Officials Can't Believe What They Find Inside New York Man's House

They found them just in time.

They should have been in the wild, exploring the world and learning to hunt by their mothers’ sides.

But instead, they were locked inside a man’s upstate New York house, just a few months old and destined to be sold off as pets.  

Last week, officials with New York Department of Environmental Conservation and rescuers from World Animal Protection (WAP) seized four servals and two caracals, both wild species native to Africa, from a home in Buffalo. The cats are illegal to keep and sell in New York, but are commonly bred and sold into the pet trade within the United States.

serval cat kittens
Two of the serval kittens | Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

The little kittens were only between 2 and 6 months of age — but they had already been through so much. They were all severely malnourished due to an improper diet, and one male kitten required emergency fluids to stay alive.

“These cats were suffering and near death due to the ignorance of the person that was holding them, allegedly intending to profit from their sale,” Alesia Soltanpanah, executive director of WAP U.S., said in a press release.

caracal kitten new york rescue
One of the caracal kittens from the rescue | WAP

As adults, both caracals and servals can grow up to 40 pounds and regularly hunt small mammals in the wild. While many illegal sellers may claim that their cats have been domesticated through selective breeding, the animals are wild and simply not meant to be pets.

In addition to the kittens, a Savannah cat was also seized from the property — which is a hybrid breed between a serval and domestic cat.

“Their size and natural instincts create a hazardous situation for those who encounter them,” Soltanpanah said. “Especially small animals and children.”

serval kitten rescue
One of the serval kittens getting a veterinary exam | WAP

In attempts to make these wild cats less dangerous to people, many owners will have them declawed — a damaging surgical procedure that is the equivalent of removing the tips of the toes at the first knuckle, and can lead to lifelong joint issues and other health complications.

Thankfully, the kittens had not yet been declawed, and the wildlife team was able to get them the veterinary care they were in desperate need of.

WAP has since transferred the kittens to permanent sanctuary homes, where they will grow up in a natural setting with plenty of room to climb, explore and be the wild cats they were always meant to be.

serval cats rescue
Two of the older rescued servals | Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary

They are currently quarantined at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas and Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary in Nevada. Once fully health-cleared, they’ll be introduced to large natural outdoor enclosures there, in an environment similar to what they would have experienced in the wild.

After such a difficult start to life, it’s the best ending to a situation that shouldn’t have occurred in the first place.

serval cat rescue
One of the rescued servals in a quarantine crate at the sanctuary | Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary

But thankfully, the little cats won’t bear the trauma for very long — and they’ll live in peace for the rest of their days.

“Removing them from their natural environment and subjecting them to a life as a domestic pet is cruel and dangerous,” Soltanpanah said. “World Animal Protection was glad we could do this emergency rescue to bring attention to the plight of exotic pets and their mistreatment in the U.S.”

To help more animals in need, you can make a donation to World Animal Protection.