serval, medium-sized African cat, Leptailurus serval, found S of the Sahara in scrub country close to water. The serval is lightly built with very long legs; it has a small head with large eyes and ears, set on a long neck. Its coat is yellow-orange with black spots. The head and body are about 3 ft (91 cm) long and the ringed tail about 12 in. (30 cm) long. The serval is among the swiftest and most agile of cats and catches birds flying as much as 6 ft (1.8 m) from the ground. It also hunts insects, lizards, rodents, hares, and small antelopes. It is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Felidae.