Next up for HCM heart health evaluation scans are:
Medal - African Serval
We believe we are the only HCM scanner of servals in a Savannah breeding programme in the UK. HCM is known to occur in any cats - even wild cats. We aim to prevent breeding from heart defects.
We are lucky enough to have a good network of Veterinary Surgeons whom we adore and work closely with. This means we can also ensure our wild cats are looked after just as easily as our other cats. If you decide to own a wild cat it can be hard to get a Veterinary Practice to agree to care for them. Specialist services are even rarer for wild cats unless you are a Zoo facility.
If you would like help with wild cat veterinarians in Scotland then please get in touch and we would be happy to support you and their care.
#makingadifference #promotinghcmscans #checkwhatyoucan #hcmscan#hcmscanning
This is written purely on the views of us at Stylisticat and should not be used or reproduced anywhere else without permission. This is simply taking into account our own views and morals on what is ethical breeding and what best guidance we can give to those who come to us looking for their first kitten in their breeding programme. We hope it answers our most commonly asked questions.
1. I’d like to start breeding cats – how do I start?
a. First of all, write down a list of all the reasons why you want to start – it’s pretty simple, you love cats and you love kittens so you’d like to be able to produce your own and break even for costs along the way or perhaps you want to try and make money?
b. Now list the good and the bad things – things you think that are important on each side.
c. The good times are wonderful - How do you think you would cope with the bad times?
d. Now you have to choose the breed that you feel you admire the most or if you like more than one breed then choose the breed which you would like to start with.
e. Study the breed standard of that breed well. Get to know what a ‘good’ example of the breed is and start to have a look at kitten adverts to see which ones you think are good or not.
2. Who can advise me on what kittens are good for me to breed from i.e. breed quality?
Find a Mentor. You can do this via TICA or by asking on Social Media Breed Mentor groups.
Remember social media is full of deception and not everything you see is true. Take everything you read with a pinch of salt.
3. How do I know if the breeder is a good person to buy from? Isn’t it best to judge by Facebook followers and likers?
a. Don’t be fooled. Just because someone appears ‘experienced’ because they have loads of kitten buyers commenting on their cats purchased from the breeder, doesn’t always mean they are a good breeder. Look at the timelines of the breeders. Do the cats with their kittens look clean, look like they feel safe and happy? – or do they look like they are scared of the person taking the picture? Remember many breeders have a lot of kitten testimonials via Facebook or other avenues because they produce several kittens on an annual basis – some in the region of more than 300 kittens a year. That’s a lot of buyers…but, the stance of breeding – is this really a cattery you want to morally look up to? Will this person have the time to help you and guide you if something goes wrong?
b. How many kittens have these breeders produced in the last year that you are aware of? Is it a kitten farm?
c. When was the last time the Queen had a litter before her most recent one? Are they breeding their cats ‘back-to-back’? The guideline is 6 months minimum per litter for a break unless there is exceptional circumstances, such as retirement from breeding after next litter.
d. Do the Queens and Studs appear to be hand selected and bought into the cattery suitable for purpose? Some cats are only in catteries because they were ‘super deals’, ‘moved along’, ‘required urgently i.e. a stud’, ‘part of an exchange’ etc. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the above can be fantastic examples but always criticise the parents of the kittens you are looking at – after all your kitten has a good chance of looking like one or both of them when they are grown up. Some cats are bought on the basis that it’s all that someone can afford and they are working with poorer quality cats than those who save to import fantastic examples, which cost twice the price of those in the country already after shipping costs, taxes etc.
e. Do all the “Likers/ Followers” tend to be the same group of people? It is known that not all breeders like each other but what you will find in the social media world of breeding is that some breeders can work together to foster a ‘like for a like’ relationship, where the circle/clique support each others adverts and posts. You will often see a pattern forming between these breeders posts and be able to work out who is working with who. This should be useful to you when looking to obtain advice on the standard of a certain kitten that you wish to purchase as a breeder i.e. groups are often happy to compliment their friends kittens but slate others who are not within their clique. This is where you need a good, professional non-biased mentor who is happy to work independently.
4. I’m finding it really hard to source a kitten which has all the breed standard points. Where do I look?
a. Welcome to breeding. You will never get a cat with every single point of a breed standard – there is always something to work with but this is where is important to be selective and decide what you are personally willing to accept and what you deem is not allowed in your programme. Make sure you get advice on a kitten so that you can have help to identify what traits tend to stick in a programme and what is difficult to remove i.e. small ears when they should be large, or long tail when it should be short etc.
b. Choose what is important to you in that breed and then start selecting what ones you think are good. Always look at the lines – this means look at other cats which have been bred from to create the Queen and Stud of the kittens. Look at the Stud and Queen very critically. Also, remember that you will be looking to pair up your kitten with another one to mate, so you will be looking for something that would complement the other referring back to the breed standard. So if the kitten you buy has small ears when they should be large, you want to find the paired partner with big ears to try and improve that trait.
5. How do I know what I should be testing my kitten for in terms of health tests?
a. Every breed is different. Some breeds are more prone to certain health issues than others. This is where breeders should help you out to identify what you need to test for. Another source of information which is quite useful is Langfords – they have a breed selector and you can have a look at what you can test with them and what is known to affect the breed.
b. We test all our cats for PK Deficiency. You can see more on this below.
c. If buying a breeding cat we always have an upper respiratory panel and a faecal panel performed to rule out infectious diseases. Read about them below.
d. REMEMBER some tests you may need to do annually such as HCM testing. You must incorporate the cost of this into your breeding planned costs.
6. Can I make money breeding cats? What does it actually cost?
This depends on a whole host of factors that it is hard to define for each individual.
a. Our costs – something to consider is that a breeder can house their cats in a dog kennel if they choose and others can house them in acres. We say, “Some breeders choose to run their catteries at the bottom of the cost mountain and others choose to run them at the top. Where you choose to place yourself is entirely your choice and doesn’t mean that those ran nearer the top are any better than those ran near the middle, but they are definitely better than the bottom”. As long as your cats are well cared for and are fit and healthy for breeding then your costs come down to choice. It is also up to you what you sell your cats for, market influence obviously has an impact at that point though.
b. Relating to all the above points, if you have high-quality kittens who have been mated through hand-selected parents, tested for diseases and have a well-run cattery then there is no reason why you cannot charge more for these fantastic kittens, than those who do not test or import new bloodlines.
c. You have to make the right choices for you and your cats. A fancy kittening fibreglass box costing £300 is not really any better than a recycled cardboard box. You choose where you spend your money and through time you will learn what is worth spending money on and what is not.
d. If you decide to show your cats, the money you think you will regain from sales from having a champion cat is often eaten up by the physical costs of showing in itself. Showing is definitely for those who are passionate as it does cost a lot of money to do it consistently where travelling around the country and the world is involved. Many breeders competing in the classes will be friends but some can really dislike each other and it can be a very tense environment.
7. Can I have my Queens and Studs in the house – do I actually need ‘cattery housing’?
a. Yes, of course you can – but this comes with a firm ‘cat urine’ warning!! Females and males spray when they are in heat and some females actually spray when they are not in heat just because they have hormones in their body. This is why it is always best to spay a female and neuter a male who you have as a pet.
b. You may also end up with kittens far too early or too often as you can’t control when the male slips out a door into the other room – and it only takes a second in some cases!
c. You can keep Queens in the house and keep the stud outside if you wish to remain a small cattery. When I say outside, I mean in an insulated stud pen where they have an outside run and an indoor sleeping area, with litter tray, food and water bowls and a heater/ heat pads.
d. If you have a male in your home you will soon see the devastation of the urine sprayed in places you can’t find and the smell is just awful. Don’t take the chance! Males are usually okay in the house until around 6 months.
e. We have many males who don’t spray at all in their pens and others who have definitely marked their territory.
f. Always remember that keeping a male on your premises will involve a smell so do bear this in mind in terms of neighbours.
8. How often will my cat get pregnant?
a. You will have heard of a cat in heat or in season. Our youngest in heat was 5 months old (I’ve heard of even earlier!). After the first period of your cat calling (meowing very loud over and over), they may go back into heat every few weeks or months depending on the individual cat.
b. Care must be taken to ensure your cat doesn’t get pyometra if she’s calling on a number of occasions and not being mated.
c. Some choose to mate their cats around 9 months old if their cat has been calling repeatedly to prevent this from happening, some disagree with this method by saying the risk is negligible and the cat is too young because kittens are not classed as adult cats until 12 months of age.
d. A good age is 12 - 16 months old for a cat to have her first mating and on her second heat at a minimum.
9. I’ve bought a female so how do I look into Stud for her – do I just call someone with an advert when she is in heat?
a. B-I-G Mistake. Please don’t ever just ‘take your cat along’ to someone you don’t know. Try and plan your mating as soon as you have decided on a kitten! It can take months to find the right breeder.
b. Ideally, we would recommend you buying your own boy because you can test him and your cats will be fully associated with his smells and surroundings. For reasons on why we don’t stud or what we recommend for stud click VIEW MORE BLOGS and scroll down to "Why we don't offer Stud".
c. If buying a boy is not an option in the initial stages because you would like to try and test if you like breeding first, then we recommend you getting to know people through their catteries. You will be able to find out what cats have been health tested including their lineage and you will be able to have a well planned mating. Referring back to my earlier point, you will also need to search out a stud which matches your queen to ensure they compliment each other.
d. Breeding for the sake of breeding and not actually aiming for better kittens than the parents or good breed standard is often frowned upon in the breeding world so choose your words wisely. Everyone is watching on social media. Many sit with their claws out ready to swipe your legs from under you and trip you up before you’ve even began.
e. NOTE: Be very wary of using stud, i.e where cats come from that have been used at that stud already – are they from known diseased catteries?
10. Are breeders really good at supporting each other? Will I get loads of support?
Well if you got this far, you must be still interested in breeding despite the work involved.
a. The answer to that is – it’s just your luck. It depends where you buy your cats from and if the people around you ‘like’ that person or not – even though it’s absolutely nothing to do with you (why someone else doesn't like them). You may be pigeon-holed because you have cats from a cattery and this goes back to the group/clique I was referring to earlier. It is completely unavoidable in my opinion as it happened to us too. The longer you breed the more people start to see who you are and the effort you put in. You gain respect and you lose it at the same time depending on who you work with. It can be VERY petty and exhausting.
b. Some people will not buy kittens from certain lines so CHOOSE WISELY.
c. Some breeders have it in their contracts that they are not allowing breeding of their kittens to certain lines.
d. Some breeders will be completely unbiased and help guide you. These are rare gemstones. Keep them close and make sure you let them know how important they are to you and your programme.
e. Have you called up about kittens and had a breeder say to you – we have the best, don’t buy from them or them? That’s the breeders to avoid. They are already ‘bitching’ to you before you’ve even agreed to take a cat from them and through time, don’t think it won’t be you they talk about on the phone.
f. Choose those who remain professional. We have had phonecalls where we have been ‘set up’ and asked questions about another breeder who had kittens for sale at the same time. The phonecalls were clearly to try and get us to slate the other breeder for reasons unknown to us, but every time we have remained professional and tried to urge the person to get in touch with the breeder they have questions about them. As much as you have your own opinion on another breeder it is important that you keep it to yourself unless you have been asked about known problems in a cattery, then you may have to say to protect someone coming to harm. You will learn over time that there is so much time-wasting involved in cat breeding and it’s the people that cause it – not the cats!
g. We have a lot of good friends in the breeding world, some of them have become such good friends over time that we spend social time together. That is the flip side to the bad times – you will learn who you can trust, but it is a journey and takes a lot of self-belief and your own analytical skills.
h. Another point worth noting is that some breeders may have been breeding for a long time but still not actually know much about certain aspects of breeding – some simply don’t care. Do your research and you will arm yourself with knowledge.
11. What about contracts – what should my contract have in it and are they worth the paper they are written on?
a. Most contracts aren’t enforceable – without great cost anyway.
b. It is worth noting that it is given to you with the trust you will respect the conditions in it.
c. If you are sold a kitten without a contract and a ‘letter’ of sale, it is worth noting that you have nothing to go back on if there is a problem with your kitten down the line.
d. If a contract has a ‘sum’ attached to a clause, then it is enforceable at small claims court provided there is proof of fault. We have sums attached to very important parts of our contracts.
e. Do not leave a breeders premises ‘owed’ paperwork. Make sure all registration and testing certificates are in-hand. You may learn the hard way about making this mistake.
12. What about having the same cat appear in a cat’s pedigree? Isn’t that inbreeding and should be avoided?
This is often misunderstood and in simple terms, a breeder may double up on cats in a pedigree to try and ‘lock in’ a good trait by doubling up on the good quality. When doubling up on the good genes, the bad genes are also doubled up and can help a breeder identify faults within a line to try and eradicate them from their programme.
13. So anyone with a lot of cats should be avoided?
Definitely not. All I am saying is to make sure you visit and see for yourself the conditions in which they live in. If you are satisfied that the cats are healthy and happy, not pacing back and forth continually in a pen, kept in sanitary conditions then you can make an educated decision. Some larger breeders have staff to help them keep their cats clean and happy. Some do not but work all hours to ensure that they have the above. Some work all hours but have so many cats that they do not receive any human interaction and become ‘damaged’. This can pass on to kittens.
14. Are there any ways you quickly identify what will be worth looking into in your pursuit of a new breeding cat?
a. We look at the pictures initially:
i. Is the mum healthy looking – a good weight?
ii. Does mum appear happy with the breeder taking pictures or does she look scared of the person?
iii. Is the bedding covered in old faeces, urine, litter and food? Does it look clean – take your eyes away from the kittens in the picture and look around?
iv. Are the third eyelids over on the mum or the kittens (often a sign of an underlying problem)?
b. We look at videos if we can’t visit:
i. Are the kittens scared of being handled or do they appear friendly?
ii. Is the mum friendly and loving to the breeder in the video (Socialisation identification)?
iii. Is there any runny eyes or nose or sneezing heard (disease identification)?
15. What if I don’t like it once I have kittens? What if I can’t afford to keep breeding or look after them properly with all the tests?
Usually the breeders will take your cats back or help you sell them on again. This is why it’s important to find a good breeder to buy from.
16. I got some prices for the tests you recommended and I don't know how I would break even when I sold on my lower generations or SBTs!
Many breeders don't test for this reason but that doesn't mean it's okay. It is possible you could reduce the frequency of testing but still carry out regular testing. i.e. reduce testing from annually to bi-annual. At least in this instance you are doing the best you can.
17. How do I know what’s good quality/ standard when they are small?
You will develop a critical eye once you get more experience with the breed. A mentor will help you. It is advisable not to buy a kitten for breeding until they are at least 10 – 16 weeks old and you can properly analyse their development against their standard. You may find that you will have a good line come from a breeder which already has a waiting list against it for breeding kittens. This is usually a good indication that the kittens will be good quality.
Remember: A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor...
Is there anything else we can help you with?
Ask a question below in the comments.
I thought it was important to put up something for those who ask us for stud to read.
Careful consideration is taken to have a NEW cat or kitten which we intend to purchase tested before it leaves the premises of the breeder and again upon arrival. It is only rarely we will accept a cat in which hasn't been tested before it arrived, which we then test.
Testing is wonderful and horrible all at the same time. Why do I say that?
Sometimes you can bring in the most beautiful cats to your cattery which look perfectly fit and healthy and they only display the symptoms of their internal issues when they are stressed. Basically, even if you test your cat before it leaves, it could show positive when tested on arrival due to stress triggering the immune system level to drop, allowing the virus to be (in simple terms) allowed to develop and attack.
The times of stress in a cat usually involve either:
C: Settling into a new home/ environment,
If you have had a cat tested before it leaves for a full upper respiratory panel including Calicivirus, Chlamydia, Mycoplasma and Herpes, along with a faecal PCR (Poo Sample), then this gives a full range of results of the status of the cat in a normal state i.e. non-stressed. The cost of these tests are £225 per cat for us.
Upon arrival, the cat would then require to be tested ideally immediately and AGAIN about 2 - 3 weeks later (with results taking 10 - 14 days to come back) to ensure any infections had adequate incubation time to be displayed on a PCR test result. This way the cat has been tested 3 times and had a quarantine period of at least one month at our premises before being fully admitted i.e. a stud being put with a queen.
If we have a new Queen, then our policy is that we will allow her at least 2 months of settling in time, before considering putting her with another cat to live with. The 2 months is not inclusive of the quarantine period as there is a specific pen to cover the quarantine period and we only have one (or two if from the same place) at the one time in this area.
Why would we spend £££ per cat on testing before having them fully integrated?
Most Upper Respiratory Infections spread so easily among catteries as they can be spread from clothing, shoes, gloves, door handles and even the air.
This is why perspex is used in the event that the tests have missed something which hasn't been shed at the time of testing so that if anything does ever come up it will be contained to a pen. (Touch Wood).
So if your cat was in heat and you brought her to us, you would've spent around £225 x 3 sets = £675. And this is before your stud fee was charged. We would also retest our stud and show you a clear panel but this would be included in the fee.
Fee-wise - what would we need to charge for this to be worth it?
The normal fee for stud in the UK is £500. If we deduct £225 from this it's not really worth all the hassle...
Some cats have intermittent shedding of viruses so it cannot even be detected with tests unless you repeat weekly - I never want to have to go through the cost of that so I don't want to put my cats at risk.
Your cat would have to clear the 3 months quarantine procedure so we would need to then wait for the appropriate heat period to have her mated thereafter. Housing someone elses cat for 3 months plus however long a hear-period takes to appear can be very costly when it's a heated pen, food water, wastage etc. So now realistically we're into the £850+ fee for stud by the time the testing is done too.
£675 testing + £850 stud fee = £1,525 cost outlay to you.
Oh, and have you got an HCM scan certificate to show us?
By this point most have ran a mile. When we mention HCM scans they don't want to know!
READ ABOUT HCM HERE.
We will not allow any of our boys to mate an untested Queen inclusive of HCM too. Our HCM tests cost £135 per cat, so if you haven't done it already then include this into your cost.
Now you're at £1,660 and you know that Savannah Studs can be purchased between £1,500 and £4,000, right? You can own your own tested and safe male for the same cost it would likely be to stud here. Always ask for the test certificates for HCM and PCR tests before you bring a male into your cattery. You can have a happy female more likely to be mated because she is at home and putting her in a males pen on your own premises will not cause any high levels of stress. It is always worth noting that any mating process is stressful for any cat as they are highly hormonal during that period so it is not normal behaviour for them. By moving the female off-premises, it can trigger other elements of stress which can cause complications and then who will be the one to blame - the one with the Stud or the one with the Queen?
Chances are, as soon as we mention tests, people tend to run a mile and just take their cat untested to Joe Bloggs' cat untested and hope for the best. That's fine if they are happy with that - it's completely none of our business and we are only writing this to display the reasons why we don't offer stud. Call us too protective perhaps, some even call us over the top. Some breeders will tell you that you don't need to test, that you don't require an HCM Scan because it's inconclusive particularly in early gens (which is a load of rubbish as we've never had an inconclusive result even on F1's!), that HCM is not a problem in the breed so you don't need to worry (they obviously do not read about the owners who have lost cats to HCM on Savannah groups), that the disease is in all cats so you may aswell not worry about any infections...(no comment) and my all time favourite...wait for it:
"But I KNOW my cats are fine. IF there was anything wrong with them I'd be able to see it. I've never had any problems so I KNOW they are fine and don't need to test them."
Yep. I have even discussed testing before with a breeder which claimed the above. Wow, really? Microscopic Vision. I have heard it all now! You cannot KNOW simply by looking at your cats. The only way to truly know is perform a full panel of PCR's.
As long as we're clean and healthy and continue to produce clean and healthy cats then that's all that matters here. I'm sorry we can't help you out but hopefully potentially saved your cat or whole cattery from being put at risk by you reading this.
NOTE: We don't offer stud to general public but do work with Zoos and private owners on the above stud plan when working to preserve any at risk species with some of our other wild cats, where the husbandry we provide is also reflected in their own facility.
If you are interested in submitting an application for ownership approval - you can now do this via the following link:
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a health concern in many pure breed cats. A link has recently been found between Savannah Cats and HCM; there are cases that indicate that HCM may also be a reoccurring health issue in some wild cats. Several Savannah Breeders have their breeder cats scanned for HCM on an annual basis..
What is HCM?
HCM is a disease which can cause sudden death and causes the thickening of the heart muscle which results in poor relaxing and filling ability. HCM can be very gradual but be detected via an ultrasoung scan. The pumping chamber also known as the ventricle becomes progressively thicker and less blood enters the chamber. The result of this means that less blood is released out to the body.
How is it detected and what's the cost?
HCM is detectable through an ultrasound scan ranging in cost between £120 - £180 per cat, per scan but discounts are often offered for bulk bookings. If you are interested in receiving a discount on your HCM Scans then please contact us.
Many breeders decide not to scan because of the high expense of these scans and because the disease can occur after a scan, so it requires repeat testing to check for the disease. HCM is a known disease in bengals and so, therefore, it can only be assumed that Savannahs are affected in their lineage. The only way to be sure is to test.
Auscultation (examining with a stethoscope)
So if I have my cat scanned it will detect HCM for definite?
Remember HCM can occur at any time and that is why annual screening is recommended for breeding cats. A breeder cannot ascertain as to whether they are breeding HCM affected cats without testing annually and even testing retired cats (even if they have moved on). Some breeders will have retirees placed into homes where they are allowed to have the cat scanned at their own expense in order to check the lines they have produced, or kept offspring back from. We ask all owners if we can periodically screen the line at our own expense.
It is also worth noting that an echocardiography is not a perfect procedure for diagnosing HCM, however, it is the best, meaning, most sensitive method currently available for detecting signs of the disease. Auscultation is a less accurate way of detecting the disease in affected cats a significant number of cats with HCM may NOT have an audible heart murmur.
Veterinary Cardiologists recommend that breeding cats should have an annual echocardiogram during their breeding time. The purpose of scanning retired cats is to prevent reproduction of offspring from those placed as breeders or to identify where the problem lies in a line. It can be a very difficult, long-drawn, expensive process. The only way to ensure that the problem is eradicated from the breed is to test and identify where there is a problem.
Where do I start?
So you are wondering how we have come to own such beautiful cats and wondered where to start, whilst you give the idea of exotic cat or dangerous wild animal licenced cat ownership very careful consideration…
We receive many questions on a daily basis on how to obtain these animals and if they are all as wonderfully tame as they are in our videos which we post regularly on social media. I decided to write this small article as a rough guide to cover these questions and explain reasons behind my answers. I will also discuss the breeding aspect of these animals very lightly.
I will refer to the “DWA”, and the, “DWAA” throughout and these abbreviate the “Dangerous Wild Animal” and “Dangerous Wild Animal Act”.
Any animal considered not to be domesticated falls into the DWA category in the United Kingdom. You will find that parts of the world have different rules and do not even licence some wild cats for private ownership. In some countries not only wild cat ownership, but hybrid ownership is banned altogether. I would suggest that before deciding to really research private exotic cat ownership, whether this be a hybrid or full wild cat, please do check your local laws depending on which state or country you are in. This is primarily aimed at the UK DWAA, but can be used as a guideline or part of your research on wild cat ownership anywhere in the world as I hope it can give you some useful information.
The Dangerous Wild Animals Act was first produced in 1976 and amended in 2010. The purpose of the act was to prevent incompetent ownership of the larger species which were widely available around the time of the Act’s compilation. Do not get me wrong, there are still a number of private owners in the UK with leopards, pumas, cheetahs, tigers and other larger species but they are licenced and inspected annually/ bi-annually to ensure the welfare of the animal is being prioritised.
There are no different rules in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales or England.
What is the requirements of a DWA Licence and how do I find out more?
Firstly, there are no physical national requirements on enclosure sizes, materials, lighting, heating or design structure. The answer is simply- speak to your local council animal welfare officer. Each individual council or county has their own requirements on what they feel meets the DWAA compliance for them to issue you with a licence.
I will give you an example of 4 different wild cat owners enclosure types and they all have DWA Licences:
NOTE: the comfort rating and security rating is a personal opinion and is not issued by a council. The rating is inserted to help potential DWA cats keepers to understand the difference that enclosures can make to the life of the animals in their care.
Who enforces the DWAA?
Your local council holds full responsibility to enforce the DWAA and issue or refuse to issue licences to Dangerous Wild Animal keepers.
It is worth noting that you must apply for a DWA licence before you obtain your animal you intend to keep on your premises.
Most councils have application forms for a DWA licence so by asking for one well in advance, you will have an insight into what information the council will require from you. It may also be worth speaking to your council DWA officer to gain the contact details of the Veterinary Surgeon who will be inspecting your enclosure. You can then contact her/ him directly and discuss any concerns or recommendations they may have well before you start your building project.
It is worth remembering that there are a few requirements that must be met to adhere to the act and this is what the council is there to enforce under the act.
What are the basic requirements of a DWA Licence?
The council will check to ensure that:
If a licence will be issued, it will include the following:
If I plan to breed DWA’s – what happens when another one comes for breeding?
Call your council well in advance to notify them and ensure they add the cat on to your licence. Councils have the right to discretion and as this is a temporary situation you will be able to add on the animal for a short period.
Do I really need a licence? How would anyone know any different?
Power to seize
Firstly, we do not trade any animals under the DWA to non-DWA holders. Please do not ask us as we will not risk the safety of our animals.
We have exceptionally high-standards in our facility and if you are not deemed competent by the local authority in your area, then we will not undermine this decision, or overrule and give you a cat anyway.
“But I’m about to build an enclosure”
“I’m just waiting on my inspection”
“I’ll build the enclosure before the kitten gets big”
“It’s only the one cat, so I don’t think I really need an enclosure”
If you would like a kitten from us which requires a DWA licence then please provide us with a copy of your licence that has already been granted.
NOTE: Where an animal is being kept contrary to the section 1 (1) of the DWAA (held without a licence when it requires a licence) or any condition of your DWA licence is contravened/ you are non-compliant, the council may seize your animal.
The council can hold on to it, rehome it, destroy it or whatever they decide and they NOT liable to pay any compensation for the animal to the owner. Not only do they not need to compensate the owner but they can also charge fees for uplifting the animal and doing what they have decided to do with it. This debt is recoverable through court.
I find it difficult to encounter the wild cats which I would like to own…why is everyone so protective?
You need to work for trust. Network. Visit places if people will allow you to. If breeders of the animal you want to keep are being secretive, ask yourself why. It can be difficult to source if wild cats are inbred or not without being in contact with other people who have bought cats from the person you decide to buy from. If you genuinely want to purchase a wild cat or F1 hybrid then ask breeders if you can spend some time with the breeds they have, stating your genuine interest in purchasing one. Some breeders may even accept volunteers, but be sure that they have adequate insurance to cover others in with their DWA animals. To explain this further, one of our insurance policies only covers those named on the licence, so we have had to take out a further policy to cover those who are not named. By having two, we can change the amount of liability and the type of contact with the animals.
What cats are covered under the DWAA?
A selection – (remember if it is not considered domestic, then a licence is applicable):
If I have an enclosure built and a DWA licence granted, can I bring the animal in the house?
No. Not unless you have your house or more specifically an area of the house dedicated to DWA animals. This is not easily attainable but is achievable through time and knowledge.
What’s the point is keeping a DWA animal outside in an enclosure all the time? I want a DWA pet.
A dangerous wild animal licence covers you for animals that are not “pets”. The term pet is part of the reason why the act was introduced. The fact that these animals are not domesticated means that they are not well-suited to houses or the domestic lifestyle. It is often that these animals will not use a litter tray or play with something that was a much cherished possession of their owners. DWA cats are quicker, smarter, more agile and can give bigger bites than your average domestic cat – they need to be kept secure not only for public safety, but for their own.
If you decide to bring your cat in and it escapes, you will have to put your emergency procedures into place and you could lose your cat and your licence. If you really want your DWA cat in the house, plan carefully and have it onto your licence.
What if I get a wild cat and I am scared of it?
It is natural to be unsure about any animal which you haven’t met before. If you have bought a DWA cat then you must have it transported in a DEFRA-approved vehicle which means it’s suitable for transporting a DWA animal. It is worth getting your own transport approved for this. The travel tends to either completely upset an animal or they breeze through it not even noticing the travel. Give them a quiet room when they come home, but don’t leave them alone. Work with your animal right from the beginning. If your cat has been raised properly then it should be well-socialised and outgoing. Some cats can be shy and will take a few days to come round – but not longer.
If you have not owned a hybrid of these animals, it would be worth doing so before taking on a wild cat. In all honesty, an F2 will only give you a slight indication of the temperament of the wild animal in their ancestry. By F2 there is likely to be around 25% wild genetics (2nd generation) from the wild cat, which is, in wild cat terms, huge dilution. The best thing you can do before making the decision is to get experience. Hopefully you will have taken a long time to consider the DWA cat you have purchased and worked so hard for your licence for. DWA ownership is not for those who are out at work all day as they need regular interaction come rain or shine. If you have a DWA cat and decide that it really isn’t for you after trying your best then it is always likely that the breeder will take the cat back (no refund) and you should always ask them in the first instance should you decide to part with the animal.
We are currently going through a long process of setting up a non-profit charity in the UK to help with rescue/ rehoming of DWA cats only as more of them come into ownership in the UK and many often sold to un-licenced or unsuitable homes. Should you decide not to speak with the breeder for personal reasons then please contact us for advice.
Are most wild cats like yours in the videos? Can I feed them from my hands? Aren’t they aggressive?
I wish I could say they were. Every cat has their own individual temperament but you need to allow enough time when every cat you receive is new to have them imprint on you. Here at Stylisticat, I am the main carer. I am here 24/7 and spend an extensive amount of time with the cats to ensure that they know who is the most trusted person they can rely on. It has been often asked how I have molded them to be so loving when other struggle to get them to come when called or to pet their DWA cats. Some are flabbergasted that I have a serval cuddling on my knee, cleaning my face. It has not come easily and I have had to work so hard for the trust and love that I am given. I always say to people that you reap what you sow. My cats are all affectionate on their terms. The larger wild cats we have here will hiss at visitors who approach the enclosure. Once they get to know them a bit better they will rub themselves along the fence to try and scent the person and show affection. Always be persistent with animals, similar to small children. Do not reward naughty behaviour but do not ignore it either. When wild cats are small they play with their mouths. You may have to wear gloves initially until the training period is over and you and your cat have a behavioural understanding where possible. Some cats do not ever become, ‘safe’, to work with. Bear that in mind. Even my most loving cats can bite or scratch when they want/ do not want something and it’s certainly not just your average nip of the skin. You may get puncture wounds in your skin through play. This can be difficult to get used to initially and is not enjoyable but always have a toy to hand so that you can divert attention and show praise for playing with toys and not human skin. I would never advise playing with any DWA cat of a larger size. There is a great difference for example in the way that I play with Servals than the way I play with caracals! A lot goes on behind the scenes in any DWA Licenced keeper where there are a number of cats – great and not-so-great things. It’s only natural. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
There are loads for sale overseas – how do I import one?
Any animal imported may be covered by CITES Licences you can contact CITES here.
Any animal which is covered under a DWA licence i.e. a full wild animal or F1 hybrid cannot travel under the Pet Passport Scheme into the UK.
You will be required to obtain an Import Licence from APHA/ DEFRA - Go to DEFRA.
You will be required to quarantine the animal for 4 months in England and 3 months in Scotland within a DEFRA-approved quarantine facility. The facility will have a quarantine licence and must also obtain a DWA to accept your animal.
This page will be updated as more questions are asked to be answered!
You can ask us a DWA Licence question here
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All about Stylisticat, written by Kayleigh McIntosh-Lowrie
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