Savannah


Introduction

The Savannah is an elegant, graceful cat that boasts having bold markings and wonderful dark spots in their coats. They look very much like their wild cousin, the African Servals only they are quite a bit smaller. Since they first appeared on the scene back in the eighties, Savannahs have become one of the most popular exotic cats around and as a result they have found fan bases not only in the United States, but elsewhere in the world including the UK thanks to their beautiful appearance and their kind, affectionate and outgoing natures.


History

The Savannah first appeared on the scene back in the mid-eighties when a domestic cat was crossed with an African Serval. Their mating produced a first generation (F1) hybrid cross female and it was this cat that was the first Savannah to be recorded. She had inherited traits from both parent breeds and she caught the attention of a breeder called Patrick Kelly who then proceeded to develop the breed. He was helped by another breeder called Joyce Sroufe and together they drew up the first breed standard for Savannah cats with an end goal being to standardise the breed.

Savannahs were recognised by TICA in 2001, but the breed was only awarded Championship status in 2012. However, these elegant, wild looking cats have not yet been accepted by the GCCF, but the good news is that many reputable UK breeders are now producing well-bred Savannahs as their popularity grows and their numbers steadily rise.


Appearance

The Savannah is a truly unique looking, well balanced cat and one that stands out in a crowd. They are proud, elegant felines that boast having large, upright, ears reminiscent of those of an African Serval. They also boast having hooded eyes which are set quite flat on a cat's face adding to the Savannah's exotic looks. Their coats are beautifully marked and spotted which is another trait that sets them apart from other breeds.

Their heads are the shape of an equilateral triangle and quite small in relation to the rest of a cat's body. They have extremely large ears that are set nice and high being wide apart and that much deeper at the base, but with rounded tips. Cats hold their ears very upright and they can be nicely furnished and boast having well-defined ocellis (eye spot markings) on them. They have medium sized eyes that are set well under a cat's slightly hooded brow with the top of the eye being a boomerang shape whereas the bottom half is more almond shaped. Cats have tear stain markings between and along their eyes and noses. Savannahs can have any colour eyes and they do not have to match their coat colour.

Their chins taper so they follow the line of a cat's triangular shaped head. Seen in profile, a cat's nose protrudes a little which gives the appearance of their chin being a little recessed. Muzzles are tapered with no evidence of there being a break. Seen in profile, a cat's face is also a triangle from their eyes to the tips of their noses which are wide across the top with nostrils being set low. Nose leathers are slightly convex so they wrap over a cat’s nose. Savannahs have long, lean necks which adds to their overall well-balanced appearance.

A Savannahs body is long, well-muscled and very lean with cats having deep, full rib cages and nicely prominent shoulder blades. Bellies are gently tucked up and rumps are well rounded. A cat's hips and thighs are long and full being rather heavy in relation to the rest of their bodies. Their legs are longer than those of the average cat and well-muscled with back legs being a little longer than their front ones. They have medium sized, oval feet and their tails are moderately thick and medium in length being wider at the base before it tapers slightly to a blunt end.

When it comes to their coat, the Savannah boasts having an extremely striking, short, close-lying coat which has a slightly harsh feel to it because of the coarser guard hairs that cover a much softer undercoat. A cat's spots are a lot softer than their guard hairs. Their colours are as follows:

  • Black
  • Brown (Black)
  • Spotted Tabby
  • Black Silver Spotted Tabby
  • Black Smoke

Temperament

Like a lot of other breeds, the Savannah likes a routine and doesn't particularly like it when this changes for any reason. They like to be fed at the same time of the day and don't appreciate it when furniture gets moved around the home which can often stress cats out. With this said, Savannahs are known to have wonderful personalities and are often referred to as being quite dog-like in many of their behaviours. They are extremely inquisitive and love to know what is going on in their environment. They are confident, outgoing and thrive on being around people. They also boast having a lot of energy which means sharing a home with a Savannah is never boring. They form strong bonds with their owners and although they are not lap cats, they adore being given as much attention as they can get. They like to greet their owners at the door when they return home which is one of the dog-like traits that makes a Savannah so endearing to live with.

Unlike many other breeds, the Savannah has a fascination with water and loves to play with a dripping tap, they will even play in water when they get the chance. Being so intelligent and eager to be with the people they love Savannahs can be taught to wear a harness and be taken out for a walk on a lead which they thoroughly enjoy. They can be quite demanding and because they form such strong ties with their owners, they are best suited to families where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out so they are never left on their own for too long.

They adore being able to explore the great outdoors, but cats should only be allowed to roam around outside if it is safe for them to do so. The good news is that Savannahs adapt well to being kept as indoor pets providing they are given loads of attention and things to keep them occupied which means investing in lots of good quality, interactive toys. Sharing a house with a Savannah means creating high platforms for them to perch on when the mood takes them because they love being able to look down on the world below from a favourite vantage point. They are quite talkative, especially at meal times or when they want to grab an owner's attention.


Intelligence

Savannahs are known to be highly intelligent and can be taught to do all sorts of things which includes wearing a harness and being taken out for a walk much like their canine counterparts. They also enjoy playing interactive games like "fetch the toy" and will happily do so for hours on end. They are extremely good at problem solving which means they quickly learn how to open cupboard doors so they can check out what's inside. The same can be said of other doors in a house which they soon learn how to open if they can too. They have a love of water and unlike many other breeds, will happily paddle in ponds which means care should be taken if there are any fish in them and ideally a net should be placed across the top to prevent a Savannah from hooking them out.


Children and Other Pets

Savannahs with their outgoing, affectionate personalities are the perfect choice for families with children. They are quick on their feet and therefore know when to get out of the reach of smaller children when they get too boisterous or loud. However, care should be taken when very young children are around cats and any interaction should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm. With this said, children need to be taught how to behave around cats and when it's time to leave them alone.

They also get on well with dogs and other cats especially if they have grown up together in the same household. However, care should be taken when introducing a Savannah to dogs they don't already know just in case the dog does not get on with their feline counterparts. They are social by nature and have been known to get on with pet birds and small animals, but it's always wiser to keep a close eye on any cat when they are around smaller pets particularly when they first meet each other just to be on the safe side.


Savannah Health

The average life expectancy of a Savannah is between 17 and 20 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate, good quality diet to suit their ages.

The Savannah is known to be a healthy breed and one that does not appear to suffer from the hereditary disorders that can often affect other breeds. However, the breed is still very young which is why it's important that Savannahs be bred responsibly so they remain a healthier breed. One condition that might affect them is:


Caring for a Savannah

As with other breeds, Savannahs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. On top of this, cats need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives which is especially true of kittens and older cats.


Grooming

Savannahs boast having short, close lying quite dense coats and as such they are low maintenance on the grooming front. A weekly brush and wipe over with a chamois leather is all it takes to keep their coats in good condition with a nice sheen on it.  Like other breeds, they tend to shed the most in the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary to keep on top of things.

It's also important to check a cat's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up in their ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections. Cats often suffer from ear mites which can be a real problem which is another reason why it's so important to check their ears every week or so.


Energy Levels/Playfulness

Savannahs boast having a lot of energy and being so intelligent, they need to be given lots of things to keep them occupied which is particularly true when they are kept as indoor pets. They adore being given as much attention as they can get which means they can at times be a little demanding, but never overly so. They adore playing with puzzle toys and being so intelligent, they are quick at problem solving. As previously mentioned, they love being able to roam around in a garden, but should only be allowed to do so if it is safe.

Cats kept as indoor pets need to be given lots of things to do and places to hide when they want to, bearing in mind that Savannahs love to climb up as high as they can get so they can survey what's going on below them from a preferred vantage point. They also need to have lots of places they can snuggle up for a snooze when the mood takes them because if there is one thing cats are really good at it's napping during the day.


Feeding

If you get a Savannah kitten from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same kitten food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a kitten's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older cats are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature cat several times a day making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements which is especially important as cats get older. It's also essential to keep an eye on a cat's weight because if they start to put on too much, it can have a serious impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Like all other breeds, Savannahs need access to fresh, clean water at all times.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Savannah

If you are looking to buy a Savannah, you would need to pay anything from £850 to well over £2000 for a well-bred kitten. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Savannah in northern England would be £14.96 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £27.16 a month (quote as of February). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a cat's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a cat’s life. This would set you back between £15 - £20 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Savannah and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a cat when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £600 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Savannah would be between £40 to £60 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your cat, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred kitten.


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