BaxterBoo Blog
April 5, 2013

Meet the Cat Breed: The Savannah Cat

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If you are attracted to the idea of a wild-looking cat in your home, and budgetary constraints aren't an issue, then the Savannah Cat just might be for you! The Savannah Cat is a hybrid cross between a Serval (a wild African feline) and a domestic cat. This breed's advocates are working hard to stablilize the traits of these cats to be standardized to gain recognition by cat breed associations. The size can vary greatly depending how close the generation is to the original cross to the Serval. 

Due to the difficulties of breeding domestic cats with the Serval and differences in gestation periods between the two species, many first-generation pregnancies end in miscarriage and subsequent offspring may be infertile. This is one reason these cats tend to be expensive. How expensive? Between $1,000 for a lower percentage of Serval genetics and $20,000 for an F1 (first generation) cross between a Serval and a domestic cat. The earlier the generation, (the closer to the Serval cat) the more expensive the cat will be.

Domestic cats regularly used in outcross breeding programs are Egyptian Mau, the Ocicat, the Oriental Shorthair, and the Domestic Shorthair.

Physical Characteristics:

The Savannah Cat is a beautiful cat with long legs and large ears set high upon their heads. Of course the coat is one of the most striking features with beautiful spots set on a light background. They have tear-track marks tracing down from the outside corners of their eyes which help absorb light for better vision. The coat varies depending on the breed of domestic cat used, the level of Serval genes in a given cat, etc. But it is guaranteed that you won't forget one of these beautiful cats!

History of the Breed:

The first Savannah kitten was born in 1986 to a Serval male and a Siamese female. This kitten became the inspiration for the new breed. Because of the beauty and temperament of the breed, these cats have become more popular. They are given different ranking codes to help describe how close to the original 50/50 Serval/domestic cross is. F1 is a first-generation cat born to a Serval male and a domestic cat. F2 means that the Savannah cat has a Serval grandparent and is the offspring of the F1 generation female, and an F3 generation Savannah is a cat that has a Serval great-grandparent.

Because of their wild features, some are concerned about this large cat's environmental impact. Savannah Cats have been banned in certain places including New York City, Masachusetts, Georgia, and Hawaii. They are also banned in Australia.


The Savannah cat is famous for acting more like a dog than a cat. They can be very affectionate when well socialized. They can be trained to walk on a harness and leash and often teach their owners how to play fetch with them. They actually like water! They are extremely athletic and intelligent. These cats are so bright that they often learn to open doors, cabinets, drawers, etc. Keep in mind that you will never be bored with this lively companion!

  • Best suited for: Active families that are willing to socialize this cat to a variety of situations and engage them mentally.
  • Preferred living conditions: These cats need a variety of experiences and play time to keep them from being destructive as they will invent their own entertainment if not properly enganged.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy-care short coat, but as a larger cat, they will produce more fur.
  • Exercise needs: Enjoys a walk. This cat will thrive with new exercise challenges. Can jump up to 7 feet!
  • Life expectancy: 17-20 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to obesity but are generally healthy, enhanced by hybrid vigor.

Breed Club Links: Savannah Cat Club Perfect Pairings: Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash

Have any stories about a Savannah Cat? Please share!

Enjoy this video which illustrates the personality of this amazing cat!

Photo courtesy of will.wade.


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This entry was posted by Mary.

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