Serval Cat: Characteristics, Breed Profile & Care

History, Appearance, Personality, Care Personality, & Helpful Info for Pet Owners

The spotted serval cat, a long-legged African wildcat, can be kept as an exotic pet.

However, it requires a lot of space to play and a diet that includes whole prey. These cats need large outdoor enclosures that are warm all year to keep them happy and healthy. 

Servile cat ownership is illegal in many areas. In some places, licenses, permits, or inspections are required.

Before you contact a breeder or exotic animal veterinarian, make sure to check your local laws.

Overview of Breeds

PERSONALITY: Independent, aloof, intelligent, athletic

WEIGHT: 20-40 Pounds

LENGTH: 2 feet


COAT COLORS: Yellow to Buff with Black Spots and Stripes



LIFESPAN: Captivity up to 22 years


ORIGIN: Africa

Characteristics of Serval Cats

The serval cat is more comfortable in the wild than in people’s homes. Although the serval cat isn’t very vocal, it can make loud noises that could disturb neighbors.

These include high-pitched growls and hisses, as well as high-pitched cries.

The serval has any cat’s longest legs (in relation to its body). The serval can jump to catch birds up to five feet high and dig for ground squirrel prey.

This active hunter is tall and requires more space than most homes can provide. It also faces the daunting task of feeding its hungry game.

This cat is unsuitable for families with children or pets due to its size (up to 40 pounds), wild temperament, and aloof personality.

The serval is not interested in being cuddled or stroked. A serval may bond with one person generously and develop an emotional attachment to the point that it would be difficult to re-home.

Affection LevelMedium
Exercise NeedsHigh
Energy LevelHigh
Tendency To VocalizeMedium
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History of the Serval Cat

The African serval cat is a stealthy hunter that hails from tall grasses and bushes. Although they resemble cheetahs, servals are smaller and have longer tails than their cousins.

They also have larger ears and smaller ears. Wild servals live alone and have a territory of seven miles.

Serval cats have been kept since ancient Egypt by humans and have been depicted in their art. However, they are not yet fully domesticated.

Over a century ago, breeding stock arrived in America. You may see serval cats that have been bred from African imports. Even domestically-bred servals can be subject to exotic animal laws.

Breeders cross serval and domestic cats to create hybrids like the Savannah cat. If you love the look of servals but want a smaller cat that is easier to take care of, a Savannah may be the better choice.

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Care for Serval Cats

These solitary and active cats, who often travel miles each day in the wild, require large, secure enclosures. Some servals will jump over fences or dig under fences.

A fence should be installed on all sides, including the top. The fencing should also extend several feet underground.

You can provide water for your cat to drink, swim, or even catch fish.

Because of its size, activity level, and propensity to jump, a serval is not suitable for house pets. It can be dangerous to wires and breakable objects, as well as cause injury.

A serval can’t be litter-trained completely. Urinating on things is their way to mark territory. This includes furniture and walls if they are not confined to human homes.

Although many pet servals are declawed to prevent injury to people, it is a painful practice and can lead to infections. It also makes them vulnerable when they encounter other animals like aggressive dogs.

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Common Health Problems

Swallowing foreign objects can cause a common veterinary emergency in servals. These items can get lodged in their throats and make it difficult for them to pass. Servals love to eat and are hungry animals.

This is why they will restate food and re-consume it. A serval can choke if regurgitation fails.

If you are considering a serval, ensure your veterinarian can provide exotic pet care. Servals require the same annual immunizations as domestic cats.

However, ordinary small animal vets may not be able to treat servals because they are technically wild animals.

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Servals can grow up to 2 feet at the shoulders and up to 40 pounds.

These slim, sleek cats have small heads and large ears. About their bodies, the tails of servals are shorter than those of other cats.

The long necks of Servals, combined with their long legs, have earned them the nickname “giraffe cat” by those who have seen them in the wild.

The coats of servals are usually golden, with black lines and spots. Sometimes these spots connect to form lines. Their eyes are amber and their bellies are white.

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Diet and nutrition

A pet serval should have a varied diet that includes living prey, which it can follow and eat as wild animals.

Africa is home to many species of animals, including birds, fish and reptiles, rodents, rabbits, frogs, and fish.

To find their prey, servals use their hearing and sight more than their senses of smell.

They love to play with their food and enjoy puzzles or games that make their meals more enjoyable.

A formulated pelleted diet can be an excellent supplement to a serval’s diet, but it should not comprise the majority of any meal, or the animal’s health could decline.

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Where to Adopt or Buy a Serval Cat

Servals can be bred in captivity or caught wild. Wild animals require a responsible, skilled owner to meet their needs.

In 16 U.S. states, owning and operating a serval is legal. A license is not required in North Carolina, Alabama or Nevada. A license can be obtained to serve in Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Indiana. Pennsylvania. Rhode Island. Maine, Montana. Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota. All other states make it illegal to own a serval.

For more information, please contact the Feline Conservation Foundation.

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Serval Cat Overview

Contrary to most cats, servals can be wild animals. They should be treated as such. These servals are active, independent, large felines and require whole animals to eat. There are many reasons not to own a service.

  • Beautiful and exotic
  • Long-lived
  • One person may bond well with another
  • Unique dietary requirements
  • It is not recommended for pets or children.
  • Large outdoor enclosure required.
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Additional Research and Breeds

You might be interested in similar breeds.

  • Bengal cat
  • Egyptian mau
  • Toyger cat

You can also check out our cat breed profiles.


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Can you have a serval cat as a pet?

A serval can be kept as a pet in certain states. However, a permit is required.

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Do servals make good pets?

Servals are not good pets and don’t thrive in captivity. They can be expensive and difficult to care for.

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Are servals the same as savannah cats?

A serval, a wild animal sometimes allowed to be kept as a pet, is not a serval. Savannah is a mix of a wild and domestic cat. Savannah cats are an officially recognized breed of pet cats.

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what is a serval cat?

The serval, a wild cat native to Africa, is called a serval. It is the only member of the genus Leptailurus. It is uncommon in North Africa and the Sahel. However, it is common in sub-Saharan nations, except in rainforest areas. It is found in protected areas. Hunting is prohibited in the range countries.

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How much is a serval cat?

Exotic Kittens are expensive to buy

The price of a rare cat will go up. Most mid-sized cats, such as Servals or Caracals, cost around $1,700 – $2,800. Ocelots and Ocelots can be as high as $15,000.

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