The serval cat is a member of the Felidae family and occurs in the African grasslands and Sahara desert. However, they can survive in a number of habitats like savannah, bush, thickets, and moors. But can these predators be pets? While servals can become incredibly tame, they always retain their natural instincts and can become extremely aggressive, especially around food. Furthermore, some servals are triggered without warning, leading to a potentially dangerous situation.
However, these cats are legal in some states in the U.S. and highly in demand. But are serval cat prices in 2023 affordable? Continue reading to find out more about the costs of owning one of these wild cats and whether it’s a good idea to keep one as a pet.
The serval is a unique African cat with a lean body and long ears, neck, and legs. Their fur is usually tan or golden brown with black markings, both spots and stripes. This coloring helps them camouflage in the tall grasses of the savannah while they hunt. These cats can live up to 20 years in captivity but only ten years in the wild.
Some people keep servals as pets in the Unites States, but it is rare. Most servals in North America occur in large cat rescues or zoos. It is really tough to keep one of these wild cats as a pet because of the special needs and environment they require. However, hand-reared servals can develop a loving and trustworthy bond with their owner. One thing that makes it easy to own a serval is its ability to use a litterbox, just like domestic cats. Food will also be challenging for most owners, as they require more than tinned pet food. These cats need a raw diet, so things like rats, birds, small mammals, and rabbits must be on the menu. Furthermore, they need to be on nutritional supplements their entire lives. So, there is so much that goes into owning one of these wild cats.
How Much Does a Serval Cat Cost?
Many factors affect serval cat prices as they range from $3,000 to $10,000, and even more! But, once you bring one of these fiery cats home, have a look at some of the other costs involved in owning a serval.
Other Factors That Influence the Purchase Price of a Serval Cat
Just like any purebred cat, serval cat prices depend on several facts like gender, age, location, genetics, and breeder. For example, female servals cost less than males, and specimens from exceptional bloodlines will be more expensive.
It might be hard for people in the U.S. to obtain a serval because breeders generally only sell to USDA facilities. They want to know that their buyers abide by the state laws and requirements of owning a serval and how to care for them properly. Therefore, breeders have a strict vetting protocol and need to ensure that potential owners have thoroughly researched this species and can afford all the expenses that come with it, like enclosures, food, and medical bills. In addition, the sellers charge extra to find out if a potential buyer has the resources to look after a serval.
Since the serval is native to Africa, breeders must import them if they want a breeding pair with pure bloodlines. Therefore, their fees will reflect the cost of obtaining legal documentation, travel costs, and the purchase price. However, there are servals that are cross-bred with a domestic cat, called Savannah cats. They are not pure servals, making them more affordable and easier to find.
Level of Domestication
Because servals can be quite wild, their level of domestication plays a big factor in their price. So, for example, breeders put in a lot of time to domesticate these cats by hand-rearing them and getting them used to humans and other animals. Servals are solitary in the wild, and it is not natural for them to live with other animals. However, they do make good pets if trained properly.
The location of the breeder plays a huge factor in serval cat prices. If they are buying their cats from outside the U.S., they have more paperwork and expenses. However, if they purchase their servals from other breeders within the U.S., their costs are less, and they can charge their potential buyers less.
Cost of Vaccination and Other Medical Expenses for Serval Cats
|Secure van for transportation||$15,000 to $28,000|
|Stainless steel cage||$2,000 to $3,000|
Cost of Food and Supplies for Serval Cats
Owning a serval cat is not cheap; they come with a whole list of expenses that domestic cats don’t need. Below is a table of the cost of food and supplies for servals:
|Five acres of land||$15,000 to $100,000|
|Enclosure||$2,000 to $6,000|
|Enclosure Roofing||$2,500 to $10,000|
|Annual Liability Insurance||$1,000 to $14,000|
|Food||$4,000 to $6,000|
How Much Does It Cost to Insure a Serval Cat?
Unfortunately, no pet insurance companies will insure a serval because they are illegal in many states, and not many vets are qualified to work on them.
States That Have Restrictions on Owning a Serval Cat
Because the serval is considered a wild animal, you need to familiarize yourself with the laws of your state regarding the ownership of exotic pets. As mentioned above, they are illegal in many states, and others require you to have some sort of permit or license to own one. Having a license means the process of relinquishing said animal is very difficult, so you really need to think things through before getting a serval. Furthermore, servals can’t live in the back of an average yard; they need zoo-like environments, which are very expensive to build and maintain. Their enclosure needs space for them to run, hunt, and swim.
Additionally, they can only survive on a very specific, costly diet. However, it is legal to own a serval in 16 states of the USA. Here are the states where you can own a serval without any license or permit:
- North Carolina
The following states that allow servals, but owners need to have licenses:
- Rhode Island
- North Dakota
- South Dakota.
Risks of Owning a Serval Cat
While servals can become tame and affectionate, there are several risks you need to consider before getting one.
- Servals are unpredictable.
- They mark their territories; this can include marking their owners.
- They require a lot of training to get used to humans and don’t acclimate well to new owners.
- Not recommended for families with children as they usually play with their teeth and claws.
- They are full of energy and can destroy your house when letting off some steam.
Unless you are a trained professional who runs a rescue center or zoo, having a serval as a pet is not a good idea. Firstly, the cost of owning one of these beauties is through the roof. Secondly, they are wild cats, and although they have been domesticated, they are still unpredictable. Many become aggressive around food, and others can snap out of nowhere for no reason. Instead, why not look at the Savannah cat? They are very similar to servals, but they are calmer, easier to maintain, and don’t cost as much. But, if you live in a state where it is legal to keep a serval, and you have the grounds and money for it, there is nothing stopping you.
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