Because it is National Zoo Lovers Day, we feel that it’s our begrudging duty to round up a list of exotic-looking cat breeds… Oh, who are we kidding? We’ll take any excuse to ogle at cats that look like tigers, leopards, lions, and bobcats! If you want every day to feel like a visit to the zoo, adopt one of these exotic cats.
Cats that look like tigers
The Toyger may not approve of his punny name, but he sure looks dapper with his orange and black stripes. Rest assured, there’s no wild blood running through those veins: The Toyger came about in the 1980s when breeders crossed a Bengal with a striped domestic shorthair.
Cats that look like leopards
Unlike the Toyger, the Bengal has some wild parentage. As a cross between an Asian Leopard cat and a domestic shorthair, the Bengal is impressive in many ways: She is highly intelligent, loves to play in water, can learn tricks and walk on leashes, and, best of all, loves her humans.
Chester, is that you? The Cheetoh’s parent breeds are the Ocicat and the Bengal. He is a muscular, large cat that walks as though he were stalking prey while on the hunt. Luckily he’s also fun-loving, playful, and full of snuggles.
Of all the cats that look like leopards, the Egyptian Mau may be closest to the snow leopard. These exotic cats are the only naturally spotted breed of domestic cat, and can run up to 30 mph! Their ancestors are also highly visible in ancient Egyptian artwork.
With the Highlander, you get two exotic cats for the price of one. Her spotted or marbled markings bring out the leopard in her, while her bobtail calls to mind a lynx or bobcat. She also has the curled ears of one of her parent breeds, the Jungle Curl.
The devoted, energetic Ocicat was created by accident in 1964 when breeders were trying to develop a Siamese with points the same color as an Abyssinian. They continued to breed the Ocicat when a geneticist noticed he looked similar to the extinct Egyptian Spotted Fishing Cat.
The Savannah may be the truest representation of exotic cats. She’s active, adventurous, and can grow to be 25 pounds. Her hunting instincts are so strong that she may not be suitable for households with pets like fish, hamsters, and birds.
The Serengeti looks impressively similar to an African Serval. He was developed by crossing a Bengal and an Oriental Shorthair. The Serengeti can jump an incredible 7 feet into the air! He may start out as a shy cat, but quickly adapts as a lovable, extremely playful pet.
The Bombay pays homage to the Indian black leopard. With a shiny, jet-black coat and big copper eyes, she is the epitome of a house panther. The Bombay loves to play and learn tricks, and greets her family and visitors alike at the door.
Cats that look like lions
The Abyssinian is one of the oldest breeds of domesticated cats. And if you saw one slinking through your yard, you’d probably think he was a mini mountain lion! He is very energetic and affectionate, but he is not a lap cat.
Among cats that look like lions, the Chausie has a strong boast: She was bred from the Jungle Cat. This ancient parent breed is thought to have been domesticated by the Egyptians, and has even been found mummified in Egyptian tombs.
Cats that look like bobcats
The short tail of the American Bobtail developed naturally as a means to improve survival in his native environment of the American Southwest. Although he looks similar to a bobcat, he is very domestic: He is a devoted family pet that even plays fetch.
The Kurilian Bobtail is a natural breed that was found on Russia’s Sakhalin island and Kuril archipelago. He was brought to central Russia in the mid 1900s. The Kurilian Bobtail looks similar to a lynx, but is very sociable and gentle. He loves playing in water.
The tail-free Manx was born and bred on the Isle of Man, for which the island is known. Because he began life as a mouser, he has retained these top-notch hunting skills. However, when he’s not on guard he’s an affectionate, people-oriented cat.
Of all the cats that look like bobcats, the Pixiebob has the most conflicting origin stories. One legend says that she can trace her roots to American bobcats. In actuality, the breed is simply a domestic cat with a tail mutation. She is often polydactyl, or born with extra toes.
Haven’t had your fill of exotic cats? Celebrate National Zoo Lovers Day properly by visiting your local zoo or animal sanctuary!