Hybrid Cats

Hybrid big cats are artificial creations. They are unlikely to occur in the wild except in unnatural situations e.g. in very isolated populations where there is no mate of the appropriate species available. Because of the fertility issues, valuable genes may be lost by breeding dissimilar species together. Most conservationists condemn deliberate hybridization as wasteful in terms of genes and in terms of money. So why are they bred?

Many are bred out of curiosity. Exotic animals, especially ligers (the largest big cats on the planet), are great crowd-pullers. Pony-sized striped big cats and leopard-patterned lions are undeniably magnificent creatures. Others occur by accident where two animals are housed together from an early age in the belief that they won't mate with each other. The mating instinct is strong enough that a puma allowed herself to be mated by an ocelot one third of her size! This occurs where there is limited accommodation e.g. private collections, travelling circuses etc. Even experienced zoos have accidentally bred hybrids this way e.g. the servical. Believing that hybrids are always sterile, some keepers have housed a hybrid big cat with pure-bred big cats only to discover that hybrid females are fertile.

Speciation (one species evolving into two) is usually an excruciatingly slow process. Different species usually cannot mate and reproduce (reproductive isolation). If the species are closely related, such as certain cat species, they can produce hybrids, but those hybrids have reduced fertility. The more easily two species form hybrids, the more closely they are related in evolutionary terms. One way reproductive isolation occurs is genetic mutation. One group of animals might be geographically isolated from others of the same species. Each group accumulates slightly different mutations over many generations - some genes affect appearance, others affect behaviour. Many generations later, the two groups have diverged and are different enough that even if they can mate, they can't produce fully fertile offspring.

Some examples of hybrid Cats :


From a male Lion, and a female tiger, The liger hybrid is more common than the tigon because the mating process is easier. The liger has both stripes and spots. The stripes are inherited from its tiger parent and the spots from the lion parent. Ligers are usually orangish/golden in color. However, there have been white tigers bred with lions to produce a very light golden coat on the offspring.If the hybrid offspring is a male, it will have a leonine mane,facial ruff of a tiger but it will not be as large and defined as a normal lion's mane.
Liger cub
Males and females have spotted bellies an striped backs.male hybrids are usually infertile Some male ligers have more mane development than others and some are almost mane-less,The liger gets most of its strength and size from both of its parents. On their hind legs, ligers stand approximately 12 feet tall. At most, ligers may weight up to 1,000 pounds.A liger is capable of achieving a maximum speed of 50 - 60 miles per hour.The exact numbers of ligers are near to 100. The lifespan of ligers, as well as other hybrid animals, is shorter than a normal species. The animals seem prone to cancers and other illnesses.


From a female Lion and a male tiger, There is less interest in tigons because they do not reach the same impressive size as the liger. The size and appearance depends on which subspecies are bred together. The smaller size of the tigress compared to the lion means that some or all of the cubs may be stillborn or the cubs may be born prematurely [there isn't enough space in the womb for them to develop any further] and may not survive. Premature birth can lead to health problems in those that survive.
Tigon cub
Tigons are sometimes referred to as Tiglons Tigons are very rare; only a few exist in the world, and even those are only held by private owners. This is because it is much more difficult to get the male tiger to mate with the female lion. Tigons look similar to ligers.  One difference between tigons and ligers is their size. Tigons are not nearly as large as ligers. In fact, tigons are often times smaller than both of their parents. The lifespan of tigons, as well as other hybrid animals, is shorter than a normal species. The animals seem prone to cancers and other illnesses

Ti-Tigon, Li-tigon, Ti-liger and Li-liger

Tigers and ligers have been mated together to produce ti-ligers (tig-ligers). Tigers and tigons have been mated to produce ti-tigons (below). Ti-ligers and ti-tigons are more tigerlike (75% tiger). Ti-tigons resemble golden tigers but with less contrast in their markings.
Male hybrids are rarely, if ever, fertile even if they do display sexual behaviour.
To date, all male ligers, tigons, ti-tigons and li-tigons investigated have apparently proven sterile. There are no authenticated liger x tigon, liger x liger or tigon x tigon hybrids. Theoretical offspring could be lion-like, tiger-like, liger-like or tigon-like, depending on what combination of genes they inherited. It is more likely that anecdotally reported offspring from supposed hybrid-to-hybrid matings actually resulted from unobserved additional matings of a hybrid female with a pure-bred lion or tiger.


Leopons are the offspring of a male leopard and a lioness. They have been bred in zoos in India, Japan, Germany and Italy (this latter was more correctly a Lipard - offspring of a lion and leopardess). Karl Hagenbeck, who produced many different hybrids, recorded the birth of leopons at the Hamburg Tierpark in Germany, but none survived to maturity. A supposed leopard x lion hybrid was exhibited in Regent's Park Zoo, London.

This was more leopard-like than lion-like apart from the rather square head and the large ears. There is also a report of a natural leopard/lioness mating where a lioness was expelled from her pride and formed an alliance with a male leopard. When the lioness came on heat, she was mated by the leopard and allegedly gave birth to leopon cubs. The Marozi is claimed to be a naturally occurring leopard/lion hybrid. However, H Scherren (1908) notes that wild leopard-lion hybrids were unlikely as an encounter between the two species would more likely result in the leopard's death.


A jaglion is a hybrid between male jaguar and lioness. There was a claim of a lion x black jaguar cross (male) seen in the company of an alleged tiger x black jaguar cross (female) in Maui, Hawaii. The supposed lion x black jaguar's description matches that of an African lion. It was described as having a scarred, puffy grey face, short, thick jet black mane on its head and around its neck, extending around the ears and underneath the chin.
Its body was solid dark tawny and the tail had a black tuft. The identification of lion x jaguar hybrid was made on facial characteristics. Melanism is a dominant trait in jaguars and its interaction with lion genes was unknown until 2006. The grey face was probably due to poor light. Non-specialists frequently misidentify big cats and erroneously identify them as hybrids. Tigers have never been hybridised with jaguars. The two sighted animals were probably an escaped African lion and lioness.