serval housing

serval queen mompuma serval queenGizmo a male young serval son of kaos



Serval Cat Housing

Written by mechel whitaker


Watch "How to build an exotic cat enclosure:

A Serval is a very active cat. They need to have plenty of space to run, play, and just lounge around.  Your Serval will need a large secure covered enclosure outside. A Serval should never be strictly a house cat.  Their enclosure needs to be at least 8 ft tall and 20 by 20 or 10 by 30. These are minimums, the bigger the better.  You don't want to build it to small because your grass won't grow very well because of the foot traffic. The flooring should not be dirt.  Parasites can be active in the soil and will cause an infestation in your serval.  I recommend grass and pine shavings. The interior perimeter of our enclosures are rimmed with landscaping timber (approximately 18” from the fence). We use pine shavings inside this area. This will be the highest foot traffic area. You can use concrete but I would avoid concreting the whole area. If your serval does not have access to your home you will have to build another building that supplies heating and cooling.  You will need to cultivate new grass seed regularly.  For the southeast region of the US winter rye is recommended for the cold months and Bermuda grass is recommended for the summer.  The types of grass will vary depending on your region.  It is a good idea to create a section of pine shavings to attract them to use the bathroom in. This can save you a big problem when your serval starts to spray because the Pine scent will attract them away from the house.   It is recommended that the outside enclosure be attached to your house with a pet door or window for the serval to enter and leave as he wishes or during the times of the day that you can supervise. This is important because it keeps your serval social and accustomed to interacting with his human family. The pet door will allow him to go outside for exercise, play, sunshine, to munch on grass  and it is a good place to feed your whole prey and other meat parts.  You don't want animal parts laying around in your house or stuffed in your sofas.  


Servals should be exposed to non filtered direct UVB sunlight.  Non-filtered direct light means sunshine directly on them.  NOT through a window,  but directly on them.   All animals with backbones need direct sunlight even our more domesticated cats, including hybrids.  The most natural source of vitamin D is UVB light from the sun. The sunlight needs to strike the animal's fur in order to activate the oils in the fur to produce vitamin D. The cat consumes the vitamin D when it licks its fur while grooming.  Animals obtain most of their vitamin D from grooming themselves. Their skin oils are rich in provitamin which is changed to vitamin D on exposure to light. If animals are not allowed to lick their fur they get no benefit from sunlight.   Another reason to feed whole prey is because the fur and feathers of their prey is a good source of vitamin D.   Studies show that cats with bacterial infections such as lesions, abscesses and ulcers have significantly low levels of vitamin D.  Low vitamin D levels are also linked to congestive heart failure, cancer and depression.


Excessive amounts of vitamin D can be toxic to cats and lead to vitamin D poisoning/toxicosis. Symptoms of vitamin D toxicosis include anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination as well as depression.  If you suspect your serval has ingested  vitamin D supplements, seek veterinary care immediately. Do not provide vitamin supplements to her unless your veterinarian prescribes them.  When you buy commercial pet food make sure it's fortified with vitamin D3.  Wild-caught fatty fish, liver, egg yolks, and some dairy products may also supply your pet with vitamin D3. Over the counter vitamin D3 supplements  can be harmful to your cat. Please check with your veterinarian before providing vitamin D3 supplements to your pets.  Its recommended to periodically order a test to check your servals vitamin D level.


Cats regurgitate when they eat grass because they lack the necessary enzymes to break down the vegetable matter.  When your cat throws up he eliminates all indigestible matter from his digestive tract. When you feed your serval whole prey they eat the whole thing feathers fur and all. Sometimes things can get jammed up.  The grass acts as a defacto laxative and helps move matter out of the digestive tract. This can help with tummy aches and backed up food by cleaning the digestive tract.  It also helps with the removal of intestinal parasites. Munching on grass is also important because the folic acid found in the grass is an important vitamin that assists in the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen into the bloodstream. Cats will also eat grass to relieve a sore throat.  Keep in mind that a lot of plants are poisonous and some grass may contain pesticides and other chemicals.  Keeping pots of healthy winter rye and other types of grass is a good way to help your cat keep a healthy digestive tract. Also on the subject of vegetation, research any plant material before introducing it to your enclosure. It is very surprising how many plants are toxic to cats.


Some tips and tricks i have learned over the years is to use 9 gauge coated fencing and treated wood whenever possible.  A servals urine is very acidic and will eventually eat through wire even galvanized.  Also use plastic hinges on doors that are in a area that your serval can reach to spray.  When installing coated wire, the coating WILL become compromised when you attach it to the wood. This will eventually rust through. Here are a few thoughts on dealing with this.

1) If you attach on the inside of the enclosure, spray some clear Flex Seal  on the attachment points.

2) Attach on the outside. Still spray with Flex Seal.

3) Use outdoor grade plywood for the base of your fence. (3-4 feet)

4) Reinforce your wire fence by adding a high quality lattice.


Currently we are reinforcing the lower 4 feet of our enclosures with lattice. It still maintains an open feel and look, while adding stability. Servals will lean on the fencing when walking the grounds. This will weaken the fence over time. The high quality lattice will greatly improve the integrity of your fence.