local vet that deals in large cats.

If you get green lights, expect to spend an initial $10,000-$20,000 on housing, and at least $1000 monthly on food and care (veterinary bills excluded).

All that aside, you will never be permitted to import a large cat into Australia, so anticipate that there will be a good chance that your cat will end up either euthanised or in a shelter when and if you move.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2011, 01:32 PM
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Would you be letting it chase wild game for its food?? To encourage its natural tendencies? Now I will state that I am against owning big cats as pets for a couple of reasons of which I feel I should not get into other than to justify my response here. A big cat is usually looked upon as a wild animal, whether or not it's been bred in captivity so you will always have people hating on you and trying to get you into trouble so they can 'rescue' it. People will always be watching to see how you treat it and what it eats etc. . . Bc many people are obsessed with spying and peering into other's lives.
How long does it live for? If you are taking on a cheetah as a pet you'd better be ****ed prepared for it's lifelong needs. I don't know how long they live but you must think long term (like any pet) and consider how bad you want to move to Australia. Assuming that Big Cat Rescues are able to take on your pet is ignorant and should not be an option. Perhaps you could, instead, move to Florida ans volunteer with Big Cat Rescue (organization) and see what it's like "owning" one? Maybe there's even other big cat rescues around.

I know cats can be tamed, think Christian the lion from YouTube. <3 Makes me cry everytime. But at the same time, consider why you really want one. Is it for the love of the animal? for your own needs? Because it's cool?

**I don't think less of you for wanting a big cat btw, the questions posed above are merely hypothetical and asked about a broader range of people. I guess you haven't stated WHY exactly you want one for a pet and not want to help already neglected ones in rescues and santuaries.
And how would you pay for it? For it's food, shelter, toys etc. . .I know wild animals can live with people bc they have been forced to since our powerful existance. It's only a matter of doing everything ethically and following laws and rules while also maintaining the best possible life for it.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2011, 01:32 PM
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I believe cheetahs are endangered.

Limiting wild animals to having 3 thoughts, sleep, food, and reproduce i don't think is a fair statement. Plus changing the environment does not change instincts

If you have ever been around a wild rabbit made pet, paranoia does not go away inside the home, nor do they seek human companionship. Owning a wild rabbit sounds easier than a wild cat, and it is not done successfully where the rabbit lives a longer life in captivity compared to the wild, and often the rabbit is stressed its entire life.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2011, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Toirtis and Purple-Hops!
...and thank you Kendalle for posting exactly what i said i didnt want to hear - sorry for being sarcastic =-)

In response to your posts, I would not plan on moving while owning a large cat; i would only consider it if the circumstances were right, including legality, financially, and 24/7 care for the cat.

I would love to participate in a big cat rescue, I've been looking into volunteer rescue teams but I didnt know they had them specifically for big cats.

Answering Purple-Hops: i've loved cats all my life, out of the 3 i've had, two were rescued and one was adopted. And so my answer to why I would want one is probably a combination of all 3. Like all my animals, I'd go out of my way and do whatever necessary to make them happy (I like to apply human emotions to my animals =). I tend to treat my animals as, well, humans. It would be an incredible experience for myself to care for one of my favorite animals.

And I dont think I can answer "would you do it because it's cool?", because although that's obviously not the reason I would, it would be pretty hard to deny to someone that owning a cheetah is "cool" lol.

Hope I made sense here, thanks =)

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2011, 03:37 PM
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If nothing else I think you should have the facilities, the knowledge and the resources. There is one thing to want to avoid pedantry, but overall it is impossible to not have at least some sort of ethical debate..
For my part, if you know what you are doing, and this is done as a rescue then perhaps some good will come of it?


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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-12-2011, 10:09 AM
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Falconry and big cats are very specialized areas of exotic ownership. They are often extremely well regulated on the local, state federal level.

Realistically, your chances of privately owning a cheetah are slim to none. As an endangered species listed under the Endangered Species act, private persons are prohibited from possessing them except under certain circumstances. Owning one as a pet is NOT one of those circumstances.

If you really want to work with them, get a job in a zoo. That way you'll be participating in their conservation. Otherwise, you'll just be removing an animal from the captive population merely for your own selfish or egotistical reasons.

To be a falconer means you become a hunter. Raptors, especially falcons, aren't pets, you don't just own the birds, you have to hunt with them. It takes years, literally, to progress in your licensing to get to the point you can even possess one.

Find your state falconry association, or ask your state department of natural resources for the address. Contact them and start going to falconry meets, going hunting and just learning about the sport. (Although it's called a sport, I can tell you from personal experience that if you want to be a good falconer and do right by your birds, it's a lifestyle.)

When you talk with them, a point to remember is that in the United States you get state and federal permits to become a licensed falconer, not "certified".

With both big cat ownership and falconry, you need to do a lot more research. Work/volunteer with people and facilities. From the way you write about these things, it's obvious you don't have much knowledge about them. (For instance, you work with and train big cats, you don't "tame" them.)

If you want to earn the respect of these people, show them that you are willing to put in the hard work and time it takes to know what you are getting in to.


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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-12-2011, 11:46 AM
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Not that I know much about keeping big cats, but here is something I've been reading in your posts that is a tad concerning. And sorry if I've misinterpreted you, so please correct me if I did.


It sounds like the reason you want a cheetah is because you really love your three cats. But I hope you understand that a cheetah, or any one big cat, is not going to act like a giant kitty. They might be cute when they are little, but you can't interact with them like your cats when they grow up.


You also said that you like to apply human emotions to your pets, and treat them like humans. I'm pretty sure all animal loves do that at some point, but applying human emotions to a very non-human big cat can be very dangerous.
Have you ever seen the show Fatal Attractions? If you haven't, it's a show on animal planet about people who keep exotics like crocs, venomous snakes, wolves, big cats, ect. A LOT of people on that show claim that their crocodiles and snakes love them, they trust their lions because they grew up together like siblings, their wolves see them as part of the pack, ect. The people who think like that are always the ones that die.



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"For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.They are not brethen, they are not underlings; they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth."
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-12-2011, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies! To Mygala - you are correct i dont know much about the subject, which is why i posted this.

To Jess: are you sure about cheetahs being different than my cat? I heard they are very similar. Ok, i had to say that (sorry Im very sarcastic).

In all seriousness (in response to both), people are taking what I say wayyyyy to seriously. Once again, I'm just looking for information.

I'm a little frustrated by MyGala saying "you'll just be removing an animal from the captive population merely for your own selfish or egotistical reasons". What an idiotic thing to say. I could say the exact same thing about your pets or anyone elses. Just because its considered an exotic animal doesn't make it different in terms of an ethical debate with a normal, lets say, bearded dragon. By buying one, according to you, I would be "removing it from its captive population" soley because I'm an egotistical and selfish a-hole.

Also, to Jess, animal attacks on their owners are very, extremely rare. You'd have a better chance of winning the lottery twice in a row probably. And the attacks that do happen are because the owners of the animals are complete idiots. "Laying by" a lion or have a "sibling" bear is ridiculous, no one person can defend themselves against an animal like that.
The other day I watched an show where a woman was killed by a black bear outside her house. Her favorite bear was being "bullied" (or something like that) by another bear, so what did she do? Went outside and tried to shoo the other bear away. And this might sound bad, but all i kept thinking was Charles Darwin was correct lol.

Notice I didn't say anything about owning an animal that could maul me. Now HERE is where Mygala can call me egotisical, and the only reason Im stating this is to explain the circumstance. I'm 250 pounds and my squat and deadlift maxes combine for almost a thousand pounds, i was a 4 year varsity wrestler, and a blackbelt in tai chi and a third-degree blackbelt in jiu jitsu. Ive also played goalie on the junior national roller-hockey team and have been playing goalie for 12 years, my hand-eye is in the top 0.4% of the human population.

Why do I say this? Because I couldn't be mauled by a cheetah. A human can stand no match against a 500 pound lion or a bear, and I would never be comfortable in a dry (no weapon) situation with just me and one of these animals. I know im going to get flamed for saying this, but i dont really care what people on a forum think about me lol

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-12-2011, 05:27 PM
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Wow, there's no need to get so defensive and start insulting people. No one has called you names or said you're an "egotistical and selfish a-hole" except for yourself.


If you post to any forum saying that you plan to own a big cat some day, people are going to take you very seriously. What did you expect? That everyone would chime in with tons of information about owning cheetahs, and what great pets they make?



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"For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.They are not brethen, they are not underlings; they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth."
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-12-2011, 05:59 PM
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a1231212, please try to keep things civil here and avoid flaming/name calling. I'm going to have to close this thread if you don't calm down.

I'd also like to add my own input here. I would seriously listen to Mygala and consider him a great resource. He's very knowledgeable on the subject of exotics and works at/has worked at (not sure which) zoos. The advice he gave was spot on, as was Toirtis's.




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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-13-2011, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
I'm a little frustrated by MyGala saying "you'll just be removing an animal from the captive population merely for your own selfish or egotistical reasons". What an idiotic thing to say. I could say the exact same thing about your pets or anyone elses. Just because its considered an exotic animal doesn't make it different in terms of an ethical debate with a normal, lets say, bearded dragon. By buying one, according to you, I would be "removing it from its captive population" soley because I'm an egotistical and selfish a-hole.
Veeery different situations here. Cheetahs are endangered species. Bearded dragons are not by any means endangered and are readily bred in captivity in very high numbers.

It's not that fact that it's exotic, it's the fact that it's an endangered species. Every time you remove an animal from the captive breeding population, you are removing genetics from the breeding population. Not something that is a big deal with, say, bearded dragons who are widely bred with diverse genetics. In that case, removing one or even many more animals from the breeding population isn't a huge deal. But with endangered species, when you have very limited genetics already, removing an animal from the breeding population just because you want it for a pet is IMO selfish. You are potentially putting your wants above the needs of an entire species.


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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-13-2011, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a1231212 View Post

I'm a little frustrated by MyGala saying "you'll just be removing an animal from the captive population merely for your own selfish or egotistical reasons". What an idiotic thing to say. I could say the exact same thing about your pets or anyone elses. Just because its considered an exotic animal doesn't make it different in terms of an ethical debate with a normal, lets say, bearded dragon. By buying one, according to you, I would be "removing it from its captive population" soley because I'm an egotistical and selfish a-hole.
Actually, you are wrong. You can't say the same thing about most peoples pets. Dogs and cats are not wild animals that are endangered in the wild. Owning a Rottweiler doesn't remove valuable genetic material from the captive breeding pool of dogs. There are millions of dogs in the US alone. There are only about 300 cheetahs in all of North America.

And you are also wrong in another way. Whether it is an endangered species or not, has a direct effect on the ethics of animal ownership. If by owning the animal, you in some way damage the species (say by removing animals from an already shrinking genetic pool) then most people could view that as being unethical.

Cheetah populations have dropped precipitously this century. Historically, their genetic diversity has been extremely limited, but with recent human development in Africa, their populations have become so fragmented as to seriously endanger their long term viability. With all of the pressures they are under, captive breeding to maximize their genetic diversity is of huge importance.

Because of this, captive ownership falls into two categories. Either you are helping the species or hurting it. I think most folks would agree that taking a singlet out, just for personal reasons, is hurting the animal. That's selfish, whether you want to admit it or not.

If everyone that wanted a special or exotic animal got one, there would be none left.

So what I'm saying, is that if you are interested in the needs of the animal, instead of yours, you should get a job working with them in a zoo. Otherwise, you are putting yourself first. Again, I think most people would find that selfish. If you think you are in some way special, that the rules and ethics don't apply to you, then that's egotistical.

The reason I'm explaining this is that I don't think you really understand the implications of taking endangered species as pets. Working in a zoo for twenty years, I saw plenty of people who wanted exotic animals as pets. Setting aside the arguments of whether they make good pets, or whether people could supply the strict requirements of a an exotic, ...there just aren't enough of the animals to go into the pet trade if we want the animals to survive as a species.

I know lots of people who could provide a good home for a Cheetah. But taking even fifty from the captive pool would devastate captive breeding efforts in North America.

If you want a big cat, fine. You think you can handle it, fine. Get a tiger or a lion. There are plenty of them on the market. In fact, there are probably more captive tigers in Texas than there are in all of the wild. Maybe you are independently wealthy with unlimited land and the ability to hire competent, experienced staff to take care of them. Great.

Odds are, you aren't. The odds also say that in the end the animals will pay for your mistakes, even if you don't.

It's sad, but at least you won't be taking down an endangered species with you.

But before you do, let me suggest this. Find a reputable big cat sanctuary near you. Volunteer. After talking to the staff, seeing the animals and hearing the sad stories, see if you still want to be a part of that. None of the owners of the THOUSANDS of unwanted and abandoned big cats in the US thought it would end the way it did.

Bob



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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 04:43 PM
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I don't know anything about owning a cheetah, but at a store near where I live, there is a cat that's a mix between a wild feline and a house cat.
It's a very tall and skinny cat. Brown with dark spots. And when I mean tall, it's as big as a great dane dog.

If you're looking for a wild cat as a pet, I think that cat is the closest to it.

But I should say, it wasn't for sale.


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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-17-2011, 08:12 PM
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I know a little about the subject since I have friends that own several Siberian Lynxes and a Serval. If you are looking for an animal that interacts with you socially... a big cat is not a good choice. If you just want to give it 20 acres and food and never go near it, that is fine. But just like with housecats, you can never suppress their hunting instincts fully. In all the time housecats have been domesticated they still retain hunting insticts. In a big cat, those insticts are pure and not diluted by centuries of selective breeding. Everyone I know who has owned a big cat has had major issues. Even play can be deadly.
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