A female African serval is on the loose in Greater Victoria, the third exotic cat of its kind to escape its Vancouver Island home this week.
In a Wednesday morning Facebook post, the cat’s owner said Cassia managed to escape her Brentwood Bay home, located in the 800-block of Brentwood Heights, earlier that day.
“We now know she has learned to open our back deck door,” the owner wrote in the post. “It is a levered handle that she pulls down. We have ordered spring-loaded brackets but in the meantime … please keep your eyes open for her.”
According to the owner, Cassia is currently without a harness, and while she’s friendly, she’s also fearful and will likely hiss if approached.
Barb Mah from Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing (ROAM), a non-profit organization that helps owners find their lost pets, says the group is assisting in trapping the feline.
“This cat got out once before, and the owner was able to get it back by putting a shrimp on the line and luring it back,” Mah told CHEK News.
“The owner is very distraught,” she explained. “They are not cats that should be outside. The owner had rescued the cat from someone else who should not have purchased this cat.”
Mah believes the BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the situation and says ROAM is hoping for a quick capture.
According to Mah, there have been several Cassia sightings in the nearby area since she escaped. She says servals aren’t domestic, meaning people should stay vigilant, especially when small pets like cats, rabbits and birds are in the mix.
But this isn’t the first serval situation on the Island this week, after two escaped an enclosure near Qualicum Beach on Sunday.
Despite a male being back in its cage, a pregnant female serval is still on the loose, and its owners told CHEK News they’re trying their best to catch the cat.
Corcan-Meadowood residents Laurel Bablitz and Bill Edwards own the servals and allege someone let them out of a cage on their property.
In an interview, Bablitz said her initial feeling was “panic, absolute panic” when she discovered the pair was gone. And with the female running free, locals told CHEK News they’re on edge, especially after the cats killed a 19-year-old domestic cat nearby.
The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) said it was aware of the situation but noted servals aren’t regulated under Controlled Alien Species regulations, meaning the cats fall outside its mandate since they can be lawfully owned in B.C.
It’s a similar story for the Nanaimo Regional District, which, like the COS, only has authority over dogs in the area.
The SPCA has been pushing all municipalities and governments to adopt exotic pet laws that prohibit the keeping of servals, saying they pose a risk to their keepers and the public, and even native wildlife if they escape.