Serval Cat Escapes

Serval cat - photo copyright Helmi Flick. Please respect copyright

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Serval cat - photo copyright Helmi Flick. Please respect copyright

Don't read this post about Serval cat escapes unless you are prepared for some provocative language. I am upset and concerned to read about a significant number of cases of Servals escaping (or being abandoned, no less) from residential homes, where they were kept as pets, and subsequently suffering severe injury or death. Having read about the cases it seems that the cause is often due to irresponsible people who have decided that they wanted to "own" an impressive wild animal that had been declawed, no doubt by the breeder, and then find that they couldn't cope. If they thought they could cope they didn't cope.

Perhaps they allowed the cat(s) to escape. Perhaps they didn't build a proper enclosure or no enclosure at all (how can a Serval live permanently in a residential home?). Whatever the circumstances these cats, having been cruelly declawed, were unable to protect themselves and on occasion suffered violent and horrific injuries. These cases are prime examples of why people shouldn't keep tame wild animals and they really feed the arguments propounded by HSUS and PETA.

May 2018-Pelham Alabama

I'm going to open this page with an update. We are told by that a Pelham woman has reported that her domesticated African serval escaped on Monday evening. She is afraid that somebody might shoot the cat. Her fears are well-founded. In the past servals have been shot or they have been run over by vehicles. Servals become disorientated and panic when they suddenly escape from close confinement in someone's home. The outcome is almost inevitable. In my opinion they are rarely captured and returned to their owner.

Serval cat escapes
Serval cat escapes. This one from Pelham, Alabama, USA.

In addition, they are often declawed which is cruel. I get the impression that people who own servals do so out of self-indulgence but without truly knowing what it entails and not infrequently they fail the cat.

The Pelham police Department posted on Facebook that residents in the area need to report any sightings. They have experts on hand to catch the cat. It appears that they have had many sightings but a lot of them are inaccurate. You have to see the animal before calling the police.

Above is a picture of this particular serval which I presume is provided by the owner. They are medium sized wild cats. They are quite large to be honest and quite intimidating. They can run very fast and are very athletic. Almost any resident in the area would be intimidated by this cat. That tells you that it is a dire state of affairs when a serval is running around suburbia.

November 12th 2008: Turning to specifics, the first case is perhaps the most shocking as it concerns a person who clearly loves cats and Servals. She runs the Central Washington Wild Feline Center and keeps two Servals, Zeek and Ziraili. These cats were declawed. I just do not know how a person who loves cats can declaw and then through carelessness allow the cats to escape, to subsequently suffer horrific injuries (not sure how). They appear to have survived, but only just, and after extensive surgery. The person concerned criticises animal rights organizations. Yet her actions support their arguments. And I do not want to hear people say that they have to declaw as they might get scratched. I get mad when I hear this. Don't keep a Serval is the answer.

November 26, 2008 A Serval cat escapes or is abandoned and is shot by someone (who I think was a little gun happy) who thought it was a Bobcat. The cat was in his chicken coop. This is combination of two people acting irresponsibly in my view.

November 27, 2008 Kansas City, KS: A Serval Cat escapes or is abandoned and is eventually shot by police. People thought the cat was dangerous to children. This is possibly true so anyone who is considering "buying" and "owning" a Serval should not have children.

May 9, 2008 Another Serval cat escapes through a window from the room where he was kept (kept in a room!). The cat was declawed, as usual. The mentality of some people is nothing short of shocking. Servals are not toys, objects, to amuse us; they are feeling animals.

February 23, 2008 Miami This Serval was turned in by a person who no longer could or wanted to cope. Well at least the cat was offered up. What happened to the cat, do you think?

July 10, 2008 Atlanta Another Serval cat escapes. Servals are illegal in Georgia unless for education. This means people who illegally and carelessly keep a Serval do not report the cat missing when it escapes. Double irresponsibility. The cat was put down (euthanized) it seems.

These are reported examples. Many cases are unreported. There is clearly a problem with highly irresponsible ownership and I regret to say breeders selling to the wrong people. I would have to say I can think of no sound argument as to why Servals should be bred and sold having read these stories (i.e based upon these stories). But this is not to decry the many responsible cat keepers and breeders.

Update 12-5-09: This page is meant to be provocative. As I say on the home page, this website is not intended to be one dimensional. There is good and bad in the cat world because we made the cat world. The criticism in this post is about irresponsibility coupled with serving self interest while not giving enough emphasis to the cat's welfare. When people keep cats the relationship should be on an equal footing. If cats are kept exclusively for the person's pleasure wrong decisions can and will be made.

Update 22nd August 2014: UK -- a pet serval escapes to a neighbour's garden. The owner was licensed to keep the cat. In the UK a license is necessary. The cat was captured unharmed and returned to her owner. Not bad. But I don't believe they should be pets in the first place.

Source: Big cat Rescue and Central Washington Wild Feline Center

From Serval cat escapes to Savannah cat

Comments for
Serval Cat Escapes

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Mar 20, 2012Response to last comment but one NEW
by: Michael

Servals are wild cats. They are quite large and intimidating.

You should not declaw them. They need large ranges of up to 30 square kilometers.

You won't be able to keep the cat on the farm and when it wanders away (as in the example below) some idiot will get scared and shoot it.

Is that what you want? In the meantime you'll get sprayed with urine on a regular basis because these cats mark territory routinely and with vigor.

Will it be socialised? Of will it not fit in with other animals? It might attack other animals. The prey of a serval is small mammals such as rodents but....

You have to have a good set up to care for a serval and I think it is wrong to keep a wild animal as a pet! Why can't the human race just leave them alone in the wild?

Mar 20, 2012Another example
by: Michael

This just came through Google Alerts.

Serval cat missing in Aldergrove

Family in Aldergrove loses pet serval...usual stuff. The serval wandered away from a farm.

The serval is declawed. Cruel. Leaving the cat defenseless. Someone will be frightened when they see him and probably panic. Or a car will run over the serval or the police will shoot him just to be safe...pathetic.

The "owners" are so irresponsible but they don't even know it. It goes over their heads.

Mar 01, 2012domesticated wilsd animals on the farm
by: Anonymous

I have owned domesticated racooms, skunks, porcupines, cats and dogs on my farm. They lived together and stayed close to the farm buildings except when they followed me while I was riding one of my horses. i wonder could I keep a serval the same as I kept these other animals?

Dec 24, 2011Some perspective
by: Derek

Think about how many abused/neglected "normal animals" there are in the world. It doesn't matter what kind of animal it is, it matters what kind of person owns the animal. Case and point.

Nov 05, 2011Update
by: D.Cutrell

Hello. I am the woman that had her 2 servals stolen. I found this when doing my own search on the internet for serval escapes and thought I'd give you an update.

Zeek, the male serval is doing fantastic. He has grown into a big healthy boy. He has a new friend, an 11 year old male serval in which I took in after his owner was near death from brain cancer. He is so wonderful and loving. They are best friends.

Ziraili, my female serval was severly injured when she was stolen. She had a broken vertabrae in her back and had to have back surgery. AFter 4 months of revovery, her legs kept getting infections and her blood went septic. She had to be put to sleep.

This was the most horrendous thing I have ever endured. With this tragedy, I have learned a few things. 1. Build your enclosures BEFORE you move! Have them ready, along with your perimeter fencing! 2. Don't EVER allow anyone alone with your beloved pets, if you don't want them missing. 3. Never declaw any pet. If you can't handle them with their claws, then don't get that animal.

I am writing you because I just wanted to show that people still grow, no matter how old they may be. People still learn. I am always learning.

My cats get the very best of everything. They enjoy company of their own kind, company from their humans, the best of food, vet care and even have heated dens. There is nothing I wouldn't do for them.

I do not suggest that anyone just run out and get an exotic cat. If this is something that you would like to chose. I ask that you give yourself at least a year to plan, study and THEN decide that this 20 year commitment is something that you are really ready for. I did and I am very happy I took the time to really think about sharing my life with these amazing animals. I would not change that for the world.

Deborah Cutrell

May 29, 2011Cruel
by: Anonymous

It is cruel and imhuman. They cut off toes so you can feel "safe" about your cat. If your scared then DON'T keep one! Duh!

May 15, 2011Servals
by: Anonymous

In order to be a good pet owner for ANY animal is that you have to understand them. Everybody knows dogs and the domestic cat. So some of us want to venture out a little, therefore we must understand there can be consequences, as with owning any pet. I have a serval and it escaped. She was gone for nine days. Yes I was irresponsible with my enclosure, but immediately I notified the police, conservation dept, area parks, and placed signs at every stop within a 10 mile radius from my home. The area paper is only published monthly : (, but the lost cat flyers were ready! Because of my actions she was seen by someone about a mile away and they called me, I rushed to the area and was able to catch her in a net. Luckily it was night time and her eyes are easily spotted with a light, Daytime she blends with her surroundings and is nearly impossible to see when she hides. I was restless for nine days because of my irresponsibility while owning such a beautiful animal. I think the problem is some pet owners do not love and appreciate the ones they are caring for. They simply keep them because they are 'cool'

Feb 02, 2011Update Feb 2nd, 2011
by: Michael

Serval cat escapes happen all the time, but here is one more example. A woman living in Longview, Cowlitz County lost here serval cat. It was on the loose in the neighbourhood for about one week. People thought it was a cheetah. Cheetahs, although considerably larger look similar to servals with long legs and slender bodies. It is a bit surprising that it was not shot as people like to take pot shots at anything that moves and which looks a bit scary!

See Serval description (words and video)

The Cowlitz Humane Society trapped the serval and it is now in quarantine. The servals name is Rajah.

If I were a woman living in Longview I would not live with a serval. The are quite intimidating. No doubt though she probably had the cat declawed. Double trouble, double stupidity I call that.

Michael Avatar


May 09, 2010 I think you are stupid
by: Anonymous

you bring up PETA--which's a sexist misogynist organization that promotes violence against women?

Jan 30, 2009friend
by: d.cutrell

All I have to say And, thank you. Its friends like you that make taking another breath worth taking.

Also, to the other people that posted their comments. I thank you. Wish I knew who you are so I could thank you personally. You are proof to me and others that there are level headed people out there that judge not lest ye be judged. I truely appreciate your sincerity and kindness.

Its not adversity that defines a person... its how you handle the adversity that defines you.

Jan 30, 2009from a friend
by: Anonymous

I am a friend of Mrs. Cutrells. I was there when they started to realize that the guy that took her cats took them. It was horrible! Pure shock for all of us. She was devestated! The guy even used her truck to steal them. He stole all of their paperwork and had it hidden in his stuff.

He disspeared after she accused him. Then, only after I talked with him, did he bring one of them back. The most injured one. It was the morning after a rain, and their were boot tracks leading into their kennel, the gate was shut and locked with the cat inside. There is no way this cat came back on its own. I was there. The other cat must have gotten away from him, cause it was found 2 days later down the road.

Once again, I was there, she was devestated. We all trusted this looser with our kids, homes and friendship. She (serval owner) was not at fault. In fact she in her own words, put her own safety at risk to do her best to get them back alive.

I think that those out there who label her a poor exotic pet owner need to look past their pettieness and try and belive that bad things happen to good people. How would you feel if the most horrible thing you ever went through was put out there for the world to judge you on it? How you reacted, what your actions were? Probably not very good, I bet.

My only hope for you is, is that you will never go thru what my friend and her furry ones went through. Man, her only mistake was, that she trusted someone to be around her beloved animals. That is it. How many of you have friends around your pets? How many of you have gone on vacation, or to the store and allowed your friends to stay at your home? How many of you had over night visitors? How would you feel, if you awoke to find out that your most valued babies were stolen, gone, probably never to be seen again?

I hope you can open your hearts and minds, and put down the accusation stick for a moment. My friend was awesome in the way she handled the situation. She saved her cats lives. Has anyone even thought abotu that? Probably not, just easier to go around pointing fingers.

Deb, hang in there baby. You got friends. We got your back. Especially since we know the truth about you.

Jan 30, 2009stolen cats?
by: Anonymous

I'm not sure what to belive. If the cats were stolen, seems she did the right thing.

I like what she had to say about if a kid got kidnapped. Would the kid's parents be bad parents then? No. I guess it would depend if the parents did anything and everything possible to get their kid back alive. Seems that is what she did, whether they were let out or stolen.

I know if my dog were missing, I'd do the same thing. Does that mean that I am a bad dog owner. I don't think so. I belive her when she said that a bad owner wouldn't step up and do anything cause of the fear of it all. I think that she is an example of what a good owner is.

I hope the cats are doing good.

Jan 30, 2009stupid
by: Anonymous

I'm tired of seeing this. Its just another example of cat owners slamming other cat owners. Seems to me that we owners of these lovely creatures must find a way to stick together, or we all loose our cats eventually. To keep slamming eachother is counter-productive.

To single this owner out, especially since she had the balls to respond to your very picked through, misinformed information, is wrong.

Its owners like the one that posted their opinion about this serval owner that make us all look bad. Not the other way around.

Jan 30, 2009Serval owner
by: Anonymous

Hey I think she did everythng right. I would have done the same thing. she called the paper and news stations. This was the right thing to do. In my opinion, this makes her a good animal owner. A bad one would not put her butt on the line to get her cats back. A bad one would not be willing to take the crap that you guys are dishing out to her.

I commend her for her efforts. She deserves a pat on the back for doing the right thing in a tough situation. Good for her. And her cats.

Hey serval owner, please keep your chin up. I believe you. Keep doing your good work for the cats. I will pray for you and your cats to get through this whole mess. Don't listen to these idiots that are trying to slam you in the name of Animal Rights. They don't want anyone to have pets. I can't believe that a site like this allows them to even post comments. don't they realize that these type of people want to take away their rites too? Be a pretty sad day when a site like this is all kids have to see what a cat looks like.

Jan 28, 2009clarification re: what dogs
by: Anonymous

The dog that injured my cats was at the place this so called "friend" took them. Not at my place or property. (For clarification)

Jan 27, 2009strange
by: Anonymous

Its strange that you allow your 5 year old to fashion lies. My mother taught me differently.

Those who are close to me, and others that I talk with through my cats lists know the truth. They knew that they were stolen far before the cats were brought back and found.

I can see how you might doubt me, thats okay. I knew when I was talking with the reporter that started the story on my missing servals, that if I said they were stolen, my cats would have never been returned. They would have been killed. In fact, once again, it was the reporter's idea to say they were stolen, in order to possibly find where the guy was that took them. (buy us time to find him) I also knew that there would be people like you that are so hard headed, that I will never be able to change you mind about what happened.

Call me a liar, say what you want. I know the truth. People who know me, know my integrity. Know my love of my animals. You don't. Once again, thats okay.

Ask yourself this: What actions would you take if you were woken up in the morning, someone telling you that your 5 year old was missing? Wouldn't you do EVERYTHING possible to get your child back alive? If you didn't, could you live with yourself? Would you say that your child was missing instead of kidnapped by a friend, in order to track that "friend" down? Wouldn't you try and buy yourself as much time possible so your child wouldn't get hurt? If you say no to any of these questions, I guess I would have to doubt your ability to be a parent.

I'm not trying to cause friction. But please believe that there are good people out in the world that do have their animals best interest at heart. I did what I had to do. My cats are alive and well at home now. Not dead.

Jan 26, 2009Strange
by: Anonymous

That the owner of the escaped servals tells the news media they escaped through an
open door. Then changes her story to attempt
to remove the blame from herself. To someone stole the cats? And then brought them back and put them in with dogs who bite? Whos dogs?
My 5 yr old can fashion a better lie than that.
A perfect display of irrisponsible ownership if you ask me

Jan 25, 2009...and...
by: Anonymous

My cats were not taken from the wild. I too believe that they belong there. I feel that we as humans have the obligation to protect them and their entire species. I am doing my part. I also feel that the small and some medium wild cats can and do make good pets for the right person. Treated right, with love, patience and tolerence, not to mention education, these cats can and will show unbridled love and affection. Some say this affection is false. I say it is not. Just ask my bobcat.

Like you, I am starting with bobcats, servals, and lynx. I do not plan to have many cats. Just a few to help to explain to the public about their wild cousins.

My cats are from multi-generations of captive breeding. Like you, I got 2 of them from a fur farm, saving their lives. I do not advocate taking ANY animal from the wild. I do advocate that one must learn much in order to keep a wild animal in their posession. For it is unwise and unloving to buy a wild cat and keep for the pure vanity of it.

As for declawing... I have never declawed an animal before I got my 4 wild cats. I got them all about the same time. I now believe that even tho it is not harmful to their psyche, I will not declaw any other cat that may come to live with me. I really don't see a need for it. My cats are all loving, and have never tried to hurt me. Also, there are safeguards you can take when cleaning cages, transporting, etc.. that can keep you safe from a more untamed cat. I've observed MANY declaws, and the cats really don't mind it. My servals can still climb trees.

I feel that even tho we do have differences in some opinions, we really aren't that much different. An open conversation, without predjudice is always a good thing. After all, it is for the love of the cats.

Jan 25, 2009Comments are expected
by: Anonymous

The comments to my article are wholly expected. They have a element of aggression about them. This is often the case with people who like to keep alpha type animals. Sorry but it is plain true. Is it because the people who keep alpha animals are alpha humans and like to be the boss over an otherwise boss cat? Not sure.

Deborah Cutrell doesn't think declawing is cruel. I wonder what the cat thinks about it? A cats claws are integral to a cat's anatomy and psyche. Without claws the cat has lost a major defensive weapon. Perhaps almost all of her defenses as a cat must grab with claws before she bits. This must impact on the cats mental well being. All I have read about the impact of declawing indicates that is is damaging to a cat and Deborah Cutrell who loves her cats thinks it is alright.

The person who graciously called me a "terd" says I tell lies. I am just giving my opinion, no more. The only facts come from well regarded sources. And I do not want to keep a Serval thank you. Servals should be left alone in the wild, in my view. Unfortunately people won't leave them alone.

The person who talks about shooting people gives his (her?) captive Cheetahs 1.5 acres each. The size of a male Cheetah's territory can be very large if allowed; from 37-160 square km. I would think that a Cheetah in 1.5 acres feels like he is in a cage. And I don't agree with keeping any wildcats in any shape or form. And I agree that if they are kept in cages that is worse than keeping them in an enclosure.

I could go on but it is clear that there is a massive divide between people's concept concerning our relationship with animals and cats.

Despite the rude nature of the comments, I welcome them and thank you for them because it creates a stimulating debate, which may help.

Jan 25, 2009Afrika
by: D. Cutrell

I'd absolutely LOVE to come to Afrika and see how you take care of the cats in your possesion.

Thank you for the comment that says that a serval in a home has a good life. My cats are loved. They are well fed, shiny coats, purr all the time, have lots of toys. And very healthy.

It takes a very special person to live bi-continentally to ensure the survival of my cat's wild cousins. I thank you for your efforts.

My prayers and best wishes are with you.

Jan 24, 2009Wow what an a$$
by: Anonymous

I live in both the US and in Suid Afrika. I have over 50 Servals in ZA and other large cats. You say that a Serval can not live in a house yet I see the Cages that you keep your "rescued" cats in. Here every Cheetah has about 1.5 acres each. The servers are in a 4 acre area. To see the god awful conditions/size you keep some of your cats in, a Serval in a home has a great life. I am not sure why you have to put out this garbage, maybe because you feel inferior and feel the need to be some big shot. When you want to come play with the big boys of cat owners come visit us in Afrika. Here we shoot people for fucking with cats not the other way around.

Jan 24, 2009Author is a Terd!!
by: Anonymous

Why don't you just come out and admit that YOU are the only one who should ever own a serval??? You tell lies as if they were truth. You should be ashamed of yourself you wacked out liberal terd!!

PS. sorry if I offended anyone ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jan 24, 2009My response to your drabble.
by: Deborah Cutrell

I am the owner of Central Washington Wild Feline Center. Deborah Cutrell.

You are wrong about your accusations. My cats were STOLEN. They were stolen by a friend that we hired on to help us with our transition from our old house to this new house.

It was reported that they were let out to help ensure their SAFETY. If you do not believe me, simply do your homework and call the newspaper reporter. We thought it best to say they had escaped so, not to let on we knew they were stolen. I had to have time to track this man down and get my cats back alive.

It worked. He did however put them in with a dog and the dog he put with them attacked them. THis is how they were injured. Not through my lack of knowledge of how to raise a serval. Or lack of space to keep them, or lack of anythng I did.

AS for declawing. You think it is cruel. I don't. Period.

I hope you get your facts right next time, because you are only making a complete ass out of yourself.

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5 thoughts on “Serval Cat Escapes”

  1. To “Anonymous,” “They really don’t mind it/”? being declawed? You really then have no business taking possession of any feline. You are no better than the animal abusers of the world who grovel in their own relentless egos.

  2. sigh] I probably won’t read through the comments, on this one, Michael. This is beyond me. except that I do know, any individual/couple who would declaw their “pet” Serval should be tortured themselves. And I have never said this before. This is no different (the way that you humans who engage in this insensitive pattern of behavior) than having every single first knuckle digit removed from your hands, so that you have no means of mobility with your fingers, other than feeling phantom pain…God curse you as you have cursed those poor cats. You do not deserve to own a domestic feline, let along a Serval or other wildcat species. ๐Ÿ™

    1. Quite a lot of people keep servals as pets and it seems to me that most if not all of them declaw their serval. I am the same as you on this. It is blatant cruelty to coral a medium-sized wild cat into a relatively small space and then delcaw him for the convenience of the owner. There is only one place for a wild cat: out amongst nature away from people. Unfortunately, there is less and less habitat left.

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