What Makes This Breed Unique
Like other hybrid domestic cats, the Savannah cat is described as having dog-like characteristics. They enjoy playing fetch and walking on a leash. Savannah cats are exceedingly loyal, as well. Surprisingly, these cats love wateryou don’t have to convince them to take a bath. Some Savannahs will even go swimming.
The intelligent breed is strong, agile and energetic. In fact, it’s the largest domesticated cat breed, yet one of the easiest exotic hybrid breeds to care for. Because they are so playful, many believe they are excellent family pets, getting along with children and other pets.
Smart, loyal and stunningly beautiful, it’s no wonder so many people are interested in adopting a Savannah cat!
Of the hybrid cats recognized by , the Savannah is the newest and most rare breed. In part, this is due to the difficulties in breeding a domestic cat with an African Serval. There are only a few breeders that have successfully produced litters of the exotic domestic cat. Perhaps not surprisingly, you’ll have to invest if you wish to include a Savannah in your family.
A Savannah Cat F4 kitten
What Makes Savannah Cats Different
There are differences in serval and domestic cats that make the ongoing breeding of Savannah cats challenging. First of all, the length of pregnancy is seventy-five days for the serval and sixty-three to sixty-five days for the domestic cat. Secondly, some serval males can be picky about breeding with a domestic female, making it difficult to find a tomcat that will successfully breed. Thirdly, male Savannahs are usually sterile until the F5 generation, although Savannah females are fertile from F1 forward. It has been reported that male sterility is on the rise in F5 and even F6 males. Differences in pregnancy length and other genetic factors lead to increased fetal deaths. We dont really know what percentage of hybrid kittens dont make it, since actual statistics on fetal deaths havent been published.
My Experience With Kimbu An F2 Hybrid Savnnah Cat
Today, Kimbu spends most of his time in a tall, spacious enclosure with shelves to climb on and a covered house to hide in. He doesnt mind wearing a harness and enjoys leisurely leash walks. He likes to inspect objects slowly and cautiously but has never been comfortable with other cats. He will attack other cat or turn his aggression to me when he gets near other cats or is spooked by sounds, smells and unfamiliar sites. I have never let him walk freely because I am afraid he will hurt my other pets or human visitors. Not all Savannah owners have these experiences, especially with F4 and F5 cats. Remember, the larger the F designation, the more they are to behave like domestic cats.
I have pondered and reflected many times on whether my choice to keep this cat as a pet was a responsible choice. Am I sending the message that I support and even promote the cross breeding of wild and domestic cats? Is it safe and humane to co-mingle these species? Would a typical cat household without a veterinary owner be safe and satisfying for Kimbu? I certainly dont have all the answers.
What Colors And Patterns Are Available
Savannah Cats are available in many different colors and patterns. These varieties come from the Serval, as well as the domestic cats that are bred with the Serval. The most common and widely coveted color and pattern is the traditional gold coat with the brown spots as it looks the most wild. That being said, there are several other TICA approved colors such as the silver, smoke and black varieties. There are other colors available, as well, but they are not able to be shown in competitions. As with any rare variety of any kind, there is always someone who wants it this is even true with the rare colored kitties.
In this article, we will go through the 4 main colors and then provide a brief overview of the different patterns that you may see. The 4 main colors, as mentioned above, are the Brown Spotted Tabby, black, Silver, and Smoke. Please keep in mind that they are all the same breed, these are just different color variations that can be produced through the breeding process. The color of these cats is not always something that can be controlled, no matter how knowledgeable and talented the breeder is there is always a bit of randomness when talking about the genetic makeup of these cats! Another perk of the different colors is that in some cases, the will be lower because the cat doesnt look like the prototypical Savannah. To learn about the different generations, check out our Which Savannah is Right for You section.
Savannah Cat Health +
Many experts proclaim the Savannah Cat to be one of the healthiest domestic breeds available. At the same time, there are a few things to keep in mind.
On the one hand, Savannahs must come from responsible breeders. Because this breed is so expensive and difficult to come by, some breeders will offer lower-cost Savannahs to appeal to more customers. This is a bad sign; many of these low-cost kittens dont receive proper screening for genetic issues.
Another health concern for the Savannah Cat is nutrition. Over generations, domestic cats have adapted to store-bought cat food. However, that might not be enough for a cat that depends on fresh protein. In fact, some sources suggest that Savannahs are at higher risk for taurine deficiency, a vitamin found in meat. They may benefit, then, from a high protein, low carb diet, such as they would find in the wild.
Maintaining a healthy weight can be an additional challenge with Savannah Cats. On the one hand, this breed may require more food than the average domestic cat. At the same time, they have such high energy needs that obesity is a risk. It may take some time and effort to find the right diet and exercise balance. If you feel like your Savannah is packing on the kilos, take a look at our article How Can I Help My Cat Lose Weight?
How Big Do Savannah Cats Get
Savannahs can vary greatly in size, and this is mainly due to the fact that they are a hybrid breed. However, when looking at averages, these cats will teeter around 10-20 pounds, but don’t be completely surprised if yours tips the scales up to 30 pounds.
These medium to large cats are also quite tall, typically measuring around 16 inches in height. Although there is a variance in their size, it is a given that male Savannah cats will almost always be larger than females.
Coat Colors And Patterns
The TICA Chausie breed standard allows three colors: solid black, black grizzled tabby, and black ticked tabby. Because the Chausie breed is relatively new, Chausies are still frequently born that have a variety of other colors and patterns, and they make wonderful pets. However, only the three permissible colors are considered ideal. Only cats in the three permissible colors can be entered in new breed classes at cat shows, and only the three colors will be eligible eventually for championship classes. or eye color is preferred, though yellower and lighter shades of are allowed.
Solid black Chausies may have faint tabby markings as kittens, but usually acquire a dense, even black pigmentation with maturity. Sometimes black grizzled tabby Chausies will appear indistinguishable from solid black Chausies when the amount of grizzling is minimal. Exposure to strong sunlight, as with most black cats, can cause black Chausies to lighten slightly and appear brownish.
These Cats Have Tons Of Energy
Savannahs are extremely energetic and athletic. Unlike the majority of felines whod prefer to nap the day away, Savannahs require a lot of exercise and interaction. They want to play with you! Which isnt ideal for someone whos looking for a lazy lap-cat. But if youre up for a playful partner, a Savannah cat could be the perfect companion.
What Is The Temperament Of A Savannah Cat
Savannah cats are highly intelligent cats. They are able to figure out how to open doors or cupboards, or to turn on alarm clocks to gain attention. They like to play tricks or hide and play tag with their humans.
They are curious animals and like to explore. They like to climb and survey the world from high locations. Able to jump to a height of eight feet up, and will likely lurk on counters, the top of the fridge, or on top of cabinets.
Likely inherited from their wild Serval cat family members, Savannah cats are full of energy. They enjoy the water and may try to take a swim in your bath or to splash around in a toilet when the lid is left up. They arent likely to spend a lot of time laying around or being petted for hours on end. Rather, Savannah cats would prefer to go for a walk and can easily be trained to walk with a harness and leash like a dog, and can even be trained to play fetch. Also like a dog, Savannah cats can be fiercely loyal to their humans and wary of strangers.
Savannah cats make a range of noises that can differ from the sounds typically produced by domestic cats. They can meow, but they may also chirp like Serval cats, or even mix the two noises. Savannah cats also hiss like domestic cats, but the hissing sound produced by the Savannah cat is more like that of the Serval cat and is louder than the hiss of a domestic cat. The hissing can sound like an angry snake and may startle some.
F1 F2 F3 F4 And F5 Savannah Cats
Overview of Savannah Cats
The Savannah cat, which is the largest type of cat, is a highly coveted and exotic breed. It is renowned for its African roots, given that it is half African Serval and half domestic cat. Naturally, this mixture gives the Savannah cat a stunningly beautiful and unique appearance.
The Savannah has a ringed or spotted coat with variations of black, brown, and silver throughout. It also has short, glossy fur that adds to the sleek appearance of the cat. Its tall, lean body, large eyes, and enormous ears add to its exotic feel. It also has longer than average extremities.
Surprising Facts About Savannah Cats
The Savannah cat is an intriguing and mysterious animal thanks to their unique blend of exotic looks and playful temperament.
But how much do you actually know about this rarely-seen cat? Are they friendly or hostile? Do they like people? Is it legal to own one, or are they considered a wild cat?
Weve gathered the facts for you, so lets get to know this enigmatic creature.
Brown Spotted Tabby Savannah
Brown Spotted Tabby color variation
This is certainly the most popular of all the colors available, which is not surprising given their very wild appearance that is as close to the look of a Serval as possible. These Savannahs range in coat color from a cooler beige color all the way to a bright gold with an orange tint. Typically, the brighter the basecoat is, the more variation you will see in the color of the spots. Whereas if the basecoat is the cool beige color, the spots are usually a very dark brown or black. It is widely believed that as these Brown Spotted Tabby Savannahs get older, they all trend towards the more subtle beige-brown color and move away from the ultra vibrant orange-gold color.
Silver Spotted Tabby color variation Photo courtesy of Lequoia Savannahs
More Cat Breeds And Further Research
Before you decide whether a savannah cat is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research. Talk to other savannah cat owners, reputable breeders, and savannah cat rescue groups to learn more. In addition to the Savannah Cat Rescue, you can do research with the Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue.
If youre interested in similar, wild-looking cat breeds, look into the following cats to compare the pros and cons.
Maine Coon Cat Breed Information
The Maine Coon is one of the largest domesticated cat breeds. It has a distinctive physical appearance and valuable hunting skills. It is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, specifically native to the state of Maine, where it is the official state cat. Length: 1 m Scientific name: Felis catusMass: Male: 5.9 8.2 kg , Female: 3.6 5.4 kg Origin: Maine, United States of AmericaDid you know: It is the only show cat breed that is indigenous to the United States. msn.com
Color / Coat Type: Odin is brown with dark brown spots, and Dimphy has grey, black, browns, and white spotsAge of Pet: Both are 3 years oldSize of Pet: Both are approximately 4 kgHealth Problems: Both have no health issuesBehavior Issues: NoOdin is a very active cat, prefers to run and jump around in a spacey area.Gets along with: Dogs, Cats, Small AnimalsPet is: Neutered, Micro chipped, Fully vaccinated, Crate Trained, Litter TrainedFood: Hills Science Diet
They Enjoy Being Walked On A Leash
Have you ever wanted to own a cat that you could stroll around the block with? Savannah cats can be leash-trained successfully. This requires practice and patience, but the pleasure of walking your cat through the park is well worth the effort.
Keep in mind: while they may behave like dogs, Savannahs are still felines. Their necks cant handle the kind of pressure you would use while leash-walking a dog. Instead of a regular dog leash, you can use a walking jacket or harness specially made for a Savannah cats unique build.
Exotic Hybrid Cats And Their Hidden Dangers
The tigress crouches as she stalks her prey, her eyes dilated to take in the sparse light of a cloudy night. Closer and closer she moves on silent, padded feet. Her prey shows no awareness of its danger. Suddenly, she pounces, administering the killing neck bite and rapidly disemboweling her prey with her hind claws. She is once again victorious the squeaky mouse is no more!
Anyone who lives with a cat as an animal companion has undoubtedly witnessed the described scenario time after time. Even after countless thousands of years of living with humans as domesticated animals, our feline companions still manifest many of the wild behaviors of their larger cousins leopards, tigers, and other species that we group together as great cats.
Acting a little like their wild brethren is one of the numerous reasons we adore cats. However, there has been a growing movement among cat breeders to bring some of the wild closer into our homes. Hybrid cat breeds are being created more and more frequently as breeders try to create miniature leopards and other types of more exotic, wilder looking cats with which we can share our lives.
What are Hybrid Cats?
As the Bengal breed and demand for exotic looking cats took off in more recent years, other hybrid cats were also engineered. Some of the more common hybrid cats available now include the Savannah and the Chausie.
Savannahs resulted from crossbreeding a with the Domestic cat.
Behavioral and Health Issues in Hybrid Cats
Four Fun Facts About The Savannah Cat
Savannah Cat Breed History
Judging by the Savannah Cats wild appearance and personality, you might assume that breeders simply plucked a feline right off the plains of Africa. And to be honest, the history of this breed isnt too far off.
Back in the mid 1980s, a cat breeder in the United States, Judee Frank, had taken into her care a Serval cat named Ernie. To Judees surprise, one of her other cats, a Siamese, had a single kitten by Ernie. This first known F1 kitten took the name Miracle.
Miracles Owners changed her name to Savannah and so began a new cat breed. Much of the Savannahs early breeding is credited to Joyce Sroufe and Patrick Kelley, who established the breed by 1996. Shortly thereafter, they submitted the breed standard to the International Cat Association . TICA then formally recognised the cat breed in 2012.
However, other than the specific breeding lines, there is much to be said about the history of the Savannah Cat. With this in mind, lets take it back to where it all started, a few thousand years ago in Africa.
As early as 1300 BCE, humans traded Serval cats in Ancient Egypt, along with other exotic animals. They appear in Egyptian art depicting mythologies and legends, which suggest that they held a special place in the hearts and minds of Ancient Egyptians.
Despite their place in Egyptian lore, Serval cats were never domesticated. In general, you would find them in Sub-Saharan Africa, where they would thrive as hunters in savannahs and plains.
The I Newsletter Cut Through The Noise
The expert concluded the cat was a hybrid – a cross between a domestic cat and a Savannah breed.
But what is a Savannah cat, are they legal – and what are the rules around owning big cats in the UK?
What is a Savannah cat?
Tall, lean and graceful with a spotted pattern, a Savannah cat is a cross between a domestic cat and a Serval, a wild African cat.
They are around 33 – 38cm in length, and can weigh 715 pounds , making them the largest domestic breed.
However, their size depends on which generation they are and first generation male cats tend to be the largest.
Active, curious and sociable, Savannah cats require lots of interaction with their humans and might not be suitable for everyone – especially families with small children.
They tend to live for around 15 – 20 years, and a kitten can cost between £800 and £16,000 depending on the breed.
Are Savannah cats legal in the UK?
In the UK, it is legal to own Savannah cats in most cases, but it depends on the generation of the cat.
Each generation, ranging from F1 to F4, has a different percentage of African Serval in its genetics.
An F1 generation cat is the first cross between the wild African Serval and the domestic cat, and these are illegal to own in the UK without a Dangerous Wild Animal Licence, which most cat owners in the UK wont be able to get.
However, cats that are further down the generations – from F2 to F4 – are legal to own in the UK.
What other exotic big cats are legal in the UK?
Final Thoughts On The Savannah Cat
This isnt a cat for every Cat Owner. Unfortunately, some are so enchanted by the Savannah Cats unique appearance that they dont learn more before bringing one home. Whats more, these cats are so rare that its not common to spend time with one before making the choice to adopt one.
In reality, though, the Savannah Cat requires more attention, more exercise, more rules, and a more strict diet than other domestic cats. Every cat breed will require good ownership practices, of course. But the Savannah Cat is what you might call a high maintenance breed in comparison.
That said, for those who have experience with high energy cats and are willing to put in the time and effort, the Savannah Cat is just as enchanting and awe-inspiring as you would expect. With their dog-like qualities and feline grace, this is a breed that is amazing to have around.
Savannah Cats Vs Bengal Cats
Often mistaken for one another, chances are that if you are doing research for and looking into adopting a Savannah cat, the name Bengal is going to make an appearance as well. Although both Bengals and Savannahs are a hybrid of domestic and wild cats, these cats are actually quite different.
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to tell these two apart is to look at their coatSavannahs appear to be more spotted, while Bengals have a rosette-marked coat. Also, Savannahs are much larger than Bengals, and, in some instances, they are even twice a Bengal’s size.
Health And Welfare Issues In The Breeding Of Hybrid Cats
Hybrid cats are developed by crossing the domestic cat Felis catus, with other wild breeds. While this crossing may produce a large or attractive looking cat, there are many concerns and unknowns about the temperament, behaviour and safety of these cats in a home setting and the effect on wildlife if they get outside. Keeping them confined may not contribute greatly to the wellbeing of the hybrid cat itself either. The welfare of the female domestic cats used to breed with a much larger wild male cat, as well as the welfare of the wild cats and the early crosses which cannot be kept as pets and so must be kept in captivity, is often not questioned and there is little information available. We have many beautiful cats already, we do not need to breed hybrids. International Cat Care does not condone the creation of hybrid breeds for these reasons.
Breeding these cats obviously requires keeping Servals in secure housing and with good welfare. In the UK a Dangerous Wild Animals Act licence is required to keep both Servals and the first generation crosses. Quite how the first crosses between male Serval and female domestic cat are made safely is not openly discussed.
Bengal Vs Savannah Cat: Whats The Difference
and Savannah cats are both very similar. They are the result of breeding a domestic cat with a wild cat. Because they arent entirely domestic cats, they act and look very different from your average feline.
However, despite being bred similarly, these cats are quite different. Firstly, a Bengal is a mix between a domestic cat and an leopard cat. A Savannah is a mix between a domestic cat and a Serval. This difference in parentage leaves a significant mark on their personality, temperament, and maintenance needs.
Coat Color And Grooming
Savannahs come in several different colors and patterns: black, brown, or black spotted tabby; black silver spotted tabby; and black smoke. Most have solid black or dark brown spots on golden, cream, sandy, or white backgrounds. They stand out for their bold, solid markings, which can be round, oval, or elongated. Some Savannahs have whats called a marble pattern, in which the spots resemble an elongated bulls-eye. Because domestic shorthairs figured in their ancestry, some Savannahs come in colors and patterns that arent described in the breed standard, including chocolate, cinnamon, blue, red, and colorpoint. Savannahs that are non-standard colors can be registered but not shown.
The Savannahs triangular head is supported by a long neck and topped by large, wide ears. The medium-size eyes can be any color. Nose leather ranges from pink to black, but black Savannahs must have solid black nose leather. A Savannah has a medium-length tail.
If she were an athlete, the tall and lean Savannah would be heavily recruited by all the best basketball teams. Her unusual height comes from her long-legged serval ancestor.
It takes a Savannah approximately three years to reach adult size. A kitten who looks average in size may rocket up in height after shes 3 months old. She usually achieves his height in the first year and then her body fills out over the next couple of years. Interesting fact: the back legs are slightly longer than the front legs.