Can Sand Cats Be Pets?

Just as the name suggests, sand cats are wild cats that live in sandy deserts.

These cats are also known as sand dune cats and are so well adapted for the harsh desert environment that they do just fine without water.

They have sandy to light grey fur and this helps them to camouflage well in the sandy desert environment.

The first sand cat to be documented was discovered in the Sahara Desert in 1858.

However, this species can also be found in the desert regions of Egypt, Chad, Algeria, Chad, Morocco, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

Sand cats began to be exported from their desert habitats to zoos across the world in the 1970s and that led to their popularity among cat lovers.

So, Can Sand Cats Be Pets?

Well, you could tame a sand cat if you got her when she was very small but that is where it gets complicated.

See, the kittens will still need to be nursed by their mother and it will only be advisable to start raising them once they have been weaned.

But by then, their wild instincts will have started kicking in and it will be a tall order to try to tame them.

Sand cats are adapted to be ferocious hunters and they prey mostly on rodents, birds, birds, insects, and almost any animal that is smaller than them.

 So, if you try taming a sand cat, there is a good chance they will hunt birds in your yard or even attack other pets.

That said, some breeders have managed to tame these cats and are now selling sand cat kittens to any interested buyers.

 Such kittens will probably do well in a home setting because they were never exposed to the wild conditions from their time of birth.

So, if you want to get a sand cat as a pet, get one from a reputable breeder.

 Not only will you get kittens that are well adjusted but also ones that have not been inbred which is a leading cause of deformities and other illnesses among cats.

Is It Legal To Own A Sand Cat?

Most states do not allow you to own exotic animals. That said, there are a couple that will allow you to apply for a license that allows you to own them.

Sand cats might be small but they fall under the “wild cat” category and any legislation on wild cats will affect them.

 For instance, there are 4 states (Alabama, Wisconsin, Nevada, and North Carolina) that do not have any laws on the possession of wild animals as pets. One may argue that this provides leeway for owning a sand cat.

That said, some of these states (e.g. Alabama, Nevada, and Wisconsin) still have a ban on wild cat ownership.

Other states that regulate wild cat ownership include Delaware and Oklahoma.

In some regions, any pet that is considered exotic and dangerous is prohibited.

So the best approach would be to do a careful review of your state and local legislation to find out the legal environment.

Sand Cat Personality

If you are thinking of owning a sand cat, you may want to know a thing or two that makes them different from your ordinary domestic cat.

For starters, these cats might be adorable but don’t let that fool you into thinking they are harmless.

They are fierce hunters and although their primary diet is rodents, they are opportunistic hunters and would easily hunt large insects, birds, and hares.

Even when they are not hungry, these cats will still kill prey and bury it for later consumption.

Taming such a cat may not be a walk in the park, especially if you get them as an adult cat because they will have already developed the hunting instinct.

Because these cats are adapted to the desert lifestyle, they are accustomed to digging burrows for hiding out when the temperatures are unbearable – and also for hiding prey.

These cats are therefore very good diggers and might easily create a mess in your yard. 

These cats are also known to “bark” almost like a dog. While sand cats are usually quiet, they get really noisy when looking for a mate. This is when they will issue high-pitched barks that are comparable to the barks of a Chihuahua.

Finally, because they are wild cats, they are accustomed to spraying not only for marking their territory but also as a way of communicating with other cats.

So, you may want to neuter or spay them to curb this practice once you get them as a pet.

Related Post: Are Sand Cats Dangerous?


Sand cats are low maintenance cats because they are adapted for living in the desert where resources are limited. They would therefore make a good house pet.

 However, this is a wild cat and it is prohibited in some states while other states require a permit for you to own one.

Check your local legislation to be sure you are not violating the law and if you get a green light, make sure to only source the cat from a reputable breeder.

This way, you will get one that has been raised for domestic purposes.