A,B,C,SBT - What do the letters stand for in Savannahs?

A, B, C, SBT?

“What do the letters stand for?” 

The letters are part of The International Cat Association registration (TICA) code, the organization in which Savannahs are registered. They explain how many generations of Savannah matings are in the background of the particular kitten or cat. 

TICA has three Registries, each of which reflects a different stage in the development of a breed. The Experimental Registry is for unaccepted breeds or for those with unknown background. The Foundation Registry is where most Savannahs are registered at this time. And the Stud Book Registry, where some Savannahs are registered, designates a pure bred cat. Cats in this registry carry the letters "SBT," the "T" meaning stud book traditional. In the case of a Savannah, it indicates  studs and queens for the last three generations have been Savannahs in an SBT Savannah's pedigree. 

The “A” designation simply means one parent is not a Savannah.

The Savannah breed was created by breeding the Serval to a domestic cat. The kittens from this mating carry an "A" designation, which means they are the progeny of two cats of different breeds. So all F1 (first generation) Savannahs are registered “A." And since Savannah males are not fertile until the fourth (F4) and fifth (F5) generations, all males bred to Savannah females must be “outcrosses” or non-Savannahs until a fertile male Savannah is born. While the males may be purebred from other breeds, a combination of breeds or a “domestic shorthair,” the kittens resulting from an outcross is an "A." This means you can also have an F2 A, F3 A, etc. Any mating in which one of the parents is not a Savannah results in an "A" designation.

If two "A" registered Savannahs are crossed, "B" registered kittens result. “B” means both parents are Savannahs, but the cat has at least one grandparent of a different breed.

Cross two "B" registered Savannahs and you have a “C” registered kitten. "C" tells both parents and grandparents are Savannahs, but at least one great grandparent is of a different breed.

When you cross two "C" registered Savannahs, an "SBT" results. A kitten with “SBT” in it’s registration number has three generations of Savannah to Savannah matings in it’s pedigree – parents, grandparents, great grandparents.  It is impossible to have SBT kittens before the fourth generation. The SBT designation is what is needed to show in Championship Class.

The system can be a bit more complicated, however since the filial (F) generation i.e., the generation removed from the serval, works independently from the  A, B, C, and SBT designations. For example, if you breed an F3 A to an F5 C, you will get a F4 B. And if an outcross was used to breed to any generation, those kittens would be "A.” That is, if an F3 C were bred to an outcross, kittens would be F4 A kittens. 

Letters progress forward from the “lowest” parent’s letter. Numbers do also.  Following are some basic examples of what matings will produce:

F1 A x F5 A = F2 B Kittens F1 A x Outcross Male = F2 A Kittens
F2 B x F5 B = F3 C Kittens F2 B x F5 A = F3 B Kittens
F2 A x F5 C = F3 B Kittens F3 B x F5 SBT = F4 C Kittens
F2 B x F5 SBT = F3 C Kittens F4 B x F5 C = F5 C Kittens
F3 C x F5 C = F4 SBT Kittens F5 C x F5 SBT = F6 SBT Kittens
F4 SBT x F5 SBT = F5 SBT Kittens   F5 B x F5 C = F6 C Kittens

What is a Savannah Cat?

What is A Savannah Cat?

A Savannah cat is a cross between an African Serval and a domesticated House cat. Savannahs are noted for their tall and slender body and their big ears. It is one of the newest breeds in the world and there are just a few breeders worldwide that have had achieved their goal of successfully mating a Serval to a domesticated cat. All Foundation Savannahs have an F and a number associated with it to indicate how many generations it is from its Serval ancestor.

  • F1 (~53% Serval)

  • F2 (~29% Serval)

  • F3 (~16% Serval) and so on.

What is a SBT Savannah?

The History of the SBT Savannahs starts here at A1 Savannahs. An SBT is also bred down from the Serval but is is at least 4 Generations removed. While many Savannahs F1 through F5 are diluted with blood of regular house cats, the SBT Savannah is a "pure" Savannah that has guaranteed only Savannahs as parents for at least 3 Generations.

The size or appearence of an SBT Savannah can be compared to an F4 or an F5 Savannah but there are several advantages to own an SBT.

SBT Savannahs are more consistent in their type. Personality and size are better forseeable and the temperament is predictable. An SBT Savannah is the perfect choice for a family with other pets and children.

How Big Does A Savannah Get?

The Size of the Savannah Cat depends very much on the size and type of their parents and also of the percentage of wild blood they have from the Serval.

The biggest cats are F1 Savannahs and males of the F2 Generations. They get about 2 and a half times bigger than regular house cats with their weight from 15 up to 28 pounds and occasionally over 30 pounds. F3 males often still considerably bigger than a regular house cat. We have produced F3 males ranging in the lower twenties with their weight but rule is 15 to 18 lean pounds.

F3 females and all cats of further generations decrease in size but keep their long legs, big ears and the wild appearance. Savannahs need up to 3 years to reach their full size.

What is a Savannah’s Temperament Like?

Savannah Cats have very loving and outgoing personalities. They are highly intelligent cats and learn quickly. Most of them love to explore the outside on a leash, or enjoy being in the house and playing Fetch. Others retrieve their toys or follow their favorite person like a little dog through the house. A Savannah expects to be a family member that is involved in every activity rather than being just a usual house pet.

They definitely love water and have surprised us often with a spontaneous visit in the running shower.

Do Savannahs Get Along Well With Other Pets or Children?

Savannahs are very adaptive cats. They get along with well-behaved and respectful children and if your current cat or dog is social, your new Savannah will most likely end up sleeping in the same bed.

Diet & Health Care

Savannahs can be fed regular good quality cat food and they receive the same shots and health care as a domestic cat. All our kittens are fully litter box trained and properly vaccinated before they go to their new owners. Please do not declaw! Declawing is inhumane and is actually an amputation to the first joint of the toe. We highly recommend against it.

How Much Does A Savannah Cost?

The price of a Savannah will vary depending on the quality of the individual cat. Following are average price ranges:

Why Are Savannahs So Expensive?

Higher percentage Savannahs are rare and very difficult to breed. It takes many years and a lot of luck to mate a Serval with a domesticated cat. Only a few breeders worldwide have had success.

Servals are wild cats with special needs in terms of their caging requirements, their diet and their health care. Caring for pure Servals and mating them to domestic cats is costly, time consuming and demanding.

Males: Females:
F1 $7,500-$22,000 F1 $6000-$22,000
F2 $4,500-$16,000 F2 $4,500-$14,000
F3 $3,000-$6,000 F3 $3,500-$5,500
F4 $1200-$3,000 F4 $1,200-$4,500
F5 $950-$6,000 F5 $950-$3,000
SBT $950-$6,000 SBT $950-$3,000

What is a Egyptian Mau?

Egyptian Maus

The Egyptian Mau is actually a domestic breed of cat. They are going to be similar to the Bengal or domestic cat in terms of size and will have a coat that will vary from bronze to silver with brown to black solid spots. The size of the spot is usually smaller than that of the Bengal or Savannah. Mau kittens range in price from $500 to $1,000. They are very sweet, affectionate cats that prefer hands on and being in your lap. They bond extremely closely with their families, but do not relocate well after kittenhood. They are considered to be more intelligent than the average domestic cat, but are not seen as intelligent or athletic as many of the hybrid breeds.

Compare Hybrid Cat Breeds

Which Cat Is Right For You?

Like a kid in a candy story, the world of exotic felines is thrilling. Each breed looks so inviting, but navigating through the different breeds
and generations or levels within each breed can be totally confusing. What to choose?  This page is intended to help you decide which breed/generation is best for your individual situation. We have delineated the differences between each generation and each breed as we at Select Exotics see them. The following descriptions are in respect to the cats we have worked with over the last 15 or more years. Mature cat size will differ from breeder to breeder depending on the focus of their program.

Savannah Cats

The Savannah, a cross between an African Serval and a domestic cat, is a tall, lanky cat with solid spots over a basecoat that can range from warm golden orange to cool silver hues. Occasionally there will be black (melanistic) or white (snow) colorations. Due to their attenuated height and length, Savannahs will appear to be much heavier than they actually are. Most of Select Exotics F1 females, for instance, which range from 14 to 19 pounds, are estimated to weigh 25+ pounds when seen in person.

While the Savannah has existed since the mid-1990’s, most still carry a high percentage of wild blood. Even so, you will find great variety in quality and appearance from breeder to breeder. As each year passes, it seems that more variation in quality is found, especially in the later generations.  

Based on the amount of wild blood, Savannahs are priced from $1,000 to $16,000.  Size and personality/temperament varies from generation to generation.  Following is a breakdown for each.

F1 males are 17 to 25 pounds, standing approximately 16 to 18 inches at the shoulder and 22 to 24 inches from chest to rump. F1 females are 13 to 19 pounds. When compared to the pure Serval or the high percentage Bengals, the F1 Savannahs are quite manageable. They are good with their litter box and won't destroy your house. They will bond with one or two people, being pretty standoffish with everyone else. Not aggressive, but for the most part they won't socialize with children or strangers. When people they don't know visit, they retreat to a back room or launch themselves onto a high place to watch the goings on, but be out reach.

Even those with whom they are bonded, rarely can an F1 be held or contained for very long. They'll want to play with you and expend an amazing amount of energy, but F1 Savannahs are definitely not lap cats. Trips to the vet can be challenging. This can be combated by making at least one trip to the vet to get accustomed to the smells and be “oohed and aawed” over without any negative experience. A positive first experience vet visit will make future trips much less stressful for both the cat and owner. if an F1 is upset them or they are trying to tell you something, occasionally they will opt not to use the litter box. They are also attracted to plastic grocery sacks if left within reach. They can be taught to walk on a harness and most are highly attracted to water, whether it be an outside pond, the garden hose or sprinkler, or your bathtub. 

F1 Savannahs will fall in a $12,000 to $20,000 price range.

The Bengal breed, a cross between the Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic cat, was developed in the early 1980’s. Most available Bengals are “SBT,” which means they are the result of Bengal to Bengal breedings for several generations. The percentage of wild blood in the average Bengal is now approximately six to nine percent. Generally speaking, early generation Bengals are less social. Due to temperament problems, few breeders continue to produce the higher generations.

Bengal quality can vary dramatically. Most range in price from $500 to $1,000. These will have very rich, clear coats with vibrant color and contrast. Some Bengals will have solid spots, but the trend seems to be leaning toward the open spot, or rosette. Outside this price range, you can probably find Bengals in your local paper for as little as $200, but these cats will usually have very faint spotting patterns and ticked coats. On the other end of the price scale, you can find Bengals for $1,500 or more that will be exquisitely marked. 

Bengal females are 7 to 10 pounds, most males falling between 9 and 12 pounds. Average shoulder height for a male is 9 to 11 inches, length is 12 to 14 inches. Although beautiful and wild-looking, Bengals will about the same size as a domestic cat. Occasionally we will hear of a male that reaches 15 to 18 pounds, but this is extremely rare.

The personality of the SBT Bengal is playful, intelligent and affectionate. Some will play fetch and most will play energetically with kitty toys. They are semi-vocal, telling you when they want something, “talking” to you on occasion. They will sit on your lap now-and-then, tolerating being held to some extent. Generally speaking, the higher percentage Bengals are not nearly as social as an SBT. There are always exceptions to the rule, but most F1 to F4 Bengals are much more standoffish than the SBTs. They will want to be around you, but not touched.

Safari Cat

The Safari breed, a cross between the Geoffroy's Cat and a domestic cat, was created in the 1970’s. However, enthusiasm dwindled for a time due to increased restrictions on obtaining the Geoffroy's cat and the difficulties involved in producing Safari kittens. Luckily, the Safari has seen a resurgence in the last five years. Those adopting them agree the Safari is a positive addition to the world of exotic hybrids.   

Coat color can be golden, silver or black with black paw prints or rosettes, usually markings consist of both. Their muscular, compact body type is similar to their wild Geoffroy parent and they have the most exquisite, wild looking broad, blocky head with small, rounded ears, and a wide, blunt nose.  

The F1 females range from approximately 13 to 18 pounds. There are, and have been very few, males in existence. According to reports, two males in the 70’s reached 35 pounds. But in general, most males will weigh between 20 and 25 pounds.

Select Exotics has opted to produce only F1 Safaris at this time since we are delighted with their look and disposition. A few F2 and F3 Safaris do exist, but mostly available for adoption are the F1’s. The F1 Safari personality is exceptional. Safaris are the most affectionate, hands-on, F1 hybrid with which we have ever worked. Not only are they hands-on, but they want to be in your face or on top of your head! They also have a tendency to suckle into adulthood, whether it be on an earlobe or a fingertip. They do, however, have a tendency to use water as a litter box. Most owners have taught them to use the toilet or given them a child’s potty training toilet. Some who have tried to keep their Safaris out of the water find their pet using other places to go to the bathroom. So, if you are thinking about a Safari, keep this in mind.
Prices for the F1’s will generally vary from $6,000 to $15,000.

What is a Safari Cat?

Safari Cat Breed

Stock Credit; iStock

Stock Credit; iStock

The Safari breed is a cross between the Geoffroys cat and a domestic cat. The Safri was started in the 70’s, but died off for a while because of increased restrictions on the Geoffroy cat and the difficulty of producing Safari kittens. The Geoffroys cat is a rugged little powerhouse, whose beautiful, well-defined markings remind some of a small version of the Margay or Ocelot.

Body Type

Their body type is similar to that of their wild parent, the Geoffroy. They are a muscular, more compact cat. They have the most exquisite, wild looking head. They have smaller, rounded ears, a broad, blocky head and a wide, blunt nose. Their markings tend to be paw prints or rosettes and usually consist of both. The size of the F1 females will range from approximately 13 to 18 pounds. There are and have been very few males in existence. There were reports of a couple males in the 70’s reaching 35 pounds. In general, most males will weigh between 20 and 25 pounds.

Chromosome Difference

Combining the 36 chromosomes of the tiny South American Geoffroys cat with the domestic cat's 38 chromosomes, this unique hybrid is an extraordinary cat bearing 37 chromosomes! Astoundingly, the chromosomal oddity results in first generation (50% Geoffroys/50% domestic) Safaris that are considerably larger than either parent. A tiny five to eight pound Geoffroys cat mating with a twelve pound domestic can produce a 25 plus pound male Safari and 12 to 16 pound female.

Add the parental chromosomal differences to gestational variations--the domestic's 65 day gestational period and the Geoffroys' 75 days--and one is guaranteed the Safari will remain the rarest of hybrids since they are very difficult to produce.

First produced in the early 1970's, a limited number of Safaris were bred for Washington State University's leukemia research program and a few more for pets. But the difficulties of producing the Safari were too prohibitive. Only recently have a small number of breeders taken up the challenge to again see a resurgence in this illusive hybrid.

Color & Pattern

Coat color varies, ranging from black, to silver-gray, to a deep orange. All but the melanistic (black) have the white eye spot (ocelli) on the back of each rounded little ear.


Solitary and mostly terrestrial, Geoffroys hunt for rodents, reptiles, birds and insects. Wonderful climbers, when hunting from trees, they sneak up on their prey, dropping from low branches onto their target. In captivity, Geoffroys have been reported to walk upside down along a branch and able to hang by their back feet. Somewhat nocturnal, hunting by night and sleeping in trees by day, their activity patterns can be very flexible, getting out and about during the day as well as at night.  In South America, the Geoffroys relationship to man runs full circle, from companion, to rodent control, to an animal hunted for its meat and pelt.