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‘Big cat’ captured in eastern France is a Savannah cross

The unusual cat breed was reported after acting aggressively, and has now been captured by the Office français de la Biodiversité

A photo of a Savannah cat in a green space

Savannah cats are the result of a cross between a serval (African wild cat) and a domestic cat, but they are not considered to be domestic cats legally in France Pic: Lindasj22 / Shutterstock

A ‘big cat’ that firefighters were searching for in eastern France has been found and identified as a Savannah cat. 

Savannah cats are a hybrid cat breed, and are the result of a cross between a serval (a wild cat native to Africa) and a domestic cat. They tend to be around 1.5 times larger than a domestic cat, and can be feisty, but are not typically especially dangerous.

The animal was seen near homes in Métabief (Doubs, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté) on Monday, August 29. It was reported after a woman said it stopped her from entering her home by blocking the entrance and behaving aggressively.

Firefighters and officers from the Office français de la biodiversité (OFB) had been searching for the animal for more than 24 hours.

It was captured on August 30 by the OFB, who used a cage set with a food ‘trap’ to attract the cat. Previous attempts to capture it using a lasso, net, and hypodermic needle tranquiliser had not worked.

Owner may face investigation

The owner of the animal has been identified, the OFB said. They could be facing investigations if it emerges that they do not have the correct documents required to keep the animal.

Savannah cats do not have ‘domestic cat’ status, and owners must be registered and receive approval to keep them. The animals’ reproduction is also regulated.

The cat captured in Métabief appears to be a second- or third-generation animal to have been crossed with a serval.

Escape artists

Savannah cats were first created in the US in around 1986, and the breed is well-known for its propensity to escape.

Servals typically weigh 15-20 kilos, while Savannah cats usually weigh in at around 7-14 kilos. They can measure as much as 14cm at the shoulder.

The Métabief mairie warned residents not to intervene if they see the cat again, but instead to call the fire brigade.

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