Our careful observations of the Serval prove it to be a very intelligent animal. They have good problem solving abilities and they are a very curious and crafty species. Because of these traits the serval can be trained with dedication and repetition. These cats have a different mindset than the domestic pet cat, and have special training requirements.
Litter Training Servals
The Serval kitten is very adaptable and you will be able to use a standard litter box. As they get older you will need a larger box that gives them enough room to do their business. Always be sure to keep the box clean. Servals will refuse to urinate in a box that has been defecated in so and advantage is to use two litter boxes, one for urination and one for defecation. This will help you a great deal but you must be diligent and keep these litter boxes clean.
Below is a list of the basics for training your Serval to use the litter box, its maintenance, and some other important factors you should know:
Train to litter box
When you receive your kitten from Camnish Servals, the kitten will be ready to be litter trained. But you must show your kitten where the litter box is in order for him/her to release himself. A Serval will use a litter box to urinate and defecate if they are taught to do so. Servals do not naturally cover up scat like domestic cats will do.
Watch your vocal tone!
Don't ever yell at your kitten if it makes a mistake, this will start you two off in a bad way and will create problems. In the wild they use one or two spots to urinate and defecate in their territory and tend to stick with those spots. Your Serval will use the litter box as their spot if your train them to know that is the spot.
Train using repetition
If you see the kitten going in the wrong spot you should pick it up and bring it to the litter box. You should not scold the Serval for this. You may need to show your kitten the litter box several times, but once they recognize this as their spot, they will faithfully use it.
The litter box must be cleaned daily, and change the litter once a week. They may occasionally urinate or defecate elsewhere. When you discover this is happening, you must clean the spot thoroughly. NO AMMONIA cleaning products rather clean the area with an enzyme-based odor remover and then use "Feliway" on the spot to discourage this behavior.
Litter box and other domestic cats
If you have domestics cats, do not allow them to use the same box as the Serval. This will only deter the Serval from using its own litter box. If your domestics have urinated on carpets, upholstery or furniture, so will your Serval. You must thoroughly clean those areas with the above mentioned and forbid your domestics in those areas.
Harness Training Servals
If you want to be able to take your Serval places with you, you should have your Serval wearing a harness at an early age. Always use a harness, and never trust a collar. They can get out of a collar within seconds. When you start harness training, they will think this is fun and will not cooperate at first. But with time and patience they will start to understand that this is a routine humans prefer.
It is a good idea to put the harness on them and let them walk around to get accustomed to having the straps around their body. After they are accustomed to the harness and leash then you can take them out for short walks around the house, near your doors so if there is trouble you may have a fast entrance into the house.
Make sure that they cannot get out of the harness at all. Servals are contortionists when they want to get out of a situation. If something scares them and they try to get out of the harness to run, you may not be able to grab them quickly. They won't really be trying to run away from you but rather they are trying to run away from something that scares them or that they are uncertain of. At all costs, try to prevent the animal from getting loose. When they get loose outside, in an unfamiliar environment, they get scared and they may even be scared of you under those circumstances. A Serval on the loose can cause a stir in the neighborhood. And someone may think that it is dangerous and shoot it. Strangers who try to catch it will just frighten it more. This situation should be avoided at all costs. Camnish Servals use tracking collars in case of escape and we can recommend top quality tracking products.
When you find your Serval doing something that you don't want them to, it is best to reprimand them with a firm "No". If they play too rough, such as biting too hard, a firm "No!" and a light tap on the head will discourage them. If it does not work, walk away and quit playing. Servals are very smart and also very stubborn, so it may take several repetitions in order for them to learn that you are not going to let them have their way. Just remember, don't yell at your Serval, as they do not understand that type of communication.