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 patch.com 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.
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