Woman asks for help capturing pet serval on the loose

The cat is an African serval and belongs to a woman visiting family in Arizona.
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 1:48 PM EST
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AHWATUKEE, Ariz. (KPHO/Gray News) – The search is on for an exotic cat roaming loose in an Arizona neighborhood.

The cat is an African serval that belongs to Crystal Barroga, who is visiting family in Ahwatukee. However, the animal escaped last week near 40th Street and Chandler Boulevard and is now somewhere in the Ahwatukee Foothills, according to KPHO.

“It feels like a child running away,” Barroga said. “It truly feels like I lost a child right now. Knowing that there’s coyotes around here, I’m really scared.”

Barroga, who’s visiting the state from Nevada, said she brought her 3-year-old cat, Bagheera. However, Barroga said her pet isn’t used to the environment, so she escaped from a window last week.

“I assume she heard a bird, and she tried grabbing it or getting it. She made a hole, and that’s how she got out,” Barroga said.

Bagheera has been spotted a few times, and one neighbor even captured her on video. In the video, Bagheera can be seen going toward the neighbor’s door and smelling around before leaving.

Neighbors said that they don’t see Bagheera as dangerous despite her exotic appearance.

“I think unless we see otherwise, I say we treat it like a pet,” resident Jesse Boyle said. “Hopefully, they find it soon.”

According to Arizona’s code for Game and Fish, alligators, bears, large primates and big cats are just a few out of a number of animals illegal to own without a proper license or permit. However, officials said they examined Barroga’s case and said Bagheera is legal to have as a pet. Barroga also said her cat is vaccinated, chipped and declawed.

“She’s harmless. She’s not going to eat your cats or fight your dogs. She’s very loving, but she does hiss and tries to look aggressive if you come to her,” Barroga said.

Barroga is asking neighbors to help her reunite with her beloved cat so they can go home together.

“If you guys do see her, don’t shoot her. Don’t do anything to hurt her. I’m begging you because she’s like my child,” Barroga said.