Hawk Creek is often called upon to rescue animals. Whether they are injured wildlife or exotic pets, every animal admitted presents unique challenges. In 2014 we rescued several exotic pets, the most challenging admission by far was an African Serval named Meisha. Meisha, now geriatric, had been a private pet for all of her 14 years. Due to personal circumstances her owner could no longer care for her properly, so he sought out a qualified home for his beloved companion.

Our first challenge was housing. We do not have a spot for Meisha until construction at the new site is finished. Additionally, Meisha had been living in a 75 degree house and it was December, so we couldn’t put her outside. These issues have been temporarily solved by placing her in an indoor animal holding area at our new site. This allows her to be quarantined from our other cats at the Center while keeping her warm for the winter. Once the weather warms up, we will have a decision to make; introduce her to our other servals and hope they get along, finish construction of the cat habitats at the new site ahead of schedule, or place her in yet another facility. Every option proves to be a difficult choice, as wild cats form bonds for life with their caregivers and each move is very stressful for them. The road ahead is not an easy one, but Hawk Creek will do its very best to make Meisha happy.

Our second challenge was assessing her health. She had obvious issues with thermoregulation and was showing signs of hip problems. How do we get vet care for a wild cat that doesn’t know us and has just undergone the stress of leaving everything she has ever known? Fortunately, we are lucky and have some of the best vets in the world that make house calls. After Dr. Tomaschke of Seneca Animal Hospital observed Meisha, we came up with a diet to balance her nutritional deficiencies and will be doing more work with her hips in the future.

The third and biggest challenge was gaining the trust of an adult serval whose world has just been turned upside down. Typically cats bond to and trust only a few people and this attachment is shaped when they are still young. This is a 14 year old cat that had very little interaction with humans and other animals for the last several years and hadn’t seen another serval since she was ten days old. Many wildlife experts believe that it is impossible to build a bond with a cat after it is five months old. Impossible. Knowing that Meisha’s best quality of life would be achieved by being able to work hands on with her to move her willingly in a crate, we had to try. Plus, we don’t believe in the word “impossible.”

Meisha has been with us for about seven weeks now. Her health has been improving and she has shocked us with her ability to not only take on a new family but learn “new tricks.” We are happy to report that with a lot of work, time and creative thinking, she has been bonding with one of our trainers and looks to her for guidance when she is unsure of something new. She can be walked on a harness and leash for exercise and is learning to voluntarily go in her crate for transport. All of this ground work will prove invaluable when we need to transfer her to the vets, a future outdoor habitat or another caring facility. Follow Meisha’s progress on our Facebook page and if all goes well, you can stop by to greet her at our 2015 events.