Savannah Cat: Hybrid Breed Profile, Characteristics, and Care Guide
| Updated: April 29, 2023
In This Article
Even if you don’t know what it is exactly, most people have heard about the Savannah cat breed, a hybrid cross between an African serval and a Siamese cat. These stunning felines have large ears, long legs, spotted coats, and water-loving natures, making them stand out from other breeds. They are also very affectionate, social, intelligent, and trainable and can be loyal companions for their owners.
However, whether you plan to bring a Savannah cat into your home or want to learn about these incredible cats, there are some things you need to know about their history, personality, appearance, health, care, and cost. This article will provide you with all the information you need about Savannah cats.
Short to medium
Tawny, black/silver, and other colors depending on domestic parent’s breed
No, but may cause less allergic reactions than other breeds
Good with Kids
Yes, older children who can respect their boundaries and energy level
Good with Pets
Yes, if well-socialized and supervised with smaller animals or objects
A hybrid cross between an African serval and a domestic cat, first developed in the late 20th century in the USA
History of the Savannah Cat
The Savannah cat breed is relatively new, as it was first developed in the late 20th century. The first known breeding was in the early 1980s by Judy Frank, a Bengal cat breeder in Pennsylvania. She crossed a male serval with a female Siamese cat and produced a female kitten named Savannah. This kitten was later sold to Patrick Kelley, who became one of the founders of the Savannah cat breed.
In the early 1990s, Kelley enlisted Joyce Sroufe, another Bengal breeder, to help him develop the breed further using Savannah and other serval/domestic crosses. They established a breed standard and applied for recognition by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1996. TICA accepted the Savannah cat as a new registered breed in 2001 and granted it full championship status in 2012.
Savannah cats have also gained some fame and recognition for their impressive size and appearance. In 2009, an F1 Savannah cat named Scarlett’s Magic was awarded the Guinness World Record for being the tallest domestic cat, measuring 17.1 inches at the shoulder. In 2010, another F1 Savannah cat named Trouble was awarded the Guinness World Record for being the largest domestic cat, weighing 27.5 pounds.
The current record holder for the tallest domestic cat (at 19.05 inches) is Arcturus, an F2 Savannah cat that sadly perished in a housefire in 2016 shortly after winning the record.
However, not everything has been smooth sailing for Savannah breeders and owners. Because of their hybrid ancestry and wild traits, Savannah cats have faced some legal restrictions and ethical concerns in some states and countries. Some places ban or regulate the ownership of hybrid cats or exotic animals, while others require special permits or licenses. Some animal welfare groups also oppose breeding hybrid cats, arguing that it is unnatural and harmful to both serval and domestic cats.
The Savannah cat’s striking appearance resembles its wild ancestor, the serval. It has a tall and lean body with long legs, big ears, and a long neck. It has a spotted coat that can vary in color from tawny to black/silver, depending on its domestic parent’s breed. It also has amber or green eyes that contrast with its coat color.
The size and weight of Savannah cats depend on their generation, which indicates how close they are to their serval ancestor. The first generation (F1) is 50% serval and 50% domestic cat, the second generation (F2) is 25% serval and 75% domestic cat, and so on until the fifth generation (F5), which is 3.125% serval and 96.875% domestic cat.
F1 Savannahs are the largest and most expensive of the breed, as they are the closest to the serval. They can weigh up to 25 pounds and measure up to 22 inches in length.
F2 Savannahs are slightly smaller and cheaper than F1s but still larger than most domestic cats. They can weigh up to 20 pounds and measure up to 21 inches in length.
F3 Savannahs are more common and affordable than F1s and F2s but still have some serval features. They can weigh up to 18 pounds and measure up to 20 inches in length.
F4 Savannahs are considered fully domesticated and have less serval influence. They can weigh up to 15 pounds and measure up to 19 inches in length.
F5 Savannahs are the smallest and most common of the breed, as they are the farthest from the serval. They can weigh up to 12 pounds and measure up to 18 inches in length.
These numbers represent the average or typical max size. Actual size will still vary between individual animals, as seen above from the record-holding savannahs.
The personality of Savannah Cats
Despite their wild looks, Savannah cats are very affectionate and social with their owners, other pets, and older children. They enjoy being around people and often follow them around the house like dogs. They also love to cuddle and give head bumps to show their affection. They are not shy or aloof but rather curious and confident.
Savannah cats are also very intelligent and trainable and can learn to walk on a leash, play fetch, and do tricks. They respond well to positive reinforcement and treats and can even learn to use a toilet or turn on a faucet. They are also very vocal at times, using different sounds such as meows, chirps, and hisses to communicate their needs and emotions.
However, Savannah cats are also very high-energy and curious and need plenty of stimulation, exercise, and space to avoid boredom and destructive behaviors. They like to explore every nook and cranny of their environment and may get into trouble if left unsupervised. They may also have a strong prey drive and chase smaller animals or objects. They need a lot of toys, scratching posts, climbing structures, and hiding places to keep them entertained and stimulated.
Savannah cats also have a unique affinity for water, unlike most cats. They tend to drink more than other breeds and enjoy playing with water. They may splash in their water bowls, jump into bathtubs or sinks, or even swim in pools or ponds. They may also learn to turn on faucets or flush toilets for fun. Therefore, owners need to be careful with their aquariums, koi ponds, or open toilets around Savannah cats.
Savannah cats are very affectionate and social with their owners, other pets, and older children.
Savannah cats are very intelligent and trainable and can learn to walk on a leash, play fetch, and do tricks.
Savannah cats have a striking appearance that resembles their wild ancestor, the serval, with large ears, long legs, spotted coats, and water-loving natures.
Savannah cats are very high-energy and curious and need plenty of stimulation, exercise, and space to avoid boredom and destructive behaviors.
Savannah cats may face some legal restrictions or ethical concerns in some states or countries and may require special permits or licenses to own.
Do Savannah Cats Have Health Problems
Savannah cats are generally healthy and can live up to 20 years with proper care. However, they may face some health issues that affect many breeds and some that are specific to their hybrid nature.
Some of the common health issues that Savannah cats may face are:
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): This is an enlarged heart condition affecting many cat breeds.
Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD): This genetic disorder causes anemia in some breeds of cats.
To prevent or minimize these health issues, owners should choose a reputable breeder who tests their cats for genetic diseases and provides health guarantees. They should also take their Savannah cats to regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, parasite prevention, spaying/neutering, microchipping, and dental care.
Caring For a Savannah
Savannah cats have short to medium hair that requires minimal grooming, such as brushing once a week and bathing occasionally. They also shed very little and are considered hypoallergenic by some people.
Diet and Nutrition
Savannah cats need a high-quality, high-protein diet that meets their nutritional needs. Some breeders also recommend raw or fresh food, as it mimics their natural diet in the wild. Owners should also provide plenty of fresh water for Savannah cats, as they tend to drink more than other breeds and enjoy playing with water.
Savannah cats need a large and secure indoor environment with lots of toys, scratching posts, climbing structures, and hiding places to keep them entertained and stimulated. They also need a lot of exercise and enrichment, provided by taking them outdoors on a leash, in a harness, or in a fenced enclosure. Owners should also regularly play with their Savannah cats and teach them tricks to challenge their intelligence.
Savannah cats may not do well in cold climates, as they have thin coats and are adapted to warmer temperatures. Owners should provide them with warm bedding and clothing if necessary.
Where to Buy a Savannah Cat
If you are interested in buying a Savannah cat, you should first check your local laws and regulations regarding hybrid cats or exotic animals and obtain any permits or licenses if required.
The price of a Savannah cat largely depends on its generation, color, sex, and quality. Generally, the closer the cat is to its serval ancestor, the more expensive it is. F1 Savannahs can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, while F5 Savannahs can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000. The average price for a Savannah cat is around $4,000.
Alternatively, you can adopt a Savannah cat from a rescue or shelter that specializes in hybrid or exotic cats. This way, you can save a life and give a home to a cat that needs it.
Savannah cats are a unique and fascinating breed that can make wonderful pets for the right owners. They are affectionate, social, intelligent, and trainable, but also high-energy, curious, and vocal. They have a striking appearance that resembles their wild ancestor, the serval, but they also have some health and legal issues that owners need to be aware of.
Savannah cats are not for everyone, but if you are ready to shower them with attention and interaction, they will reward you with their loyalty and love. They are truly one-of-a-kind cats that will enrich your life with their beauty and personality.
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A savannah cat can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $25,000, depending on its generation, color, sex, quality, and breeder. The closer the cat is to its serval ancestor, the more expensive it is.
Are Savannah cats dangerous?
Savannah cats are not dangerous if they are well-socialized and raised by reputable breeders. They are affectionate and loyal pets that can get along with other animals and older children. However, they may have a strong prey drive and chase smaller creatures or objects. They may also face some legal restrictions or ethical concerns in some states or countries.
What is a Savannah cat?
A Savannah cat is a hybrid breed that results from crossing an African serval with a domestic cat, usually a Siamese. Their striking appearance resembles their wild ancestor, with large ears, long legs, spotted coats, and water-loving natures. They are also very intelligent and trainable and can learn to walk on a leash, play fetch, and do tricks.
Are Savannah cats hypoallergenic?
Savannah cats are not hypoallergenic but may cause fewer allergic reactions than other breeds. They have short to medium hair that requires minimal grooming and sheds very little. However, they still produce dander and saliva that can trigger allergies in some people.
How big do Savannah cats get?
The size and weight of savannah cats depend on their generation, which indicates how close they are to their serval ancestor. The first generation (F1) is the largest and can weigh up to 25 pounds and measure up to 22 inches in length. The fifth generation (F5) is the smallest and can weigh up to 12 pounds and measure up to 18 inches in length. The average size for a savannah cat is around 20 pounds and 20 inches in length.