African Serval Cat Serena

by Michael
(Ponca City, OK)

Yesterday, and this morning, I shared an enclosure at A1 Savannahs, with African serval cat Serena in order to try and take some nice photos and to make some video material. One video is made and there is another in the pipeline. The still photos are here. Two of the photos below were taken in the early morning light as can be seen. The centre photo was taken in the bright midday sun.

I also wanted to be close to an African serval to try and understand the difference between a wild cat and a domestic cat. Although, in the USA, the serval is not uncommonly domesticated or at least treated as a house cat. My interesting and pleasant experience with Serena informed me that this species of cat is not suitable to be a house cat, in my considered opinion. I am thinking about it from both our and the cat’s point of view.

female African serval cat Serena

Why do I say that? What are servals like? I am talking about servals that are to a good extent domesticated. Serena was rangy and about the size of a largish dog. Males are bigger.

As she did not know me, it took a while for her to understand that I was not hostile, the opposite in fact. As expected, at the beginning, she was cautious and ready to give a few hisses.

Serval cat called Serena

Her previous owner was around so she came into the cage to try and smooth  the introduction. After about 15 minutes Serena sniffed my offered hand and began to feel more at home.

But we have to respect the cat. On this experience the serval, albeit tamed to a good amount is still distant, the cat is still nearer to the wild state. This creates a healthy amount of suspicion about the human and rightly so. Serena, then played safe but in the time honoured way she responded to a cat tease (a stick with a feather at the end) just like a domestic cat except….

She is much stronger and pounces onto the tease and grabs the tease in her teeth far more forcibly, which is exactly as expected. Not only that she covers the ground very quickly so if the tease is about 5 yards from her she will get to the tease in a split second and pounce on it with force. You have to be ready.

female African serval cat Serena

On one or two occasions she jumped at the tease and banged into me and the camera while going for the tease. That was no problem for her but I felt it, believe me!

In short when you are close with a serval you are very close to the wild. Personally, as mentioned, I felt that she was more distant emotionally and mentally from me than a domestic cat. Tomorrow I will show you some pictures of a male serval and his female partner.

It has to be said too that as these are quite large animals we have to be cautious and respectful. I felt a little bit edgy in that cage. You don’t completely known what might happen next and if something untoward did happen it would have been my fault completely. I am intruding on her space. The camera, however, did not phase her at all.

Michael Avatar

From African serval cat Serena to Wild cat species

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African Serval Cat Serena

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Jun 04, 2010
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love servals
by: kathy

I too am an admirer of these beautiful cats, or any cat for that matter. After raising the Bengals about 7 years ago and just getting back on my feet a few years ago my son introduced me to some pictures of the Savannah breed. I had seen pictures of them a few years back but they were way, way, out of my price range. Now I am the proud owner of one of these beauties. MY Rory is now 6 months old. The breeder that I got her from owns a Serval. I too love to take pictures of him to impress my friends with. After visiting the breeders a few times he seemed to get a little used to me ( from a distance). I was able to get some good shots of him on the inside of his kennel, with the door open. I dared not step inside and he was hissing and growling. A beautiful creature non the less and the photos I did get are impressive, even with my little cheap camera.


Jun 04, 2010
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love servals
by: kathy

I too am an admirer of these beautiful cats, or any cat for that matter. After raising the Bengals about 7 years ago and just getting back on my feet a few years ago my son introduced me to some pictures of the Savannah breed. I had seen pictures of them a few years back but they were way, way, out of my price range. Now I am the proud owner of one of these beauties. MY Rory is now 6 months old. The breeder that I got her from owns a Serval. I too love to take pictures of him to impress my friends with. After visiting the breeders a few times he seemed to get a little used to me ( from a distance). I was able to get some good shots of him on the inside of his kennel, with the door open. I dared not step inside and he was hissing and growling. A beautiful creature non the less and the photos I did get are impressive, even with my little cheap camera.


May 23, 2010
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Hi Maggie
by: Michael

Yes, we are surrounded by contented animals here. Servals are quite large (I am about to build a page where I share a cage with two servals, one male) so it is a bit unnerving getting very close to them.

Respecting their space etc. is important but if I am to get a decent photograph I have to get close and provoke some activity with a cat tease.

They are quite attracted to cat toys and teases but one has to be respectful again as they charge at teases and as I am holding it….:)

Michael Avatar


May 23, 2010
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Serval nose
by: Maggie Sharp

I love that Serval nose, it’s not entirely black, and it’s not entirely pink. Beautiful! Wilson used to have a nose a bit like that.

It must have been fantastic to spend time with a Serval. They’re stunning animals.


May 22, 2010
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Hi Tracey
by: Michael

I am not sure of her age but yes, she looks quite young. She was quite nice with me. But I respected her space.

I agree all animals should be free to live in peace and naturally. And that includes us.

Unfortunately, what is natural to us sometimes creates unnaturalness to other species.

The cat enclosures at A1 Savannahs are a very good size, much larger than average, by the way.

Michael Avatar


May 22, 2010
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She’s lovely
by: Tracey (England)

She’s lovely, Michael; your pictures have caught her features beautifully. She looks quite young?

I love watching wildlife documentaries and seeing photos but ever since I can remember I’ve felt that unless wild animals are kept for captive breeding then they should be left untouched by us to live their life as they were born to; in the wild.



Comments

African Serval Cat Serena — 4 Comments

  1. These photos are simply stunning, Michael!

    You managed to capture even the spots on the back of the her ears in every photo, even when backlighted in the second shot. Amazing. That long neck, those legs, so elegant!
    How high do you suppose she can jump on those long legs? I don’t know how you did it, a cameraman isn’t normally graceful when staring a bit apprehensively behind a lens of a camera, but I must say, you both deserve a treat! 🙂

    • Thanks Carline. Serena was a nice serval. She was actually quite shy. She went into her den for a while and I waited quite a long time. She finally came out and walked around very close to me. To be honest she was not that interested in me. I was just a bit of a nuisance to her 😉 Servals are larger than people think.

        • Yes, I think that is about right. The serval does vary in size. Morpheus was very big but Serena was smaller.

          Morpheus was up to the pocket of my trousers and I’m 6 foot tall.

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