Scarlet is a female African serval who came to The Wildcat Sanctuary in 2018. She was less than two years old at the time. Sadly, Scarlet’s story is one we hear far too often. She was purchased as a pet before being surrendered.  Owning a serval is illegal in this state.

Her surrender fueled a police stand off in Minneapolis. Read more about the story below.

We were first told Scarlet had been spayed and front paw declawed. But her intake exam showed she’d been 4-paw declawed with complications visible from that. Scarlet also had not been spayed.

We’d been told her appetite had decreased with no bowel movements, so we feared a bowel obstruction as we see with so many wild cats kept in homes. They tend to eat many things that can cause obstructions.

We were very concerned about her needing immediate medical attention, so our caretakers drove 2 ½ hours to pick her up.

Scarlet traveled in a crate very calmly back to the sanctuary where our vet and hospital manager were waiting to do a thorough intake exam on her. If emergency surgery was necessary, we were ready.

Life at the Sanctuary

Thankfully, her bowel didn’t show a visible obstruction. But what else we found was heartbreaking.

She has a plate in a previously fractured left femur. She also has metabolic bone disease and anemia. We’ve dealt with metabolic bone disease before in other wild cats we’ve rescued with that condition.

Metabolic bone disease happens during critical times of growth at a young age. Scarlet didn’t get the proper nutrition she needed for her bones to grow properly.

Her rib cage has fractures that have since fused, but it may limit how much she can expand her lungs. Heavy running, climbing or jumping could be a problem for her.  

4-paw declaw with bent toe

We can’t reverse the damage done in her young life. But she gets top notch care here, receiving supplements for her anemia and metabolic bone disease. Scarlet may have some hurdles and limitations, but she should be able to live out her life happily, with proper care.

Owning a serval is illegal in the state of Minnesota. But, as you can see, breeders will still sell to anyone, no matter if it’s legal or not. Scarlet had been taken from her mother wherever she was bred and passed along from person to person to person. How sad for this little girl that life started this way.

But things will be better now. 

Plate in her femur

At first, Scarlet was introduced to two servals named Mesa and Jaharah. But, after a few months, it was clear there was no friendship blossoming between them. So, she was merged with two other servals named Zambuca and Little Diva who were both surrendered as failed pets.

We know, with time, she’s going to love companionship of her own kind and being able to live on her own terms – finally.

Fractured rib cag
Previoulsy fractured rib cage

How You Can Help

Caring for a wild cat for life – especially one with many medical issues – can be very expensive. Our sponsorship program helps support the cats and allows you to form a special bond with them. Would you consider being Scarlet’s sponsor parent?

Or even a one time donation toward her care would be so appreciated. It’s easy to do using the buttons at the top of this page.

Thank you for your generous support!


In October of 2023, caretakers noted that Scarlet was limping. So she was sedated and had radiographs performed.

The X-rays showed a stable fracture in that leg.

After consulting with a specialist, Scarlet was brought in for surgery to have an interlocking nail placed, as was done with our other serval Chili (who also suffers from metabolic bone disease).

This is the strongest fixation possible and will give Scarlet more flexibility with activity.

Healing would take about 8 weeks and this surgery cost $4,000!

Yes, it’s very expensive. But Scarlet’s only 7 years old and we wanted to give her the best chance possible for a “normal” life.

Scarlet healed very well, able to bear weight on that leg very shortly after the surgery.

She was a good patient, staying in a special area caretakers set up for her in her indoor bedroom.

There, she could still have the company of her buddies Little Diva and Zambuca.