Did you ever wonder what it would be like to share your life with a wild animal? Author Kristine M. Smith has released a new book, SERVAL SON, based on her experiences raising a wild cat. She is an animal advocate with decades of combined experience as a wildlife rehabilitator, captive animal caretaker, and humane educator.
She is also a well-regarded author and copywriter, writing for businesses around the world. You can learn more about her writing services by visiting KristineMSmith.biz.
Welcome Kristine! This is such an interesting topic. Can you tell us about your new book and what inspired you to write it?
SERVAL SON: Spots and Stripes Forever is a cautionary true story about what it’s like to own—and be owned by—a wild animal for its entire lifetime; in my case that was 17 years.
I wrote the book for anyone considering getting a knee-high or taller wild animal as a pet or for those who would like to vicariously raise one without all of the accompanying rules, regulations, and responsibilities. It’s so temping to get a little ball of fur when they’re babies—and then they grow up, which is a whole new ball game.
I couldn't imagine my life without animals. We have three dogs and three cats right now. I assume caring for a wild animal is much different. What do you see as the pros and cons?
People want wild animals as pets for a number of reasons. Some have an abiding love for wildlife and want to experience them up close and personal. Others want a wild pet as an ego boost or status symbol—a way to stand out in the mass of humanity. Others feel the tug of wanting to rescue a wild animal that seems to be living in less ideal conditions than they believe they can provide—these are the “rescuers” in our midst.
Pros: If you do it right and absolutely nothing goes wrong (which rarely happens), watching a captive wild animal grow into its own without changing or corrupting its basic nature and personality is heartwarming beyond description. Having them respond to you with affection and trust is fabulous. Being able to visit schools, fairs, TV shows and other public venues to help foster awareness and understanding of their plight in the wild and as pets is always a big perk if you can remain calm enough in those situations not to set them off and cause them to become anxious.
Cons: Too many people, I’m sad to say, get them as status symbols or centerpieces for how they want other people to think about them. I had one interested party ask me at the time “What’s it like to walk Deaken (that was my serval’s name) in the neighborhood on a leash?” He thought that would be quite the rush. The fact is you don’t parade a wild animal in your neighborhood or anywhere else except under rigidly controlled circumstances. Guaranteed—some of your neighbors will NOT like knowing there’s a wild animal nearby and they can make your life a living hell. Fearful people do fearful things.
Would you do it again?
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world; I would never do it again. It was the most heartwarming, the most traumatic 17 years of my life. Raising a happy, healthy wild cat—keeping it safe from people and people safe from it—requires complete attention, nerves of steel, and an insane amount of good luck. Animal sanctuaries are overflowing with the forlorn castoffs of people who tried to do what I did and failed. It's heartbreaking to see former wild pets watching wistfully for owners they never will see again.
You can order SERVAL SON through Amazon.com.
These days, Kris is owned by two geriatric cats, and two fun-filled goats, Laverne and Shirley. You can follow their antics at AlmostFamousByDesfault.blogspot.com.