The owner of an escaped pet serval says that her cat is a two-year-old Savannah cat. In my honest opinion she is not telling the truth about her cat because the cat in the pictures is not a Savannah cat but a serval. They can look similar if the Savannah is a first filial because a first filial Savannah has a serval as a father. It would be unlikely also that the owner has an F1 Savannah. They are very rare and very expensive. Many servals have escaped a home because they are confined.
However, there is naturally a difference in appearance between Savannah and serval and it is mainly in the ears (the serval has the biggest ears of all cats and they are very upright). Also the serval coat is very high contrast black spots on a yellowish background as shown in the pictures while the Savannah’s coat is ‘degraded’ in contrast because it is a hybrid between a Savannah cat (or a domestic tabby) and a serval. This mating produces cats which are not as pure in their appearance as the serval. The ears are more likely normal moggie ears. The coat is not as contrasty. The coat we see in the photos can only be the coat of a wild cat. Also the serval is considerably larger.
The escaped serval (described by the owner as a Savannah cat) has been located and is back home so that is good. My further opinion is that the man or woman who owns this cat claimed her cat was a serval to avoid being prosecuted because wild cats are forbidden in Onslow County, NC, USA. She was forced to claim her cat is a Savannah because the cat escaped. This means see had to report it to save the cat’s life. Servals roaming around suburbs are often shot.
The law in Onslow County:
Section 13-20. Wild animals
No person shall keep or permit to be kept on his premises any dangerous wild animal. This article shall not be construed to apply to zoological parks, performing animal exhibitions, or circuses.
Of course, I am speculating somewhat but I’d bet my bottom dollar that the cat is the photos is a serval. Sorry. Someone has had the wool pulled over their eyes.
Pet servals are not uncommon in the USA. The serval is considered to be pet quality when domesticated. However, it positively is not, I am afraid. They retain the wild in their behavior no matter how domesticated and socialised. And they are strong.
This particular cat weighs 30 pounds we are told. She is probably a young female. Few Savannahs are this weight.
Here is a picture of a serval I took:
and a photo by Helmi Flick of a serval (please respect her copyright):
and one of Magic an F1 Savannah cat: