can you have sand cats as pets

As true wild cats, they are not adapted for living alongside humans. Occasionally people do attempt to keep them as pets; however, their respiratory tracts are specialized for extremely dry environments and are prone to illnesses (like sinus infections) outside of the deserts where they naturally live.

What is the sand cat’s natural habitat?

Before discussing whether or not bringing a sand cat into your home is a wise idea, lets talk about these animals origin. According to the Smithsonians National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, sand cats prefer a dry habitat with little vegetation. Their name fits them, as they live in sandy, dry plains and rocky valleys.

Algeria, Niger, and Morocco’s Sahara Desert are among their ancestral lands. Additionally, they live in Turkmenistan, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other parts of central Asia as well as the Arabian Peninsula. Article continues below advertisement.

According to CNN, between 2015 and 2019, a group of scientists and a veterinarian monitored the lives of 22 sand cats. According to their research, the range of sand cats was far larger than previously believed; during a six-month period, one sand cat covered 679 square miles. They might also lead a nomadic lifestyle, in contrast to other species of wild cats.

What are Sand Cats?

The sand cat (Felis margarita) bears a resemblance to the orange tabby, but it also has an abnormally large oval head. Their captivating eyes and two stripes on their front legs further indicate that they are not your typical cats. These tiny cats are native to the sand deserts of Southwest Asia and Northern Africa. They are labeled Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. These solitary and reclusive cats are uncommon for people to see in the wild and exist in low densities. Their populations may be threatened by habitat fragmentation.

Sand Cats as Pets: What’s it Like?

Right now, sand cats are incredibly uncommon in the exotic pet market. Aside from hybrid animals, servals are arguably the most well-known exotic cat species. Other popular species include lynxes, bobcats, and caracals. In contrast to those creatures, very few sand cats are kept in captivity, though some people have had the chance to own one. As of 2018, one vendor was asking $7000 per cat and higher for the animals. It was stated that these animals were raised on a breeding farm. In the past, some people have also brought in sand cats from other nations. Sadly, one owner of a sand cat lost their kitten due to what they believed to be an inbreeding deformity. This owner suggested that the cats behavior was reptilian. Another owner of a sand cat had better success keeping their pet alive and had a more positive opinion of their pet. It was characterized as having a “shy and very excitable domestic cat” personality and a “charming” temperament. Exotic pet species frequently exhibit behavioral variation, so you never know what you’re going to get.

It is currently impossible to provide a reliable impression of sand cats’ personalities as pets because they are extremely rare in the pet trade and even in zoos. Like any animal, the cat’s suitability as a pet will depend on a variety of factors. These variables include the animal’s upbringing and socialization, its genetic makeup, whether it was born in captivity, and the age at which it moves in with its owner.

Tambako the Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0) Via Flickr

Unfortunately, exotic cats are illegal in most states. Although there are smaller species of sand cats that are not more dangerous than domestic cats, most laws prohibit these animals due to the lethality of large cats. Sand cats fall under the category of wild cats. A few states that do not prohibit exotic cats (excluding certain native species) are Texas, Nevada, North Carolina, and Florida (provided a free Class 3 pet permit). If someone is serious about adopting an exotic cat, they should double check the regulations in their state, county, city, and any other governing body. These are not the only states where exotic cats are probably allowed.

Tambako the Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0) Via Flickr

Sand cats are somewhat challenging to maintain in captivity. Different from other exotic and domestic cats, these creatures may be sensitive to humidity levels. Originating from the arid regions of Africa and Asia, sand cats may be susceptible to respiratory infections in the majority of homes. To address this, it might be a good idea to keep the environment more dry by providing heating in a sealed enclosure.


Is it legal to have a sand cat as a pet?

It’s also generally considered an exotic animal, which would also make it off-limits for pet ownership. As ZME Science notes, sand cats belong in the wild, so the only time a captive sand cat is appropriate is within a conservation program.

Are sand cats nice to humans?

Sand Cat Facts They can go for weeks at a time without water, getting moisture from their prey instead. These cats are not endangered and live across North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. They are not aggressive to humans and can be kept as pets, but require special care.

What is the lifespan of a sand cat in captivity?

Lifespan: Wild lifespan is unknown, but sand cats can live to 13 years in human care. Diet: Primarily small rodents, but also lizards, birds, snakes, and insects. Habitat: Dry, arid habitats in three distinct ranges: parts of the Sahara, the Arabian peninsula, and western Asia.

What do sand cats need to survive?

Like many desert-dwelling species, sand cats can survive without drinking water for weeks at a time. They will instead obtain any moisture they need from their prey. Sand cats hunt by skulking close to the ground and using their enhanced sense of hearing to detect prey.