Justin Bieber’s New Savannah Kittens Are a Bummer

[purring] Um, excuse me! [laughter] A lot of people are asking me my perspective on Justin Bieber and his new kittens. If you didn’t see, Justin Bieber just purchased two Savannah kittens. A Savannah kitten is a hybrid between a domestic cat like Cider and a wild cat, the serval. So my take on this is twofold. First of all, there are so many kittens dying in shelters, kittens like Cider, kittens like Apple, kittens like Juice. We live in a country where hundreds of thousands of kittens are euthanized every single year. There really is no excuse for purchasing any kitten from a breeder. It blows my mind that in a country where kittens like Cider are routinely euthanized that anybody thinks there’s a reason to be going out and creating more kittens for people to purchase. So that’s the first part, but the second part is this whole hybrid kitten issue. I worked with wild cats for years, and I’ve worked with a lot of servals. These are the cats that are bred with domestic cats to create a Savannah cat, and what I can tell you is these are wild cats who are meant to live outdoors in the wild. There’s this misconception that if you breed a wild cat and a domestic cat that somehow they’re going to look wild but act domesticated. That is just not true. These kittens might seem cute now, but as they reach sexual maturity they are going to start spraying, they’re gonna have a big prey drive, they’re going to be difficult to keep happy indoors because these cats need the stimulation of living a full life outdoors. They’re native to Africa, and they are not native to some guy’s house in the United States. People often get these kittens as a status symbol, as a way to show off that they have a really cool-looking cat, but as they get older, a lot of people can’t deal with the behaviors of a wild cat living in their home. So many of these kittens end up stuck in cages because the people caring for them can’t tolerate living with a wild animal who’s peeing on all their stuff, attacking new people who come in the home. This is not a good way to live. These cats, if they’re lucky, end up at a sanctuary. If they’re unlucky, they end up stuck in a cage for life or euthanized. Now having worked with a lot of wild cat sanctuaries, I can tell you the waiting list to take in Savannah cats is endless. So what’s most frustrating for me is that by purchasing these kittens, he’s really endorsing all of this, saying, “Hey, it’s great to take a wild cat out of the wild, “breed them with a domestic cat, create more kittens in a world that is already euthanizing lots of kittens “and then have those cats grow up to be very likely euthanized or kept in a cage or abandoned.” It’s a big bummer anytime a celebrity does something like this because it’s such a missed opportunity to talk about adoption. I mean, come on. What’s the difference? We got striped legs, we got a spotted belly, we got a cute little face. Why would you choose to purchase a Savannah cat when you could instead choose to save a life? I work with the animal shelters all over the country, and I can tell you kittens like this are coming in in boxes and buckets and barrels. So many of them never know the comfort of a home. So my two cents is: there’s no excuse to purchase from a breeder when you can adopt and save a life instead, and to purchase a hybrid cat is even more irresponsible. I have heard it all. I’ve heard, “Oh, why make such a big deal out of personal preference?” This is not about personal preference. This is about actual lives. Personal preference is for shopping for a car or picking out an outfit. It’s not for custom designing an animal to boost your ego. You can’t do better until you know better, but once you know better, you have a responsibility to do the right thing. So if you didn’t know this stuff before, that’s okay, but you know now.

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