Pet Serval Cat Legal and Illegal States 2024

Servals are beautiful, wild cats native to Africa. They are mostly found in sub-Saharan African countries. Serval cats are larger than house cats at 23 to 36 inches long and 17 to 24 inches tall. They can live up to 22 years on average. Because they are not domestic animals, Serval cats are not legal to keep as pets in many U.S. states. While some states require certain permits or inspections, others make owning Serval cats as pets completely illegal. If you are considering a pet Serval cat, you would first want to know if it is legal in your state. That said, here is the list of states in which Serval cats are allowed and not allowed to be kept as pets in 2024.

A Serval Cat

8 States in Which Serval Cats are Legal to Own

As of February 2024, only eight states in America allow their residents to keep serval cats as pets without obtaining a permit or license. You can freely own a serval cat if you live in:

  1. Alabama
  2. Michigan
  3. Nevada
  4. North Carolina
  5. South Carolina
  6. Tennessee
  7. Washington
  8. Wisconsin

21 States in Which a Permit is Required To Own a Serval Cat

In these twenty-one additional states, residents are required to apply for and obtain a permit before owning a serval cat. In addition, residents must meet certain requirements such as making the proper living arrangements for their future pet. In the state of Florida, for example, you need a Class II Personal Pet License to own a Serval cat. In addition, you need to reside on a property of at least 2.5 acres. For more info, read this article about 9 exotic cats you can legally own with a license in Florida.

The states that require their residents to obtain a permit before owning a Serval cat include:

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas
  3. California
  4. Florida
  5. Idaho
  6. Indiana
  7. Kansas
  8. Kentucky
  9. Maine
  10. Mississippi
  11. Missouri
  12. Montana
  13. North Dakota
  14. Ohio
  15. Oklahoma
  16. Pennsylvania
  17. Rhode Island
  18. South Dakota
  19. Texas
  20. Vermont
  21. West Virginia

19 States in Which it is Illegal To Own a Serval Cat

According to World Population Review, it is illegal to keep a Serval cat as a pet in the following states:
  1. Alaska
  2. Colorado
  3. Connecticut
  4. Delaware
  5. Hawaii
  6. Illinois
  7. Iowa
  8. Louisiana
  9. Maryland
  10. Massachusetts
  11. Minnesota
  12. Nebraska
  13. New Hampshire
  14. New Jersey
  15. New Mexico
  16. New York
  17. Oregon
  18. Utah
  19. Virginia

Serval Cats As Pets

When kept as pets, Serval cats still retain their wild instincts but can bond with their owner. Because they are wild cats, Servals are not recommended for families with children or other pets. They are generally good for an individual who lives alone.

In 2018, a Serval cat reportedly attacked a toddler at a birthday party in Indiana’s Potawatomi Zoo. According to the Dodo, the child and her mother approached the Serval from behind and when the toddler reached out to pet the animal, it bit him on the head. Below is a photo of the incident.

A Serval cat biting a child

Servals are large cats with a high need for activity. Because of this, they probably won't make great pets for someone living in the city or smaller homes without outdoor access.

The Savannah cat is an offspring of a Serval cat and a house cat. Savannahs are not that expensive to care for and are a great choice for people looking for a unique-looking cat without the extra effort of caring for a wild animal. However, there are four states in the U.S. in which Savannah cats are illegal. Furthermore, the Savannah is one of the most expensive cat breeds in the United States.

Caring for a Serval Cat

In addition to being expensive, Serval cats are challenging to care for. According to Big Cat Rescue, acquiring a Serval cat can cost you $1700 to $2800. They are not suitable as indoor pets as they need space of their own outside. Because of their jumping and digging tendencies, Serval cats require a tall enclosure that extends underground. They do not like being pet or cuddled and therefore, keeping them indoors always will result in broken objects, messes, and unhappy pets.

Serval cats feed mostly on animals such as rodents, birds, fish, and frogs. Depending on several factors, including the type of food and cost of vet visits, the monthly recurring costs to care for a pet Serval cat can be up to $350 per month. You should also prepare for some unforeseen expenses that may pop up during the month.

Adorable Photos of Pet Serval Cats

A pet serval cat holding a fish in its mouth
Via Instagram

A pet serval cat
Via reddit

a Gorgeous serval cat
Via reddit

a pet serval cat
Via reddit

Adorable Videos of Pet Serval Cats

A video of a playful Serval cat.

A Serval cat and a dog.


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