F1 Savannah cat on the loose near Chicago

Owner Fears ‘Tiki’ Can’t Survive Cold

POSTED: 1:53 pm CST December 5, 2006
UPDATED: 2:28 pm CST December 5, 2006

GILBERTS, Ill. — Nancy Starrenburg, an avid animal rescuer from northwest suburban Gilberts, has been missing a part of her family since early November — her 3-year-old cat, Tiki.

Tiki’s not just any household cat. He’s an F1 Savannah (similar to the one pictured) — 75 percent African serval (an African wild cat) and 25 percent domestic Bengal (an ancestor of the Asian leopard cat). These cats are rare, and while Starrenburg declined to put an exact dollar amount on Tiki’s value, breeding sites say they can go for as much as a 2007 Chevrolet Aveo.

Tiki is not only rare and valuable, but he’s smart, having learned to open doors. And on Nov. 9 he did just that and ran out of the family’s home, according to Starrenburg.

“We’re just heartbroken. He’s truly our baby,” said Starrenburg, who has two dogs and 10 cats on her farm. “It’s just so unfair considering I’m very active in rescue and I’ve helped so many guys [cats and dogs] out by finding them foster homes and by taking in strays.”

Regardless, Tiki’s atypical appearance and athletic ability would make him hard to miss, said Starrenburg, who has posted several signs around the community describing the exotic cat.

“He has a beige, silvery and tawny coat with black spots,” she said. “He’s very slender and tall with large ears with eye spots on the back of them and he can leap 8 to 8 feet in the air.”

A glimmer of hope remains after Tiki, who was a gift to Starrenburg, was spotted last Saturday along Binnie Road at an abandoned farmstead.

Even so, Starrenburg’s faith is dwindling.

“He’s probably suffering because his native habitat is in the African savannah and I don’t know if he can survive the cold or not. He’s been indoors all of his life. I’m just hoping he gets cold enough and hungry enough to go to a person.”

Starrenburg is offering a substantial monetary reward to anyone who finds Tiki. Anyone with information can call 847-428-9194.

http://www.nbc5.com/news/10469094/detail.html

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