Can You Own A Pet Serval Cat? Is It Legal?

In recent years, pet enthusiasts have generated a renewed interest in the Serval cat. But are Serval cats meant for domestication? Even though Serval cats are widely loved and recognized by cat enthusiasts, they still aren’t meant for domestication. 

Before bringing a Serval Cat home and keeping it as a pet, think twice, These exotic felines are a big commitment, and a poor quality of life can lessen their living years.

Besides that, because their wild instincts never go away, they might give you a really hard time. Come, let’s shed some more light on their domestication.

What is a Serval Cat? Introduction

Serval is a medium-sized wild cat that resembles a small leopard. It belongs to the Feline family and has a lean body and long legs. Its coat has predominant shades of orange and tan with dark brown and black markings.

Serval is no more than a regular medium size dog. When standing, it stretches 21 to 24 inches at the shoulders. In contrast, its weight remains between 20 to 40 lbs.

Serval is native to Africa and quite widespread in sub-Saharan countries, except in rainforest regions. It is rare to find Servals in Sahel and North African regions. Serval, although not very vocal, can make various unique noises.

History of Serval Cat

A symbol of Africa’s wild, the Serval Cat resembles cheetahs. Their relationship with humans has been quite old.

According to historical finds, ancient Egyptians used to keep them and have even depicted them in their art form. However, there is no proof of their pure domestication. 

Serval Cat Species Overview

NameServal Cat
Other NamesNone
Scientific NamesLeptailurus serval
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
Order and SuborderCarnivora and Faliformia
Family and SubfamilyFelidae and Felinae
GenusLeptailurus
SpeciesL. serval
LifespanUp to 12 years in the wild,
Up to 20 years in captivity
SizeLength: 83 cm (Adult)  
Mass: 12 kg (Adult)

Do Serval Cat Makes good pets?

Serval Cats are wild feline; therefore, even after long-term domestication, they will never make good pets.

Felines who are domesticated today have taken thousands of years to adapt to the lifestyle and behaviors of humans. However, Servals Cats aren’t one of them. 

Still, if you are someone who has kept wild cats as pets before, you might know it to deal with Servals as well.

Still, it isn’t in no way an easy task for first-time pet parents or individuals who have only dealt with dogs or cats as pets all their life.

Is it legal to keep Serval Cats as pets?

Serval cats, like all other wild animals, are not considered for domestication.

However, despite that, different countries in the world allow individuals to keep Servals as pets.

For instance, you might have to face strict laws for domesticating them in Africa, Asia, and parts of Europe.

Whereas, in major parts of North America, Servals are widespread as pets, and it is easier to own them. 

Are Serval Cats legal in the U.S.?

Serval Cats are legal in different states of the United States. For instance, one can keep Serval as a pet in South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Alabama, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Idaho without a license.

Whereas in states including Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maine, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota, one has to obtain a license to own Servals. 

However, the laws may differ in cities and towns, even when the states allow or restrict any animal. For more precise information, you can contact the Feline Conservation Foundation.

Can you have Serval Cats as pets?

Well, if it is legal in your area and you can provide a healthy lifestyle, bringing home, a Serval is never a bad idea.

As per experts, having experience with exotic cats before will also help you deal better with Servals. 

However, before actually having Serval Cats as pets, consider about a few things:

  • Serval Cats are wild, and they survive best in their native habitat only.
  • Servals aren’t your typical lap cats, and they, at times, can get unexpectedly aggressive.
  • It requires a zoo-like area where Servals can explore, swim, hunt, run, and occasionally climbs. You can’t keep them in indoors, roaming around easily around humans and other pet animals.
  • Serval Cats require a special diet in order to lead a healthy life.
  • Serval Cats are wild, and thus hunting is something that comes naturally out for them. Therefore, in captivity, one can find them meowing loud right at midnight. It often happens when they crave to step out of captivity and get into some hunting actions.
  • Serval cats are escaping animals, and thus housing them requires extreme thoughtfulness.
  • One cannot litter train Servals like other common domestic cats.
  • Not all landlords or residential associations allow keeping animals like Servals as pets.
  • Serval cats live long in captivity; thus, owning them is a huge commitment. Once you bring them home, keeping them all their life is better. Letting them out in the wild after providing a domestic environment for years isn’t a healthy practice.

If the above considerations are in your favor, you can have Serval cats as pets. However, if you think you might lack somewhere, it is better to drop the idea.

Serval Cats- You have to meet their needs

Serval Cat Housing Needs

You can’t keep Serval Cats indoors like your other dogs and cats. Instead, it takes a large, caged/ covered area, preferably an outdoor enclosure. Servals are solitary and need plenty of space to roam, run, jump and climb.

They will jump from ropes to ropes, climb trees, and even dig down the soil; thus, their enclosure must have strong fencing from all sides, even a few feet underground. 

Serval Cat Temperature and Humidity Needs

Servals are common on savannas; thus, the ideal temperature to house them is between 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.

The temperature in Savannah does not change a lot. Therefore, Servals aren’t habitual in adapting to the constantly changing climate.

The ideal humidity level for these cats lies between 40% to 70%.

Serval Cat Dietary Needs

Servals in the wild commonly prey on rodents, birds, reptiles, frogs, and insects. They don’t likely chase their prey but catch it by leaping high into the air and pouncing. 

While in the wild, they require a well-balanced diet, a mix of meat and cat food both. As a whole prey, you can feed them guinea pigs, fish, chicken, and rabbits.

Do include bones, muscle, and fat in their diet. During the younger phase, they usually have 5 to 6 meals a day, but growing older, they stick to 3 meals a day. 

Besides that, it is essential to be cautious while feeding supplement diet to your pet Servals. Overuse of supplements can hamper their kidney and liver health and may even lead to death.

Serval Cat Cleaning Needs

Humans can’t attempt to clean Serval Cats, or the feline might attempt to attack. Instead, let the animals lick and clean themselves.

All you can do is provide them with an aquatic feature like a small pond inside their enclosure where they can do all kinds of cleaning and have fun. Make sure you clean the pond every now and then.

NOTE: Before bringing home a Serval Cat, make sure you find an exotic Vet nearby. Animals like these can give you a hard time when they need medical attention. Also, not all Vets can treat them; thus, ensure you are secure on this site beforehand.

Common health problems with Serval Cats

Serval Cats suffer from health issues like viruses (like feline leukemia virus, FIV, or cat flu), and bacteria (which cause abscesses).

Other less-common infections like toxoplasmosis and chlamydia are also present in Servals.

Or, with pet Servals, there have been several instances of object choaking. 

How Much Does a Serval Cat Cost?

The price for one Serval Cat can vary between $3000 to $9000 depending upon their size, gender, and appearance.

Where to buy a Serval Cat?

Where to find Serval Cat Breeders? It is better to contact breeding centers, rescue centers, and exotic pet traders to buy a Serval Cat. There are quite a few in the U.S., especially in those States where keeping wild cats is legal. 

Some quick recommendations include, 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a serval hurt a human?

Servals usually don’t hunt humans; however, they at times might attempt to attack and bite. It commonly happens when the animal is either frustrated or brought to a level of aggression.

Can you walk a serval cat?

Servals can be lease trained successfully but taking them for a walk isn’t very safe. Firstly, they may likely attack dogs, cats, rabbits, and other common domestic animals. Secondly, they will most likely escape.

Do serval cats get along with dogs?

Litters of Servals might get along with dogs and cats, but keeping them together is extremely dangerous. And especially when the Serval is all grown up, it is better to keep it away from other domestic pets and small kids especially.

Do Serval cats get friendly with humans?

Serval cats are generally one-person animals and bond quite well with their owner. However, bonding doesn’t mean cuddling and lap times at all. Despite how much they love your company, remember Servals are wild, and they might turn aggressive at any moment.

Wrapping up…

Serval Cats are wild animals; thus, they belong to the forests instead of your backyard or living room. No matter how many people already have them as pets, Servals are never safe to be kept around.

Even if you have multiple acres of free space, removing Servals from the wild and domesticating them is never ideal. It is no way that will provide them with a better life.

However, if you even find a rescued Serval or any injured one who can no longer survive in the wild, you can consider keeping them as pets. 

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