Servals: Big Cats that Need HelpPublished May 3, 2011
Image Souce: Big Cat Rescue
When I was a little girl, my father read to me for hours on end. And much to my delight he would frequently pull "The Tiger in the House- A Cultural History of the Cat", by Carl Van Vechten, off the shelf.
But it was only after cats became a central part of my life that I truly grasped the implication of Van Vechten’s title for this most delightful book; that living with a cat gives us the opportunity to experience a diminutive and tame version of a wild, big cat.
Getting a Taste of the Wild: Owning Big Cats
To experience a “taste of the wild," some folks have opted to open their homes to big cats, like serval cats. Since the serval is a medium size cat with the average weight for a female ranging between 15-26 pounds, and males averaging between 20-40 pounds, at first glance they may seem to make ideal pets.
Big Cats Aren't House Pets
Unfortunately the serval doesn’t make a good house pet since it is a wild animal. Even if the big cat is hand-raised and tamed, it will never be a “lap cat." Servals can live up to 20 years and ideally need an indoor-outdoor facility with sufficient exercise space, a pool in which to swim and dive, and lots of climbing opportunities. These wild cats are escape artists and need totally secure surroundings. By nature they are solitary animals and in the wild prefer to hunt in an area that spans several miles.
Laws Surrounding Big Cats
In the 1990s it was legal to own these big cats, but today it is against the law. But according to Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida, anyone who owned a serval before the ban was instituted are allowed to keep them until they die. And today, Carole needs help to rescue five servals who have been living in a damp and musky basement for over 12 years.
Rescuing Big Cats
Chris, their owner bought them from a defunct pet store when they were kittens, taking them home with the intention of giving them a permanent loving home. While she adored the cats, she soon learned they would escape at every opportunity, and territorially spray urine everywhere. So they were finally relegated to the basement. They were fed a canned diet called ZuPreem and given newspaper to shred to entertain them, given pumpkins to play with at Halloween, eggs for Easter, and Christmas trees for enrichment, but they grew fat and out of condition living in an enclosure that was only 25 feet long and 12 feet wide.
Chris’s home went into foreclosure when she was battling Cancer, and along with other life-challenging issues, Chris knew it was time to find a sanctuary for these needy cats. Though a chain of events and with the help of wonderful supporters of Big Cat Rescue, the five servals can have a wonderful home. Arrangements have been made for them to be housed in a 3,000 + square foot enclosure where they will awaken to the birds, chase butterflies and lizards, play with one another and feel the grass under their feet.
Rescuing Big Cats: Big Cat Rescue Needs Your Help
But in order to make this happen Big Cat Rescue needs help. For those interested in getting involved, for a limited time, all donations will be matched here. Every little bit helps immensely.
To learn more about Big Cat Rescue, watch the inspiring video produced by Matching Grant.