June 25th, 2013 by James Ayre
The Ashera cat was a type of hybrid cat marketed by the controversial company Lifestyle Pets. The hybrid cat breed was allegedly a cross between the African serval, the Asian leopard cat, and a domestic housecat. The truth though — discovered with the aid of DNA testing — was that the “Ashera” cats were simply Savannah cats which were bought from a different breeder and then resold.
Savannah cats are a well-known hybrid cat breed that was created by crossing the serval with the domestic cat — they typically sell for considerably less than the ashera cats did. Some of the ashera cats were priced as high as $125,000 for a single cat… savannah cats usually sell for much less than that. So Lifestyle Pets was essentially just buying savannah cats, marking them up considerably, and then reselling them as ashera cats…
The authenticity of the breed was called into question by Pennsylvania cat breeder Chris Shirk, of Cutting Edge Savannahs, who reported to the San Diego Union-Tribune that “several cats sold by Allerca and labeled ‘Ashera’ were actually raised by him as another hybrid, ‘Savannah F1’ (first generation Savannahs).”
The results of the subsequent DNA tests “confirmed that three ‘Ashera’ kittens confiscated at Schiphol Airport in February 2008 are F1 Savannahs bred by Shirk. The F1 Savannahs were sold to/through A1Savannahs to a Lifestyles Pets representative. It is believed that Cutting Edge Savannahs did not know that the cats were to be re-sold as Ashera Cats.”
The results of the DNA tests were released in June 2008, and then shortly afterwards, the owner of Lifestyle Pets — Simon Brodie — apparently adopted a new identity and set up a new company…
Some background on Savannah cats via Wikipedia:
“A Savannah cat is a cross between a domestic cat and the serval, a medium-sized, large-eared wild African cat. The unusual cross became popular among breeders at the end of the ’90s, and in 2001 the International Cat Association accepted it as a new registered breed. In May 2012, TICA accepted it as a championship breed.”
“Savannah cats are the largest breed of domesticated cats. The Savannahs’ tall and slim build gives them the appearance of greater size than their actual weight. Size is very dependent on generation and sex, with F1 hybrid male cats usually being the largest. F1 and F2 hybrids are usually the largest, due to the stronger genetic influence of the African serval ancestor. Male Savannahs tend to be larger than females. Early-generation Savannahs can weigh 20 lbs or more, with the higher weight usually attributed to the F2 or F3 neutered males, though this is not the norm. Later-generation Savannahs are usually between seven and 30 lbs. Because of the random factors in Savannah hybrid genetics, size can vary significantly, even in one litter.”
“An often-noted trait of the Savannah is its jumping ability. They are known to jump on top of doors, refrigerators and high cabinets. Some Savannahs can leap about 8 feet high from a standing position. Savannahs are very inquisitive, and have been known to get into all sorts of things. They often learn how to open doors and cupboards, and anyone buying a Savannah will likely need to take special precautions to prevent the cat from getting into trouble.”
“The Australian Federal government has banned the importation into Australia of the Savannah cat, as the larger cats could potentially threaten species of the country’s native wildlife not threatened by smaller domestic cats. A government report into the proposed importation of the cats has warned the hybrid breed may introduce enhanced hunting skills and increased body size into feral cat populations, putting native species at risk. The report states the Savannah cats are not worth the risk.”
Image Credits: Screen Capture; Public Domain
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