Serval

Behavior – Appearance

This tamed wild cat likes to head butt a lot and yes they purr just like your standard Moggie (well not exactly like your Moggie – much louder actually – you’ll love the purr).

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

Jumping – they can jump 8 feet up. credit: jurvetso

Their meow is unusual. It is a mixture of a birds “chirp” and a kitten’s meow. The Maine Coon also chirps and trills. The cat is dog-like in character playing fetch etc. Wild cat/domestic hybrids such as the Bengal are also dog-like.

It must be the wild genes, which when domesticated produces this characteristic. This may also be associated with cat intelligence as it seems the wild cats and wild cat hybrids are very intelligent, which makes the cat more trainable.

They also like to play in and with water (same as the Bengal). Some owners/breeders keep pools in the cat’s enclosure for this reason. This love of water extends to liking rain. 

The photographs on this page show how big the ears are (click on the thumbnails above if you haven’t already to get a good look). They also show you that her ears are tall and erect. They allow the this wildcat to pick up sounds that we cannot hear and “home-in” on the source of the sound with unerring accuracy.

They kill their prey by jumping powerfully up in the air and landing their front paws onto the prey, killing it (see the video below). They apparently have a 50% kill rate, which is exceptionally high.

Serval Cat
Serval cat (female)
photo copyright Kathrin Stucki A1 Savannahs


There is obviously a lot of pleasure and fascination to be gained in living with a tame wild animal with the kind of skills that this cat has.

Here are some more comparisons between this cat and standard domestic cat:

ServalDomestic Cat
more prone to litter box and spraying problemsrarely have to deal with spraying problems unless they are unneutered
jump high and crash through thingswhen they jump they do so with a certain precision and rarely knock things over
like to spend most of their time using teeth and claws in playlike to play a normal amount
deadly pouncing actionpounce sometimes but rarely in play
need huge litter boxnormal litter boxes
faster reflexesaverage reflexes
strongaverage strength
exceptional jumping skillsaverage jumping skills, although some are exceptional – Chausie, NFC
very large claws!average claws
hissing can mean she is excited and pleased to see youhissing and back arched means threatened and defensive
tendencies to chew anything and swallow thingsno such tendencies or rarely happens, but sometimes present in wildcat hybrids such as the Bengal cat.

Video above — Mother giving birth. She is Dea and she is tame and a breeding cat at A1 Savannahs.

It is helpful if you train this cat breed at an early age (for example, to accept being restrained) to help manage the extra demands that a cat of this type imposes on you. Gloria Stephenson who wrote, “Legacy of the Cat”, makes some valuable points about this cat:

  • They may be kept as companion cats only if they have been fully socialised. That means raised by the breeder from birth until sold and when raising by hand like that it should be with an eye to ensuring a well-adapted cat used to people and other animals.
  • These cats are high energy which might lead to them living dangerously! The house should be “child proof”.
  • Gloria more or less actively recommends cat declawing. I am surprised. This is a nasty operation and the description is misleading. Even the vets and vet techs need to play games to do the operation! That said when a Serval scratches it can be a lot worse than for a domestic cat. Is that a good reason for not domesticating the serval?
  • As mentioned, the serval is high energy and will need exercise.
  • This cat should not be left alone with children, Gloria says. Is this another reason for not domesticating this very athletic cat breed?
  • They can escape. This can lead to the death of the animal particularly if declawed. Read Serval escapes. I accept that this is a controversial article but as stated this is not a one-dimensional site.

Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo