In the feline world, exotic and affectionate don’t often go together. However, this isn’t the case for Savannah cats. Surprisingly, these astonishing cats are some of the most warm-hearted creatures you can have.
Savannah cats can easily intrigue you with their wild African Serval ancestry. You can expect a large and athletic feline with an elegant coat to match, not to mention their cheetah-like spots.
You’ll be even more amazed to know that a Savannah cat was crowned as the world’s tallest domestic cat by the Guinness Book of World Records.
If you are interested in knowing more about Savannah cats, I’ll be glad to walk you through everything there is to know about them. So hold on tight! We’ve got a lot to cover!
What Is a Savannah Cat?
A Savannah cat is an exotic cross between a wild African Serval and a domestic cat, typically a Siamese cat. They are named after the Serval’s natural habitat located in the golden plains of Africa. Their spotted coat, size, and overall heritage are admired by many cat lovers today.
Despite having a wild cat bloodline, Savannah cats are considered domesticated cats.
They are recognized by different cat registries, including The International Cat Association (TICA) and The International Progressive Cat Breeders’ Alliance (IPCBA).
When the Savannah breed was introduced only in the late 20th century, word about them spread like wildfire.
Now, there are numerous Savannah cat breeders not just in the United States but all over Europe and the rest of the world.
8 Fascinating Facts About Savannah Cats
Before we dive into the elaborate details about Savannah cats, let’s look into some little-known facts about them. Keep scrolling to find out!
1. Savannah cats have a stunning appearance
Bearing the qualities of wild African Servals, Savannah cats can mesmerize anyone with their appearance.
Their cheetah-like spots cover their elegant gold coat. They also have large, perky ears that make them stand out from other domesticated cats.
2. These exotic cats have unique personalities
Despite their ancestry, Savannah cats are docile and almost dog-like in their behavior. They are very affectionate and attached to their owners. It’s common for them to follow their humans around the house.
3. They are highly energetic and athletic
Another notable fact about Savannahs is their lively personality. Their high energy often translates to lots of playtime and outdoor activities. You will frequently find them jumping on kitchen counters or even refrigerators.
4. You can easily teach them tricks and commands
Savannah cats are also intelligent and highly trainable cats. You can train them to retrieve toys, solve cat puzzles, and play other games.
However, they are also smart enough to open kitchen cabinets on their own, so it’s best to properly train them as kittens.
5. Savannah cats love playing in the water
Most cats hate water, but these cats will gladly take a dip in rivers or lakes during your hikes. This also means that you won’t have any trouble bathing them.
6. They also enjoy long walks on a leash
Speaking of hikes, Savannah cats love going on long walks. Daily strolls in the park are a good form of exercise for these felines. But don’t underestimate them because they will most likely join you in your next mountain expedition.
7. These cats don’t come cheap
Getting a Savannah cat as a pet can be pretty expensive. We’re talking about several thousands of dollars per kitten. The price mainly depends on their generation, appearance, and gender.
8. Owning a Savannah is subject to restrictions
Even though they are considered domestic cats, these felines may not be allowed as pets in some states or cities because they are a cross of a wild cat breed.
Remember to check in with your local officials to know the ownership restrictions before buying one.
With this fascinating information in mind, I hope you are very eager to know everything about Savannahs. From history to legalities, I’ve got you covered!
History and Origin of Savannah Cats: Where Did the Savannah Cat Originate From?
The first record of a Savannah being bred through a domestic cat and a Serval was in the early 1980s in Pennsylvania. Judy Frank, who was a Bengal breeder at that time, also gave them the name Savannah.
After breeding the first generation crossbreed, another breeder named Patrick Kelly partnered with Joyce Srouge to produce more Savannah kittens from the first hybrid during the 1990s.
From then on, the standard for Savannahs was established. Patrick Kelly then founded Savannahcat.com, the first official website promoting the breed.
Joyce Sroufe first introduced Savannahs to the public through a large cat show exhibition in Westchester, New York, in 1997.
Through Patrick and Joyce’s combined efforts and perseverance, Savannah cats successfully reached Championship status given by the TICA in 2012. They were only accepted as an experimental breed back in 2001.
Savannah Cat Genetics and Generations: What Are the Different Savannah Generations?
Savannah cats are classified into different generations which are differentiated by the letter F followed by a number indicating how many generations a Savannah cat is from their Serval ancestor.
The higher the number, the farther they are from their Serval bloodline.
The early generation Savannahs consist mainly of F1, F2, and occasionally, F3 generations. The later generations include F4, F5, and so on.
Here are the percentage values of their wild Serval DNA heritage:
- F1 Savannah Cat: Approximately 57% Serval blood, with one pure Serval parent
- F2 Savannah Cat: Approximately 35% Serval blood, with one pure Serval grandparent
- F3 Savannah Cat: Approximately 21% Serval blood, with one pure Serval great grandparent
- F4 Savannah Cat: Approximately 16% Serval blood, with one pure Serval great great grandparent
- F5 Savannah Cat: Approximately 11% Serval blood, with one pure Serval great great great grandparent
The Savannah cat’s filial number (F) is also followed by a letter showcasing the cat’s breed profile.
Here is the explanation for the different letter specifications:
- A: One parent is a Savannah, the other parent is an African Serval cat or another outcross.
- B: Both parents are Savannahs; at least one parent is an A, and at least one grandparent is a Serval cat or an outcross.
- C: Both parents are B, or at least one parent is a B and one grandparent is an A.
- SBT (Stud Book Tradition): At least three generations of the kitten’s parents are Savannahs.
These designations may be confusing, but they are crucial for breeders when tracing a kitten’s family tree. This also helps them easily predict the next litter’s lineage.
For owners, these letters are not so crucial, but the filial numbers always make a difference in identifying the traits of their Savannah cat.
Savannah Cat Appearance: What Does a Savannah Cat Look Like?
In terms of appearance, you can expect a Savannah cat to be anything but ordinary.
At first glance, you might question if you are looking at a miniature cheetah due to the evident black spots covering their short golden coat.
However, they also come in other elegant coat colors, namely, black, brown spotted tabby, silver spotted tabby, and black smoke.
Another unique trait of Savannahs is their almond-shaped eyes. They are slightly hooded with a prominent dark tear duct line.
Some cats even have dark line markings that cut across their forehead to their tear lines which gives them an even more bold and mysterious look.
Savannahs are also notable for their long, slender necks holding up their triangular heads where their large, deeply-cupped ears that sit atop.
Their legs are longer than most average cats, allowing them to jump effortlessly to high places.
Depending on their generation, Savannah cats may resemble their domesticated parent’s appearance more than the Serval wild cat ancestor.
However, they will most likely carry the gene for exhibiting the spotted pattern on their coats.
Savannah Cat Size and Weight: How Big Do Savannah Cats Get When Fully Grown?
Generally, the Savannah breed grows anywhere between 14 and 18 inches in height and weighs around 10 to 25 pounds when fully grown.
The size and weight of a full-grown Savannah cat mostly depend on its generation.
Earlier generations are normally larger than later generations since they are closer to their exotic lineage. Females are also typically smaller than males.
For comparison, refer to the table below for the differences in height and weight measurements of various Savannah cat generations according to their gender:
|Savannah Cat Generation||Female Height||Male Height||Female Weight||Male Weight|
|F1 Savannah Cat||16 – 18 inches||16 – 18 inches||13 – 19 pounds||17 – 25 pounds|
|F2 Savannah Cat||15 – 18 inches||15 – 18 inches||12 – 16 pounds||16 – 25 pounds|
|F3 Savannah Cat||14 – 17 inches||14 – 17 inches||10 – 13 pounds||14 – 20 pounds|
|F4, F5, etc.||14 – 16 inches||14 – 16 inches||10 – 13 pounds||14 – 20 pounds|
From this information, it can be observed that F1 Savannah cats are the largest among other generations.
Later generations are smaller because they are more likely to carry the genes of their domestic cat parent. In all cases, males and females have the same height measurements.
Savannah Cat Temperament and Behavior: Are Savannah Cats Good Family Pets?
Another common curiosity about Savannah cats is their temperament. You might be thinking about what it’s like to own one and if they are actually good family pets or house cats.
In this section, I’m going to answer everything about their behavior, so you can decide whether they are the right pet for you.
Like their size, a Savannah cat’s overall personality is influenced by its generation. Some generations make better family pets than others.
To know which ones are suited for a family setup, let’s start with the F1 Savannah cats.
Since these cats are the closest to Servals, it’s common to expect them to be more aggressive and unmanageable. However, their personality is quite the opposite.
F1 Savannah cats are reserved with strangers, only bonding with one or two people, including their owners. For this reason, they might not be the best for families with many members.
They have tons of energy that require a lot of physical activities to be depleted. Since they are also athletic jumpers, they need a lot of vertical territories. Cat trees and window perches will keep them active each day.
Most F2 Savannah cats are more sociable than F1 Savannah cats, interacting with each family member, including children.
They still aren’t lap cats like most domesticated breeds, but they will surely enjoy some occasional petting and of course, lots of playtimes. Like F1s, they are good with litter boxes and have quite a curiosity for grocery bags.
Almost all F3 Savannahs will grow to be extremely attached to their families. They are also not reluctant to interact with strangers, mostly allowing people to touch and hold them.
They are highly recommended as family pets because of their sweet personality paired with their wild look.
The later generations are closer to the temperament of a regular domesticated cat, but they have the same energetic touch and intelligence as early generation Savannah cats. They also make good household pets.
Laws for Owning Savannah Cats: Are Savannah Cats Legal?
You might have to think twice if you want to own a Savannah cat because not all states and countries allow them as pets.
Because of their wild cat hybrid, local authorities may restrict ownership of early generation Savannahs or even all variations.
Before you get too excited to purchase a Savannah kitten, it’s best to know if it’s legal to own one in your location.
Sadly, you may have to say goodbye to your dreams of having one as a pet if you are from any of the following states:
- Rhode Island
Some states, including Delaware and Idaho, require a special permit to own a Savannah cat.
Those not mentioned allow ownership of these exotic cats with some local restrictions. For a full reference, you can go to the Savannah Cat Association’s webpage.
For those outside the United States, here are the detailed restrictions for each continent/country:
|Australia||All generations are illegal|
|Austria||Only F5 generations are legal|
|Belgium||F1 to F4 permit required|
|Brazil||All generations are legal|
|Canada||F4 and above are legal|
|Czech Republic||F2 and above no restrictions|
|Denmark||F2 and above no restrictions|
|Finland||F2 and above no restrictions|
|France||F2 and above no restrictions|
|Germany||F1 to F4 permit required|
|Hungary||F2 and above no restrictions|
|Italy||Only F5 generations are legal|
|Japan||All generations are legal with import restrictions|
|Lithuania||F2 and above no restrictions|
|Netherlands||F2 and above no restrictions|
|New Zealand||All generations are illegal|
|Northern Ireland||F1 to F4 permit required, F1 wildcat license needed|
|Norway||Only F5 allowed with import restrictions|
|Poland||F2 and above no restrictions|
|Singapore||Only F5 generations are legal|
|Sweden||Only F5 allowed with import restrictions|
|Switzerland||F1 and F2 permits required|
|United Kingdom||F2 and above allowed with import restrictions, F1 wildcat license needed|
As you can see, owning wild hybrids such as the Savannah cats are restricted not just in some states but also in other parts of the world.
It’s always recommended to inquire at your local authority’s office to know the exact legalities of its ownership.
Savannah Cat Lifespan: How Long Do Savannah Cats Live on Average?
Aside from their eccentric looks and one-of-a-kind behavior, Savannah cats have another advantage. Many breeders and owners reported that they live for a very long time. Their average lifespan ranges from 15 to 20 years.
Genetics, nutrition, and lifestyle can affect the life expectancy of a Savannah cat. Those who are given a properly balanced raw meat diet are proven to live longer than those who don’t.
Since they are a relatively new breed, there is very little information about potential breed-related health issues they may suffer from.
They may catch common feline ailments but rest assured, the Savannah cat can be your companion for life!
Savannah Cat Common Health Issues: Are Savannahs Healthy Cats?
The Savannah breed is generally healthy. However, several health issues may arise due to genetics, poor nutrition, and general upbringing.
Some of the most common illnesses that they may have are mostly experienced by any average cat, and they are the following:
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): Feline HCM is a heart condition that causes the walls of the heart, specifically the left ventricle, to thicken. Affected Savannah cats will experience abnormal pumping of the blood, leading to heart failure.
- Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV): This is a prevalent infection in cats that suppresses the immune system, resulting in tumors such as lymphoma. FeLV can be transmitted from one cat to another through saliva, blood, and sometimes through urine and fecal matter.
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): FIP is another infection in cats caused by strains of feline coronavirus. Most cats can be exposed through oral contact with fecal matter containing the virus. Your Savannah cat may experience lethargy, weight loss, and fever when infected.
- Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): When the kidneys fail to filter impurities from the body effectively, they are said to have CKD. This is typically caused by excessive waste and toxins in the bloodstream. Several complications can occur after acquiring CKD, including anemia and acidosis.
- Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD): FLUTD or cystitis, as it is commonly called, refers to conditions affecting the bladder and urethra. This is often triggered by stress, infrequent urination, urinary tract infections, and bladder stones. Veterinarians usually recommend special diets and prescribe pain relief medications.
Regular trips to the vet must be made throughout a Savannah cat’s lifetime to provide them with proper health care and prevent many serious illnesses.
It’s also important to know how to properly care for them in all aspects to keep them physically and mentally healthy.
How to Care for Your Savannah Cat?
Caring for your Savannah cat means providing them a well-balanced diet, proper grooming, and exercise. These are all necessary for ensuring their health and quality of life.
Here are some tips on how you can take care of and maintain a Savannah cat:
Feeding and Diet
Like other domestic cats, Savannah cats need the proper nutrition to develop into beautiful and strong adult cats.
Many experts believe that the most ideal diet for these cats is a combination of dry food, wet food, and raw or cooked meat. They even recommend adding taurine supplements for a healthier immune system.
Since their African Serval ancestors eat a whole protein diet, it’s also best to avoid feeding them cat food that contains rice, corn, and wheat ingredients. Fresh, clean water should also be accessible to them at all times to prevent dehydration.
Your Savannah cat’s food requirements will change as they age, so it’s best to consult your breeder or veterinarian for the best meal plan as they mature. By doing this, you can help prevent weight-related health problems.
Cleaning and Grooming
The Savannah’s soft and luxurious coat is actually easy to maintain. Weekly brushing is enough to keep their short fur shiny and clean.
Once you stick to this schedule, you will find that there are fewer dust bunnies and hairballs in your household.
As part of the grooming routine, you should trim your Savannah cat’s nails once a week or whenever needed.
The ears should also be checked every week for any sign of redness, discharge, or unpleasant smell. Clean them with a damp cotton ball or towel.
Brushing your Savannah’s teeth is also essential to prevent dental problems such as cavities and gum disease. Use vet-approved toothpaste and schedule dental cleanings if necessary.
Training and Exercise
Savannah cats have a high energy level. Since they are not lap cats, they need a lot of physical activities to keep their active lifestyle.
One way to help get the daily exercise they need is by purchasing an exercise wheel. Like hamsters, they would surely have fun running on it all day.
To see for yourself, here are some Savannah cats enjoying an exercise wheel:
You also need to provide a lot of space for playing, hiding, and climbing. Cat trees, interactive toys, and scratch posts will keep them occupied.
You can also let them watch videos of birds and squirrels for entertainment. Daily walks outside on a leash are also recommended for physical and mental stimulation.
Clicker training is advised by experts to effectively teach Savannah cats basic commands and also stimulate their body and mind.
This is a form of positive reinforcement that uses sound to communicate when they did something right.
How Much Is a Savannah Cat? Kitten Prices and Other Expenses
Those who did their research beforehand will know that Savannah cats are very expensive.
The cost of these cats often ranges from $1,500 to $25,000. This is directly influenced by the cat’s generation, color, gender, and the demand for the breed itself.
To compare the Savannah price range for different generations and genders, refer to the table below:
|Savannah Cat Generation||Male Savannah Price||Female Savannah Price|
|F1 Savannah Cat||$12,000 – $16,000||$15,000 – $25,000|
|F2 Savannah Cat||$4,000 – $8,000||$4,000 – $10,000|
|F3 Savannah Cat||$2,000 – $4,000||$2,500 – $4,000|
|F4 Savannah Cat||$1,500 – $2,500||$1,500 – $2,500|
|F5 Savannah Cat||$1,500 – $2,000||$1,500 – $2,000|
|F6 Savannah Cat||$1,500 – $2,000||$1,500 – $2,000|
As you might have expected, F1 Savannah cats are the most expensive variety, reaching $25,000 for a female kitten because they equally combine the bloodlines of African Servals and domestic cats.
The further down the generation, the lower the price if you buy from a breeder.
After purchasing a Savannah kitten, you need to prepare for their arrival at your home.
For an idea about the initial costs of owning one, check out the table below:
|Type of Expense||Average Cost|
|High-Quality Cat Food||$100|
|Food and Water Bowl||$10|
|Collar and ID tag||$10|
|Total Initial Cost||$321|
Note that the sum computed in the table is subject to change and will depend on where you buy the products from.
You will surely save a couple of dollars by searching for online promos or asking for more affordable recommendations from other Savannah cat owners.
Places to Find Savannah Kittens for Sale and Adoption
Due to their growing popularity, the demand for Savannah cats keeps increasing over the years.
However, there are only a few registered breeders in the United States that you can trust. Luckily, you can also opt to adopt one from a rescue center.
You can contact the following breeders to find high-quality Savannah kittens for sale:
- Luxury Savannahs – As a TICA registered breeder, Luxury Savannahs specializes in providing only the best exotic Savannah cats from F1 through F4 generations. Operating in their home in Las Vegas, Nevada, this breeder ensures that their cats are well-trained for the household environment. They are very fond of children and other animals.
- Pacific Northwest Savannahs – This is another TICA-approved breeder that breeds only F5 generation Savannah cats. The price includes vaccinations, HCM screening, deworming, and microchipping. All of their cats are professionally checked by an American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) veterinarian.
- Select Exotics – With over 20 years of breeding experience, Select Exotics is known to be the longest-standing Savannah cat breeder in the United States. They produce F1 to F5 generations and even elite versions that have the most vibrant coats, intense colors, and most striking markings among the litter.
- Savannah Heightz – This is a small, home-based cattery in Nevada that produces unique Savannah cats of all generations. They have a tedious breeding process and their kittens are all raised as part of the family. Their Savannah kittens are also given all the necessary health checks before being taken home.
For a much cheaper alternative, you can try to find an available Savannah cat for adoption in the following organizations:
- Savannah Cat Rescue – This rescue which is run by Savannah breeders, was established to foster and care for Savannahs surrendered by their owners due to unpreparedness. They work with different foster families to rehabilitate these cats until they are ready for adoption.
- Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue – This rescue specializes in rehoming special cat breeds such as Savannah cats. As a foster-based rescue, they allow applications from different states, including Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, eastern Iowa, and southern Michigan.
- Meow Cat Rescue – This is another rescue that gives all abandoned domestic cat breeds a chance to have a permanent home. Sometimes, they may have Savannahs on their list of adoptable cats. Their adoption fees only range from $65 to $125 per cat.
Make sure to not only be financially prepared but also fully committed to the responsibility of owning a Savannah cat before purchasing or adopting one.
In this way, you can avoid unwanted scenarios like surrendering your own pet to a rescue or shelter.
What Generation of Savannah Cats Should You Get?
It’s a very common question, especially for first-time owners of exotic cats, to determine what generation of Savannah cats is well suited for them.
Choosing the best one will mostly depend on an individual’s experience with exotic cats, location, and preference in terms of size and appearance.
If you are not restricted by your country or state’s laws regarding Savannah ownership, you should consider the generation you can comfortably manage and fit your current lifestyle.
If you live alone or with just another person in a large house or apartment, you might be more inclined to get an F1 Savannah cat.
If you don’t want a standoffish cat, you may consider getting an F2 Savannah that is more adjusted to interact with family members and kids.
Just remember that both F1 and F2 cats are quite an energetic and clever bunch.
The most balanced Savannah cat in terms of exotic appearance and temperament is the F3 generation. They are the perfect family companions due to their clingy and sweet disposition.
Most breeders recommend them as pets since they are the ideal blend of a friendly and active cat.
Frequently Asked Questions About Savannah Cats
Why Are Savannah Cats Illegal?
Savannah cats are illegal in some states and countries of their classification as wild hybrid animals.
Since they can display Serval-like behaviors, authorities need to regulate their ownership since they might pose a danger to the public.
In many cases, some generations are allowed, given that the owners have a special permit.
Are Savannah Cats Dangerous?
Even though they have wild blood in them, Savannah cats are not dangerous.
They are quite even-tempered, although they can have destructive tendencies when bored. This can easily be avoided by giving them proper training as kittens.
Can a Savannah Cat Kill You?
No, Savannah cats can’t and won’t kill humans. Just like any other cat, they have hunting instincts, causing them to chase small prey.
They will only show aggression through clawing or biting when triggered or when playtime gets too rough.
Are Savannah Cats Hypoallergenic?
Savannah cats are considered to be mostly hypoallergenic. However, there is no guarantee that every owner will not have an allergic reaction to these cats.
They may not be triggered by their fur, but other allergens present in the cat’s skin cells, saliva, and urine can pretty much contribute to allergies.
What Does F Mean in Savannah Cats?
The letter F in the Savannah cat’s generation actually stands for filial generation. This refers to how much a cat deviates from its African Serval bloodline.
An F1 Savannah cat is the first generation offspring that has a Serval parent. An F2 Savannah has a Serval grandparent while an F3 has a Serval great grandparent, and so on.
What Is the Difference Between an F1 and F2 Savannah Cat?
The main difference between an F1 and F2 Savannah cat is their genetics which reflects in their size and temperament. F1 Savannahs can be slightly taller and heavier than F2 generations.
They are also known to be more aloof than F2 cats, preferring to hide or stay in another room when a visitor arrives.
Do Savannah Cats Like to Cuddle?
Despite their somewhat reserved nature, Savannah cats are very affectionate with their owners.
While they are certainly not lap cats, they love to cuddle or snuggle with their humans as they sleep or even while they watch a movie.
Are Savannah Cats High Maintenance?
In terms of coat grooming, Savannah cats are quite low maintenance. However, they do require a lot of entertainment to keep their minds occupied and their body active.
They need several hours of playtime each day, so you must put time and effort into keeping them busy.
Are Savannah Cats Good With Other Cats?
If socialized early, Savannah cats can get along really well with other cats in the household. Introduce them gradually, not forgetting to supervise them until they can be left alone together.
Once Savannah cats get used to each other’s presence, they can even become the best of friends.
Do Savannah Cats Use a Litter Box?
Like other cats, Savannah cats use a litter box for urinating and pooping. They are best suited to have the large, high-sided type due to their size and long legs.
The walls of the box can prevent litter from scattering while your Savannah cat tries to cover their dirty business up.
Final Thoughts: Is the Savannah Cat Right for You?
Savannah cats are truly remarkable exotic breeds. Those who wish to own one as a household cat should first know if their locality allows some or all Savannah cat generations.
You must also decide which generation is suited for you based on your level of experience with wild hybrid cats. If you are a first-time owner, early generations like F1 Savannah kittens may not be the best choice.
Choosing the right Savannah cat will depend on many factors that mostly concern an owner’s capability to manage such a breed. Purely basing your decision on its appearance and exotic status can cost you in the future.
It’s essential to know each aspect of owning and maintaining one. After all, they will be your companion for a long time.