African servals, exotic cats as pets

Exotic Cat Species
The Geoffroys Cat as a Pet, by Holly Christensen
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Geoffroy’s are very fast!! They remind me almost of little mice.

My Geoffroy will run and play but always comes back to check on me every 1 to 2 minutes to make sure I’m still there.

Mine loves to play fetch for hours on end, he will actually fetch his toys and bring them back to me to throw again, he will even try to out-run our Rottweiler for the toy.

He never means to hurt me, but he’s a total klutz and will run and jump and not even know where the heck he’s going until its time to land.

Geoffroy’s will bond so STRONG to a family and sometimes be so devastated if they are sent to other owners that will revert back to there wild and be very wary, hissy, bitey and often times will even quit eating all together

The Geoffroy fears nothing and will knock things over and climb just about everything it can.







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A species very little people know about, the Geoffroy's cat was named after the French Naturalist Geoffroy St. Hilaire. The Geoffroy is a small south American cat, about the same size as a normal domestic cat. The Geoffroy is covered in small spots, sometimes showing even rossettes, but usually lacks the rosettes and are just covered in a zillion tiny little spots. Geoffroys' ears have the white eye spot on the back of each ear typical of many wild cat species.

Geoffroys have suffered severely in the hands of trappers; for a example, in the years between 1976 and 1979 in only 3 years Argentina exported no less than 340,000 pelts of the Geoffroy species. It had originally been the Margay and the Ocelot that the trappers had overhunted, but as the population dwindled due to over hunting, the trappers then turned their attention to the Geoffroys cat.

The Geoffroy in captivity is truly a character! I personally love my Geoffroy to pieces. I don’t breed Geoffroy’s, but I do entirely enjoy their companionship.

GEOFFROY’S CAT BEHAVIOR

Geoffroy’s are very fast!! They remind me almost of little mice; they are very quick and will run out a door without you even knowing it, it’s VERY important to have escape proof security with these cats! Geoffroy’s will for the most part run and play forever, but the Geoffroy is also very in tune to where their owners are. My Geoffroy will run and play but always comes back to check on me every 1 to 2 minutes to make sure I’m still there.

Sometimes this will be with a full speed run across my lap, or even a smack on top of my head, or a slap on my face, or maybe he’ll sit on my lap and pant and rest for 30 seconds before he’s off running full speed again. He never means to hurt me, but he’s a total klutz and will run and jump and not even know where the heck he’s going until its time to land. Often he doesn’t know where he’s going to land until its time, which is usually into my face, or into my kid’s ear, or into the wall. Geoffroy’s will run full speed not looking or thinking and will run into furniture very hard!! I’ve had to liquidate all my furniture and apply the soft padded corners to prevent any injuries from my Geoffroy hitting the furniture to hard.

I have had times watching TV when out of the blue from nowhere, my Geoffroy will fly across the room and smack into the center of my face! I got a black eye that way one time, and it hurt! Geoffroy’s LOVE toes and if given the chance will always bite your toes, I’ve had to learn to always keep my shoes on, and never wear open toe sandals around my Geoffroy or any other exotic cat.

I have a Geoffroy with A LOT of character, I was putting laundry away one day and had just got finished putting away about 15 pairs of socks in the top dresser drawer, when I went back to get a pair to wear they were GONE !!! No socks in sight, I thought I was going crazy, I stood there in a moment of disbelief when I seen a shadow out of the corner of my eye, I looked and saw just the faint shadow of something running behind my dresser...

I looked back there to find my Geoffroy staring straight up at me with a sock in his mouth! He had managed to open my dresser drawer and packed all 15 pairs out and hidden them behind my dresser so he could play with them. Geoffroy’s LOVE to play with socks!!!

Geoffroy’s are very canine like. Mine loves to play fetch for hours on end, he will actually fetch his toys and bring them back to me to throw again, he will even try to out-run our Rottweiler for the toy. If I fake throw the toy, his head will turn and look and he'll start to run to fetch just like you do when you tease the dogs.

Geoffroy’s will bond so STRONG to a family and sometimes be so devastated if they are sent to other owners that will revert back to there wild and be very wary, hissy, bitey and often times will even quit eating all together. There are the exceptions, some Geoffroy’s will do fine with moves, but this is rare that you will find that in a Geoffroy.

EARLY TRAINING

Geoffroy’s must be trained at an early age; if they are given the chance to get away with things you will soon have a cat out of control! The Geoffroy is much like a 2 year old hyperactive child that never grows up!! We always use a squirt bottle and a firm "No!" We warn the Geoffroy twice, the third time is "time out" and the Geoffroy knows time out very well, and he’s not real happy. My Geoffroy as well as all the others I hear of don’t like being reprimanded and they’re not afraid of fighting back; often reprimanding will trigger them to fight back, they'll circle around for an advantage to get you from behind. People don’t understand unless they’ve had a wild cat, it’s not really a mean vicious thing, its more like a dominance thing, and often times just in play.

The Geoffroy does not meow, they are pretty much a very silent quiet cat so when we put ours for time out, we usually here the gurgly sound the Geoffroy makes in cry, its almost un-explainable but its like a miniature growl that’s horsy sounding.

Geoffroy’s MUST be introduced to the family and pets at a VERY young age, the younger the better, Geoffroy’s may injure or kill animals they are not familiar with, but if they grow up around the other pets and family, its usually not a problem. Geoffroy’s also will bond to a family, but once a strange person comes around, the Geoffroy will usually hide and growl as they slowly walk away from the stranger.

GEOFFROY'S CAT-PROOFING YOUR HOUSE

You definitely need to kid proof your home, The Geoffroy is not afraid of much and you must make sure you have all breakables or even heavy stuff on shelves that can fall on your cat put away !! The Geoffroy fears nothing and will knock things over and climb just about everything it can.

Geoffroy’s also LOVE plastic and anything interesting they can chew on and eat, GREAT care is needed to make sure the Geoffroy’s surroundings are clean and well maintained, Geoffroy’s (like many exotic cats) can and WILL ingest things that can back them up and kill them!! Your house MUST BE KID/CAT PROOF !!!

Christmas trees are something you'll need to give up, Christmas trees and Geoffroy’s don’t mix! You’ll find your tree tipped over, shredded into pieces and quite often a sick Geoffroy that ingested broken ornaments or tinsel and the fake rain. It’s impossible to keep a Geoffroy away from a Christmas tree!!

THE SAFARI HYBRID

The hybrid of the Geoffroys is the Safari cat, a domestic cat/Geoffroy's cross coveted by those who cannot legally own a full-blooded exotic in their state. They are extremely rare and expensive; In fact it is said that there are only about 37 safaris in existance. Those numbers may have gone up since I last checked.

A Geoffroy has the gestation period of 75 days, whereas a domestic is 65 days, which is a major contributing factor to the difficulty and expense of breeding Safari cats. People started attempting the breed back in the 1970's. The Safari is usually born premature and the kittens almost always require human help in bottling, "tube feeding" and will need an incubator. It takes a committed true animal lover who doesn't mind the exhausting time it takes and the money involved in getting these babies to survive.

It is said that the Safari cannot be parent raised. The Safari has the capablity of being larger than both parents combined beacuse of the chromosome differences between the Geoffroy and the domestic. Since the Safari is so large, the kitten is capable of nursing its domestic mom to death if left with the mother; she can't possibly produce enough milk for the kitten; in fact the kitten would milk her dry and still need more on top of that, and that's just ONE kitten. You can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 up to $10,000 for a true Safari cat, which seems expensive!! But one must remember the amount of time and money and knowledge it takes a breeder to be able to succesfully produce such a difficult litter.

IS A GEOFFROY’S CAT FOR YOU?

For the most part I LOVE having a Geoffroy, but there are times I wonder what I’m doing! The best thing I can say if you’re contemplating getting a Geoffroy or any wild cat is think it through first!! I will never part with my exotics, I love them to pieces, but I didn’t know what I was getting into before it was too late. Exotics usually doesn’t do well with people they do not know; “vacations” and “camping” are words I no longer know the meaning of.

It’s very difficult to find a babysitter for a cat that people think of as wanting to eat them! Finding someone who is not fearful of the cats is very important especially if you’re feeding a raw meat diet. The meat needs to be removed daily and quickly so it does not spoil, and babysitters may not be able to safely go into the cat’s environment to take out the old meat. These cats are truly a commitment, and you must be serious and willing to devote the next possibly 15 to 20 years to your exotics.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them on the ExoticCatz.com Discussion Forum, and I or one of the other members will do our best to help you out.


Many thanks to Holly Christensen of TableRock Exotics for allowing the use of this article on ExoticCatz.com. This article is copyrighted 2005 by Holly Christensen. All rights are reserved.




 

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