Exotic cat capture followup: What it was, what’ll happen to it

400px-serval_portrait.jpgFollowing up on the capture of the suspected serval in West Seattle (sighting first reported here Friday; capture reported here Saturday; photo at left shows a wild serval, haven’t seen one yet of the actual capturee): We just heard back from Don Jordan, director of the Seattle Animal Shelter, who gave WSB the full scoop on what happened, and what will happen next:

First of all – yes, the shelter says, it IS a serval, not a hybrid, but the real deal. And it is indeed the second one captured in West Seattle in less than a month – the last one was found “under someone’s porch” in the 4800 block of SW Findlay on December 30th.

Jordan says servals are illegal in the city of Seattle. Even if it had been a hybrid, those are illegal too, under the city code defining “exotic” animals. He says they don’t know where these animals came from — both were declawed, suggesting they were being kept as pets or for breeding. “These cats can cost upwards of 8 dollars a day to feed,” he noted, “maybe someone got it as a pet and realized it was just too expensive to take care of.”

He says the serval that two Animal Shelter officers captured on Madison Middle School property over the weekend is currently in an “isolation room” at the shelter until they can figure out who can take it. Jordan stresses that exotic animals like these are NOT put down — he wants to make sure no one ever hesitates to call about them for fear they might be killed — he says the serval found in West Seattle in December was placed with a “licensed sanctuary outside the city,” and he will be checking to see if that same sanctuary might be able to take this one. His shelter also handled a pair of servals found in northeast Seattle about three years ago, and he says the Woodland Park Zoo helped his agency place them with an out-of-state zoo. “Even though they are illegal in the city,” Jordan tells WSB, “we always intend for them to be placed somewhere they can be taken care of.”

The servals aren’t the only exotic cats that have turned up in West Seattle, by the way; Jordan recalls a bobcat found in the late ’90s.

Thanks again to the reader who provided the first report about the serval on Friday, and to TC for updating us on the capture on Saturday. And thanks to Don Jordan of the Seattle Animal Shelter for the info; he reminds you that if you have an animal concern to report, the hotline is 386-PETS. (That includes anyone suspected of having an illegal animal, which is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.)

28 Replies to "Exotic cat capture followup: What it was, what'll happen to it"

  • JE January 22, 2008 (1:46 pm)

    Wouldn’t the bobcat have been a native, and not an exotic?

    Just a note to anyone who’d like to help with the plight of illegally-kept-and-then-illegally-dumped exotic animals: The sanctuaries that take them in can always use donations–these animals are very expensive to keep in decent conditions while they live out their lives. I don’t know of a shelter for large exotics in Washington State. Perhaps Mr. Jordan can point to one?

    Dumping dogs and cats is bad enough and should carry a severe penalty; dumping exotic animals should carry a prison sentence. Or maybe being fed to the exotics….

  • MAS January 22, 2008 (2:41 pm)

    I like JE’s solution to the dumping problem as it partiallys solves the feeding problem as well. Feed the dumpers to the dumpees.

    I don’t see a big difference between dumping exotics and regular pets though. Both do serious damage to local ecology and neither can easily fend for themselves, especially if they are altered to make them more furniture friendly.

    While we are talking about furniture friendly, everyone should please note that declawing a cat not only puts them at risk in confrontations with other cats, opossums and raccoons, many vets believe it is a life-long source of pain for cats. It’s NOT the same as perminant removal of a nail, unless you have retractable nails.

  • Jessica January 22, 2008 (4:01 pm)

    MAS – thank you for saying that about declawing. I wanted to add that what people don’t realize is declawing a cat is equivalent to taking off your fingers down to the first knuckle. It isn’t just taking off a finger nail. It permanently damages the animal emotionally and physically. Declawed cats not only can’t defend themselves, but also have a hard time with walking and balance.

  • jrd January 22, 2008 (9:49 pm)

    JE – it’s probably CatTails in Spokane. They’ve been rescuing wild cats for a long time now. They’ve almost gone under a number of times but always seem to come up with funding at the zero hour.

    Right now they are housing the 2 tigers someone in Seattle was keeping as pets.

  • JanS January 22, 2008 (10:39 pm)

    Interesting…I just saw a commercial for the 11pm King 5 news…and a story about the servals…..better late than never? hehe

  • WSB January 22, 2008 (10:55 pm)

    Thanks for mentioning that, I’ll have to go out and turn on the tv. The citywide media all read the site in case we have something here that’s worth wider coverage; I figured this one was a slam-dunk for picking up if it was a slow night (aside from Heath Ledger, Mike Holmgren, and “still cold” there’s nothing much going on regionally).

  • WSB January 22, 2008 (11:23 pm)

    The story had a little video of the serval at the shelter.

  • JanS January 23, 2008 (12:08 am)

    I love the fact that the news stations are using this blog as a source. And I was just reading the Westwood Neighborhood Council website today…and the blog is mentioned prominently as a source to go to for information. Very nice.

  • WSB January 23, 2008 (12:36 am)

    Sometimes blogs (particularly the ones without much original material) get criticized for riffing off newspaper articles etc., but the fact of the matter in the “old media” as well as the “new” is that other news sources are often the best source of story ideas. Every TV newsroom I ever worked in featured folks coming to editorial meetings saying “I read in the paper that ..” or “I heard on the radio that …” and the smart ones now add “I read online that …” TV newsrooms generally have far fewer reporters than their cities’ newspaper staffs do, so their reporters have fewer opportunities to develop “beats” – one day you’re at a school-board meeting, next day you’re at a murder scene, next day you’re up at the Snoqualmie Pass closure, the day after that you’re … at the animal shelter looking at exotic cats tear raw chicken apart.

  • miws January 23, 2008 (1:16 am)

    [Homer Simpson]”Mmmmmmm……raaawww chickennnnn…..

    “Nice kitty, share the raw chicken……”[/Homer Simpson]


  • Mags January 23, 2008 (5:59 am)

    Boy, very cute in photo, not so cute on the news..a 50 lb. cat with a penchant for raw chicken, bones and all…not such a good pet after all!!

  • Kayleigh January 23, 2008 (8:06 am)

    Why on earth would anyone think it’s cool to keep an animal like that in their home?

  • Gina January 23, 2008 (8:51 am)

    I wonder if both cats were dumped at Schmitz Park. “They can live there, in the wild.”

  • Taylor January 23, 2008 (9:52 am)

    I walk my dog around the neighborhood west of the Junction and I saw one of these in a window of a house in that area. I thought I was seeing things at first, but it wasn’t the last time I saw the cat i nthe window… haven’t been walking in that area for a while so don’t know if it was one that perhaps escaped… We, as humans, can be so selfish and short sighted. These cats deserve a much better life than a small house inside all the time.

  • Praying Man-tis-i January 23, 2008 (12:48 pm)

    I’ve seen and been around declawed cats, and they don’t look any different than clawed cat. What’s the general feeling on African countries taking tusks off elephants? Do they leave them on so that the animals can use them as usual or do they take them off to try and protect them from the poachers. If I’m not mistaken, African Park Rangers do shoot to kill. I’m not comparing cats and elephants, just carrying on a little animal chat. Do all of you adopt many cats and dogs?

  • Matt Markovich January 23, 2008 (1:26 pm)

    So you can count me in as media who reads this site. We are doing this story today and have been looking for people who saw the serval. Keep up the good work following the news of west seattle – as I was once a west seattlite myself.

  • Jan January 23, 2008 (6:12 pm)

    Taylor “These cats deserve a much better life than a small house inside all the time.” These cats deserve to live where they’re supposed to live-out in the open spaces of their home in Africa. It’s so sad that selfish people do this to these beautiful wild animals.

  • maureen January 24, 2008 (9:38 am)

    My family has seen two servals several times on walks in the area. They were in a house in the 4500 block of 49th ave. SW, they haven’t seen them for a while.

  • cherylc January 24, 2008 (9:43 am)

    I don’t know if anyone is still reading this thread, but I’ll answer Praying Man-tis-i. We adopted two declawed cats. I’d never really thought about how declawing affects cats, other than it must be painful. But they do, in fact, have a problem with balance. They don’t jump up on things like other cats do, and sometimes when they do jump up, they fall. They are just generally much more cautious.

  • cheyenne January 24, 2008 (9:50 am)

    I have adopted kittens from neighbors’ litters who were just wandering the neighborhood, and a feral kitten when my cat brought it home aged one day. Still had the cord. We also took a stray home who had had a litter, after the kittens were adopted out we took her in and had her spayed. (We neuter all our cats.)

  • Praying Man-tis-i January 24, 2008 (12:49 pm)

    CherylC – I can see how they’d fall since they have nothing to grip with. I suppose the same thing for balance. Thanks for the response, by the way.

  • Teri January 24, 2008 (4:39 pm)

    Love to hear that folks are ‘Adopting…instead of Shopping, for their animal companions. Many declawed cats are ‘surrendered’ to shelters because of behaviorial problems [that begin after the declawing surgery]…and yes, there can be ongoing, lifetime pain from declawing. Lastly, to Cheyenne, who took in the feral kitten–thank you. And to everyone, please spay or neuter feral or stray cats that you are feeding. Once they are altered, they can be your natural backyard rodent control. And no, they do not decimate the birds if you take the proper steps. If you need resources on TNR (trap-neuter-return), email me at furryfaces@hotmail.com. Remember…Don’t litter…neuter your critter. ; )

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  • Mikal January 24, 2008 (11:18 pm)

    How does fixing a cat stop them from hunting birds? The studies I have seen say it doesn’t.
    Please correct me.

  • Teri January 28, 2008 (12:30 pm)

    Hi Mikal,

    Thank you for asking. Fixing a cat does not directly stop them from hunting birds. What it does do, is it stops the cats from breeding, hence, naturally reducing the feral cat population.

    Not knowing what studies you have read, I cannot respond directly to their statements. However, I can:

    1. Direct you to resources and studies to read more about why TNR (trap-neuter-release) is the most effective method of controlling feral/stray cat populations. Here is one of many:

    2. Explain why trap and kill is not an effective, let alone humane, solution, e.g., the vacuum effect.
    3. How to setup your backyard or a feral colony to reduce the likely hood of cats getting birds.
    4. Provide an example of a successful collaboration between Homeless Cat Network and Sequoia Audubon Society. Please see this website:

    4. Provide resources/studies that show we humans are the number reason for the killing of birds (and companion animals for that matter because more 5 million healthy, adoptable animals are killed in our shelters every year). Our use of pesticides, herbicides, development of migratory bird habitat into business parks/homes/etc.; erecting tall buildings that birds fly into; etc.–makes us the number one killer. We could all make a larger, positive impact on bird populations if we focused on reducing the negative Human Impact.

    5. Unaltered feral and stray cats are also our responsibility. There are people who dump their cats, who then breed, and start the feral cycle. Many of these ‘once domestic’ cats become feral over time.

    TNR is a hot, controversial issue. Ultimately, doing nothing for these cats because people cannot come to agreement is inhumane.

    If you would like more information, please feel free to email me at furryfaces@hotmail.com


  • Anny February 1, 2008 (2:13 pm)

    by the way, arent parrots considered exotic animals too?

  • Anny February 1, 2008 (2:16 pm)

    Can anyone point me to a law that forbids ownership of exotic animals. I want to check something.

  • Teri February 1, 2008 (3:56 pm)

    Sara’s Sancutary, located in Redmond, has given the two West Seattle Servals a permanant, safe home. The founders/owners of the sancutary provide amazing care for all the animals they accept.

    Read more about them on: http://www.sarassanctuaryanimalrescue.org/

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