Genet as a Pet

Adopting a genet is increasing in popularity in the U.S. The reason behind the increase is the undemanding care that a genet needs. They are curious, playful and share a lot of characteristics with your average house cat. They don’t require a lot of special care and attention such as food or enclosures. The genet is still considered an exotic pet but a user friendly one.

The genet closely resembles a cat but is distantly related. Their fur is spotted, similar to that of a cheetah. The tail grows long and is ringed with black and white alternating colors. An adult genet will usually reach 16 to 24 inches in length with their tail about 15 to 20 inches. The weight of a full-size genet can range from 2 to 10 pounds. The actually appearance and size of a genet also depends on the species.

Genets are independent but often bond easily to their caretaker. They are very curious and playful. A genet will explore every nook and cranny of the house including cupboards and cabinets. They share a lot of characteristics with the average house cat.

The average genet is not very destructive but they should still be supervised. They don’t generally tear, claw or bite the furniture but they are climbers. This animal will climb to the highest place in the room when given the opportunity and even a human shoulder is appealing to a genet.

A genet can be quite cautious. They are easily frightened, surprised and skittish. If frightened, a genet will dart to the nearest place that a human care taker cannot reach. This could include the door so be careful with leaving doors and windows open for too long. A genet may bite when they are frightened or stressed. A genet has semi-retractable claws but they don’t usually use them as defensive weapons.

A genet can be house trained to use a litter box with consistency and patience. Another alternative is shredded paper. They are very clean pets.

A genet can be fed premium cat food or ferret food. They are not picky eaters and will eat canned and dry food. You can also feed them meat such as chicken, turkey and ground beef.

If you want to adopt a pet genet be sure to check your state laws to ensure you are legally allowed to keep one. Many states have captive breeding programs. Ask your veterinarian if they treat exotic pets, specifically genets. If they don’t they may be able to refer you to a specialist. Finding a proper veterinarian is very important.


  1. I've been to Kenya and experienced Genets first hand. My question is "Can genets breed with domestic cats"? If they are being introduced as a household pet, is this a concern? What complications can arise in the offspring if bred with a domestic cat?

    I am an active member with local rescue groups for dogs and cats. I am interested in the safety and protection of pet genets. Can anyone adopt a genet or are there restrictions to state Zoo's and town park vacilities?

    Are there state laws or federal laws that dictate the rules and safety surrounding the domestic population of Genet and genet mixed offspring in the US?

    I am very interested in be active in assisting with the introduction of the Genet to the US and the protection of the species. Please contact me with information on federal, and state guidelines as well as non-profit groups that are active with the placement and protection of Genets in the US.

    Debbie Saldi [email protected]

    • Genets are not felines. They're from the Family Viverridae, and are more closely related to Civets than housecats. So it's genetically impossible for a genet and a house cat to interbreed.

      • Thank you, I was told while on safari that they were of Feline descent. Their behavior was nothing like a cat. This info makes perfect sense. I actually spoke to a breeder in Texas and they are not accepted as pets in most states. In fact, they can do a great deal of damage and need to be caged. She described their arrival from Africa to be very Hush, Hush! Why are they being smuggled into the US?

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