If you’re familiar with zoology or wild animals, you may have heard of the serval cat. They look similar to a leopard, and I was surprised when I learned that some people domesticated them and kept them as pets.

While there are many admirable qualities to the serval, there are also risks involved with keeping one as a pet.

W’hat Is a Serval Cat?

A serval is a cat native to the African grasslands typically found south of the Sahara Desert. The cat has a lean body and the longest legs and largest ears of any cat breed.

Their coats are predominantly shades of tan or orange with black or dark brown markings. The coat pattern helps the cat disguise itself when hunting in tall grasses. The serval is a solitary animal that can live around 20 years. A subspecies of the serval is considered endangered, per the San Diego Zoo.

Small Cats of Africa offers an explanation of this exotic cat’s history:The Serval was the symbol of the Italian Tomasi family, princess of the island of Lampedusa. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, wrote the famous Italian novel IlGattopardo. Despite being known as The Leopard in English, the Italian title actually refers to a serval. The Serval’s North African range is near Lampedusa.

The San Diego Zoo adds that ancient Egyptians worshiped the serval for its grace and power.

Some people keep them as exotic pets today, but they are limited in number. Most servals can be found at zoos or large cat rescues, and there is a reason for this. This isn’t a domestic house cat with awesome abilities; a serval is a wild animal that has specific needs and inherited instincts that need to be nurtured in a specific environment.

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