Last Saturday evening, Animal Rescue League of Berks County (ARL) received a rather unusual call. The Reading, Pennsylvania Police Department was calling to report a cheetah running loose through the streets! ARL responded immediately and was relieved to discover that the animal was actually an African serval cat instead of a cheetah.
Servals are wild cats and are not domesticated. A special permit is required to own one in many places, including Pennsylvania. The PA Fish and Game Commission told ARL that nobody in Berks County has a current license to own a serval. The female cat was not microchipped and nobody came forward to claim her, so she was eventually moved to “a highly respected rescue that specializes in big cats,” according to a message on ARL’s Facebook page.
While Savannah cats are a hybrid between servals and domestic cats, servals themselves are wild animals and are not considered appropriate animals to keep as pets. ARL’s Facebook post says it best:
“African Serval cats are wild animals and like all wild animals, they belong in the wild, not in someone’s house. Servals require very specialized care and diets. They require large outdoor enclosures and more exercise than their human owners will likely want to provide. They look like giant domestic cats but don’t be fooled by the appearance, this is an animal that requires a tremendous commitment to own as well as a special license that takes two-years of training to obtain. They are strikingly beautiful animals no doubt but they are wild and belong in their proper home…in Africa.”
ARL would also like to remind people that they have plenty of domestic cats and dogs that need great homes if you have the room in your heart and your home to adopt or foster a new pet.