Can a Serval Cat Kill a Human? Expert Explain





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Robert Taylor

The serval cat, an elegant and slender feline native to Africa, has captured the fascination of animal enthusiasts worldwide. Known for its striking appearance and remarkable hunting skills, the question often arises: Can a serval cat kill a human? 

In this exploration, we will delve into the serval cat’s behavior, capabilities, and interactions with humans to better understand whether this captivating creature has the potential to harm us.

About Serval Cat

A serval is an African feline species inhabiting the grasslands south of the Sahara Desert. These cats have predominantly tan or orange fur with black or dark brown markings, which helps them blend into their surroundings when they hunt in tall grasses.

What is serval cat?
What is serval cat?

The Serval is a small to medium-sized wild cat native to various African regions. They stand approximately 21-24 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 20-40 pounds. These wild cats have remarkably long legs, the longest among all cat species, in proportion to their body size. They typically have a lifespan of around 19 years.

This animal spends their time roaming within their home territory, ranging from 4-12 square miles, often overlapping with other servals. Solitary cats use scent marking to delineate their boundaries to avoid encounters with rival servals crossing their territory.

Scientifically known as Leptailurus serval, servals can leap more than six feet into the air when pouncing on prey, delivering a lethal bite to the head or neck. 

While they are not commonly found in northern Africa, they are widespread in southern Africa, where they inhabit areas at altitudes of up to 12,500 feet, including grasslands, moorlands, and bamboo thickets. They are also known to prefer habitats near water sources.

Can a Serval Cat Kill a Human?

The short answer is yes! Servals are known as highly skilled hunters among the cat species. When kept as pets, they can pose a risk to their owners, potentially causing harm or serious injuries that may require medical attention.

Serval cat can kill a human
Serval cat can kill a human

For instance, in June 2000, a 4-year-old boy in New York had to undergo plastic surgery after being bitten on the throat and sustaining two puncture wounds to his face during an encounter with a 40-pound African serval while it was being taken for a walk. The person walking the serval also needed stitches for bite wounds.

In another incident in December 2001, a 7-year-old boy in Florida was hospitalized after being attacked by a declawed African serval weighing 40 pounds. 

The boy was walking when the unattended serval suddenly leaped on him and knocked him to the ground. Numerous cases have been reported in the United States where servals escaped from their owners.

Know the Risks of a Serval Cat Before Getting One

  • Several cats need a big space like a zoo enclosure to explore, swim, hunt, run, and sometimes climb. If the space is too small or only indoors, serval cats can only use up some of their energy or satisfy their instincts. As a comment from J Freed suggests, these enclosures must be strong, comfortable, and safe because several cats are clever and might try to escape.
  • Serval cats require a special diet. You must do more than feed them regular cat food like Meow Mix. According to an exotic cattery owner, they need a variety of meats like chicken, turkey, mice, chicks, beef, birds, and smaller prey like mice, rats, and rabbits. They also eat seafood, eggs, cheese, oils, vegetables, fruits, and grass.
  • These animals are not your typical cuddly lap cats. They can be friendly and usually don’t harm humans, but remember, they are still wild animals with instincts to fulfill.
  • Laws in many U.S. states and other countries restrict owning several cats because they are considered wild animals. If you get one and later want to give it up, it can be hard because the new owner will need the right licenses.
  • Servants mark their territory by peeing on things, including your belongings. They may not always use a litter box like typical house cats and need a larger one. They can also be stubborn, as one person’s comment mentioned.

So, Should I Consider Owning a Serval Cat?

There are several compelling reasons to think twice about acquiring a serval cat. Although some of them can display affectionate behavior, they are not suited for frequent changes in living situations and require ample space to fulfill their instincts.

It’s crucial to differentiate between space and adequacy; merely possessing vast acres of land doesn’t guarantee that a serval can thrive independently. Moreover, it’s worth noting that numerous cats and other animals are eagerly awaiting adoption in shelters and rescue organizations nationwide and worldwide. 

Therefore, before venturing into the potential challenges of serval cats, please contemplate providing a loving home to one of these shelter animals.


Can a serval beat a cheetah?

No, a serval cannot beat a cheetah in a race or a physical confrontation. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals, capable of reaching speeds of up to 60-70 miles per hour, while servals are not known for their speed or strength compared to cheetahs.

How strong are servals?

Servals are medium-sized wild cats, and their strength is adapted for hunting smaller prey like rodents and birds. While they have strong muscles and sharp claws, they are not as strong as larger cats like lions or tigers.

Are servals aggressive cats?

Servals are generally not considered aggressive towards humans, but their temperament can vary from individual to individual. They are wild animals and may react defensively if they feel threatened. Treating servals with respect and caution is important when interacting with them.

Can a serval beat a pitbull?

In a physical confrontation between a serval and a pitbull, the outcome likely depends on various factors, including the size and strength of the specific animals involved. Pitbulls are known for their strong jaws and tenacity, but servals have sharp claws and agility. Putting these animals in a situation where they would fight is not advisable, as it could lead to injury or harm to both animals.

Do serval cats eat meat?

Yes, serval cats are carnivorous predators and primarily eat meat. Their diet typically includes small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. They are skilled hunters and use their keen senses to locate and capture their prey in the wild. In captivity, they are often fed a diet replicating their natural food sources, including raw meat.


In short, we cover the question, can a serval cat kill a human? With captivating images featuring leopards and various majestic feline creatures, it’s evident that hybrid animal breeds are fueling our creative thoughts. 

However, bringing a hybrid pet into your life should involve the same thoughtful consideration as adopting or purchasing a truly domesticated animal such as several cats.

It’s essential to carefully assess your unique situation and lifestyle and how the advantages and disadvantages of having a specific animal companion will interact with the rest of your life.

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Robert Taylor

I love cats, I have more than 10 years of experience in raising cats. I want to share with everyone useful knowledge about cats.

Robert Taylor

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