Created by crossing a wild Caracal and an Abyssinian cat, the Caracat is currently the world’s rarest and most expensive cat breed. It numbers only 30 specimens, and owning one costs 1.5 million Russian rubles, or $23,400.
Wild Caracals have long been revered for their exotic beauty and elegance. In ancient Egypt they were often embalmed and buried with pharaohs and depicted in intricate murals, while in China, emperors gave them away as special gifts. Even today, cat lovers are fascinated with this majestic feline and some companies sell them as domestic pets. But pure-breed Caracals can sometimes become aggressive, even if they have lived among humans for generations, which is why the Caracat was created, in 2007.
Caracats can grow up to 50 centimeters (19.7 inches) in height and weigh up to 15 kilograms (33 lbs). First generation Caracats have the distinctive black-tufted ears and long sharp claws of Caracals and screech instead of meowing. These traits fade away from the second generation, but some owners prefer to declaw them for safety, which most breeders don’t agree with, for ethical reasons.
Photo: Kataleya Cat
The Caracat is an extremely rare and controversial breed. According to Ruptly TV, an outfit of Russia Today, there are only 30 Caracat specimens in the world today, which has to do with the difficulties of mixing two different size felines – a wild Caracal, which weighs around 30 pounds, with a domestic Abyssinian, which weighs about 10 pounds. Cat Breeder Jacquie Barnes-Hookey says that “because of the difference in the length of gestation, the kittens only rarely survive.”
“Caracat breeders are putting the mother through the stress of conceiving a huge kitten or two, with only a small percentage of F1s (first generation) surviving. That can’t be good for any mother,” Barnes-Hookey adds.
Cat breeder Barbara Galbraith Furbish also agrees that while the Caracat “is an amazingly beautiful animal, to intentionally cross a species that would not otherwise be inclined to cross ‘au naturale’ is the wrong kind of ‘gene fiddling'”. She adds that because of the unnatural cross between a Caracal and a Abyssinian cat, one can see both “the wild animal pleading behind those eyes to be released” and “the panicked domestic.”
And as with any exotic hybrids, owners of Caracats have to consider other problems as well: genetic defects that make the animal unable to properly digest food, resulting in inflammatory bowel disease, the possibility of death following a rabies vaccine that would otherwise not affect a domestic cat, a tendency to play rough (frequent biting), and pungent urine spraying (characteristic of wild cats).
But all these problems don’t seem to affect the popularity of the breed among wealth cat lovers. According to Anastasia Timokhina, a Caracat owner from St. Petersburg, Russia, the price of a fine specimen reaches 1.5 million rubles, but she was able to get a discount. “At the moment, kittens of this breed cost about 1.5 million rubles. We bought this cat for a million rubles, because we pre ordered the kitten, we waited for a long until it was born,” she told Ruptly.
Asked why she opted for an expensive Caracat, Timokhina said: “Our whole family loves cats and we wanted something exotic, unusual, some kind of wonder. We considered wildcats, like Caracals and Servals, but they are not that tame.”
Caracats are apparently most popular in Russia, as Ruptly reports that all 30 known Caracat owners are Russian.