Serval Climbs In Bed With A Neighbor Sparking Debate About Wild Cats As Pets

It’s totally not unusual to wake up and find your cat snuggling in bed with you. In fact, as a cat parent, you’ve come to expect feline company in the bed.

But what if you woke up and found a kitty in your bed…and you didn’t have a cat. A surprise for sure, but what if the cat in question is actually a wild cat? And it’s six inches from your face?

Now, some of us cat folk would be elated that we’d been found by a big cat, but others may harbor some fear. This is probably wiser than trying to hug the wild cat, but hey, cat lovers often put themselves at risk thanks to their feline fancy!

Seriously though, don’t go hugging wild cats; they’re not afraid to use those big murder mittens to shoo us away.

Wild Cat on the Loose

In the wee hours of the morning, Kristine Frank’s husband, Dave, let their dog out and left the door open. When she heard what she described to the Atlanta Journal Constitution as a “thump” on the bed, she opened her eyes thinking it was the dog getting on the bed. But what she saw was not the dog.

“I opened my eyes, and there was this cat in my bed staring at me … and I just kind of screamed to my husband that this is not a normal house cat,” Kristine explained to AJC.

When Dave came running in, Kristine told WXIA, “I’m just in bed freaking out. He locked eyes with the cat, and the cat was kind of cornered. So, I slowly got out of the bed and tippy-toed out, and my husband was able to get the cat out of the house.”

He managed to catch a picture of the wild cat, which Kristine initially thought to be a bobcat. When they reported the incident to the Fulton County Animal Services and offered the photo proof, the Franks learned this was no bobcat, but an African serval cat that was most likely an escaped pet.

A couple of their neighbors in their Brookhaven neighborhood of Atlanta had also spotted the exotic cat, prompting Kristine to contact the Department of Natural Resources to report the incident. She also contacted The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit working to protect animals by way of the legal system, because as she said, “I feel like it would be better in a sanctuary rather than in someone’s home.”

Image Courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Kristine was worried about the safety of her family and others, telling 11 Alive, “I just think if my dog would have been in the house what would have happened to my dog? If I had small children, what would have happened to them?”

A Return Home, But Not for Long Due to Georgia Law

A neighbor managed to catch the wild cat, because as it turns out, the African serval turned out to be a South Carolina native and best friend to Anna Fyfe, not a wild animal after all. Anna moved from South Carolina to Georgia for school and brought feline friend Nala with her not realizing she was breaking Georgia law in having the serval as a pet.

When Nala escaped and authorities were contacted, The Animal Legal Defense Fund reached out to Anna regarding rehoming the exotic cat.

According to a tweet by Alicia Prygoski, ALDF senior legislative affairs manager, “We’ve offered to place the serval in a sanctuary where she will ‘get adequate care, proper nutrition and the space she needs to thrive and exhibit a lot of those natural behaviors that are impossible in private homes.’”

Though Nala is a cherished friend, raised from her cub days, many hold concern over people housing exotic cats in their homes. African servals may not be the size of a tiger or lion, but they can weigh up to 30lbs. and run at top speeds of 50mph, lending to their status as natural predators.

And having one appear in a home interacting with strangers could lead to the cat or a person getting harmed.

Alicia explained to AJC, “These are not the same as the domesticated cats that a lot of us share our homes with. A situation like the one that occurred is very concerning, because you have a serval cat walking into someone’s home, which is an unfamiliar environment, interacting with unfamiliar humans.”

She also tweeted, “Wild cats are not meant for private possession. We need federal laws — like the #BigCatPublicSafetyAct —to keep wild cats out of homes and beds!”

Sadly though, the Georgia law designed to protect big cats and humans has now separated this pair of best friends.

Understandable, But Still Sad

Anna brought Nala to Georgia from her parents’ home in South Carolina for emotional support after the end of a relationship, telling AJC, “I wanted to bring (Nala) over to Georgia to stay with me because I couldn’t even sleep at night.”

But now, Nala has been taken away and will be sent to a wildlife sanctuary. While Anna understands the Department of Natural Resources is just doing their job, she says, “I’m just devastated because Nala is my baby.”

Anna also commented, “The DNR did an amazing job at helping catch Nala and making sure everyone is safe, even though she is just a kitty and is harmless.”

While Anna understands why Nala was taken, she doesn’t understand why she couldn’t take Nala home to South Carolina where there are no laws against keeping servals as pets.

“I think the DNR should return Nala back to (me) as long as she is taken back to South Carolina immediately. It’s unfair to her to live out the rest of her life in a new environment.”

As of now, Nala is scheduled to be transferred to an undisclosed wildlife sanctuary and there are no charges pending against Anna.

So, it seems Nala just wanted to get comfy in bed as she was used to doing at home, but her appearance in a stranger’s house sparked a battle of what’s best for the feline. The idea of an unknown cat climbing into your bed may sound ideal to some of us, but for others, it can be a terrifying event.

In this case, a silly story has turned into a heartbreaker. Hopefully, Nala will find joy in a wild, but protected setting where she can safely flex her wild cat paws and have some fun.


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