Can caracal cats be pets?

I happen to know a lady in America, Deborah-Ann Milette, who has been the caretaker of servals and caracals as pets. So the answer to the question in the title is a guarded “yes”. It depends upon the person. Not many people would want to keep a caracal as a pet. The same goes for servals. They are wild cats. They are medium-sized. They are demanding. They don’t really fit into the domestic environment. People give up on their domesticated servals because they are a handful.

I remember meeting a serval in an enclosure at A1 Savannahs, a cat breeder in the center of Oklahoma. She was a declawed, relinquished ‘pet’. Awful. I met the former owner too. Shame on you.

Caracal on top of fridge in home
Caracal on top of fridge in the home of Deborah-Ann Millett, USA.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

I don’t know anybody else other than Deborah-Ann who has treated a caracal as a pet. Therefore it is rare for a good reason. I certainly wouldn’t try it myself. You’d probably get sick and tired of having urine sprayed all over your house. And sometimes these people have their domesticated medium-size wild cats declawed which is unforgivable and an admission that it is not really sensible to domesticate such an animal.

Caracal and Sarah
Caracal and Sarah. Caracal being watered.

All that said, the history of this particular wild cat species does indicate that they are not unsuited to being tamed or even domesticated. Potentates in India kept caracals for hunting of hares and small game. The authors of the famous book Wild Cats of the World, Mel and Fiona Sunquist, say that:

“Tame caracals were also pitted against one another in pigeon-catching contests….”

Clearly, in days gone by, caracals were tamed and used as companion cats with whom rich people in the East could go hunting somewhat like they used to do with cheetahs. Therefore caracals can be tamed and live with humans but don’t expect them to behave like chilled out moggies. They’ll be a mile away from that. A tame caracal would probably drive you mad. You’d be finding ways to get rid of him or her.

To conclude, caracals can be pets of a sort but you would have to be a certain sort of person to enjoy a human-to-pet relationship if your pet was a caracal. Most people who think they would like to live with a medium-sized wild cat as a pet realise their mistake quite soon into the relationship.

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7 thoughts on “Can caracal cats be pets?”

  1. Have owned a very large serval (50#) for 17 years. Best behaved cat I have owned, or who owns meπŸ˜‰. On one hand it does take a special commitment. On the other it is simple common sense to understand their social behaviors before bringing any pet into the family. With that said there are few stronger bonds than a supposed wild cat and their human

    • Thanks Erik. Declawing is a crappy human invention that should never have happened. It was created for profit and for no other reason.

  2. A wild creature belongs in his or her wild domain. The wild cats can’t be truly “tamed”. I dearly love all felines,but would not want to have one. As you said, it takes a very special person To give a home to a displaced wild creature.

  3. Good observations and very well described. I was also thinking that if I had one like this (they are quite large too) or any exotic animal I wouldn’t encourage anyone else to either. I wouldn’t even broadcast that I had one. That would otherwise be an ego trip as well as unethical and just wrong. I also wouldn’t begrudge someone if they were a good fit for a rescue though. If the poor guy has no alternative, somebody’s got to do it.


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