African servals, exotic cats as pets

Serval Behavior and Temperament
Scare Tactics
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Sirocco has tried my patience, drained my finances, and taken up countless hours of my time. Yet he is one of the best things to happen in my life; not the worst.

Some websites take an extremely negative view on private ownership of servals, and attempt to discourage people from owning them through the use of blatant scare tactics. While these sites raise some valid points, they are often exaggerated and distorted. Scare tactics do not take the place of actual education. Instead, they attempt to hijack the reader’s emotions, preventing him or her from reaching a conclusion based on logic and facts. I bring this issue to light not because I am advocating that everyone should own exotics, but because I believe that people deserve to be presented with realistic facts on which to base their decisions.

Any organization would better serve the cats it is trying to protect by giving accurate information on the likelihood of problems occurring under various circumstances. Instead of ignoring the currently offered pseudo-information as useless, potential owners could then evaluate their circumstances and make an informed decision.

Most people are not prepared to deal effectively with the challenges of living with a serval; however some people are more than capable of handling such an animal. Spreading unrealistic fears and misconceptions will do these animals more harm than good in the end.

The statement “You are about to make the biggest mistake of your life” found on one site has great theatrical value, although personally I would have thought the biggest mistake of my life would be to murder a police officer, drive drunk through a school zone, or take up crack dealing for the Mafia. It’s always good to know there are worse things I could do, like get a cat. Many serval owners including myself would beg to differ with that dramatic warning. Sirocco has tried my patience, drained my finances, and taken up countless hours of my time. Yet he is one of the best things to happen in my life; not the worst.

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© Jessi Clark-White, 2004
Scare Tactics