The Domesticated Serval
The Serval's are exotic cats but have been domesticated for thousands of years. Over 10,000 years ago in ancient Egypt these cats were the first domesticated. They originate from the Savannahs (grasslands) in Africa. Although most of them you would see here in North America are all born in North America and are at least 10 to 20 generations from being born in the Africa. I know my Serval cat goes back to the 1980 born in captivity. Some go back to the 1960's born in North America.
The Serval's long legs and large ears aid them in hunting in tall grasses, hearing the smallest insect or rodent, and the ability to jump 10 feet straight up to catch a bird in flight. The cheetah look allows them to be hidden in the tall grasses. In a home, they are wonderful pets, although larger then your average domesticated cat. They can get up to 35 pounds. They can jump 12 ft into the air so you may want to Serval proof you home. They are highly intelligent and seem to be able to open cupboards, windows and doors. So yes Serval proof you home.
They can be litter-box trained if you begin early. Doing this is easiest if you can put them in a large cage or small room with a big litter box. We use tall cat boxes with pine pellets. We keep 3 or 4 around the home.
It is important to crate train your cats as well. It gives him/her a place she feels comfortable if you wants to get away from everything. It also makes it easier to travel with them. You can also leash train them with a harness type leash. My cat loves to get out for walks.
The serval is extremely intelligent, and demonstrate remarkable problem-solving ability, making it notorious for getting into mischief.
The serval is a medium-sized cat, measuring 59 to 92 cm (23 to 36 in) in head-body length, with a relatively short, 20 to 45 cm (7.9 to 18 in) tail, and a shoulder height of about 54 to 66 cm (21 to 26 in). Weight ranges from about 7 to 12 kg (15 to 26 lb) in females, and from 9 to 18 kg (20 to 40 lb) in males.
It is a strong yet slender animal, with long legs and a fairly short tail. Due to its leg length, it is relatively one of the tallest cats. The head is small in relation to the body, and the tall, oval ears are set close together. The pattern of the fur is variable. Usually, the serval is boldly spotted black on tawny, with two or four stripes from the top of the head down the neck and back, transitioning into spots.
A serval viewed from behind. Note the white markings on the ears (ocelli) used to signal kittens when hunting. Like most cats, the serval is a solitary, nocturnal animal. It is known to travel as much as 3 to 4 kilometres (1.9 to 2.5 mi) each night in search of food. The female defends home ranges of 9.5 to 19.8 square kilometres (3.7 to 7.6 sq mi), depending on local prey availability, while the male defends larger territories of 11.6 to 31.5 square kilometres (4.5 to 12.2 sq mi), and marks its territory by spraying urine onto prominent objects such as bushes, or, less frequently, by scraping fresh urine into the ground with its claws.
Like many cats, the serval is able to purr. The serval also has a high-pitched chirp, and can hiss, cackle, growl, grunt, and meow.
Reproduction and life history
Oestrus in the serval lasts for up to four days, and is typically timed so the kittens will be born shortly before the peak breeding period of local rodent populations. A serval is able to give birth to multiple litters throughout the year, but commonly does so only if the earlier litters die shortly after birth. Gestation lasts from 66 to 77 days and commonly results in the birth of two kittens, although sometimes as few as one or as many as four have been recorded.
The kittens weigh around 250 g (8.8 oz) at birth, and are initially blind and helpless, with a coat of greyish woolly hair. They open their eyes at 9 to 13 days of age, and begin to take solid food after around a month. At around six months, they acquire their permanent canine teeth and begin to hunt for themselves; they leave their mother at about 12 months of age. They may reach sexual maturity from 12 to 25 months of age.
Life expectancy is about 5 to 10 years in the wild, and up to 15 to 20 years in captivity.
Declawing and altering your cat??
If you choose to declaw your cat it should be done as young as possible, not later than 5 months. They should be neutered or spayed if you are keeping a pet. They are less likely to spray if altered.
Do you need permits??
Most places require a permit for these pets. Each location is different in their requirements. Some require permits to breed, others just to own, and some have no requirements. Certain places make it easy as a phone call and visit by the USDA to inspect your facilities. Others have very stringent requirements, often mandating hours of training in order to get a permit, such as the case in Florida. At any rate, you must have a secure place for the animal to live, whether it be inside you home, or out in a large caged and fenced area. There must be a top on the cage.
To discipline your Serval never hit or hurt them. It is simple to make them mind by the spray bottle method. Get a spray bottle and put 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water. Just spray it at the animal when it is doing something wrong. At the same time say NO! The vinegar has a bad taste and unpleasant odor. This is an easy and humane way to teach your cat to mind.
All in all these cats are just wonderful animals. Once you open your heart to this majestic animal you will never look back. Your cat will give you unconditional love.