Cat Breeds


Isabel Hartley

The Savannah cat stands out in the feline world with its striking appearance that echoes its wild heritage.

A hybrid breed, the Savannah, is the result of breeding between an African serval and a domestic cat.

These cats are known for their tall and slender bodies, large ears, and bold spotted coats that resemble the serval’s pattern. Thanks to their domestic cat lineage, Savannahs also inherit a range of friendly and sociable personality traits, making them sought-after companions.

Owners of Savannah cats often describe them as active and playful pets who bring an element of the wild into the home without leaving the comfort of a domestic cat’s temperament. Their size can be quite impressive, with some standing much taller than the average house cat.

While their athletic build might hint at formidable hunting prowess, they are typically well-adapted to a home environment and can form strong bonds with their human families.

Care for a Savannah cat, however, can be demanding, as they require ample space to explore and regular interaction to stay mentally stimulated. Their diet and health needs must also be carefully considered to ensure a happy and healthy life.

With a lifespan ranging from 12 to 20 years, these cats can be long-term companions, bringing a touch of exotic flair to their adoptive households.

Origins of the Savannah Cat

The Savannah cat springs from a remarkable crossbreeding between a wild African serval and a domestic cat.

Hybrid Beginnings

In 1986, a female domestic Siamese cat was bred with a male African serval, resulting in the birth of the first-known Savannah cat. They named the initial hybrid kitten Savannah, a nod to her exotic lineage.

  • Date of Birth: April 7, 1986
  • Hybrid Name: Savannah
  • Serval Father: Known as Ernie
  • Domestic Mother: A Siamese cat
  • Breeder: Judee Frank

Recognizing the Breed

The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the Savannah as a new registered breed in 2001. This acknowledgment cemented the Savannah’s place in the cat breeding world.

  • Year of TICA Registration: 2001
  • Breed Acceptance: Confirmed unique characteristics and breed standards

Savannah cats have since gained a reputation for their sociability, impressive jumping abilities, and large, tall stature, reminiscent of their wild ancestors.

Characteristics of the Savannah

The Savannah cat combines striking physical characteristics with a vibrant personality. This breed stands out for both its wild-like appearance and its energetic, social nature.

Physical Traits

Height: Typically stands 10-17 inches at the shoulder.
Weight: Ranges between 9-20 pounds on average.
Appearance: They exhibit long legs, big ears, and a spotted coat reminiscent of their wild ancestors. Their bodies are tall and lean.

Personality and Behavior

Social: Savannahs are known for being friendly and enjoy the company of humans.
Intelligent and Active: They possess high energy levels and a curious disposition, requiring mental stimulation.
Temperament: These cats are confident and can be very interactive, making them engaging companions.

Caring for a Savannah Cat

Owning a Savannah cat means catering to their unique blend of wild and domestic traits. They have specific needs in diet, exercise, and health maintenance that are vital for their well-being.

Dietary Requirements

Savannah cats are high-energy felines that require a nutritious diet to match their activity levels. They thrive on high-quality cat food that’s rich in protein.

Some Savannah cat owners opt for a raw diet that mirrors what these cats’ ancestors might eat in the wild. A proper diet for a Savannah should include:

  • Proteins: Chicken, turkey, and fish
  • Fats: A moderate amount of healthy fats for energy
  • Vitamins: Specifically, Vitamin A and taurine for eye health
  • Water: Fresh water should always be available

Exercise and Activities

Physical activity is crucial for Savannah cats. They are agile and need space to jump, climb, and explore. Owners should provide:

  • Climbing trees: To mimic their natural climbing instincts
  • Interactive toys: Keeps them mentally stimulated
  • Supervised outdoor access: On a leash or in a secure catio

Health Concerns

Savannah cats are generally healthy, but they can inherit some genetic health issues from their serval lineage. Regular vet check-ups can catch and address these concerns early.

They should be up-to-date on vaccinations and preventive care, including:

  • Rabies and core vaccines
  • Parasite prevention: Including flea, tick, and heartworm treatments
  • Regular screenings: For hereditary conditions like heart issues or vision problems

Breeding and Conservation

The process of breeding Savannah cats offers unique challenges and raises questions about their conservation status. These factors are essential for potential breeders and owners to consider.

Breeding Challenges

Breeding Savannah cats is not a straightforward task. The first challenge is the significant difference in gestation periods between the domestic cat and the African serval.

While the domestic cat’s pregnancy lasts about 65 days, the serval’s is approximately 74 days. This can lead to issues with the viability of the offspring.

Another breeding challenge is the fertility of male Savannahs. Males from F1 to F3 generations are typically infertile.

As a result, breeders often rely on later generations or outcrossings to domestics for successful breeding programs.

Conservation Status

Due to their hybrid nature, organizations like the IUCN do not formally assess the conservation status of Savannah cats, but it is still a topic of discussion. Savannahs do not exist in the wild, so conservation efforts focus on their well-being in captivity and their impact on local ecosystems.

Since Savannah cats are hybrids, some cat registries do not recognize them, which can affect their status and protection under various animal conservation protocols.

Breed enthusiasts and owners often stress the importance of responsible breeding practices to ensure the health and longevity of this unique breed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Savannah cats have sparked interest due to their exotic look and unique heritage. This section addresses the most common inquiries about these striking felines.

What’s an F1 Savannah cat, and how does it differ from F2 and F3 types?

An F1 Savannah cat is the first generation offspring of a Serval and a domestic cat, making them the closest to their wild ancestors. F2 and F3 generations are progressively more domesticated, with F2 being the grandkitten and F3 the great-grandkitten of the Serval.

Are Savannah cats usually more expensive than other breeds, and why?

Yes, Savannah cats are typically pricier than other breeds due to their exotic appearance, breeding challenges, and the rarity of the Serval genes, particularly in the earlier generations like F1 and F2.

How much should I expect to pay for a Savannah cat?

The cost of a Savannah can vary widely, with prices ranging from $1,500 to $25,000 depending on the cat’s generation, lineage, and breeder.

What should I consider before deciding if a Savannah cat would be a good fit for my home?

Before bringing a Savannah into one’s home, one should consider their high energy levels, intelligence, and need for engagement. They require plenty of play and bonding time with their owners.

Can Savannah cats grow to be larger than typical domestic cats?

Yes, Savannah cats can be significantly larger than the average domestic cat, with F1 and F2 generations often weighing between 17 and 25 pounds due to their Serval lineage.

Where can I find a Savannah cat to purchase or adopt?

Potential owners can find Savannah cats through reputable breeders who specialize in the breed or, less commonly, through rescue organizations that focus on hybrid cats.