What are the exotic cat laws in Texas? – Complete Guide

What are the exotic cat laws in Texas? - Complete Guide


Are you wondering what the exotic cat laws in Texas are? Owning an exotic pet, such as a cat, can be a unique and enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, there are specific regulations that must be followed when it comes to owning an exotic cat in Texas. Texas law requires anyone keeping an exotic cat to obtain a license from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (TPWD). There are also restrictions on where you can keep the animal. The animal must be kept in a secure enclosure and under constant supervision.

In addition, there are health and safety requirements that must be met in order for the animal to remain legal. These include vaccinations, regular checkups with a veterinarian, and regular grooming or bathing sessions for the animal. In this article, we’ll explore all of these regulations in detail so you can make sure you’re following all the rules when it comes to owning an exotic pet in Texas.

What Does the Law Say About Exotic Cats in Texas?

If you live in Texas and are thinking about bringing home a wild or exotic cat, then it is important to know the laws that govern these types of animals in the state. Texas has a statewide law that governs the care and ownership of exotic cats and other exotic animals, which can be found in Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 822.

The state of Texas prohibits the private ownership of lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, ocelots, jaguars, cheetahs, and bears. These animals are classified as “dangerous animals” due to their potential to cause serious injury or death. It is illegal to buy, sell, offer for sale or trade any of these wild cats in Texas.

However, there are certain exceptions for licensed individuals who hold permits with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Such exhibitors must comply with federal standards and show proof that they are able to safely keep and exhibit these animals. Licensed individuals who possess exotic cats must also have an Animal Consumption Tax imposed on every animal held in captivity from an out-of-state source.

Additionally, all exotic cats must be microchipped for identification purposes. It is important to remember that if you own an exotic cat that does not meet the requirements set forth by the state law then you may face penalties including fines or imprisonment for up to 180 days per offense.

Are Private Owners Allowed to Keep Exotic Cats?

In Texas, the ownership of exotic cats is regulated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Under Texas state law, it is illegal for individuals to keep exotic cats as pets. It is also illegal to purchase these animals or to possess them without a valid permit.

The rules surrounding the ownership of exotic cats vary depending on the specific animal. For example, non-domestic felines, such as lions, tigers, cougars/pumas, and lynxes are strictly prohibited and any use of them requires a special permit from the Wildlife Department. On the other hand, certain small cats are allowed to be kept as pets provided they are licensed and have been micro-chipped. These include ocelots, caracals and servals amongst others.

If you do plan on owning one of these animals it is important that you check your local regulations before making any decisions about pet ownership. Make sure you understand all the legal requirements for having an exotic cat in your home or facility so that you can ensure both your safety and theirs.

Are There Regulated Zones for Keeping Exotic Cats in Texas?

In Texas, exotic cats are regulated to certain zones. This means that you must have an approved facility in an area zoned for such activities in order to keep one of these animals.

In some cases, the rules may vary on a county or municipal level. Generally speaking, though, potential owners should:

  • Obtain permission from the local government before they can own an exotic cat

  • Ensure that they provide proper housing and veterinary care

  • Meet all federal and state requirements for the humane keeping of wild animals

It is also important to note that some states may require you to obtain a permit and/or license in order to keep an exotic cat, although Texas does not yet have such regulations. It’s always best to check with your local government before taking ownership of one of these animals.

Do You Need a Permit to Own an Exotic Cat in Texas?

Do you need a permit to own an exotic cat in Texas? The answer is a resounding yes. The state of Texas has strict regulations in place around the ownership and keeping of exotic cats, and anyone considering becoming an exotic cat owner must first obtain a permit from the state. This process will involve the completion of numerous forms, including a veterinary declaration that certifies your cat is free from contagious diseases and other illnesses.

In addition to the permit, you must also be prepared for additional requirements:

  • Proof of liability insurance coverage

  • Enclosure specifications

  • Enclosure inspection from facilities authorized by the state

  • Microchip implantation for easy identification

  • Annual rabies vaccination

  • Potentially additional local regulations depending on your county or city

Whether these requirements are daunting or not, they are in place to protect both you and your pet. Exotic cats may look fun and harmless, but they retain their wild instincts and can be unpredictable – so it’s important to follow proper laws and guidelines when taking ownership of one.

Is There an Age Restriction for Keeping Exotic Cats?

While Texas state law allows exotic cats as pets, there are certain regulations and restrictions you will want to be aware of. One such restriction is an age restriction on keeping these animals.

If you are considering owning a wild cat, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) requires that you be at least 18 years old. This age restriction is in place to ensure the safety of both the animals and their potential owners; young people typically lack the experience necessary to handle these powerful animals.

Additionally, a permit is required to keep exotic cats in Texas. The permit application can be obtained from TPWD and must be filled out by both the owner and their veterinarian. The application includes details such as:

  • Species of cat being considered for ownership

  • Current vaccinations for the animal

  • Any suitable enclosures for containing the animal

  • Proof of liability insurance

By following all applicable laws, exotic cat owners can give their pets the best possible care in an environment where everyone is safe and secure.

Other Regulations for Keeping Exotic Cats in Texas

If you plan to keep an exotic cat in Texas, there are other restrictions and requirements to be aware of. Specifically, state and federal laws require the following:


There are different permits to consider when keeping exotic cats, depending on the species, such as a federal permit or an individual state permit. Be sure to research what is required for your species of exotic cat before acquiring it.

Caging Requirements

The caging must meet specific requirements set by the state. It must have solid sides and a secure top, be made of strong materials like metal or reinforced concrete, and must be large enough for the animal to move comfortably. The cage must also be adequately ventilated and provide protection from extreme temperatures and weather elements.

Veterinary Care

Exotic cats must receive regular veterinary care from a qualified veterinarian with experience in exotic pet care. Additionally, all owners should carry liability insurance in case of accidental injury caused by their pet.

By familiarizing yourself with these regulations prior to acquiring an exotic cat in Texas, you can ensure that your pet lives a safe and healthy life while avoiding potential legal issues.


In summary, Texas has some of the most comprehensive laws regarding exotic cats. Whether you’re looking to bring an exotic pet into your home, or simply want to know your legal rights if you encounter one, it is important to know the exceptions, licensing requirements, and regulations set forth by the state of Texas.

Failure to adhere to these laws could result in hefty fines and even jail time for those in violation. To stay up-to-date with the ever-evolving legal landscape, it is important to frequently check for changes in the statutes and regulations regarding exotic cats.

Leave a Comment