The Worlds Tallest Domestic Cat Breed
Savannah Cats are a spotted domestic cat breed started in the 1980's. Developed to give the impression of grandeur and dignity of an wild cat with a cheetah type appearance, expressive eyes highlighted by dark tear stains, vibrant coat colors, solid contrasting black spots, huge sonar-like ears and long legs. Since 2006 they have held the Guinness Book World Record for the world's tallest domestic cat.
Breed Standard calls for all traits to mimic those of it's ancestor the African Serval. The goal of the breed is to obtain a well rounded temperament yet wild-looking breed that makes a suitable alternative to a exotic pet. Poorly developed bloodlines can be mistaken for Bengal Cats, which have an opposite body structure to the Savannah.
- Lifespan: 12-20 years
- Weight: 12-25 pounds
- Exercise: Medium/High
- Hypoallergenic: No
Exercise is required, energy level is medium to high. Exercise combined with socialization is an extremely important part of a kitten's training into adulthood. Exposure to friendly atmospheres with positive reinforcement work best.
Health Issues are not specific to the breed at this time. Genetic testing is crucial to avoid development of breed specific ailments long term. Reproduction is very difficult and fertility rates are low. Litters average 1 to 3 kittens. Intact cats are often infertile due to genetics. Intact cats are extremely selective, pairing only with those it is raised with from kitten-hood. Gestation periods of the serval is 10 days longer than domestic cat, meaning F1 & F2s are immensely hard to produce. Savannah Cats do not require any specialty health care. They will visit a regular veterinarian for routine feline health maintenance.
High Intelligence combined with being naturally curious gets them into mischievous. Due to high intelligence, curiosity and high energy needs they are best suited with active owners.
Temperament is outstanding when properly socialized. The feline version to a dog, ideal for owners who want to avoid extra canine requirements. Actively seeking social interaction, given to pout if left out. Remaining kitten-like through life. Profoundly loyal to immediate family members, questioning the presence of strangers. Making excellent companions that are loyal, intelligent and eager to be involved. Demonstrated by the ability to learn simple to complex commands.
Nutrition requirements are those of the average domestic cat. They do not require a raw meat diet, however a balanced raw meat diet is the most nutritional diet available. Working with your veterinarian and/or breeder is the best way to determine frequency of meals as a kitten and the best adult diet to increase longevity. Fresh water should be available at all times.
Colors of the Savannah Cat are brown, silver, black and smoke. Acceptable colors are those that mimic the African Serval. The most common variation of the African Serval is a buttery gold color with solid jet black spots. Gold is a shade of brown so it is correctly registered as a brown spotted tabby (BST).
- Brown Spotted Tabby = Aguoti Cat (A-)
- Silver Spotted Tabby = Aguoti Cat (A-) + Inhibitor gene
- Black = Non-Aguoti Cat (AA)
- Smoke = Non-Aguoti Cat (AA) + Inhibitor gene
Eyes should be medium sized and set underneath a slightly hooded brow. The top of the eye resembles a boomerang, which is set at an exact angle so that the corner of the eye slopes down the line of the nose. The bottom half of the eye has an almond shape. The eyes are moderately deep set, low on the forehead, and are consistent with facial symmetry. Tear stain markings are present along and between the eyes and the nose. All eye colors are allowed and are independent of coat color.
Ears should resemble those of the Serval Cat. Serval Cats have the largest ears of all felines, and largest ears in relationship to head size of any cat. As a result, the Savannah Cat's ears are remarkably large and high on the head. They are wide with a deep base. They should be upright and have rounded tips. The outside base of the ear should start no lower on the head than at the height of the eyes, but may be set higher. The inside base of the ears is set close at the top of the head, ideally vertical parallel lines can be drawn from the inner corner of the eyes up to the inner base of ears. Pronounced ocelli ear markings are desirable.
Head should be broad, modified wedge with rounded contuers. The head should be longer than it is wide. The anterior view of the face should present a distinct and symmetric triangular shape. The nose is long with a small chin. It is preferred for the head to have the “l l” marking rather than “M” marking, although this is not in the breed standard.
Pattern is solid dark spots which can be round or oval flowing across the body and should not be connected. A series of parallel stripes, from the back of the head to just over the shoulder blades fan out slightly over the back. Smaller spots may be found on the legs and feet, as well as on the face. The coat is dense short hair that can be coarse or soft in texture.
Generations represent a number of pairings removed from an exotic ancestor. Generations are important to breeders because stud males are not fertile until F6 or further removed. The F1 generation is the foundation of the breed (Serval x Domestic). All other generations are subsequent pairing of a Savannah male pairing to a Savannah female.
- F1 Savannah Cat
- F2 Savannah Cat
- F3 Savannah Cat
- F4 Savannah Cat
- F5 Savannah Cat
- F6 Savannah Cat
Bottle Feeding of cats of certain generations with high exotic heritage ensures the best temperament. Bottle feeding at minim is four weeks around the clock care. Bottle feeding is required in the first generation due to slight prematurity and high exotic content. The domestic cat pregnancy is around 63 days and the serval pregnancy of around 74 days, resulting in some kittens being slightly premature requiring specialty care during the first few weeks. This complex process results in higher prices due to time and skill level. It is important to note that any cat breed not provided proper socialization will result in maladjusted social habits.
Hybrid Infertility is when a hybrid cross can not reproduce. Joyce Sroufe, the founder of the breed, retained all generations attempting to get fertile males. Joyce Sroufe was unsuccessful until five generations removed, her pairings were all out-crosses that resulted in little exotic content. In theory this content needs to be 10% or less. As the breed progresses pairing become higher content resulting in males further removed to retain fertility. If a higher content male is found fertile often they have small litters and becomes sterile over a short period of time (Often within a year of proven fertility).
Leash Training often is tried with success on Savannah Cats. Leash training on a harness is possible with Savannah Cats. Walk on a leash with a harness does take practice and patience. In fact Savannah Cats are so intelligent that potential owners should make sure they have the time to provide proper mental stimulation.
Allergies still happen around Savannah Cats even though they are lower-shedding breed of cat. No cat breed is truly hypoallergenic. People with allergies tend to react less however no scientific data supports hypoallergenic cat breeds. Most allergy sufferer are allergic to the protein found in cat saliva not hair, so they are allergic to all felines.
Lifespan of domestic cats can live up to 15 years, typically 10-12 years. Serval Cats live up to 20 years. Savannah cats can live 12-20 years depending on heritage from the Serval Cat. It is proven that cats who eat a properly balanced raw meat mixture will have a better chance at a longer life.
Size of Savannah Cats is often exaggerated because they are taller, thinner framed and longer bodied than the most domestic cats. This taller body type gives the illusion of more weight. Weight depends on individual bloodline. Weight can range between 12-25 pounds.
Price is based off conformation to the breed standard, temperament, demand and scarcity. When a Savannah Cat has traits inline with the breed standard they are of higher value as a pet or breeder. Breeders are obligated as TICA registered members to provide registration papers, age appropriate vaccinations and retain kittens until the age of 10-14 weeks, which is costly. The basic rearing cost of a registered pedigree kitten results in adoption prices over $1,200 (This goes for all pedigree cat breeds). F1 & F2 generations have very small litters once a year, sometimes going long periods without birthing. This drives up the adoption cost of those generations.
- F1 Savannah Cat
- Pairings extremely difficult, very low fertility, small litters
- Price: $17,000 - $22,000
- F2 Savannah Cats
- Pairings difficult, low fertility, small litters
- $6,000 - $10,000
- Lower Generations (F3-F6)
- Pairings standard, medium fertility, moderate litters
- $1,200 - $4,000
Legal requirement do have to be consider in some USA states. Savannah Cats sometimes get caught in ban bills due to lose wording meant to prevent the ownership of larger exotic pets. Often these ban bills get correct over time and proper education being provided to officials. Thanks to Diana Paige in her efforts as a TICA registered breeder we have hybrid law which details such legal implications: www.hybridlaw.com
Ancestor of the Savannah Cat is the African Serval Cat. This wild felines have been breed actively in captivity since the 1920's but are not domesticated fully. African Serval Cats are double the cost to maintain daily and will not use a litter-box completely. Have no fear for all the desirable traits have proven to show in the first generation without the undesired traits. These desirable traits and exotic looks are why most owner of African Serval Cat convert to owning a Savannah Cat. Majority of Savannah Cats have less than 10% possible exotic heritage. Savannah Cat can use a litter-box, see a regular veterinarian and has many domestic traits not found in Serval Cats. We have compiled a rare look at historical depictions of Serval Cats dating back to the 1400's, see below pictures.
Is A Savannah Cat Right For You?
It may comes as a surprise that the majority of Savannah Cat Owners don't purchase for exotic looks. Rather they typically seek a pet with a combination of traits that the Savannah Cat has to offer. If you seek the following traits, then a Savannah Cat might be purr-fect;
- Use a Litter-Box (Dogs need to be let outside)
- High/Medium Energy Level
- High Intelligence
*Visit our "Basic Care" page for more information*