Ligers? Hybrid Cats Are Popular, Controversial Pet

Descendants of lions, tigers and cheetahs, this new breed of house cat can still be wild.
3:00 | 12/28/13

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Transcript for Ligers? Hybrid Cats Are Popular, Controversial Pet
It is the latest pricey designer accessory, a cat. But not your ordinary fur ball. A frankencat, to be precise, cross breeds bringing together nice kitty with big wild kitty. For the pet owner who has everything. These custom-designed felines can be very cute when they're young. But now some states are scrambling to ban a booming business that is spreading from zoos to homes. Here is abc's matt gutman. Reporter: There is a new obsession, clawing its way into american life, exotic cats. From designer breeds like the toyger, teddy bear soft, to servals, wildcats descended from cheetahs, and sasavannahs, a hybrid. Just last month. A male lion and female liger, hybrid of a lion/tiger had cubs in an oklahoma zoo. Their litter, three little, liligers. Liligers are no house cats. This fee lean cline can be 800 pounds. Proud owners display them all over youtube. These exotic cats can be controversial. Some say the aggressive ones can kill. Kitties that can grow two to three times larger than a house cat. That crunching sound is a pretty good sign of how closely related servals are to the big bat cousins. I want to ask every fwid stbody to stay three feet away from the cages. Well he is part bobcat -- Reporter: A sanctuary for cats big and small. Those abandoned a, abused or retired from breeding. After a few minutes here, you begin to understand why these servals might have been abandoned. Frosty is 30 pound of pure wild wow! Reporter: How bad is a temperament on a cat like this? A cat can take down a deer, child, pet, neighbor's pets, children. They spray bucket loads of urine all over everything. Spray urine. Sounds like a great pet. Spray urine. Eat your children. Doesn't word spread that these aren't the best animals to have in your house as pets. People want to have something different. They want to have the biggest, the baddest, the most exotic. Remember the crunch? A serval's bite creates 1,000 pounds of pressure a square inch. Compare that to a human jaw that chomps down at 100 pound a square inch. Three feet, right? Yes. This is senior animal keeper, and in the bucket, delicacy, raw, bone in chicken necks. Nice catch. Reporter: Are they any more dangerous than other animals you have here? They're all equally dangerous. Some on the more on the kill side than the injure side. Some are more dangerous on the kill than maim side? That's nice. Would you prefer maiming to killing, personally? I stay far enough away. I don't have to worry about that. Reporter: Now it is my turn. Big cats. Big teeth. And big cost. You are going to come to me. Toyger, hybrid cats, tiger stripes in a cute package. The toy in toyger. Here in california, some cats fetch as much as a car. Soap this is a little girl. In fact, designer cats like this are so popular, there are waiting lists to get them. Sometimes, dozens of people deep lasting months. Hi, stephanie.Troduce you. They came from chicago to see our kitties, toygers. They've expect seven sets of customers for three kittens. A market so hot, the seller can afford to be picky. We can afford to look at every last person. We only breed, 20, 25 cats a year. You can see them right now. They're so cute. Reporter: Among cats most en vogue is the savannah, cross breed between a serval, frosty, and regular house cat, tabby. Savannahs grow 2 1/2 times larger than a regular house cat. Nine states have banned sa van naz, others require permits. This past summer, a 25-pound savannah cat found roaming the streets of detroit kept residents on edge. It made headlines in the detroit froi free press. Awe off in the zoo. Bigger than my dog. The thing walking right behind us, literally. Sadly, four days later, the paper reported the search for the savannah was over. He was found shot dead and thrown in a garbage can. Once the kittens turned into wildcats. They started returning them. And the breeder eventually opened her sanctuary. To me one of the biggest problems isn't what happens to the family, but what happens to that cat? As soon as the person wants to get rid of the animal if they take them to the shelter, the shelter knows this animal is wild, will never find a home. They have to oout nitz euthanize it. They were raise nude gets. Purposely bred and put together -- they were raised together, purposely bred and put together with the ligers. We thought we would have to travel deep into the jungle to find one, but we found one here in south carolina. Hercules. You good boy. Stretch them out. Out. Reporter: A fitting name for a kid whose father is a lion, and mother a tiger. Remember the liliger cubs? Hercules trainer, doc angel points out he has the the stripes and spots of young lions but doesn't have a mane. At 922 pounds, the world's largest living cat by the guinness book of records. These mixes happen naturally says doc. He doesn't use artificial insemination. But they almost never happen in the wild. Even so, doc defend his creation from those who think might not fit the natural order of things. Hybrids have a place in present day. Their real place is awe and wonder. Which I hope leads to a place in the world.

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