Animal introduction: Cilla – my serval

“Djurpresentation: Cilla – min serval” was first published on my Swedish Blog.





The first animal on Chipangali I want to introduce to you is Cilla, a male serval, who managed to grab a very special place in my heart.

Who is Cilla?

Cilla came to Chipangali about 1 year ago, with all four legs broken. Why? Well who knows, but unfortunately his future will probably be in captivity. A serval is very dependent on his long legs for hunting and survival, and since his legs are unreliable and fragile, the cat probably won’t make it in the wild.

servalCilla’s chilling in his cage.


It’s not really clear how old he is, but he is young, that much they know. In the beginning he apparently let people pet him and cuddle him, but after one of the visits to the veterinary he turned shy and withdrew, hissed at everything and everyone.

When I arrived he was very shy, and kept hissing at me.


I saw it as my main objective, of course, to befriend him and promised myself to make him more comfortable so he’d realise we didn’t/don’t want to harm him.

Unfortunately I did not have enough time to fulfill my promise. 😦



Though you can’t blame me for lacking of commitment; every day I tried to grab the task of caring for him, and changing his water, and in the evening I wanted to feed him with random meat. For him, I actually took dead, often stinking meat in my hands and I even cut it, when needed! The stinking smell on my hands were awful, but it was all for him!


I also spent a whole lot of time just sitting in his cage, talking about weather, all or nothing.


hanging with serval


He wasn’t really that into my worldly points of views, but at least he let me be.



Cilla finally became comfortable enough having me inside his territory, but he was still far from Prince the other male serval, who also lives in Chipangali. That one is really cuddly. If he likes you he will even pee on you!


If Prince really liked you, you could be sure to be marked as his property, that is: getting sprayed on!


The day I said goodbye to Cilla he came really close and his face was just a few centimeters away, although safe, on the other side of the fence, that is – still, it was the closest he ever came, and had I only had more time I would’ve succeeded with my promise – I just know it!


saying goodbyeUntil we meet again…


What is a serval?

A serval, felis serval, is a medium large African cat. It has very tall, high legs, and looks pretty thin and never weighs over 20 kg. Its length is somewhere around 1,5 meter, and it has very large ears, which I personally think is very sweet on that small head.


The fur is yellowish with black spots, somewhat similar to a leopard, but still completely different. Same same but different…


They are very curious and playful, just like normal house cats, but supposedly a tad more intelligent, if you’re to believe such statements. However, don’t be fooled by their cute looks – they are in fact wild animals. There are unfortunately many people who keep the serval as a pet, and that’s simply not ok, imo, although even I can feel tempted at times to get to cuddle a serval every day, they’re so soft and cozy.


Where and how does a serval live?

The serval needs a lot of water, so you won’t find it in the desert, but instead in grasslands, swamps and other areas which houses plenty of water, food and hiding places. It eats all kinds of smaller animals, as all cats do, and the serval is especially skilled in catching the animals thanks to its very curved claws.


It is a very adaptable animal and not necessarily nocturnal; it very much depends on the surroundings and circumstances.


They are, like most other cats, loners and live alone most of their lives. If you see several servals together in the wild, it’s probably mating season, or you’ve stumbled across a mother with her almost full grown babies.


In the wild a serval can get 10 years old, while in captivity it can grow as old as 20.


I’ll end this serval introduction with something sad: A serval doesn’t have a single natural enemy in the wild… except for homo sapiens – the humans!