As with many of the servals we have at Big Cat Rescue, PURRsonality seems to enjoy the daily attention she gets from her volunteer keepers. She eagerly plays with any enrichment items that are given to her to break up the monotony of life in captivity. She can be seen batting spice bags around and rubbing and rubbing them until the scent has completely disappeared.
As with most of our servals, this is the type of playful, non-threatening behavior you’ll see from them during the daytime. But, feeding time is a whole different story. The minute food is involved; these diminutive little cats become dangerous carnivores. PURRsonality is no exception.
Though servals are often touted as great exotic pets, nothing could be farther from the truth. Ask many of our keepers and they will all say the same thing: they’d much prefer feeding the larger tigers than these little wildcats like PURRsonality. Looks can be very deceiving!
Most of our servals were rescued from people who got them as pets and were not prepared for the fact that male or female, altered or not, they all spray buckets of urine when they become adults. Some were being sold at auction where taxidermists would buy them and club them to death in the parking lot, but a few were born here in the early days when we were ignorant of the truth and were being told by the breeders and dealers that these cats should be bred for “conservation.” Once we learned that there are NO captive breeding programs that actually contribute to conservation in the wild we began neutering and spaying our cats in the mid 1990’s. Knowing what we do about the intelligence and magnificence of these creatures we do not believe that exotic cats should be bred for lives in cages. Read more about our Evolution of Thought HERE
Kricket the serval was born in 2001 and had been kept as a pet, but when her owners divorced, the wife decided that she didn’t have time for Kricket and began looking for a home for her.
We agreed to rescue Kricket and began preparing an enclosure for her with lots of places to hide and fun things to explore, she’d just spent the last ten years living indoors so we wanted to make her adjustment to life outside as stress free and enjoyable as possible.
Her owner was willing to contract with us to never possess another exotic cat, Kricket was then shipped from Virginia to Florida via Delta Dash.
We were at the airport to pick her up and Joseph the lion gave Kricket a roaring welcome to the sanctuary when she arrived!
Exotic cats kept as pets are often fed improper diets resulting in serious health problems. Her former owner, a vegan, insisted that Kricket chose a predominantly vegetarian diet, but we’ve never known a cat to do so.
The former owner said the deformities that Kricket suffers from were from injuries and not diet related.
She insisted that Kricket preferred broccoli to animals, but here Kricket loves the variety of raw meat.
Whatever Kricket’s diet was it’s obviously taken a toll on the little serval, her back and rear legs show signs of stunted development and her tail is unusually curled, which is most likely the result of her past injuries, inbreeding that is common in the pet trade and her insufficient diet. Some of Kricket’s bone deformities have improved since she has been on an improved diet.
Watch more about Kricket and a few of her new serval friends who were rescued the same year.
Serval Rescue! An African Serval was limping along in the Arizona desert until she collapsed alongside a road.
She had almost completely given up the will to live. She was probably a pet or perhaps used in the hybrid breeding scheme that has become all the rage where Servals are bred to domestic house cats to produce Savannah Cat hybrids. The domestic cats are often killed in the process. The kittens sell for thousands of dollars, but when they mature they typically spray and bite and make awful pets. The hybrids are usually discarded by the time they are two or three years old.
This Serval was obviously abandoned and was placed by authorities at the Tucson Wildlife Center, a non-profit sanctuary dedicated to native wildlife. Lisa Bates-Lininger the founding president of the Tucson Wildlife Center said, “She was dehydrated and tired and just ready to give up. She may have died last night, but luckily we got her in. We got her emergency treatment, fluids for shock, and she’s also missing a rear leg.”
Despite 18 media posts including TV news in Tucson and a post on Craig’s list looking for the owner no one admits to having abandoned this Serval to die in the desert. Thanks to some very generous supporters the serval was flown to her new permanent home at Big Cat Rescue where she is recovering well. Servals can live into their late teens and proper care is thousands of dollars each year. Her new 1,200 square foot Cat-a-tat had to be specially modified to accommodate her three legged hopping. It seems that she only recently lost her leg as she has a very difficult time keeping her balance. We are writing vets in the Tucson area to find out if any of them know what tragedy caused her to lose a limb and to see if there is any way to prosecute those who exposed her to such danger.
Appx. DOB 1/1/2009
Rescued on 5/5/2013
Ginger is approximately four years old and was bottle raised from a kitten. She did not have a name, so in keeping with the Gilligan’s Island theme she was named Ginger. Ginger was kept in a cage about 9′ x 12′. On one side of her two cougars were housed and on the other was an empty cage about half the size of hers.
That empty cage housed another serval who died a few months before the rescue. Sadly the serval had become wedged in between the door panels and died. It is unknown how the serval died. The dead serval was left in the cage for weeks before it was removed and dumped in an open pit just a few feet from the cage.
Ginger was the first cat at the Kansas property to be captured. She was netted by Big Cat Rescuers so volunteer veterinarian Dr. Justin and the Kansas City Zoo veterinarian could examine her. Despite living next door to two large intimidating cats, witnessing the death of her serval neighbor, and living in complete filth, Ginger was surprisingly calm during her capture and exam, and quickly adapted to her new found comforts at Big Cat Rescue.
A woman in NY was battling cancer, her sister had run off leaving her with her three children ages 6-17 and her home was in foreclosure…. She also had five servals living in her basement!
She would never be able to rent an apartment to keep her five servals and was left no choice but to try and find them a new home. After careful consideration we decided that we were able to rescue the 5 servals and immediately went into action. All the servals currently at the sanctuary live alone which they prefer as they’re solitary by nature, so in order to house 5 servals in one enclosure we had to get creative. We joined two existing enclosures together which made one huge 3000 sq ft space that the servals could roam around in and enjoy.
On top of joining the enclosures together, we added platforms, den boxes, hideaway areas and we were told they had a waterfall as kittens and loved it, so we also added a pool! We received the import permits, loaded the van with carriers and equipment then started on the long drive to New York while others finished preparing the enclosure.
We arrived in Cohoes New York, just north of Albany to a typical residential neighborhood, the 5 servals had been kept in the basement of the house which had been converted into a living room and except for a few escapes over the years including an incident where one of the owners was bit and in hospital for a week, they’d never spent any time outside. There were 4 males, Santino, Doodles, Zoul and Zimba and 1 female Zouletta, all 5 had been declawed and were between the ages of 12 and 14 years.
All the servals except for Doodles are related and had been purchased from a pet store in Latham NY, Doodles was added to the serval pack at a later date and ironically belonged to a man in Florida who’s wife told him to choose between her and the cat!
It was a kind of a bizarre and an uneasy experience to walk into the basement area and see the 5 servals hanging out in front of the fire, by the TV and on top of the hot tub! It is hard to imagine that these cats spent much time out of their concrete floored cell because the furniture and hot tub cover were not chewed and these five love to chew! But most of all it was just sad to see these 5 wild cats in such cramped unnatural conditions. The owners obviously loved the cats and had planned on them being a part of their life, they’d constructed a caged area with a drain in the floor so they could clean more easily and shut them off into the area when they had company or weren’t in the house. The cats weren’t living in filthy conditions, it was obvious they’d been fed as they all looked overweight, the owners recounted stories of them playing on pool tables and with their air hockey game, but it didn’t change the fact that their ignorance had led to the cats living on concrete in these dungeon like settings for over a decade….
Of course life has lots of surprises and circumstances change and the owners are now unable to afford or house the servals any longer…
So the rescue began…
With the help of the owners we managed to get four of the five servals into the carriers quite easily, but Doodles wasn’t impressed with these strangers invading his territory and wouldn’t go into the carrier even after we tried using food to lure him in, so he had to be netted.
Sedating cats is always the last resort, certain cats can react badly to the drugs, so we never do this unless it’s absolutely necessary…
With all 5 servals safely loaded into the BCR van and the last tearful goodbyes said, we began our long drive back to Tampa, we drove straight through the night and over 20 hours later arrived back at the sanctuary!
More staff members were waiting to help unload the cats, we weighed all the servals on the way to their new enclosure, they weighed between 31 and 42lbs, ideally they should have weighed between 20 and 30lbs.
We lined the carriers up and prepared them so we could simply unlatch the doors when we were out of the enclosure. Santino, easily recognizable with his old injury of a broken ear was the first to emerge from the carriers and explore. One by one the other servals finally began to follow his lead and introduced themselves to the outside world and their new home.
The only way we can continue to rescue cats in need like Santino, Doodles, Zimba, Zoul and Zouletta is through your support. Stay tuned for future updates on all 6 servals and how they’re adapting to life at Big Cat Rescue. You can help us change the way people treat big cats by donating at the top right of the page.
These are a few of the photos from the rescue of five servals who had been kept in a NY basement for more than 12 years.
Doodles enjoyed 5 years of living outdoors in the shade of oak trees with lots of ferns and butterflies to entertain his hunter spirit. Doodles the Serval survived emergency surgery 7/13/16 to remove a mass that had left him unable to move. He had shown no signs of being ill, and then last night he laid down and just would not move, no matter how much he didn’t want us near him. Dr. Justin Boorstein removed the mass, but it was attached to an artery, so his prognosis was not good. Doodles is 17, which is the average age our servals live to be, and is 5 years older than they usually live elsewhere. We had to see if removing the mass would give him a few more years, but unfortunately this is the end. He passed on this morning. Thanks for all the kind thoughts and prayers.