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Savannah Cats: A Hybrid Domestic Cat

If you've already heard of a Bengal cat, a Chausie, or a Toyger, then let me introduce you to the Savannah Cat. This exotic cat breed has been accepted by the International Cat Association (TICA), as of 2002, and is a popular alternative to "ordinary" domesticated cats.

Savannah Cats are created by breeding a Serval (also known as an African Wild Cat) with a domestic cat with striking features, usually an Abyssinian. The end result is a larger-than-usual pet cat that looks wild, but is a wonderful family pet.

Features of this breed include the following:

  • large, erect ears
  • a long, slender torso, which belies its larger 20-30 pound size
  • a short tail with black tip and rings
  • a "Serval," wild-looking coat (acceptable colors include Brown Spotted Tabby, Silver Spotted Tabby, Black and Black Smoke)
  • green eyes
  • a long neck and elongated head
  • so-called "tear streaks" of black from the corner of its eyes down to the sides of its nose

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 water... you 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, its 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 - no wonder so many people are interested in adopting a Savannah Cat!

Of the hybrid cats recognized by TICA, the Savannah cat 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

A Savannah Cat F4 kitten

Considerations

Cost

Probably the first question in your mind pertains to the cost. Yes, Savannah Cats are expensive, ranging in price from $1,000-$22,000, depending on the quality, the sex of the animal and the number of generations away from the African Serval ancestor.

There ARE Savannah Cat rescue websites (see below), from which you may find a lovely family pet at a much lower price.

Number of Generations

Savannah Cats have an "F" number saying how many generations away they are from their African Serval ancestor. For example:

  • F1 (approx. 50% Serval)
  • F2 (approx. 30% Serval)
  • F3 (approx. 15% Serval), etc., to F7 or more

Size

The closer in generations to the Serval, the larger the Savannah Cat. F1 and F2 males may be more than double the size of other domesticated cats. Their weight could reach up to 30 pounds. It will take up to three years for a Savannah kitten to grow to full size.

Diet and Veterinary Care

Just like any other house cat, your Savannah cat will enjoy high-quality cat food. There are no special diet considerations. Be sure to regularly vaccinate, as you would your other pets. Savannah cats can be litter box trained as well. And, they love to play, so be sure to consider some stimulating pet toys.

Legal Restrictions

Although it may be illegal to own a wild Serval, in most areas there are no legal restrictions against owning a Savannah Cat. It is considered to be a hybrid domestic cat. According to one breeder:

While strongly resembling the African Serval, Savannahs are bred to demonstrate domestic temperament and are classified as domestic cats by both the USDA and The International Cat Association.

Be sure to check your local regulations, however. Many areas limit the number of pets that can be kept legally, as well.

Savannah Cat

Savannah Cat

Could a Savannah Cat be Right for You?

As with any pet, be sure to consider the investment of time and money that will be required for your Savannah Cat. These animals can live up to 20 years and require love and attention, food and water, regular exercise and veterinary care.

Like other hybrid cat breeds, the intelligence and high energy level of a Savannah may be challenging... as well as rewarding! Take into account your living space and arrangements, including children and other pets. Many breeders warn against letting Savannahs outdoors if not on a leash.

Think about whether you want to purchase from a breeder, or perhaps look into foster care or adoption through a Savannah Cat rescue organization. NOTE: Because the breed is extremely popular, yet difficult to breed, most Savannah Cat breeders will carefully screen prospective buyers to make sure that their kittens go to appropriate, qualified homes.

Should you have the good fortune of matching up with a Savannah Cat, count yourself lucky. Its sure to be a unique and rewarding experience!

Comments

Connie Carroll on June 18, 2020:

I think I have a part savanna cat and I want to support foster love this breed!!!

I want to make some kind of run for them (protected outside) open my house for education!!!

Viktoria Varnikova on January 24, 2019:

Savannah cat is a perect cat for everyone! Thanks to the article https://catspro.com/savannah-cat.html I made a right choice. I recommend reading it and buying a kitten immediately

Dodd’s Duke on December 15, 2018:

Like no other hybrid or domestic cat. Such a wonderful personality. Never a sad day with my f2 male Savannah. Do your research on these hybrid cats they aren’t for everyone.

Sasha the Cat on May 06, 2016:

Not all of these cats are wonderful if they're related to the bengal. I'm not saying they can't be ADORABLE!!!!!! But you've been warned!

Disha on June 13, 2012:

awsome savannah cats....they r so beautiful, thnx a lot 2 share it vith us nd the videos r also quiet intresting i jst luv cats!!!

Haydee Anderson from Hermosa Beach on April 16, 2012:

These cats are soooo cool! And they play fetch and enjoy going on walks. Worth the money!!!

louromano on March 22, 2012:

Nice hub. lovely cat. Thanks for such an interesting read. I am glad you shared this with us.

Karen N from United States on October 25, 2011:

Beautiful cats, I've always wanted a Savannah cat, but at the moment since I already have two cats that's out of the question.

abatenh on October 19, 2011:

wow i am very interested by cat and i will be bay one cat to me

Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on September 14, 2011:

Oh they are so beautiful. Not a sight for a cat lover that has decided not to take a cat again as the death of our last cat broke our hearts and we are still not over it.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on July 10, 2011:

I love these Savannah cats too - I think they would be an amazing pet.

timonweller on July 10, 2011:

Wow they are such amazing looking cats, what an awesome breed to own.

Cat Trees That Look Like Trees on June 14, 2011:

I didn't even know these types of cats existed. I have always wanted a wild looking cat but never looked into these type of breed. Thanks for sharing!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 13, 2011:

Thanks amymarie - I agree that the Savannah Cats are so striking! We've loved our Bengal, and I am so intrigued by the Savannahs. Best, Steph

Amy DeMarco from Chicago on April 13, 2011:

What a gorgeous breed! I have always been a fan of Bengal cats and never knew much about the savannah breed. Now I want a savannah too!!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on March 05, 2011:

Hi RTalloni - thank you! I agree that the Savannah cats are truly beautiful creatures. Can you imagine having one as a pet? Cheers, Steph

RTalloni on March 05, 2011:

OH! How beautiful they are, and their features are amazing considering what their makeup is. Thank you for sharing info on the Savannah cat. I can't imagine a better cat than ours but these are stunning!

Jeannie B on August 03, 2010:

I own a Savannah and I must highly recommend this breed. I have never seen a more loyal, attentive, or loving cat and can only hope that others will someday experience what it is like to share a life with one of these amazing animals.

Rick Zimmerman from Northeast Ohio on June 02, 2010:

stephhicks68 — Glad I checked in on your articles again. The Savannah cats look surprisingly similar to my own Devon Rex cats (check out my hub on them for pictures). I see you've been busy writing; me, too. I've got an eclectic hubmix of 246 you might enjoy sampling. Regards, RickZ

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 13, 2010:

Yes, Savannahs are indeed as expensive as they are beautiful. :)

wordscribe41 on May 13, 2010:

I think Savannahs are so beautiful. I would love to have one, I hear they're pretty spendy, though. Anyway, great information here. I have 3 feline friends myself, can't imagine my life without a cat in it.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 11, 2010:

LOL - cats are a hoot! I think they are such beautiful, magnificent animals. Savannahs are a rare, but amazing breed. Doubt I'll ever own one, but its interesting to research the info, and find the lovely photos and videos. :)

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on May 11, 2010:

Thanks for this wonderful introduction to a gorgeous breed. I didn't know about the Savannah until now.

Loved the first video where, at the end, the poor frustrated cat simply decides to sit down and take a lick.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 07, 2010:

Thanks sambolam and BJBenson - glad you enjoyed reading about Savannahs! :)

BJBenson from USA on April 06, 2010:

This cat lady really liked your hub.

samboiam from Texas on April 06, 2010:

Thanks for such an interesting read. I am glad you shared this with us.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 06, 2010:

LOL Glenn - most definitely! The Savannah Cats probably love to be "herded."

Enelle - I'm with you - love cats!

Katiem2 - Aren't they beautiful? I have a Bengal, and wonder how the Savannah would compare? Best to you

Katie McMurray from Westerville on April 06, 2010:

stephhicks, WOW OMG what a great cat, I want one I love cats and these are so amazingly beautiful. Thanks and Peace :)

Enelle Lamb from Canada's 'California' on April 06, 2010:

We currently have 5 cats ( 3 rescue kitties) and love them all to bits! What a great hub :D

solargroupies on April 06, 2010:

Gorgeous cats! And maybe trainable, so "herding cats" won't be so difficult now?

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 06, 2010:

Hi Karen - I think that Himalayans are gorgeous cats. I'm a short-haired cat person myself, but they are lovely to look at!

Karen Ellis from Central Oregon on April 06, 2010:

Cool looking cat, very wild appearance. I recently did an article (on another site) about the Himalayan (mix of a persion and Siamese). Beautiful cat, if you can take all the fluffy hair in your house.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 06, 2010:

Hi Betsy - thank you! They look like amazing cats and suitable family pets.

FCEtier - we have a Bengal cat too! That's what inspired my original exotic cat hub. :) Best to you both!

Chip from Cold Mountain on April 06, 2010:

Wife and I are cat lovers here - four of 'em. One is a beautiful bengal!

BetsyIckes from Pennsylvania on April 06, 2010:

Wow what a lovely looking cat! Thanks for posting!