No, servals are illegal in Georgia because they are wild animals. Wild animals and certain exotic pets are illegal to keep as pets in Georgia. Essentially, if the animal is wild, it can’t be a pet. As I understand it, Code Section 27_5_5 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to wild animals for which a license or permit is required is the applicable law. All species of the order carnivora which includes weasels, ferrets, cats, bears, wolves et cetera are illegal except for the European ferret or a domestic Bengal cat. Both these animals can be a pet without a licence or permit. The ferret would have to be sterilised to be legal.
The Bengal cat is a hybrid between an Asian leopard cat and a domestic cat. The Bengal cat would have to be registered with a national cat fancy organisation and it must not be less than four generations removed from the Asian leopard cat. That means any cat from fourth filial and further from the wild is acceptable. Bengal cats that are F1-F3 are unacceptable and illegal under the Georgia legislation, as I understand it. Please check yourself however by telephoning the relevant authorities for absolute certainty (Department of Natural Resources).
But it is certain that servals are illegal and what prompted me to write this short article is that a Georgia woman woke up to find a serval in her bed. She did not own the serval and the cat had wandered into her home through an open door. She was terrified.
Her husband, Frank, telephoned the state Department of Natural Resources to try and trap the serval. In the meantime, Frank believes that the cat got into their home after the external door was left open. His wife scared the serval off the bed and inched her way out of the bedroom while her husband opened another door to the exterior which the cat kindly used to exit their property.
She said: “It still kind of terrifies me because that cat is illegal and there’s a reason it’s illegal. So, I really don’t know what it’s capable of doing.”
What she means is that it’s illegal! And it’s illegal because it is dangerous! However, there is no doubt in my mind that this serval was a domesticated cat because not too infrequently servals are domesticated in America and treated as companion animals. And therefore, I would assess the situation as being safe for this woman notwithstanding her terror which I fully understand. I hope they catch the cat safely without harming him or her and find the owner but perhaps they won’t because they are illegal! And the owner will not want to be disclosed to the authorities. He or she has lost his cat and I hope therefore that it will be rehomed in a suitable sanctuary.
SOME MORE ON THE SERVAL: