Are Serval Cats Good Pets?

By Kyoko •  Updated: 11/10/20 •  6 min read
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Are you familiar with serval cats? Do you know what a serval cat is? In this article, we’re going to take a look at whether or not these cats make good pets. But first, let’s take a look at what a serval cat is.

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What is a Serval Cat?

Serval cats originally come from parts of Africa including south of the Sahara Desert. In these areas, the grass is tall, and shrubs provide excellent camouflage for these beautiful, tall felines. These are cats that somewhat resemble a cheetah; however, they tend to have a shorter tail. They’re also known for their long legs, which make them great at jumping and even digging. In fact, serval cats are able to jump as high as 9 feet in the air just to catch a bird! And they’re quite capable of digging out under a fence.

Their coats are usually in shades of orange and tan, with some back or dark brown marks. The patterned coat makes it easier for serval cats to hide in the grass when hunting prey.

Because they still have strong prey instincts. For this reason, serval cats do not do well with small kids around. They may also not tolerate smaller pets.

Serval cats can also live a long time—they can live to about 22 years of age.

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While there are some who keep these cats as pets, their number is low. The reason is that these lovely felines have very specific requirements when it comes to their housing, feeding, and more. You’ll usually find serval cats in zoos or even in large cat rescues. The reason is that servals are not domesticated, and they require space, food and activities that are similar to their wild habitats.

What Type of Care to Serval Cats Require?

Serval cats are famous for playing hard. For this reason, they need a proper environment where they can be active and energetic. This means the cats will need some type of enclosure where they can safely be who they are and climb, swim, explore, and more.

Building this type of enclosure is expensive, especially when considering that these cats are great escape artists. The housing must be strong enough to keep them inside and not allow them to dig out. People also tend to underestimate how intelligent serval cat can be. These cats will figure a way out, or at least give it a good try!

When it comes to diet, serval cats have very special nutritional requirements. You can’t get by with feeding these beautiful cats food meant for domesticated cats. Because they are more like wild cats, a serval cat also needs quite a bit of variety in his diet. This means they will need to eat different types of meat including chicken, turkey, gizzards, beef, along with wild birds such as quail, duck and grouse. In addition, they will require smaller pray such as mice, rats or rabbits.

Serval cats also enjoy fish including cod, salmon, snapper, sardines, shrimp, lobster and more. They can also eat eggs, cheese oils, vegetables, fruits and grass.

Now, if that diet doesn’t convince you this is a wild cat, let’s keep going! 

Serval Cat Personality

Serval cats usually create a very strong bond with their pet parent. They tend to be a “one-human” cat and bond with their person for life. If you adopt a serval cat, expect to spend long hours every day with your fur baby. And if you do need to be away for long periods, then a serval may not be the best choice of pet for you.

Serval cats can also be affectionate; even so, they need proper socialization from a young age. Even with training and socialization, these cats tend to be wary of strangers and are not good with small kids or other pets. This is due to their prey instinct, and because they’re quite strong and active in their play.

Expect that your home will need to be cat-proofed for a large kitty in the house. Servals are extremely active, especially at night. So, you’ll need to make sure to have a room set aside where all wires, breakables, etc. are removed to make it safe for the cat.

When it comes to the litter box, you can train a serval to use it. However, even if potty trained, a serval will still mark their territory by urinating on certain things.

Serval Cat Health

When it comes to their health, you’ll need to find a vet who specializes in caring for exotic pets. Your fur baby will require the same annual shots and deworming treatment as a domesticated cats.

Sometimes pet parents choose to have their serval declawed. This is usually done to keep the humans safe from the cat’s claws; however, this is a procedure that can easily lead to infections. In addition, just as with domesticate cats, a serval will not have the weapons to defend itself in a confrontation with another animal.

Another common problem with servals is that they have a tendency to swallow foreign objects. These can become lodged in their throats, or even pass further into the digestive tract, where they can cause an intestinal obstruction.

Otherwise, these beautiful cats seem to be pretty healthy overall.

Are Serval Cats Dangerous?

This is a frequently asked question about servals and the answer is it depends. Because these cats have wild animal instincts, they can be dangerous if a pet parent doesn’t understand the cat, its needs, housing and activity requirements, etc.

On the other hand, if a pet parent is experienced and knowledgeable about servals, and can provide everything needed to keep the cat safe and healthy, then in the right environment these cats may be completely safe, friendly fur babies.

The main concept to keep in mind is that you cannot treat a serval as you would a domestic cate. They are large felines with wild animal instincts that demand the proper respect and treatment.

So, do servals make good pets? In most cases, no. These precious cats have such specialized requirements and needs that most people are not able to meet. With the right pet parent, on the other hand, and in the right environment, a serval can be an exciting, loving companion who prefers to live on the wild side.

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Kyoko

Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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