Authorities captured a medium-sized exotic African cat near Pacific Way and Sunset Way in Longview on Sunday, roughly a week after the animal escaped its owner's home, the Cowlitz Humane Society said.
Throughout the week, Rajah, an African serval, had been showing up on people's backyard decks in the Columbia Heights area, startling neighbors who suspected he might be a cheetah, Humane Society Director Rick Johnson said Monday.
The cat, which weighs about 35 pounds and has large rounded ears and spots similar to a cheetah's, was seen again Sunday, Johnson said. An animal control officer and local veterinarian caught it after setting a trap baited with cat food.
Johnson said the cat is de-clawed and does not appear to be dangerous.
"It hasn't bit anything," he said. "It hasn't consumed any other cat or dog that we've heard of."
Rajah purred when he finally saw his owner, a woman who lives along Nevada Drive. She scooped him up when the pair were reunited, Johnson said.
"It really likes her," he said of the cat.
But Johnson said Rajah's owner does not have permits to own the cat, and Humane Society officials are researching what permits the owners need to legally keep it. As of Monday, Rajah was quarantined at the Humane Society. The cat, he said, has been eating raw hamburger and chicken and has been hiding out in a cat carrier.
"Our best hope is that it goes back to the owner," Johnson said.
The website for the Serval Conservation Organization says African servals weigh between 30 and 45 pounds and are usually about 22 inches tall at the shoulders. The cats live in the middle and southern portions of Africa and hunt rodents, insects and small birds, which they can snatch from the air.
A call to the cat's owner, who advertised for help locating the animal, was not immediately returned Monday.