Last few decades, many new cat breeds have been created. Cat breeders are pushing the limits and creating exciting cat breeds that quickly become extremely popular among cat breeders. Such is the case with the Savannah cat breed.
Although one of the youngest cat breeds, Savannah cats are among the most popular and most valued cats in the world. It makes no wonder: they look absolutely majestic, and they make great pets. There are many other interesting things about Savannahs, so keep reading to learn more!
Savannah Cat Characteristics
|Brown, black, gold, silver, ebony, sable, lavender, and chocolate.
|Solid or tabby fur with dark spots scattered across the body.
|Eye color & shape
|Hooded and almond-shaped eyes with visible and dark tear streaks. Eyes can be of any color, including green, yellow, orange, etc.
|Depends on the generation, but on average, males are 14”-17” long, while females are 12”-15” long.
|Depends on the generation, but on average, males weigh 12-25 pounds, while females weigh 10-20 pounds.
|Friendly, loyal, and affectionate, but also territorial and with strong hunting instincts.
|Kids and other pets
|Friendly towards kids and other pets.
|Sociable and cuddly
|Yes, when socialized from an early age.
Requirements & Traits
|Meat-based foods rich in protein. Some cat experts recommend a combination of commercial cat food and raw meat.
|Occasional fur brushing and nail trimming is recommended. Adequate dental care and regular eye and ear cleaning are also important.
|Low to moderate
History and Origins
The origin of the Savannah cat breed is quite interesting. In 1986, a male African Serval cat and a female domestic Siamese cat had a kitten that was named Savannah. The kitten inherited the gorgeous appearance of its father while having the friendly and gentle demeanor of its mother.
Cat breeder Patrick Kelly heard about Savannah and decided to create a new breed named after it. Kelly, along with a fellow breeder Joyce Sroufe started a breeding program and standardized this new cat breed. Soon enough, other breeders heard about Savannah cats.
In the 1990s, the Savannah cat breed experienced massive popularity, and in 2001, it was finally registered and accepted as a new cat breed. Its popularity continues to grow even several decades after its creation.
Specific Ways Of Breeding Savannah Cats
Most other cat breeds rise in numbers when males and females of that breed reproduce with each other. However, things aren’t that simple with Savannah cats. Slowly, the Serval genes are pushed out with each new generation, so the breeders have to introduce those genes over and over again.
For example, the first generation that is a result of crossbreeding between Serval cat and Siamese or domestic cat will be much larger and look almost identical to Serval cats. The second generation is when the cats from the first generation reproduce with each other. This generation will still be relatively large, although probably smaller than the first generation. It will also look quite similar to Serval cats.
However, the third, fourth, and every next generation will be significantly smaller than the previous one. They will also start to look less like their Serval ancestors and more like their domestic ancestors. Additionally, their temperament will gradually become milder and less wild.
These differences caused the Savannah generations to be classified as either F1, F2, F3, F4, and so on. The F1 generation refers to a direct product of breeding between a male Serval and a female domestic or Siamese cat.
Savannah Cat Personality
Savannah cats are loyal, loving, and affectionate pets. They might be shy and reserved at first, but they quickly show their friendly side. Savannahs are curious and intelligent cats that enjoy exploring their surroundings.
Since they originated from a wild cat species, Savannah cats still have strong hunting instincts, and they can be quite territorial. However, with each new generation, their personalities become more tamed, friendly, cuddly, and social.
Another interesting thing about these cats is that they love water. They like to play with water and don’t mind getting wet.
Savannah Cat Appearance
Savannah cat’s wild appearance makes it extremely popular among cat enthusiasts and breeders. However, remember that these cats can look drastically different, depending on the generation.
Savannah cats have short yet soft and luxurious fur. The fur can come in various colors, from brown or gold to silver or black. The fur pattern can be either solid or tabby, but each Savannah cat has dark spots scattered all over its body.
Savannah cats have almond-shaped and hooded eyes. Their brows are a bit more prominent and can partially cover the eyes as a way of sun protection. Savannah eyes can come in many colors, and this color can be (but doesn’t have to be) related to the fur’s color. This includes green, yellow, gold, amber, hazel, etc.
Not many cat breeds can vary so much in terms of size as Savannah cats do. Savannah cats that are the first generation (F1) are noticeably larger than Savannah cats that are third, fourth, or even later generation.
For example, F1 Savannah cats can weigh 18 to 51 pounds. Later generations are much smaller, and Savannahs from those generations usually weigh between 5.5 and 17.6 pounds. Just like with other cat breeds, males are larger than females.
Other Body Characteristics
Savannah cats have muscular and slender bodies. Their legs are long and strong, and their paws are proportionate to the legs and rounded. The tail is short when compared to the rest of the body, and it is covered with black rings.
The head is small and narrow, and it continues into the long and slender neck. The ears are large and high on the head. They are covered with ocelli, dark and bright stripes that look like eyes from afar. Most Savannah cats have black tear streaks, which makes them similar to cheetahs.
Legality Of Keeping Savannah Cat As a Pet
Before you start seriously considering getting a Savannah cat, keep in mind that not every state will allow you to do so. Some states, such as Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Georgia, won’t allow you to own a Savannah cat at all.
Other states, such as Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, will allow you to own a Savannah cat, but only if it is an F4 generation or later. Maryland will allow you to keep Savannahs of all generations, but only if they are under 30 pounds.
States such as Idaho, Michigan, and Utah, will allow you to keep the Savannah cats of all generations as pets. However, some counties may require you to get a special permit. If you are not sure if your state allows owning a Savannah cat and under which conditions, you can find all the info online or at local shelters/breeders/cat organizations.
Daily Life With Savannah Cat
In case your state allows owning a Savannah cat, and you plan to get one soon, you want to get familiar with its requirements. Although Savannah cats aren’t as demanding as they might look, you still need to provide them with some essentials. If you know that you can’t provide these, you should consider getting a cat with different needs.
Savannah cats are obligatory carnivores, just like other cat breeds. They don’t have any special dietary needs, but some Savannah cat experts suggest that you should feed your Savannah with a combination of commercial cat food and raw meat.
As a cat that has some wild ancestry, your Savannah will certainly enjoy raw meat. However, you should still feed them with wet and dry commercial cat food. Also, make sure your Savannah cat has access to fresh drinking water, although it will spend more time playing in it than drinking it!
Savannah cats have short furs that are easy to groom. Weekly brushing is enough to keep their fur healthy and good-looking. For such short hairs, it would be best to use cat grooming gloves. Baths aren’t necessary, but you can wash your Savannah cat if it gets dirty.
Nail trimming is also important since you don’t want to end up with scratched furniture. Since Savannah cats can grow up to be quite large, you should teach your Savannah kitten to tolerate and maybe even enjoy nail trimming while they are still small. Trying to trim the nails of a grown-up Savannah might be hard and even dangerous if it tries to escape or even fight.
The same goes for dental hygiene and ear and eye cleaning. Try to make the whole process as enjoyable as possible for your Savannah unless you want to wrestle with a 50-pound semi-wild cat while trying to brush its teeth.
Savannah cats are highly active cats that need a lot of exercise and playtime to stay happy and healthy. In a perfect case scenario, you have a big home where your Savannah cat can jump, run, climb, and play.
However, even if you live in an apartment or your home is simply not so big, that doesn’t mean you can’t provide your Savannah with enough activity. Get at least one cat tree, buy some interactive toys, and, if possible, fill a shallow pool with lukewarm water. This will keep your Savannah entertained and occupied.
Savannah cats like to climb and jump, and they can jump up to several feet. If there are any places in your home where your Savannah cat can do that, let your cat spend its time there as often as possible.
You can also take your Savannah cat out for a walk. Of course, make sure that your state allows keeping Savannah as a pet and that you follow all legal restrictions. Also, make sure that your cat is properly leashed.
Most Common Savannah Cat Health Issues
Savannah cats are hardy and extremely healthy cats, but they can still be affected by some conditions. Fortunately, most of those conditions are treatable and even curable if you take your cat for regular vet checkups.
Upper Respiratory Infection
Feline upper respiratory infection is one of the most common diseases seen in cats. It is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the nose, throat, and airways. The most common virus responsible for upper respiratory infections in cats is the feline herpesvirus (FHV-1), which is estimated to infect up to 80% of all cats at some point in their lives.
While upper respiratory infection can affect cats of any age, it is most commonly seen in kittens and young cats. Kittens are particularly susceptible because they have not yet developed immunity to the viruses that cause upper respiratory infections. For this reason, it is important to keep kittens away from other cats that may be infected.
Symptoms of feline upper respiratory infection include sneezing, runny nose, congestion, eye discharge, loss of appetite, fever, and lethargy. If your cat shows any of these symptoms, it is important to take it to the vet as soon as possible.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Feline lower urinary tract disease is a condition that can affect the bladder and urethra of cats. The most common symptom of feline lower urinary tract disease is difficulty urinating, often accompanied by bloody urine. Other signs include urinating in small amounts frequently, licking the genital area excessively, and straining to urinate.
The exact cause of feline lower urinary tract disease is unknown, but it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic, environmental, and dietary factors. Treatment for this condition typically focuses on relieving the symptoms and preventing recurrence. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove blockages or stones from the urinary tract.
Savannah cats are susceptible to a variety of dental diseases, which can cause pain and other problems. The most common dental disease in cats is periodontal disease, which is caused by the build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth. Periodontal disease can lead to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and eventually tooth loss.
Other dental diseases include feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs), which are painful cavities that form in the teeth; feline stomatitis, which is an inflammation of the mouth; and enamel hypoplasia, which is a defect in the formation of the tooth enamel.
All these conditions can be prevented with proper dental hygiene. If your cat has bad breath, or you notice its gums are red and swollen, take it to the vet. There, your cat will get the necessary treatment.
Diabetes is a common disease in cats, with an estimated 1 in 230 felines developing the condition. While the exact cause of diabetes is unknown, it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
There are two types of diabetes mellitus that can affect cats: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes, occurs when the body does not properly use insulin.
Diabetes can lead to a number of serious health complications, including kidney disease, blindness, and even death. Fortunately, with proper treatment and management, many cats with diabetes can live long and healthy lives.
If you think your cat may have diabetes, it is important to contact your vet as soon as possible. They will be able to perform a physical examination and order diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for diabetes typically includes a combination of diet, exercise, and medication.
Hyperthyroidism is a common condition in cats, especially older cats. The most common symptom of hyperthyroidism is weight loss, which can be significant.
Other symptoms may include increased appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, diarrhea, vomiting, hyperactivity, and restlessness. In some cases, cats with hyperthyroidism may also develop heart problems such as arrhythmias or congestive heart failure.
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take your Savannah cat to the vet as soon as possible. The vet will be able to determine if your cat really has hyperthyroidism, and they will also be able to prescribe the appropriate treatment and medication.
Breeding And Fertility Issues
Breeding Savannah cats isn’t always as simple as it may seem. First, Serval males and domestic females won’t always be willing to mate with each other since they are so different. Then, their offspring will also have difficulties breeding, mainly because Savannah males from generations F1-F4 are infertile.
This means that you can only use Savannah males from generation F5 and onward for breeding, but since they are much smaller than F1 females, in many cases, they won’t be able to breed which other. Even if you manage to breed F5 male and F1 female, the possibility of miscarriage and other related issues is quite high.
Of course, as a regular cat owner, you won’t have to worry about these things. However, knowing how difficult their breeding is can explain why they are such rare and valuable cats.
Savannah Cat Name Suggestions
Savannah cats are unique and exotic cats that deserve names of similar quality. Here are some of my top picks for Savannah cat names:
Buying or Adopting a Savannah Cat
Savannah cats are so rare and valuable that you will rarely find one in a shelter, especially first generations. However, if you get lucky and actually find a Savannah in a shelter, it will cost you between $75 and $150 to adopt it.
On the other hand, if you decide to buy a Savannah kitten or adult cat from a breeder, it can cost you anywhere between $1000 and $20000, depending on its age, generation, gender, and other characteristics. The price may sound extreme, but if you take into consideration how rare and difficult to breed these cats are, the price seems more reasonable.
Savannah Cat Alternatives
Savannah cats are truly unique, and as you can see from the previous paragraphs, not many cat breeds can even be considered remotely similar. So, what should you do if you like the idea of owning such a gorgeous and semi-wild creature as a Savannah cat but can’t afford it? Or, what if there might be another reason why you can’t own such a cat?
The closest alternative is definitely a Bengal cat. Just like Savannah cats, Bengal cats have that exotic and wild appearance, but Bengal cats are much easier to find and handle. Additionally, you can get yourself an Abyssinian, Serengeti, Ocicat, Egyptian Mau, or Chausie cat. These breeds have a wild appearance, which makes them the best choice instead of Savannah cats.
Frequently Asked Questions
Savannah cats can be great pets, but they are extremely active, and some breeders don’t recommend Savannah cats to first-cat owners.
Depending on the generation, gender, age, color, and other features, Savannah cats will cost you between $1000 and $20000.
Not every state will allow you to keep Savannah cats as pets, and some states have specific restrictions on Savannah ownership. Before deciding to buy a Savannah cat, make sure that your state allows it.
Yes, Savannah cats get along with dogs and other pets, especially if they are socialized from an early age.
Given that you provided enough food and water, you can leave your Savannah cat alone for up to 24 hours. However, keep in mind that leaving your Savannah alone too often and for prolonged periods of time can make it bored and destructive as a result.
Savannah Cat Fun Facts
- Savannah cats are record-setters (and breakers!). In 2013, a Savannah cat named Trouble set a Guinness World Record for the tallest house cat, measuring 19 inches from shoulders to toes. However, in 2019, this record was broken by another Savannah cat, Arcturus, who measured slightly above 19 inches from shoulders to toes.
- Savannah cats are extremely loyal to their owners, and they are often compared to dogs as a result.
- These cats can jump up to eight feet high. They also like to climb, so be prepared to find your Savannah on top of cupboards and other hardly reachable places.
Savannah cats are specific animals with interesting histories and origins. Because of their unusual breeding, they are extremely rare. This, along with their unique appearance and great personalities, makes Savannah cats one of the most expensive cat breeds.
If money isn’t an issue and your state allows Savannah ownership, you should consider getting a Savannah cat. Additionally, if you have enough space and experience with cats, the Savannah cat might be a perfect pet for you!