The cat was rescued after escaping its owner. It will now live at Cincinnati Zoo.
The African serval cat was illegally owned by a local resident. It broke free during a traffic stop in January.
The wild cat's story has trended online, where social media users have compared it to the recently released movie ‘Cocaine Bear’.
Social media users have predictably dubbed the serval ‘cocaine cat’.
How did ‘cocaine cat’ escape?
The slender feline made its escape after its owner was pulled over by Cincinnati police on 28 January, according to local animal control officials. It leapt from the car into a tree.
In Ohio, it is illegal to own serval cats, which can weigh up to 18 kg.
Local animal control unit, Hamilton County Dog Wardens, were called around 2am in the residential Oakley neighbourhood, according to Ray Anderson of county animal shelter Cincinnati Animal CARE.
During the rescue mission, the cat named Amiry broke its leg and became more agitated.
How did they find out that the cat had cocaine in his system?
Once Amiry was taken in for medical care by the animal shelter, the team ran a drug test in which they determined that the cat had cocaine in his system. It is unclear how or why.
It’s not the first time that the shelter has had a wild animal test positive for drugs. In 2022, the group took in a capuchin monkey, named Neo, that had methamphetamine in its system.
Since that case, it has become standard procedure for the shelter to test exotic animals that arrive at the shelter for drugs, Anderson says.
Anderson confirmed that Amiry’s owner relinquished custody of the cat to Cincinnati Animal CARE before it was taken to the Cincinnati Zoo.
Is it common to keep servals as pets?
Servals have grown in popularity with some showing up in TikTok videos as pets.
A serval is a major responsibility that requires a balanced diet and specialised care beyond a house cat, says Julie Sheldon, clinical assistant professor of zoo medicine at the University of Tennessee.
“There are way better options for pets that are way more safe, economically smart and sustainable,” she says.
Cincinnati Animal CARE receives about 8,000 animals a year, says Anderson.
Instead of trying to keep a wild animal as a pet, “You could save a whole lot of money and get a really awesome house cat at your local animal shelter," he recommends.