Meet Kuile, the Serval kitten


This bundle of spotted fluff, “hopping” with personality, is Kuile, the latest addition to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC).

Kuile was found by a farmer in Lydenburg, cold and covered in mud. The farmer gave the kitten to a couple who absolutely love and adore cats, and they promptly took the little creature to the vet. The check up revealed that he was a bit thin and covered in fleas and ticks, but otherwise in satisfactory condition. The small Serval was treated for his external parasites, and sent home with the couple with Kyron Kitty Milk and Hills a/d. The couple kept him for a week to ensure he recovered from his ordeal. Despite the endearing creature, they knew that as a wild animal it was not a good idea for him to become too habituated to people. After their call to HESC, Christo and Licia (our animal curators) left immediately to fetch the kitten.

The Serval

He was given the name “Kuile” – in honour of the couple who had done so much for him and made the tough (but right) decision not to keep him as a pet. He was a little nervous and suffered from diarrhoea when he arrived, but soon settled nicely into his new home. Kuile was gradually moved to Iams Kitten food, after which his diarrhoea quickly abated. He is slowly gaining weight, and will soon be a feisty picture of Serval kitten health.

For those of you who might have considered keeping a Serval at home, here are a few reasons why they (along with any wild animals) do not make good domestic pets:

  • Keeping a Serval in South Africa without a permit from Nature Conservation is illegal
  • Internationally, where some countries allow Servals as pets, a special permit is often still required
  • Servals are wild animals, and even if bred in captivity will never be ‘tame’ like a domestic cat
  • Most breeders who offer Serval kittens have had to remove the kittens from their mother at a very early age in order for them to become used to humans
  • Servals require a zoo-like enclosure, with enough space to climb, swim, explore, jump and run – these enclosures are expensive to build and maintain
  • Servals, both male and female, will mark their territory (i.e. your house and you) with large amounts of musky urine
  • Servals need lots of stimulation, and if their needs are not met, they can become destructive – destroying furniture etc.
  • Servals require a specialised diet, usually based on raw food with additional supplements
  • Servals require specialised veterinary care
  • Servals like to chew, and can end up swallowing anything they get into their mouths. This can cause an obstruction in their digestive tract
  • Servals play hard with their claws and mouths, they also love to knock objects off mantelpieces and shelves
  • Servals live for approximately 20 years and are a long term commitment as they do not cope very well with changing owners/ homes
  • Servals do not always take to or use a litter box, even if they have been trained as kittens
  • Servals are escape artists and will climb or even dig out of their enclosures. Once they have escaped, the chances of them returning or being found are very slim

There are so many unwanted cats and other pets being put down in shelters these days. Please rather adopt and give one of these animals a second chance at a wonderful life. Leave the wild animals in the wild – were they belong.