Serval Vs Bengal Cats [Similarities & Differences]

There are many different types of breeds that you can choose from when it comes to cats. Some people prefer the domesticated house cat, while others may be more interested in wild cats such as servals and Bengals. So, what’s the difference between servals and Bengals? 

Serval and Bengals Cats are relatively easy to differentiate as the Serval is a much larger wildcat than the average Bengal. Both cats have wild genealogy, though they can make excellent pets under the right circumstances.

Continue reading to uncover the differences between these two breeds, who can legally own each and which makes the perfect family pet.

What’s The Difference Between A Serval Cat And A Bengal Cat?

Perhaps the most significant difference between the Serval and the Bengal is that Bengals are a hybrid of wild and domestic cats, but the Serval is a wild cat. The average Serval is much larger than a Bengal and is classed as an exotic pet throughout the USA.

What Are The Key Characteristics Of A Serval Cat And A Bengal Cat?

Use the table below to compare the key characteristics of a Serval and a Bengal cat.

Height21-24 inches14-18 inches
Weight20-40 lbs8-12 pounds
LifespanAbout 10 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity12-16 years
Activity LevelHighHigh
Grooming RequirementsLowLow
Family & Pet FriendlyLow levels of friendliness toward people, children, and other pets.Yes to both
Ease of TrainingDifficult to train, but it is possible with persistence.Excellent pets to train

What Is A Serval?

The Serval is a wild cat characterized by its golden-yellow coat with black patterns, small head, and large ears. It is a carnivore native to Africa who actively seeks prey during the day and nighttime.

Servals can be an affectionate and loyal breed; however, they have several specific requirements for their owners to meet, such as a large outdoor area, high protein diet, and ownership license.

What Is A Bengal Cat?

Bengals are a hybrid cat breed with the genes of an Asian Leopard cat and a domestic cat. Their heritage means that the Bengal is an energetic cat who prefers to be outdoors rather than indoors. 

A Bengal is a large cat with an athletic body that experiences the greatest fulfillment when engaging in plenty of physical activity. Though they are playful and energetic, their domestic genes bring the best of both worlds, allowing them to make the perfect family pet.

Are Servals And Bengals Wild Cats?

Servals are wild cats that breeders can combine with a domestic cat to produce the Savannah or other family-friendly cat varieties. The Bengal is a hybrid of a wild and domestic cat; the prevalence of its wild genes is determined by its genealogy.

Where Are Servals Illegal Or Restricted?

Servals are illegal in several US states due to their exotic animal classification. However, some states allow you to keep a Serval as long as you obtain a license. 

These states are Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Texas. 

How Many Types Of Bengal Cats Are There?

You can differentiate the varied types of Bengal cats by their relationship to their ancestor, the Asian leopard cat. Their “F” number determines the strength of their “wild” ancestry. Fili numbers range from one to five, depending on the Bengal’s generation.

An F1 Bengal cat is produced from breeding an Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat. An F2 Bengal cat is produced from breeding an F1 Bengal with a domestic cat. An F3 Bengal is a cat produced from breeding an F2 Bengal with a domestic, and so on.

Experts generally believe that an F3 Bengal is a cutoff between a wildcat and a domesticated animal. If your Bengal is an F1 – F3 breed, it will face many of the same restrictions as the exotic Serval.

Where Are Bengal Cats Illegal Or Restricted?

The USA completely bans Bengals in several states. I’ve written an article on which states it is illegal to own a Bengal cat. So be sure to check it out if you’re considering getting one as a pet.  

Most authorities categorize an F5 Bengal as a domestic pet, meaning that F5+ Bengals are legal to keep as pets in most states.

What Are The Historical Differences Between A Serval And A Bengal Cat?

Experts believe it may have been as early as 1889 when people first bred the Asian Leopard cat with the Egyptian Mau. Still, it was the 1970s before breeders intentionally bred the Bengal as a domestic housecat. 

The International Cat Association accepted Bengals in 1983, and most other worldwide organizations had accepted the breed by 1999. 

The Serval originated from the long grasses of Africa, where it’s believed that they were kept as pets by the Egyptians. Breeding in the US began more than 100 years ago, and the Servals present in America today may be several generations removed from their African cousins.

Breeders cross Servals with domestic cats to produce hybrids such as the Savannah cat. These hybrids can make a better family pet thanks to reducing their wild genes.

What Are The Differences In Personality Between A Serval And A Bengal Cat?

Bengals are energetic and playful cats who are affectionate with their families. The breed is easy to train and, unlike other breeds, they love water and will often splash around or play in any source they find. Bengals love to climb and jump up high, so you will often find them in roof rafters or trees. 

Thanks to their intelligence, curiosity, and eagerness to please, they are the perfect breed to train. And it’s not just basic “sit” or “lie down” commands that a Bengal can learn; they are capable of much more complex activities such as opening a cupboard or lifting a bin lid.

Servals are also energetic and playful, but they require a large outdoor area to meet the needs of their wild nature. In addition, Servals will jump fences or dig underneath them, so you must adequately secure your outdoor space.

While Bengals enjoy the water, it’s necessary for Servals who rely on a water source for drinking and swimming. If it’s possible to add fish, they will love to catch their own food.

Servals are more solitary creatures than Bengals, but they can bond with humans if they are hand-raised and bottle-fed. However, servals require more significant amounts of patience to train and will likely remain fearful of strangers.

Are Serval Cats Or Bengal Cats Better Pets?

Bengals are a playful and energetic breed that benefits from regular interaction and a minimum of one playmate (human or feline). The Bengal requires time outdoors to avoid destructive or restless behavior.

Bengals make the perfect family pet and are easily trainable in several skills and tricks, thanks to their domestic genes.

The Serval also makes a beloved pet, but they are exotic animals that are illegal in some states. With a playful and mischievous nature, the Serval brings a sense of fun and adventure to its home.

However, homes with children of other pets are not suitable for the Serval due to its temperament. While Bengals can happily cohabit in a family environment, Servals need to be kept under the care and supervision of a properly trained exotic animal handler.

Final Thoughts

Both Bengals and Servals are beautiful cats with a host of positive qualities. The Bengal has been domesticated to a point where it makes the perfect addition to any family; it is caring, playful, and easy to train.

The Serval, however, is by no means a traditional pet. It is a wild animal that is not suitable for families. You should only consider keeping a Serval as a pet if you are appropriately trained in exotic animal handling, have sufficient space for this feline, and can adequately meet all of its needs.

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