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Don’t shoot! That really is an African cat in your backyard

Tango, an African serval, is shown at his Gig Harbor home. His owners, Sal’an and Michael Weyer, said he escaped from his home Oct. 20.
Tango, an African serval, is shown at his Gig Harbor home. His owners, Sal’an and Michael Weyer, said he escaped from his home Oct. 20. Courtesy

A cat native to Africa is on the loose in Gig Harbor.

His owners says he’s just a harmless puddy tat and want him back home.

Owners Sal’an and Michael Weyer got the expensive kitten they named Tango from a Missouri breeder just more than a year ago. Since then, the cat has grown to about 3 feet long and 40 pounds.

Tango has been declawed and is not dangerous, Sal’an Weyer said Saturday.

“They are more like a dog than a cat,” Weyer said of the species.

Until his escape, Tango lived with two small dogs at his home on 73rd Avenue Court Northwest in Gig Harbor.

Tango made a break for the wild Oct. 20 when Weyer returned home and opened her garage door. He had apparently opened the door that leads from the house to the garage.

“He’s very good at opening doors,” Weyer said. “He takes his paw and wraps around (the knob) and turns it.”

A nearby neighbor, apparently unnerved at the unusual feline, shot at him, Weyer said.

He’s been spotted several times since then. Most often residents shoo him away, Weyer said.

Tango was last spotted Saturday morning on Warren Drive Northwest.

“We just didn’t get there in time,” Weyer said.

Servals strike a commanding pose when they appear on the African savanna — or in a Gig Harbor backyard. They have long legs, a small head and spotted body.

Add a brown collar in Tango’s case.

Their extra-long necks and legs give servals the nickname “giraffe cat,” according to the San Diego Zoo. They also have the largest ears of any cat.

“If we had ears in the same proportion to our head as servals do, they would be the size of dinner plates,” according to the zoo’s website.

At home, the couple take Tango for walks on a leash. He plays fetch like a dog, retrieving anything from balls to bottle caps.

Tango eats dog food, but isn’t a finicky feline when it comes to diet.

“If you throw him a piece of cake, he will chomp down on it,” Weyer said.

He also likes ice cubes to the point that he’s taught himself how to use the Weyers’ ice machine.

“We have to lock the refrigerator,” Weyer said.

Weyer said Tango looks good in the photos that residents have been taking of him.

“I think he’s having a great time,” Weyer said. “He appears to be a happy cat on the roam.”

Still, she said Tango is safer at home than pursing the call of the wild in the backyards of Gig Harbor.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor

Spot the cat

If you spot Tango the serval, call Sal’an Weyer at 253-988-4875.

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