SPCA doesn’t support having serval cats

Metro Vancouver area residents will approach Maple Ridge council next week and ask them to change bylaw to allow them.

Owners of serval cats, the bobcat-sized felines from Africa, may have to make a strong case to get their cats accepted under Maple Ridge’s new animal control bylaw.

Because the SPCA doesn’t like the idea of the mini-leopard living in people’s homes.

“We have so many house cats that need homes,” said Sara Dubois, manager of wildlife services with the B.C. SPCA.

Metro Vancouver area residents were to have asked Maple Ridge council Tuesday to ask them to change the bylaw to allow serval cats that have been raised in captivity for three generations.

“We would disagree,” Dubois said of the request.

Maple Ridge’s new animal bylaw, which has received three readings, prohibits all but domesticated cats or those that are registered under The International Cat Association.

That means the savannah cat, a cross breed between serval cat and a house cat, is allowed under the new bylaw.

Dubois said that the SPCA wanted the serval cat included in the controlled alien species regulation, part of the Wildlife Act.

Vancouver has banned ownership of the cat, she pointed out.

She understands while people would own such an animal. “I can see the appeal. It’s a very beautiful cat.”

But keeping them as a pet presents challenges, such as ensuring they have the right diet and exercise or veterinary care.

And there are several risks to the serval, if it escapes captivity, mostly to the cat itself, rather than the public.  “They’ve very often have been declawed.”

And without hunting skills in a cold climate, it would have a tough time.

Serval cat owners from around the Lower Mainland recently gathered at municipal hall, demanding a change to the new law. They also collected a 600-name petition for the cause.

Serval cats originate in Africa and are larger than domestic cats, but have been in Canada since the 1960s and have been domesticated for thousands of years, said White.

They’re also smarter than the usual house cat, which doesn’t like to take orders. White says serval cats can be put on a leash and walked.

Maple Ridge district is consulting with its lawyer as it reviews its bylaw.