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What is World Serval Day?

World Serval Day is celebrated on the 18th March every year. The purpose is to raise awareness and to protect the Serval, which is indigenous to Africa, but suffers threat right here on our doorstep. Use the hashtag #WorldServalDay in socials to join the conversation.

Join our World Serval Day Facebook livestream event at 2pm on 18th March 2024 for an update on our SERVIVAL campaign, as we introduce you to our rescued servals Tafkap and Xirus.

How did it come about?

World Serval Day was initially launched by the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in 2023, as part of our ‘SERVIVAL‘ campaign. The goal is to raise awareness of the cruel practice of interbreeding exotic felids with domestic cats within the UK. Of particular concern is the breeding of Servals, exotic felids native to Africa, with domestic cats to produce a ‘Savannah cat’. This trade, wholly motivated by the ‘designer pet’ trade, and incited by social media is fuelling the poor welfare of Servals and Savannah cats across the globe. With World Serval Day, we want to ensure that the breeding of exotic felids and domestic cats (to produce F1 hybrid cats) has no place in the 21st century.

How Can You Help?

Public pressure can play a huge part in driving meaningful behavioural change on a mass scale. World Serval Day asks that anyone who is active on social media, who has a cat or is thinking of acquiring a cat follows some simple rules to ensure we promote good animal welfare and stop this trade;-

  • Don’t buy a hybrid cat as a pet. Breeds include the Savannah cat, Bengal cat, Caracat and Chausie cats
  • Don’t like or share any social media posts containing hybrid cats
  • Don’t buy cats or kittens online, particularly via social media sites
  • If you are thinking of acquiring a cat, DO get a cat from a reputable rescue centre.

What are the issues?

The unnatural breeding of exotic felids with domestic cats causes a number of issues. These issues include a whole new generation of animals that are not fully domesticated and can therefore suffer from inadequate welfare standards when kept as pets.

The source animals are often kept in small inadequate accommodation that does not meet satisfactory welfare standards. The animals are purely used to generate profits for their owners. These issues are set to worsen as evidenced by the rapidly increasing number of rescued Servals and Savannah cats. These cats have been kept legally around Europe, and further afield, indicating an out of control and escalating problem.

Being closely related to their wild forebears, Savannah cats retain many wild characteristics which makes them a threat to native species and others animals. This fact has led to the banning of these cats in many countries, but not yet the UK.

The growing demand for these hybrid cats is being driven by celebrity influencers and an explosion in the unregulated sale of hybrid kittens via social media platforms. Unfortunately, this breeding, buying and selling in the UK is happening within the law.

What is a hybrid cat?

Hybrid cats are a cross between an exotic wild cat (such as a Serval) and a domestic one to produce a new designer breed. These designer cats then sell for thousands of pounds in a perfectly legal, yet wholly unregulated online markets.

There are several types of hybrid cats. They are based on the two breeds that are inter-bred. The most popular breeds include:

Savannah cat – A hybrid cat that results from a cross between a wild African Serval and a domestic cat.

Bengal cat – A hybrid cat that results from a cross between an Asian Leopard cat and a domestic cat.

Caracat – A hybrid cat that results from a cross between a Caracal and a domestic cat.

Chausie – A hybrid cat that results from a cross between a Jungle cat and a domestic cat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Servals happy as pets?

No, Servals are wild animals and should never be kept pets. They are native to Africa, where they roam savannahs and wetlands in search of prey. Servals are not suited for the confines of a domestic setting, they will struggle to contain their wild instincts. This was the case for our two rescued servals Tafkap and Xirus. These animals were rescued in November 2021 from a small apartment in France by AAP (Animal Advocacy and Protection). Smuggled out of the Czech Republic, part of the illegal pet trade, these wild cats were stripped from their mother at an early age. They were just 16 weeks old when discovered. They were kept in a bathroom and bedroom, isolated and terrified, and had many injuries including deformed and broken bones.

Do Savannah cats make good pets?

No, there are many instances of aggression from Savannah cats towards other cats and family pets, children, and owners. Being extremely territorial, they often terrorise neighbourhood pets as they try to secure their boundaries. Peer reviewed research has shown that they urinate more than other breeds, a major complaint from owners as Savannahs regularly spray-mark around peoples’ homes. Their diet can be tricky, particularly in higher filial generations, as they have evolved to eat whole prey items on the plains of Africa, not cat food. They are hyper-aroused, meaning they need lots of attention and stimulation to prevent psychological issues developing. This puts additional pressure on owners. All of this means many Savannah cats get abandoned or returned to rescue centres as owners find themselves unable to cope.

Can I own a Savannah cat in the UK?

You need a Dangerous Wild Animal (DWA) license to own an F1 Savannah cat in the UK. Unfortunately, trade in lower filial generations occurs regularly online. This practice is wholly unregulated and leads to many problems when new owners are surprised by their new aggressive and unsuitable family pet. This often results in abandonment.

Can someone buy a Savannah cat online?

Unfortunately, yes. It is all too easy to buy Savannah cats online. Online purchases are a wholly unregulated and unlicensed way to purchase pets. This directly fuels the suffering of animals in the UK. We support DEFRA’s Petfished campaign that shines a spotlight on the illegal and deceitful trading practices people employ on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and online selling sites.

Should I get a Savannah cat?

If you are a lover of cats or a champion of our native species in the UK, the answer is wholeheartedly and unequivocal NO. The trade in Savannah cats is directly linked to poor welfare and suffering of both the serval founders and the domestic hybrids. Please follow these simple rules when purchasing any pet:

  • Don’t buy a hybrid cat as a pet. Breeds include the Savannah cat, Bengal cat, Caracat and Chausie cats
  • Don’t like or share any social media posts containing hybrid cats
  • Don’t buy cats or kittens online, particularly via social media sites
  • If you are thinking of acquiring a cat, DO get a cat from a reputable rescue centre

Thank you for supporting World Serval Day!

#WorldServalDay!