The Savannah Cat Is a Huge and Exotic Cat Breed

For those who love cats but enjoy the personality of dogs, the unique breed known as the Savannah cat may be the perfect pet. Bred from a domestic cat and the wild African cat known as the Serval, the Savannah is the largest breed of cat at a weight of up to 25 pounds.

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These cats are known for their playful natures, high prey drives, enjoyment of playing fetch, and trainability for being walked on a lead in a harness. They may not be best suited for households with pets such as birds, hamsters, fish, or small dogs, as they are territorial and strong. This unusual cross appeared as a popular choice among breeders in the late 1990s. In 2001, TICA, the International Cat Association, accepted Savannah cats as a newly registered breed; in May of 2012, the cross became accepted as a championship breed.

Breed Information

A Savannah cat is an exotic-looking creature, especially in the generations more closely linked to the Serval in the gene pool. Beautiful and striking, Savannah cats are usually brown, silver, or black tabbies with spots of black or dark brown. Some have lighter shades or smokey patterns, however. This breed does not shed much. As such, its grooming requirements are minimal. Because they love mischief, they may get into messes and require bathing. This cat breed delights in water, however, so a bath is not the trial that it would be with most domesticated felines. A rugged and healthy breed, Savannahs have no distinctive health problems or known genetic conditions. As crossbreeds, they have a risk of developing a thickening of the heart muscle, known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Breeders with a reputation for responsibility screen for negative conditions that could affect litters. This cat has an average lifespan of 12-20 years. The breed has a high energy level and need for exercise. Their minds, too, need exercise, as they are highly intelligent cats.

Relation to Servals

When looking at Savannah cats, a close observer will notice that the generations are noted with filial numbers. For example, an F1 Savannah is a cat produced directly by crossing a serval and a domestic cat; it is 50% serval. F1 generations are difficult to produce, with pregnancies that are prone to being absorbed or aborted, with kittens that may be born prematurely. Servals also can be highly selective in their choice in mates, spurning domestic cat suitors. F2 generations have a serval grandparent while being the offspring of an F1 female. An F3 Savannah has a serval for a great grandparent; it is a minimum of 12.5% serval. When it comes to the F4 generation, Savannahs can be considered purebreds by TICA. Male Savannahs, as is common with hybrids, are often sterile until the generations F5 and F6. Most males offered as pets are in the F1 through F3 generations, with later generations reserved for breeding, while the opposite is true for the F5 through F7 generations.

Getting a Savannah Cat

Laws for Savannah ownership vary by country and area. Most of the states in the U.S. follow the USDA’s code, defining hybrid cross cats as domesticated. Australia has banned importations of Savannah cats, but these exotic-looking pets are legal throughout Canada. When selecting a kitten for sale, the more expensive choices tend to be closer to the serval ancestor. As far as temperament goes, Savannahs are known for loyalty to their owners. They are a mixed lot when it comes to social habits and friendliness to new people and other animals, however. Some may be pleased to greet such individuals, while others hide or hiss upon sighting a stranger. Savannah ownership is a little more complicated than that of other domesticated cats. Most breeders agree that Savannahs need taurine supplements and some favor diets without grains or byproducts. These active cats have powerful jumping skills and levels of agility, known to leap atop doors, refrigerators, and upper cabinets. Valuables are best kept in cases, with glass fronts revealing the contents without leaving them vulnerable to mischief. Savannah cats remain kitten-like in their playfulness and demand the attention of their owners.

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