Jun 242008
 

Here’s something which took my fancy. I get to hear PM most evenings and a half of Australia Talks on the commute home. This evening’s AT dealt with the impending importation, legally, of this artificially created domestic pet.

The nay-sayers didn’t seem to offer much of a rational argument to me. The animals would escape and add their wild animal genes to an already rampant feral cat pool. That the animal would hunt, or revert to it’s distant wild gene type. Fairly nonsensical arguments as far as I can see. All cats hunt. From the purest pedigree to the most mongrel moggie, all cats hunt. It’s such a deep seated genetic trait that without an ability to hunt, the feline genera would not be with us today. In any form. It’s what carnivores do.

In the cross-breeding – accidental from all accounts – between a wild animal and a domestic cat, the wild traits are diluted. Further selective breeding weakens those wild traits even further. The current F5 Savannahs retain 3% of their original ancestor Serval genetics. Bred selectively to draw out the coat patterning, general body shape, head and ear structure of the wild Serval. Selective breeding such that the third generation look is what is sought in the breeding process which resulted in the current F5 strain which is what will be imported into Australia. Fifteen animals in quarantine in the US, currently.

As for owners allowing their animals to escape, to breed up with a feral gene pool and create havoc among the native wildlife, I see an already existing situation which isn’t being addressed, let alone one which might. Fifteen million feral cats roam this country apparently. Which is why I advocate for any cat sales as pets to be neutered before sale. If you’re a pedigree freak and you intend to show an animal, then you need to be registered as an exhibitor just as a breeder needs to be registered. If you don’t intend to show the animal or breed from it through the auspices of a registered breeder, then you simply ought not be permitted to buy a whole animal as a domestic pet.

I’ve seen what can happen when a cat isn’t adequately constrained as a domestic pet. We owned a whole queen – a pure white Burmilla – which I bred with a grey Persian. Actually, I didn’t….she did. The resulting litter was six of the most beautiful animals, all of which found homes. We kept two, a male and female, both silver grey. Both speyed. The mother seemed to suffer a form of feline post-natal depression once the kittens were weaned, and despite all of our efforts at keeping her restrained in a cat run, her efforts to escape were eventually rewarded and we never saw her again. I’m led to believe that a house several doors up may have captured her and had her destroyed. If that’s so, then in a way I’m pleased. She was never the animal we originally knew, after the kittens. I’d never breed again. The risks for a backyarder, as we were, are too great, both for the animals and for the human neighbourhood and wildlife.

I have no objections to selective breeding of animals for domestic consumption as companion animals. Let’s be realistic and admit that all of our domestic companion animals are the result of selective breeding, either recently, or over centuries. What’s another addition to the mix?

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