The Savannah cat is a newer cat breed first being bred in the 1980s. Domesticated Bengal cats, Oriental Shorthairs, or an Egyptian Mau were bred with the wild Serval cat to create this hybrid. They became popular with cat lovers in the late 1990s for their amazing look and charming personality.
The Savannah cat is perhaps the wildest-looking cat that you could have in your home!
Its spotted coat, large ears, and long muscular legs give the Savannah a distinct look that is right out of Africa. This may leave a cat lover wondering what exactly is the Savannah cat?
In this article, we will be explaining all that you need to know about Savannah cats before you bring one home. This includes explaining their genetics, their care requirements, and more.
Here is everything you need to know about the Savannah cat breed!
What are Savannah Cats Breed With?
Basically, the Savannah Cat is a domestic cat breed with a wild animal cat ancestor. These are high energy, large cats that have big ears and most commonly have black spots.
History of the Savannah Cat
The history of the Savannah cat is fairly recent. In 1986 the very first F1 Savannah cat was born from a domestic cat that was bred with a Serval African wild cat.
The wild African Serval is just what the name implies, a rather large wild animal.
After hearing about this amazing new cat with both domestic and wild properties, Patrick Kelly and Joyce Sroufe set off to start producing these cats and set a breed standard.
The Savannah cat was accepted by The International Cat Association in 2001 when the breed was starting to gain popularity among cat owners.
Savannah Cat Characteristics
The Savannah cat not only has a unique and amazing personality but they have a unique and stunning appearance as well.
Their larger size, tall ears, and stunning coat make these cats truly unique.
Savannah Cat Size
Savannah cats are technically the largest domestic cats in the world. F1 Savannahs are the largest and heaviest of the Savannah cats.
Their average height is 16.5 inches, and their average weight is 23 pounds. This makes F1 Savannah cats closer to the size of a medium-sized dog than a traditional house cat.
From there, Savannah cats tend to get smaller the more domesticated they are. For example, F2 Savannah cats are 15 pounds and 14.5 inches tall on average and F3s are typically 13.5 pounds and 13.5 inches tall.
F4 and F5 Savannahs are roughly the same sizes, and they come in at 10 pounds and 11 inches tall on average.
Savannah Cat Colors
All Savannahs have short to medium-length coats. There are just four different coat colorations that are recognized by The International Cat Association. Theses include:
- Brown black spotted tabby
- Black silver spotted tabby
- Black smoke
Nose colorations tend to change with the coat color.
For example, solid black Savannahs must have a solid black nose. However, the other colorations can have a pink or red nose that is surrounded by a liner, a solid black nose, or a black nose with a stripe in the center.
Despite there being only four officially recognized Savannah cat colors there are several more.
One rare and highly prized coat for a Savannah cat is the snow coloration. These cats often have blue eyes and look amazing!
Savannah Cat Traits
There are some other key features that are unique to Savannah cats. All Savannahs have black lips and prominent tear ducts.
This contributes to their wild appearance. Their ears are also set high on the head and are very tall and rounded at the top. This characteristic comes from their ancestral DNA.
The Savannah cat’s eyes are almond-shaped, and all eye colors are allowed.
Savannahs tend to have long necks that come from their Serval ancestor. This long neck is an asset that fits well with their strong hunting instincts.
In addition to long necks, Savannahs tend to have strikingly long hind legs as well. This gives the Savannah cat its dangly appearance and allows for them to jump extremely high.
Savannah Cat Types
All Savannah cats are designated with the letter F (filial system) signifying what ‘generation’ they are.
What is an F1 Savannah Cat?
An F1 Savannah cat is one generation away from the wild Serval cat. You will see F1 through F5 being used in this manner. F5 being the 5th generation from its breeding with a wild African Serval cat.
Savannah Cat Genetics
There are a lot of genetic factors that go into the Savannah cat breed, but possibly the most important genetic factor to consider is the percentage of Serval genetics that the Savannah has.
To keep things simple, we will only be explaining the basic genetics of Savannah cats.
However, things can become more complicated technically speaking. Here is all of the basic information that you need to know about the Savannah cat.
F1 Savannah Cats
F1 Savannah cats are created by breeding a Serval to a domestic cat. As a result, these cats are genetically 50% wild.
This makes F1 Savannahs a bit larger and more rambunctious than the later generations of Savannahs.
F2 Savannah Cats
These cats are created by breeding an F1 Savannah with a domestic cat.
This is usually a pairing of an F1 Savannah with a later filial Savannah. These cats are 25% wild genetically.
This makes F2 Savannahs a little tamer than F1s, but they can still be a handful for new cat owners.
F3 Savannah Cats
This generation is even more domestic genetically. F3s are created by breeding an F2 with any later filial Savannah.
These cats are smaller than F1s, and they are also easier to manage. In fact, F3s are recommended for first-time Savannah owners that still desire more of that wild look.
F4 Savannah Cats
F4 and F5 are later generations of Savannahs. They are more closely related to domestic cats than their wild ancestors.
However, they are still very active cats and require more attention than some other, more low-maintenance house cats.
How Much Does a Savannah Cat Cost?
Savannah cats can be expensive to bring into your home, especially if you are looking for F1 Savannah kittens.
This is because these cats tend to be difficult to breed, and it may be harder to find a reputable breeder for a Savannah Cat than some other popular domestic cat breeds.
This is mostly because of the controversy surrounding breeding and owning these cats.
F1 Savannah cats cost anywhere between $10,000 and $18,000. Male Savannahs tend to be less expensive than females for F1 to F4 generations.
This is due to the reported infertility of F1 to F4 male Savannah cats.
F2 Savannahs range from $6,000 to $9,000, and F3 Savannah cats tend to cost anywhere between $3,500 to $5,000.
Meanwhile, F4 cats are typically priced at anything between $2,500 to $4,000.
F5 Savannahs and later usually cost anywhere between $1,500 and $4,000 with male breeders costing more than females.
Savannah Cat Temperament
The ideal Savannah cat’s personality is confident, curious, alert, and friendly according to the TICA’s official Savannah breed standard.
However, the Savannah cat’s temperament does alter slightly depending on how closely related they are to the Serval.
Here is what the average Savannah cat’s temperament looks like depending on their genetics.
F1 Savannahs are extremely intelligent, active, and curious. It is important to remember that these cats are 50% wild cats, so they are not recommended for first-time cat owners or even first-time Savannah owners.
It is crucial that you socialize Savannahs early on to minimize their fear of strange people and stimuli.
To manage these cats’ endless amount of energy, it is recommended that you provide them with a safe and enclosed outdoor area to explore.
It is also a great idea to train your F1 to go for walks using a harness. Due to their love of high-up places, cat trees are a must for all Savannah cat owners.
F2 Savannahs are still extremely intelligent and energetic cats. They are technically more domesticated than F1 Savannah cats.
However, these cats still require early socialization to set them up for success, and they are not for the novice cat owner.
These cats still greatly benefit from having a safe outdoor space to explore, a cat tree to climb on, and walks outside using a harness.
F3 Savannahs are even more genetically domesticated than F1s and F2s. As a result, they are typically more friendly and outgoing than their more wild ancestors.
F3 Savannah cats and later are recommended for first-time Savannah owners, but they are still not the best choice for those who are new to owning cats.
F3 Savannah cats enjoy going for walks, exploring the outside world, and climbing their cat tree.
Although it is still extremely important to socialize F3 savannahs early, they are usually much more acclimated to domestic life.
F4 Savannahs and later generations tend to appear and act more like domestic cats. However, they are still very active and can greatly benefit from activities like walks.
Playtime and access to a cat tree are also very important for all Savannah cats.
Savannah Cat Care
It is important to take into account all of the needed care that goes into having a healthy Savannah cat.
We will explain diet, grooming, and exercise requirements for a healthy and happy Savannah cat.
We will also be describing some health issues that you should look out for.
Savannah Cat Lifespan
When healthy and well taken care of, Savannahs tend to live between 15 and 20 years and sometimes even longer. They have one of the longer lifespans for cats.
Here are all of the Savannah cat care requirements that you should know before adopting a Savannah.
Savannah Cat Diet
Savannahs are very high energy so feeding these cats a nutritious balanced diet is essential.
You can do this by going with professionally recommended cat food, and feeding your Savannah the recommended portions for their size.
Savannah cats don’t need special diets but because of their high activity levels, they do require high-protein cat food.
In addition to feeding your Savannah high-quality cat food, it is also important to provide them with clean fresh water at all times.
Savannah Cat Grooming
Savannahs have a short double coat. As a result, these cats do not require as much grooming as some others.
Occasional weekly brushing is required, but you may want to increase this during shedding season.
In addition, you will also need to keep your Savannah’s nails trimmed, their ears clean, and their teeth need to be brushed with animal toothpaste periodically.
You can usually find good cat toothpaste from your vet.
Savannah Cat Exercise Requirements
Savannah cats are very active, and they require a lot of exercise. Their exercise needs are similar to those of dogs.
As a result, lots of playtime and regular walks are needed for Savannah cats.
Providing them with an enclosed, safe outdoor space to explore, climb, and run around is great for Savannah cats.
Savannah Cat Health Problems
The Savannah cat is a typically very healthy breed of cat. However, there are some potential health problems that you should look out for when it comes to Savannah cats.
As a result, it is recommended that you test your cat for the following conditions at the vet:
- Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Parasitic infections (because most Savannahs have frequent access to the outdoors)
There have also been reports of some Savannahs having a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
This condition causes the heart to have walls that are thicker than normal, and this can negatively affect the heart’s functionality. Luckily, this condition is pretty uncommon in Savannahs.
Savannah Cat Considerations
There are other factors to consider before you bring home a Savannah cat.
These are whether or not it is legal for you to own a Savannah in your area and if the Savannah cat fits into your lifestyle.
Are Savannah Cats Legal?
Savannah cats are not legal for people to own everywhere in the United States. Many states and cities have restrictions on Savannah cats and a few have banned them completely.
Below is a list of areas in the United States that have made owning a Savannah illegal.
- Las Vegas
- New York City
Many other states, cities, and counties within the U.S. have other restrictions on Savannahs.
For example, many areas require that you have a permit for your Savannah cat or that they are a generation F4, F5, or later.
Why are Savannah Cats Illegal?
Because Savannah cats are hybrid cats derived from wild animals there are some areas that don’t allow them as pets.
This comes from many states having laws regulating the ownership of wild animals as pets.
Can Savannah Cats Go Outside?
Yes, you can let your Savannah cat go outside as long as you keep them under control with a lease or in the confines of your own property.
It is crucial that you do your own research and make sure that it is legal for you to bring a Savannah cat into your home.
Are Savannah Cats Dangerous?
Savannah cats are a domestic breed so they are not inherently dangerous to humans.
Keep in mind though that because of their large body size and connection to the Serval cat you need to be careful and aware.
What is the Largest Domestic Cat?
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s tallest domestic cat is Arcturus Aldebaran Powers. This Savannah Cat is over 19 inches tall and weighs about 30 pounds!
And not to be outdone, a Maine Coon cat named Cygnus has the longest tail in the world for a cat. As a side note, Maine Coon cats are famous for being very large.
The interesting thing is both of these world record cats are owned by the same people.
Do Your Homework Before Purchasing a Savannah
Savannah cats require a lot of interaction and attention. As a result, many people may have a difficult time incorporating a Savannah cat into their existing lifestyle.
It is crucial that you do your homework before you decide to adopt one of these awesome cats as a result.