What’s That Cat? Meet The Savannah

The Savannah is definitely a head-turning cat. Like a supermodel or movie star, they have the looks that make people just want to know more about them. This new breed is making waves. Let’s get to know the Savannah.

portrait of savannah cat

Savannah Cats Have Wild Ancestry

The Savannah is a hybrid breed resulting from crossing domestic cats with African servals. The serval is a medium sized wild cat with a very unique, beautiful coat. The very first Savannah cross was a serval crossed with a Siamese cat in 1986, here in the United States. The resulting beautiful spotted cat (named Savannah) became one of the founders of the breed. The International Cat Association has only recognized the Savannah since 2001, making it one of the newest breeds.

The Savannah is still relatively rare. They are somewhat difficult to breed due to differing gestational periods between domestic cats and servals. Servals are also very picky when choosing a mate, so they may not always want to breed with a domestic cat. Due to their rarity, a Savannah cat may cost up to $20,000.

wild african serval

African Serval

What Are Savannah Cats’ Characteristics?

Savannahs bear a strong resemblance to their wild ancestors. F1 or first generation hybrids are often very large, up to 25 pounds. Later generations are more normal sized. All Savannahs that adhere to the breed standard have the signature spotted coat, though there is some variation on the color of their coat. The most common is a brown-spotted tabby (varying from cool to warm brown with black or dark brown spots). Other colors of Savannah are silver-spotted tabby (silver coat with black or dark grey spots), black (black spots on a black coat), and black smoke (black-tipped silver with black spots). Other colors and patterns are possible, but not ideal and not considered eligible for registration. Those kitties are usually adopted out by breeders into pet homes that do not intend to breed them.

Savannahs naturally have very long legs like their serval relatives. They also always have very large, expressive ears and slightly hooded eyes. They should have a lean, long body overall, including a long neck. Their hind quarters often appear higher than their front half while standing straight up. Like wild cats, they have a fat puffy nose (oh so cute).

savannah cat showing off ears

Savannah Cat Behavior

Savannahs come from wild cats, and have slightly different behaviors compared to domestic cats. They can jump and climb higher than domestic cats, with some Savannahs being able to jump seven feet or more into the air from a standstill.

Savannahs also vocalize differently from regular cats. They may chirp like a serval, meow like a cat, or a combination of both. They also have a sound they make called a “snake hiss” that sounds like a regular cat hiss on steroids. It may catch you off guard if you are not warned beforehand.

Savannahs will also occasionally wag or flick their tails if they are happy. Another odd thing Savannahs do with their tails is puff them up when they are greeting someone. That is not to be confused with the hair on the back of the cat standing up on end in fear or anger; they are two different displays.

Savannahs Are Fun To Have Around

Savannah cats are often described as “doglike”. They love to be outdoors, and are often very easy to harness/leash train. Savannah owners will enjoy taking their cat out for adventures on a leash, providing they have applied flea & tick treatment beforehand. They are great family pets, and socialize well with people and other pets. Children should always be supervised with pets, but the Savannah is generally a very personable cat with friendly children as well.

One surprising trait Savannahs have is that they do not fear water. Quite the opposite–many Savannahs actually seem to enjoy playing in water. Some Savannah owners admit to occasionally showering with their furry friends because they enjoy the water so much. This can also result in some spilled water bowls if you’re not careful!

2 savannah kittens

Anyone thinking of owning or adopting a Savannah should be sure they check local ordinances in their city, because Savannahs are not classified as domestic cats by all municipalities yet since they are so new. The Savannah makes a great family pet. They are low maintenance with very few health issues. Their sweet nature and exotic look make them a great pet you’ll want to show off!