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Serval Care Guide

Camnish Servals supports responsible serval ownership as an important part of maintaining a happy, healthy cat. Our handpicked serval owners must learn about the servals specific behavioral needs, learn to budget their time and resources for proper care. You have to understand how to supply a well rounded nutritional diet plan and health care program for these cats, you also have to understand how to read their temperament, body language, and vocal sounds. Our feline friends rely on you to make sure that all their needs are met, that they are cared for properly, and that they are kept safe and comfortable. Being a responsible care giver means you get to appreciate all the joy your serval companion brings you every day. And the feeling will be mutual.

The African Serval is a fascinating member of the cat family and can become a very affectionate pet. Servals develop an intense emotional bond with their original owners and will often choose one member of the human family to form a strong bond with. You must always remember as an owner of a Serval, that these cats will always be considered a "wild animal." You will never completely domesticate them. Servals that are treated with the love and respect they deserve, will bond with the people that take care of them like no other animal you have ever seen.

Responsible Ownership

When you accept the duty and responsibility of caring for any animal like a Serval, you must realize that the animal depends on you not just for food, shelter and medical care, but also depends on you for companionship and love.

Re-homing a Serval

On occasion people buy Servals as pets and for one reason or another they may find that they are not able to keep them anymore. There are several reasons why this may happen. One reason is the cost of caring for a Serval cat. It is very expensive and if an owner loses his job or gets injured in some way, it could make it impossible to continue caring for the Serval in the way it needs to be cared for. Another reason is if the province or state the Serval cat is in decides to change the exotic animal law and makes it illegal to keep the Serval, You the owner will be faced with a heart breaking decision that has to be made. If this should happen please contact Camnish Servals immediately.

Emergency Care Plan

The bond that a Serval forms with their owner is very intense and separation is extremely upsetting to them. Always have an emergency backup plan, in case of a hospital stay or worse. It is important to have your serval bond with someone in your circle in case such an emergency arises.

Behaviors of Servals

For the most part, servals make excellent pets. However, before you decide to become the proud new owner, you may want to know the pros and the cons of this uniquely large cat. Knowing the generalities about serval behavior can help you decide whether or not to take on the duty and responsibility with this kind of cat.

Serval cats become very loyal to their families and they will follow their owners around, can be trained to walk on a leash, and will even wag their tail when they are excited or happy. When properly socialized as a kitten, they will grow up to be very friendly and sociable cats. They are known for being great with children, however care should be taken with young children that may be too rough with the new family cat. One interesting behavior about serval cats is their love for water. They can swim and play in water all day. Many even prefer splashing around in water over other toys. Serval cats love to cuddle and are very playful. They will then curl up in your arms while you watch television and many servals will make their bed over your feet during the night.

Some negative behaviors of the serval cats are they can be aggressive if not properly socialized while they are young. When meeting new people, an adult serval may run and hide. If cornered, they may even growl, hiss, bite or scratch. This is typical of any cat that is not friendly. Servals are notorious for getting themselves into lots of trouble. They are very curious and inquisitive too. This means that they can reach and open cabinets no matter how high they are. You will need to Serval proof your home, as you would child proof your home.

There are intelligent behaviors these cats instinctively possess, that were developed for their survival in the wild, and will instinctively be part of them as pets. They have a naturally shy and skittish demeanor, yet are very active, and they have focused attention and drive in their play.
Some of their natural behaviors can include:

Escape from danger

One of the intelligent behaviors of the serval it that they will run from danger. If you ever run after or chase after a Serval, they will think you are trying to hurt them. So they run from you thinking you are the danger. You should never chase your Serval except in an emergency. But even in an emergency, you should try to get the Serval to come to you, by cooing or baby talking, by playing with his/her favorite toy, or by treats. You will have better success trying to get the Serval to come to you instead of you trying to catch them.

Weary of Strangers

When a serval gets older they may become shy of strangers. They may not be open to welcoming strangers, since strangers will not belong to their pride. That's why if you decide to own a Serval, make sure to get one at a young age, because kittens usually bond with their human by the time they are 8 weeks old. Camnish Servals raise are litters in the home and are handled from an early age.

Servals and Children

All small children should be supervised around Servals. Children do not understand the things that they do and can cause a reaction in this high energy cat breed. They can act unpredictably and may poke at the eyes or pull on a tall and these things might get a child scratched if the kitten is startled or surprised. Actions such as these can make a serval afraid of children, they may develop a fear of children that will stick with them permanently, and therefore we recommend children are supervised around all servals and taught to interact properly.

Bonding with Your Serval

Whilst every genuine serval owner' goal is to give them a safe, happy and healthy life, it is good to bear in mind that in the beginning you are a stranger to a small kitten and it is riddled with fear and uncertainty. Forming a good bond with your new serval kitten will assist in preventing future nervous and behavioral problems as the kitten grows older. When you are trying to become friends with your Serval one of the best things is to feed them directly from your hands. This will teach trust. They will learn you are giving them something good when you are reaching for them.

Another way to bond with the Serval is, lay down on the floor with the cat and their favorite toy. Playing with them when you are level with them, eye-to-eye, will make them more at ease and they will soon become comfortable with you, no matter if you are standing, sitting or lying down.

Never force yourself on your Serval, Never yell at your Serval, and never physically hold them against their will. This will teach them to run and be frightened of you instead of trusting to you. You must remember you must be patient. It may take a while for them to bond with you.

Serval Health Care

Serval cats are pretty hardy, but it's important to be prepared should your pet cat get sick. For safe measure, if there is any reason that you suspect that your Serval is ill; the best thing is to take it to a veterinarian. Your pet Serval can't tell you what is bothering them so you have to be the one to look for signs of illness.

Things to look for include indicating illnesses are drastic mood changes, vomiting, diarrhea and straining while urinating. Particularly, you should be wary of diarrhea (watery stools). In a young cat, this can dehydrate them in a few hours and they may need fluids intravenously. If you see diarrhea more than twice in a row, it would be prudent to have a veterinarian check out the Serval. Treatment is usually easy and quick once the vet determines the cause of the diarrhea. Diarrhea can sometimes result from a change in diet. But this usually goes away quickly.

There is also some routine medical care, and some optional considerations when keeping Serval cats as pets, including:

Vaccinations
Serval cats require the same vaccinations that domestic cats do. Make sure your veterinarian uses ONLY vaccines made from killed viruses. Exotic cats may become sick and die if live vaccines are used. This is very important.

Serval Play

Servals are very playful, as you will soon find out. They will bring things to you for you to throw to them. They are natural retrievers and they love playing fetch. Some Servals will play fetch for hours. Because they love water, it is not surprising to see your Serval peek-a-booing you when you are in the shower. They will enjoy having a kiddy pool in their outside cage. They have fun cleaning their toys. At night, if you have more than one, they will often start playing and chasing each other around the house, even bouncing off of the walls while you try to sleep.

Serval cats and toys

Servals love playing with toys. When they are young, toys that are made for domestic cats will be fine. But when they are older, those toys are too small and they will destroy most of them quickly. Some toys may be so small that they will swallow them and choke or block their intestines.

Toys that are made for medium to large sized dog work well. It is fun going to the pet store purchasing dog toys for your cat. Just sit back and watch the reaction when the clerk says, "awww, you buying toys for your dog?", and you reply, "no, buying toys for my cat."

Chewing kittens

Serval kittens like to chew like a puppy. It is a good idea to have plenty of toys that they can chew on. The hard plastic is preferable. The soft plastic can be eaten, which is definitely not good. If you provide them with plenty of toys, they will be less likely not chew on things that you don't want them to destroy or things that may hurt them. If they begin chewing on electrical cords, a good solution is to spray the exposed cords with bitter apple spray (available at pet stores). This will discourage them. Re-apply frequently as needed. This also works on other items that they may chew such as decorative pillows. As they mature they usually do not chew very much.