The Savannah cat is a hybrid cat breed, which was created and developed from the crossing of regular domestic cats with a specific type of wild cat!
This means that the looks and personality of the Savannah cat is quite unique from that of the average domestic moggy, and even from other well-known hybrid cat breeds too, like the Bengal.
Whilst many cat lovers like the idea of owning a hybrid cat or one with a recent wild cat ancestor, buying a cat of this type is not a decision to be made lightly – particularly when it comes to relatively young breeds that are quite closely related to the wild side of their heritage like the Savannah.
With this in mind, this article will help prospective Savannah cat owners to learn the basics of some of the key considerations to bear in mind if you’re thinking of buying a Savannah cat, in order to give some pointers on the main things you need to research. Read on to learn more.
The Savannah cat breed is a hybrid breed, developed by crossing domestic cats with a wild species of cat, in this case, the Serval, which is a medium build wild African cat type that is notable for its distinctive coat and large ears.
The Savannah cat breed was one that was deliberately developed by crossing a domestic cat with a wild cat, rather than such a mating occurring naturally – and the domestic cat breed used to develop the Savannah breed as we know it today was the very popular Siamese.
Savannah cats can be bred from the mating of one wild cat with one Siamese, or by means of later-generation matings of Savannah cats with each other, or with either of the two cat types that make up their parentage.
In order to express how recently in a cat’s ancestry they have a wild cat as a relative, a system of filial numbers or “f numbers” is used, and you may see these mentioned in Savannah cat adverts.
An f1 Savannah will have a wild cat parent, and an f2 will have a wild cat grandparent, and so on. It is very uncommon to see cats with lower f numbers offered for sale today, particularly those of f5 or lower.
The Savannah cat breed is not recognised as a pedigree breed in the UK by the GCCF or Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, which is the UK-specific pedigree cat registry and formal governing body.
Whether or not this will change in the future (as was the case for the Bengal breed, a longer established wildcat hybrid breed) remains to be seen, but they are not currently eligible for GCCF registration.
However, the breed is recognised by TICA, The International Cat Association, and when owners and breeders of Savannah cats talk about their cat’s pedigree status, this is the breed registry that they’re referring to.
Despite their recent origins and nonrecognition by the GCCF, the Savannah cat is actually the UK’s 8th most popular cat breed overall.
However, they’re still not hugely common nor present in large numbers, and like almost all pedigree breeds, are outnumbered by moggies by several hundred to one!
If you’ve set your heart on owning a Savannah cat, you might need to save up for one! This is one of the most expensive cat breeds of all to buy, with the average asking price in the UK for TICA-registered pedigree examples of the breed being a whopping £1,380 each, and even for unregistered or non-pedigree alternatives, £982 each.
The Savannah cat’s temperament reflects the fusion of Siamese and wild cat ancestry and once more, is vastly different to that of the average domestic moggy.
They tend to be vocal, outgoing, active cats, and are particularly notable for a marked loyalty to their owners, often following them around the house like dogs!
They can also be quite demanding and high maintenance too, and like to have everything their own way.
The Savannah cat is a relatively large one, with males of the breed weighing up to around 7kg based on higher f-number cats of the breed. However, Savannah cats that are more closely related to their wild ancestor (and which are less common in the UK) may weigh even more – around 9kg potentially.
Savannah cat ownership is legal in the UK, and there are no restrictions on keeping them. However, in some countries and some US states, owning Savannahs, and other types of wild cat hybrids too like Bengals (even given how far removed the average Bengal is from their wild ancestry) is illegal or restricted.
Australia is one country in which they are banned outright, and lower f-number Savannahs (those that are very closely related to their wild ancestor) cannot be owned legally in some provinces of Canada, and some American states.
The Savannah cat requires an owner that appreciates how a wild cat hybrid differs from a domestic cat, and that understands their unique temperaments and care requirements.
They can be high maintenance and so on the one hand may not be a good fit for someone who has never owned a cat before; but on the flipside of this, people who have already owned a different type of cat are more likely to have preconceptions about cat ownership that don’t apply or translate well to owning a Savannah, which can cause problems in and of itself.
Whether you’re an experienced cat owner or have never owned a cat of any type before, Savannah ownership is not to be entered into lightly. Spend plenty of time researching the breed and talking to breeders before you commit to the purchase of a Savannah cat.