While stray cats and dogs are a relatively common sight in many communities across the United States, North County, California residents couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw a genuine serval cat in their neighborhood.
The loose cat, which resembles a small leopard, escaped over a month ago and efforts to capture the animal have been ongoing. Prior to recent sightings, the animal’s owners assumed it had been killed by coyotes.
Most recently, the large cat made an appearance in one CA couple’s backyard in Rancho Penasquitos.
Kristi Clark, of Olivenhain, CA, said, “your first instinct is, is that a leopard? Did the zoo lose an animal…or something? Clark spotted the serval cat in her backyard earlier last week. The sighting is one in a string of them going viral on the app, Nextdoor, where community members have consistently posted about the animal.
Further, Clark said she first saw the cat when she, her daughter, and her grandchildren were outside in the yard. Their dog had been exploring some bushes when the canine suddenly became spooked. Following, the family heard a noise in the trees above.
Clark’s neighbor then sent the woman a picture of the serval cat in his yard. Reportedly, the feline ate one of the man’s chickens, returning three more times after.
North County resident Bruce Ireland further said he saw the animal on the Nextdoor app.
“Usually, I don’t pay attention to the posts,” he said, “but the serval caught my eye.”
He further shared that, while he has little experience with cats, he does relocate snakes regularly. Previously, Ireland served as a Sheriff’s Search and Rescue deputy.
Capturing the Serval Cat Proves Difficult
Despite Ireland’s lack of experience with cats, the good samaritan has offered up his related experiences in an effort to help capture the wild-looking feline. “I’ll do whatever I can to find this cat because it certainly doesn’t belong in nature,” he said.
Concerning the containment of the cat, the helpful individual has worked with both Project Wildlife and the Fish & Wildlife Department. Both parties gave Ireland permission to set up traps to capture the animal.
As part of his rescue and containment efforts, Ireland has presumably used sightings on the Nextdoor app to track the cat sightings in the region. Overall, CBS8 stated he’s managed to piece together a timeline of the serval cat’s whereabouts.
Additionally, while the animal shouldn’t naturally attack humans as it came from a domestic background, Ireland did express that local resident should avoid nearing the animal. Upon containment or approach, he couldn’t be sure how the large cat would react. “It’s big,” he said. “Two-feet tall. It’s probably between 30 and 45 pounds so significantly bigger than a house cat.”
As far as the animal’s owners go, the news outlet stated they are desperate to get the cat back. “As soon as he went missing,” began his current owner, Emily Schultz, “we went looking for him everywhere.”
Further, while the couple is concerned the cat could be rehomed once captured as full-bred servals are illegal to own without permit in California.
“It’s terrifying, but we’re trying to find him regardless. I’d rather him be safe somewhere else than be out there alone.”