Exotic cat spotted trotting down street in Sooke

An Otter Point couple spotted an exotic cat in the area and wants to know where it came from.

Ken and Lesley Douch spotted what looked like an African serval trotting down Otter Point Place around noon on Saturday. They took a picture and sent it to local media and neighbours, advising them to be on the lookout.

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There was another sighting Sunday around 6:30 p.m. on West Coast Road.

African servals are a restricted species and are legal in most municipalities on the Island but that can vary based on a city’s exotic animal bylaws.

Doug Nelson, a Nanaimo cat breeder, said the serval could be the same one he sold to a Sooke resident. That serval escaped in August and couldn’t be recovered for several weeks.

The SPCA recovered the cat and returned it to the owner.

B.C. Conservation office said they have not received a report from anyone in the Sooke area about an escaped serval.

“There’s no excuse for losing a serval and not notifying anybody,” Nelson said. “It’s actually illegal to set them free, we don’t want them out there.”

Nelson sells all his servals with a tracking collar. The exotic cats sell for about $8,000.

Nelson has four servals that live inside his home as pets. Nelson said the cats can be domesticated and trained as house cats, but if they get out, they need to be recovered quickly because they would adapt and start preying on wild animals.

“These are pets, they’re very friendly and affectionate cats,” Nelson said. “They’re a non-aggressive cat but that changes if they’re out and they’re scared and they’re threatened.”

There has never been a report in North America of a serval attacking a person, he said.

Nelson recently set up a non-profit society aimed at rescuing the exotic cats from the wild.

Anyone who spots the exotic cat should call the Capital Regional District animal control at 250-478-0624.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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