Sunday, April 1, 2012


A Savannah cat in habitat
If you want to make a Savannah cat of your very own, here's how you do it:

1.  Get a male African serval cat.
2.  Get a female domestic cat that is an Egyptian Mau, an Ocicat, an Oriental Shorthair, or a Domestic Shorthair.
3.  Mate the two cats together.
4.  Hope you get kittens.

A serval in habitat in Tanzania
As you can see from this process, the Savannah is a hybrid breed of cat.  The first litter of Savannahs was bred by Judee Frank in 1986, using a Siamese named Savannah as the mother cat.  So this is where the name of the breed came from.  After a while, some other cat breeders got interested in this new hybrid, and they started breeding Savannah cats, too.  The original version of the breed standard was written in 1996, and it was sent to the board of The International Cat Association.  TICA officially accepted the breed for registration in 2001.

A lurking Savannah cat!
Savannahs are one of the biggest breeds of domestic cats.  They can weigh anywhere from 7 to 30 pounds.  The first litter of kittens that you get from crossing a serval with a domestic cat is called the F1 generation.  Then when those kittens grow up and have kittens of their own, that is the F2 generation.  The males in the first few generations can't make kittens, just like mules can't make mule babies.  It's some kind of thing that happens with hybrids.

Anyway, by the F5 generation, the males can start being fathers, but by then the kittens don't look as much like the breed standard as the earlier generations do.  So at that point, it's best to start over with a male serval and make another F1 generation.

It's harder than you might think to get Savannah kittens, and this is because serval males are sometimes very picky about what girl they want to mate with.  And then if they do mate, there could be problems with the kittens because the gestation period for a serval is 75 days, and for a domestic cat, it's 65 days.  Which means that sometimes the kittens are absorbed or aborted or are born too early.  So if you want to buy a Savannah kitten instead of breeding your own, you will have to pay a bunch of money.  An F1 male could cost between $7,500 and $22,000, and an F2 male between $4,500 and $16,000.  An F1 female might cost from $6,000 to $22,000, and an F2 from $4,500 to $14,000.  With prices like these, I think you should seriously consider buying a basenji puppy instead!

Savannah cats have a small head, long neck, rounded ears, hooded eyes, long legs, and a short tail with black rings and a solid black tip.  On the backs of the ears, there are markings called ocelli, which look kind of like eyes.  Some animals such as fish or moths have ocelli, and these have the purpose of fooling their predators.  But I'm not sure why Savannahs have them.  Maybe it's just for decoration.

The color of a Savannah depends on what breed its mother was.  The breed standard allows a brown spotted tabby, silver spotted tabby, black (with black spots), and black smoke.

A lot of people say that Savannahs are like dogs because they are loyal, and they follow their owners around the house like a dog would.  They can be taught to fetch and even to walk on a leash.  If a Savannah has been socialized when it was a kitten, it is usually very friendly.  Savannahs are smart and curious, and they figure out how to open cabinets and get into all sorts of things.  Also they can jump really high, like to the top of a refrigerator or the top of a door.  Some of them can jump 8 feet high from a standing position.

Many Savannahs like water, and they will splash all the water out of their dishes or get in the shower with their humans.  The early generations often make chirping sounds, like servals.  Or they might also meow, like a domestic cat.  Sometimes they hiss like a serval, which is a different sort of hissing than other cats make, and it sounds more like a snake hissing.

So now you know all about Savannah cats, and if you want one, you can pay Big Bucks to get it, or else you can make your own, like I told you at the start.  Personally, I think having a cat that big in the house would be kind of scary, especially if it started hissing at me, so I am not even going to suggest to Mom that we get one!


  1. WOW...this was a great learning blog for me. I didn't know about the F1, F2, etc., classifications. I didn't know about mules not being able to make babies until the F5 either. I had to look up the word "serval" on the online had several...not serval...definitions.
    Love, AP

  2. The Savannah breed has come a VERY long way. I have done research on them for almost eight years before purchasing my F2 male. Due to the fact that they have come such a long way, there is NO NEED to breed a Serval to another breed besides a Savannah. Please do your research online, and if you do plan on breeding these amazing cats, purchase your Queen and King from a reputal established breeder. They will guide you along the way with the questions you have before purchase, and after.

  3. Excellent report on the Savannah cat. I predict that in 2013 they are going to become very popular with the folks whose tax rate should rise up to 39%.

  4. Savanna cats are really cool

  5. Piper,
    I agree with you. Aren't we Basenji's cat like enough with a little monkey thrown in to keep things exciting? And litter boxes....ewwww! The humans know that we are fastidious about cleanliness and hate smelly stuff. So what? We sometimes lose our senses and tear up something Mom really likes, but we know she can't stay mad at us. We grace the humans with our presence. Stay dog, Piper. Stay dog!

    Your Basenji sister for life!

    1. Dear Denki,
      I don't believe I am in any danger of turning into a cat, but sometimes I think there are way too many cats in our house! My mom loves me, but she keeps bringing cats and kittens home. It would be better to bring more basenjis home. That is just my opinion, though. It's hard to tell my mom anything.
      Your friend, Piper

  6. But it isn't so easy to breed a domesticated savannah cat. You need to have professional assistance for it.

  7. The photo of the little girl holding the cat. That cat is a Bengal not a Savannah. That cat came from a Bengal breeder in Guthrie Oklahoma and that photo of the little girl holding the cat was taken in Australia. Don't confuse Savanah cat photos with Bengals. You would confuse people looking for a new pet.

    1. Dear Craig,
      Thank you for letting me know about the picture of the wrong breed of cat in my blog entry. I have found a different picture to replace it, and I hope it is okay now!

  8. wow that is great, you have done a great job here. Lost and found

    1. Thanks! Your blog looks very helpful and informative!

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