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Ontario police warn of escaped African serval cat, say it can attack pets

An African Serval cat is pictured in this photo provided by OPP. The cat is said to have escaped a sanctuary in Bonnechere Valley Township, Ont. on Oct. 25, 2023. OPP East Region

Ontario Provincial Police are warning homeowners about an hour and a half west of Ottawa to take precautions after an African serval cat escaped a sanctuary in the community.

According to police, the feline is described as between 20 to 30 pounds, and photos provided appear to show the cat is a mixture of white and tannish-yellow colouring with black stripes and has pointed ears.

Officers with the Killaloe OPP detachment said in a post on X  the feline has the ability to attack mid-sized livestock and pets, so owners near the Bonnechere Valley Township area are advised to be cautious.

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According to the B.C. SPCA, serval cats are native to many parts of Africa and often roam savannahs and wetlands, hunting for prey.

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The agency says they have a “poor quality of life” when kept as pets and, while they are not much bigger than a medium-sized dog, they retain their wild instincts and “are cunning escape artists.”

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Whether at home or in an enclosure setting, they can be difficult to contain and pose a risk both to their keepers, the public, and native wildlife if they escape.

The agency adds that their safety is in jeopardy when in captivity and escaped servals have died in the past by being hit by cars or of starvation, primarily because they never had the opportunity to learn how to hunt.

Anyone who sees the animal is advised to report it to police at 1-888-310-1122.

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