Is the Billionaire’s Row escaped ‘big cat’ a Savannah cat or a serval?

It is all over the news today and people are hunting for answers on this site to questions about the need for a license to own a serval or F1 Savannah (first generation serval x domestic cat hybrid). I wrote about it some time ago and you see the page by clicking on this link.

Serval or Savannah?
Serval or Savannah? Savannah. Photo: Lance Forman.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

DON’T SHOOT THIS CAT! THE CAT WILL BE SCARED BY STRANGERS. IF IT IS A SERVAL IT WILL BE SEMI-DOMESTICATED. IT MAY SCRATCH BUT IT WILL NOT HARM A PERSON BADLY. IT WILL HIDE. APPROACH GENTLY NOT TO SCARE THE CAT MORE. THIS IS NOT A ‘BIG CAT’. IT IS A MEDIUM-SIZED CAT, THE SIZE OF A GREYHOUND (IF A FULL GROWN SERVAL). IT LOOKS LIKE A SMALLISH SERVAL PERHAPS SUBADULT.


My assessment is as follows: the cat in question that I have seen looks like a juvenile wild serval not a high filial Savannah cat (F1 or F2). The coat is too contrasty to be a Savannah cat. It is also looks a little too large. Unfortunately we can’t see the face which would have helped a lot. It is the coat which makes me think it is a serval but it is hard to say because the face is obscured. The face is very important in assessing a wild cat.

UPDATE: I have now seen the face and the cat is a Savannah but I am wondering if there are two cats here because the picture below is of a different cat. The coat background color is competely different and the spots are lower contrast. The situation is being badly confused by the newspapers. I suspect that the owner has a serval and an F1 Savannah.

Savannah cat
Savannah cat. Not the same cat. This picture was published on The Sun newspaper’s website.

The owner of the cat would need a license if it is either a serval or F1 Savannah. If it is an F2 (second filial and two generations from the wild) the owner would not have needed a license.

But as I have said I believe the cat is a serval. Some people rarely do keep servals as pets. It is not uncommon in America for instance. Servals can be tamed but they don’t make good pets. They spray urine and they are too big. They can hurt you in play of if they get a bit tetchy.

Tame serval I met in Oklahoma years ago

Regarding the news story some people have incorrectly stated the the cat is a bobcat. No, wrong. Very wrong. The cat lurked around a street that includes the business mogul Gerald Ronson and property magnate Chris Lazari. Some residents said that the cat had escaped to a mansion in the nearby Bishop’s Avenue where the Sultan of Brunei and Saudi Royals have lived.

Middle Eastern citizens are fond of keeping genuine wild cats as pets such as the cheetah. I wonder if a resident from the Middle East owns this cat? That would be my bet. If you want to contact me please do. I know a lot about Savannahs and servals.

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