Adopting a Serval Cat in New York State.

by kay
(lacona, NY, USA)

I was thinking of adopting a serval cat. I do live in north new york i dont know the laws about having a serval cat who could i contact about this?


Hi Kay, I don’t live in the USA! But I have been involved with the question before. In fact a friend of mine Deborah-Ann Milette keeps a F2 Savannah cat called Motzie. He is a very well known cat. She was recently forced to leave NY and ship her beloved Motzie out of the state because of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). You can read her story here: Jealous Cat Fancier Turns Motzie In As Vicious


So, in answer to your question the people to talk to are the DEC. This is their website: DEC (opens in a new page). As I understand it wild cats and hybrids are banned but that is probably a simplistic answer.

The Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) say this about the Regulations in New York on Wild and Exotic Felines. NY has enacted legislation that prohibits the breeding of wild cats and also bans the purchase and/or sale of wild cats as pets. At the time the law came into force (2005?) the law allowed existing owners to register for a license for 2 years. I suspect that the issuing of licenses to then existing owners would not be renewed once the animals had died.

Certain establishments are allowed to keep wild cats and hybrids such as USDA Class C educational exhibitors.

Wild cat hybrids at or higher than 5th generation are apparently acceptable (

I searched their website for the actual regulations without success (and I search well!). But their page on regulations is here: DEC Regulations — see updates below, please.

I would just ring them! I presume that the regulations I have mentioned cover all of NY state but this needs to be checked.

Update: Click on this: The health code for the city of New York (new window) [update: this link is broken at Nov 2016 – sorry] and

New York State Laws Governing Private Possession of Exotic Animals (new window)

Adopting a Serval Cat in New York State to Savannah Cat

Comments for
Adopting a Serval Cat in New York State.

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Jul 15, 2011 servals
by: vanessa

so does that mean its illegal to own one in maine?

by: Deborah-Ann Milette

In this forsaken state of New York and in spite of all the good will an F-2 Savannah did for this state you can not own a Serval, or F-1 thru F-5. Meaning you can own an F-6 and that lineage is just begining to occur. Please spare your heart the pain and heart break this state can cause you. Also be aware that Massachusetts, Conn, Rhode Island, Vermont and PA do not allow Savannahs, NH requires a one time permit and update payment every year and I heard but didn’t check Maine is still freer than NH but have not checked. I do now a close friend left the state of Maine and she had 4 servals for Oregon because of laws that are unspoken of.

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Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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23 Responses

  1. Sonya says:

    I think that anyone should have access to being trained to work with these exotic cats and then afterward they are allowed to own these animals as pets. Usually when there is a problem with animals a mean human being caused it. Maybe we should ban technology because some evil people use it to hurt children.

  2. Seve says:

    Hi I’m going to relocate to rochester NY from the UK. I have a savannah F7 but I can not prI’ve her generation because breeder failed to register her and so I don’t have a pedigree certificate. What can I do?I can’t bare the thought customs would take her away from me. Ps she’s an indoor pet.

    • Michael Broad says:

      As you seem to know, Savannah cats above and including fifth filial are allowed in New York state. So as you say, it’s a question of proving that your cat is within the fifth filial threshold. I think what I would do is to ring up the appropriate department which would be one concerned with the environment and check what proof you need. I really can’t advise because I don’t want to miss-advise you. It would be careless of me if I guessed the answer. You are probably safe and I certainly wouldn’t presume that you have a problem until you genuinely do have a problem. Good luck.

  3. Paige says:

    Servals are completely illegal in the state of NY. F5 and later are LEGAL in NY state. ALL savannahs are illegal in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. See here:

  4. Cindy says:

    I have been looking for a Bengal kitten or a Savannah kitten for several months now. I am quite confused at the price range I’m seeing. They go from $700 all the way to $15,000. OMG….. Just looking for a nice exotic companion for our family without the heavy price attached. Looks to me, some breeders are more into the $$ than the happyness of their fur babies. Can you please lead me to a phew good reasonable breeders. Much appreciated
    Cindy from NY

    • Michael Broad says:

      The huge price difference is probably due to (a) the filial – how far from the wild is the cat and (b) quality – how close to the breed standard is the cat and how special is the appearance. I think the best bet is to visit a breeder who is not far from you and ask questions and look at the place for signs of high standards of cat welfare. You can use the CFA site for breeders or just search on Google. I would not buy blind. Always visit the breeder’s facilities and be tough on questioning. Get a contract and check it. Sorry if this sounds horrendous but this is an adoption for life – up to 20 years. Remember both are wild cat hybrids so the filial level is important. You’d probably go for an F5. Good luck Cindy.

      PS. Clubs sometimes have rehoming services for purebred cats who are unwanted or have to owner. Check Bengal cat and Savannah cat clubs.

  5. stan says:

    does anyone know what action is being taken or can be taken to change the law. i live in upstate ny just south of albany. and i would love to have a serval or savannah f1 f2. is there a group established that i can join. or is anyone willing to get together to establish a group to fight for the change in the law. you can reach me at yz****@ho*****.com

  6. Sadie says:

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  7. stan says:

    yes, please contact me, you can use my email address its ok

  8. stan says:

    what can be done to change the law, so I can adopt or purchase a f1 or f2 savannah cat does anyone know, is there a group that is pursuing the idea of marching on the capital or getting politician to help, please if there is such a organization to extend our rights , I would like to join, please contact me.

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting. My understanding of the general law in the USA regarding wildcat hybrids is that there is a general tightening up because of a fear of super-feral cats. This follows what is happening in Australia. The fear is that escaped Savannahs will create large feral cats which are as good as wild cats in terms of predation and it will decimate native wild species.

      I don’t see NY changing policy. Other States are more relaxed at present. Good luck.

  9. Kimberly says:


    I’m just trying to confirm some information.
    I’ve been looking for weeks online to find out whether or not in Buffalo, New York I am able to own a serval.

    I’m aware of the F5 rule regarding Savannahs, but nowhere can I find a law or statute that particularly deals with servals, and I’ve gotten conflicting accounts from the DEC.

    I was told by one woman that I can own a serval, just not in NYC, and she also harped on the F5 rule for Savannahs. However, I was told by a second woman that I could not own a serval.

    I’m so confused, and I know that someone from Rochester commented stating that they were informed they could own a serval. If this is true, it would be amazing if someone could clarify.

    • Michael says:

      Kimberly. I cannot find a clean answer. Sorry. I am good at searching and neither the DEC nor the internet generally throws up an answer. The best thing is to contact DEC using their contact form and ask the question and at the same time ask them where the bloody hell the information is on their website 😉

      Logic dictates that is is forbidden to keep a serval but it may be possible to apply for a license. Logic also dictates that it is not a good idea to keep a serval as a pet despite what some people say. Too many escaped servals (killed). To many rooms ruined with urine 😉 I have been inside an enclosure with a domesticated serval and it is not like being in the company of a domestic cat. The serval will always retain the wild and unlike the domestic cat it is in your face. And they are quite large with big claws etc. And don’t tell me you’d declaw a serval. Bad, very bad.

  10. edward a cavallucci lll says:

    I have acrecerage in New york an wanted to have savanah cats, is it at all possible to raise a few for myself! I will be very disappointed if Im not able to do that.Who would know unless I would have to register them.
    Why can,t we create jurisdiction for us fanciers of this breed to own an keep as pets not to breed.
    Sincerely Eddie Cavallucci

  11. serval lover says:

    I live in Rochester New York and contacted the dept of agriculture and environmental conservation and they say it is completely legal to own a serval in NY state, just not in NY city. for some reason the savanna cat has to be f5 or farther…weird but true.

    • Michael says:

      Thank you very much for taking the time to share that information. It is very odd indeed. To confirm: a Savannah cat above fifth generation (f4 and up) is banned while a serval is approved. For people who don’t know, a Savannah cat is a serval x domestic cat cross. It does not make sense at all.

      • kevin roche says:

        you just answered my question the way,did you get the e-mail i sent you about felix?

        • Michael says:

          Yes, I have the picture of Felix in the tub. I’ll add that to the bathroom page today. Nice pic. Thanks Kevin.

          • kevin roche says:

            thank you michael.I hope the picture will be seen by other cat people.every time he did this his pupils would diolate as if he was stalking prey.i will never forget the look on his face when he did that.he had such a great personality!!!!!!!forget t.v.,my cats have always been more entertaining than anything on t.v.!!!

    • kevin roche says:

      I’m a cat lover too and i,m just wondering if a savanna cat and a serval are the same breeds.I thought they were two different types of cats.?

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