Serval cat – a tame wild cat who acted like a domestic cat

Update May 2, 2022: I have revisited this page and rekindled my memories of this meeting. As I recall, this was a smallish, perhaps a young, male serval at the A1 Savannahs farm. A1 Savannahs is a cat breeder but also a farm because there are lots of farm animals there or there were when I visited around 12 years ago. And it is situated near Ponca city, Oklahoma, USA. I have visited the place a couple of times and stayed there for 10 days in their guest house (nice by the way). That was back in the day when ownership was in different hands. I was with Mr and Mrs Flick. Helmi Flick is the cat photographer. Her husband helps with handling the cats and positioning them. We were actually on a trip to a cat show and made arrangements to visit A1 Savannahs on that trip.

Young tame male serval at A1 Savannahs around 12 years ago
Young tame male serval at A1 Savannahs around 12 years ago. Screenshot.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

It was the first time that I had visited this breeder. The business, at the time, was run by Martin and Kathryn Stucki. They were great hosts. They are very nice people. And they made a lot of money from their sprawling farm/breeding establishment. It was highly successful. I don’t know how successful it is under new management. I dislike the new owner because he is a sport hunter or trophy hunter. I cannot associate with a sport hunter in any context. I detest them. I could have gone back to the establishment and done some more work there but refused to do it. Martin and Kathryn now run a hotel, to the best of my knowledge, in Montana.

Me and a serval
Me and a tame serval. Taken about 12 years ago (as at 2022).

This little male serval was amazing. As I stated in the title, he behaved like a domestic cat. He gives the impression that you can keep a serval as a domestic cat companion but you can’t in my view. Unless you are an unusual individual with the time and the ability to look after such an animal. But they want to escape and many have escaped from homes where owners thought they could possess an exotic domestic cat. They are never properly domesticated. They want to escape because in their natural world they occupy about 15 km² which they regard as their home. Imagine occupying a three-bedroom house and no more as their new home? It doesn’t really work. And I don’t think you’re going to have a happy serval under those circumstances.

I wrote the following section soon after I returned home from the visit:

Yes, this is the title of the video you can see on YouTube (new window). But I am not sure everyone sees this video in large format. When you do it transforms the experience. That is why it is here as well and linked to from the other pages.

This cat was charming. I picked him up and through no fault of his, he scratched me on the neck. I was very proud of that scratch although it went away very quickly. I then put him down because I felt he didn’t want, at that time, to be picked up. But he is OK with being picked up – no problems. You can see by the way he plays with Helmi Flick as if he is a domestic cat that he is fully socialized.

Some people, indeed a lot of Serval owners, declaw them. This must be an absolute NO. Please don’t ever consider this. Just make sure the serval is like this boy. Better still, don’t adopt a serval as a pet. Let’s try and do better and let them live in their natural habitat. Conservation of the small and medium-sized wild cats is going badly in my view. There’s nothing good going on which impresses me. It is a gradual decline to ultimately extinction unless things change.

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