FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
here to go to Bengal and Mau FAQ)
(scroll down for Savannah Cat breed
Why are they so expensive?
Savannahs are very difficult to breed. It takes several
years and lots of money to purchase and raise a serval
with several queens. Out of these queens few will go
on to produce litters. Savannahs are very rare thus
they are priced accordingly.
How big do they get?
The f1's usually weigh between 15 to 20 lbs. Each subsequent
generation will decrease slightly in size until the
third and fourth generation where the size stabilizes.
They should still have the long body and long legs making
them appear larger than they really are if properly
bred. Ultimately, the size of the later generation savannahs
will depend on the outcrosses used in each generation.
Savannahs are slow to mature, usually taking 3 full
years to reach full size.
What's the difference between a Savannah and a Serval?
A Serval is a 25 to 30 lb. exotic cat originally found
in the Savannah Plains of Africa. The Savannah is a
hybrid of the serval and a domestic cat and has more
domestic qualities than the straight exotic.
Which has a better temperament, a male or female?
Gender makes no difference in their temperament.
Are they lap cats?
NO. Savannahs are extremely active cats, and rarely
enjoy being picked up, carried around, or being restrained
in any way. However, Savannahs are very affectionate
in a manner that is more similar to a friendly loyal
dog breed than a typical cat. They like to sleep in
bed with their owners, they follow their owners around
the house, give headbutts, love to be petted, and especially
love interactive play with their owners.
What does F1, F2, F3 mean?
The F stands for filial generation meaning it is the
sequence of generations following the hybridization
of a serval crossed with a domestic. The number is how
many generations away from the serval it is.
Do they get along well with other animals?
With proper socialization as they are growing up you
will find they will become buddies with all other animals
that do not represent food to them naturally. It is
not recommended that an F1 or F2 savannah be placed
in a home with birds or parrots. These generations might
also be a bit too much for hamsters or gerbils as they
are extremely intelligent could easily figure out how
to open the lid on the habitat.
Do they get along with Kids?
The savannahs seem to instinctively take up with kids.
As with any animal, care should be taken placing any
Savannah in a household with infants or very small children.
Are they destructive?
Cats in general can be destructive depending on how
you train them and what you provide for them to scratch
on or play with. The early generations seem to be rather
high-energy cats. They love to romp and play. You must
provide them with plenty of toys and playmates to prevent
Can they eat cat food?
Yes, they are considered domestic cats and eat the premium
cat foods on the market.
Do they need inoculations like other cats?
Kittens should receive their first veterinary visit
and set of vaccines by 8 weeks of age. They should be
isolated from all outdoor cats and those not current
on their vaccines until they are at least 14 weeks and
after their last set of vaccines. It is wise to have
household pets tested for feline leukemia before bringing
home the new kitten (if they have not been tested previously)
and brought up to date on their shots.
Veterinarians will have different vaccination schedules
and different states have different requirements for
rabies shots. Kittens should be tested for internal
parasites (worms) and dewormed if indicated especially
if there are young children in the house as roundworms
can be passed to children through the cats feces.
NEVER give a cat ANY medication that has not been prescribed
by a veterinarian. Cats may not metabolize medications
the same way people and dogs do and may react poorly
to them. Tylenol can actually be fatal to a cat within
hours and aspirin can also be fatal unless dosed by
Kittens are like other babies....they do not tolerate
dehydration, vomiting or not eating for long. If your
kitten is playful and appears normal but has vomited
once or had diarrhea call the vet for consultation during
office hours but if your kitten is lethargic you may
want to call an emergency center.
Also, kittens do not tolerate sudden food changes and
even a different flavor of the same brand of food may
cause a digestive upset.
Fleas and ticks can happen in any household especially
if there is an outdoor dog. Be VERY CAREFUL what you
put on your kitten....a veterinary prescribed product
is safest and do not use products for your dog that
can harm cats. (Even being in the same house with a
dog treated with a toxic product can affect the cat)
Some over the counter flea products for cats can cause
very toxic reactions.
What colors/patterns do Savannahs come in?
Our registry, TICA, recognizes the spotted pattern in
the colors brown spotted tabby, silver spotted tabby,
black and black smoke (the black and black smoke display
the spotting pattern however the spots are not acknowledged
in the color). Savannah's are produced in other colors
and some have the classic pattern due to the outcrosses
that were used. These non-standard colors and patterns
may be registered but not shown.
What is their life span?
Many domestic cats live as long as 15 plus years. Servals
have been known to live as long as 17-20 years. There
is no reason to believe that the Savannah cats
longevity would be any less, especially in light of
hybrid vigor that usually results from crossing
Do they like water?
Many pure domestic cats find a fascination with water.
It is believed it to be the highly active cats that
tend to want to play in water thus many of the savannah's
do find pleasure playing in water. The serval loves
to play in water so it only comes natural for a Savannah
to enjoy it too.
Are they 'trainable' like a dog?
Savannahs are highly intelligent and can be trained
to do many things. They are not as versatile with their
tricks as a dog. They can be taught to walk on a leash,
sit, lie down, take their mark, and jump through a hoop,
fetch, and other simple tricks.
Are males bigger than females?
The male kittens in most litters are generally larger
than their female littermates.
Can Savannahs be shown at a cat show?
Savannahs are not eligible to compete for Championship
points. However, they can be shown in Preliminary New
Breed classes as a way of introducing the breed to the
TICA judges and to the public. In the coming years,
we hope our breed will advance to, first, Advanced
New Breed, and ultimately, to Championship status.
Can they be leash trained?
Savannah's love to walk on a leash and they learn easily.
Should you allow a Savannah to wander freely outside?
Absolutely not, and for several reasons. The danger
of being run over is very real for a cat on the street.
There is a chance the Savannah could wander into a yard
and that person may decide to keep it or there could
be a dog there that could maul or kill it. If you live
in a rural area, there are several wild animals that
will take a cat's life not to mention that it might
get lost and not come home.
How high can they jump?
They will most likely be able to jump as high as the
highest place in your home is. It may take a leap or
two but they will get there.
Do they climb fences (like chain link)?
Yes, they can climb almost any type fence.
Do sterile males need to be fixed?
Yes, the sterile males will need to be fixed around
5 months of age. Although they are sterile they still
have the male hormones and will most likely start to
spray and mark their territory.
How old are they when they can go to a new home?
A kitten should have at lease ONE vaccination before
it leaves for its new home. This will give a minimal
protection for the kitten when it undergoes the stress
of moving to a new environment. Since kittens
immune system is not really functional until eight weeks
of age AND it does little good to vaccinate while the
kitten is still nursing, the first vaccination should
not be given prior to eight-nine weeks of age. It is
then advisable to wait two weeks in order to ensure
the kitten has had enough time to build the antibodies
from the vaccination. This puts the kitten at 10-12
weeks of age before it is ready to go home.
What of litter box habits do they have? Does it
vary between generations?
Kittens that are raised by their Moms generally
have little to no difficulties using the litter boxes.
Kittens that are bottle fed should be placed in a small
room with other kittens who will teach the new kitten
all about hygiene. The breeder should do this prior
to placing the kitten in its new home. This is another
reason why kittens should not go to their new homes
until they are 10-12 weeks of age. Small kittens should
be confined to a small room, or sometimes a cage, until
their litter habits are perfected and they remember
where the litter box is. Of course, as with ANY cat,
there is ALWAYS the chance that an individual cat may
refuse to use a litter box. There are many reasons for
this, but they are almost always environmental.
What kinds of toys are safe for a Savannah kitten/cat
to play with?
Always look over the toys before purchasing them. Make
sure they are very tough and sturdy toys. Remove any
glued on parts such as eyes on a mouse (the kittens
could care less if their mouse has eyes or not). The
little open type plastic balls with bells inside them
can be easily destroyed with one bite leaving the bells.
The bells are just the right size to be swallowed by
a kitten and this will make the kitten sick. Rabbits
feet are natural and the kittens are naturally drawn
to it making it a rather safe toy. Small tennis balls
are also very sturdy and fun. Variety will keep them
Will these cats really open doors cabinets and drawers?
It seems the early generations, the f1's and f2's, are
well known for being able to open cabinet doors. They
can open any leaver door as they learn very quickly.
Not that many have the knack of turning a door knob
though. Many can even open drawers.
Do any cat breed registries currently recognize
Currently the only international cat registry that accepts
the Savannah for registration and show is The International
Cat Association (TICA) although SIMBA has a committee
that is working on acceptance in two other international
registries at this moment.
Do you need a permit to own a Savannah?
Every state is different. In fact, even in states where
no permit is required by State law, some localities
require permits, and some outlaw the hybrids altogether.
Therefore, it is imperative that one check with local,
county AND state authorities BEFORE buying a hybrid
cat of ANY kind. (For instance, Bengals are illegal
in Denver, even though Colorado allows them)
Are there any known breed specific health risks/problems?
With any breed of cat as with any individual, you may
find a certain cat or kitten that has a cold or a disease
however, in general, the Savannah cats and kittens are
very healthy and there are no known, breed-specific,
diseases or afflictions to date.
Do you need to childproof the home?
Absolutely! All babies and especially inquisitive kittens
can get into trouble. You should keep a kitten in a
small safe room until it is perfect in the litter box.
Meanwhile check your home for safety. Kittens can ingest
small objects such as rubber bands, string, tiny plastic
objects, coins, parts of toys, and small rubber objects.
Look for holes that kittens can fit in such as uncovered
floor vents. They love to crawl behind dressers and
desks and into drawers. Check for poisonous plants and
heavy objects that could fall on them. Put away precious
knickknacks or secure them. Kittens can chew on electrical
cords and die or have severe mouth damage from the shock.
Cover them or run them through PVC pipe. Check for human
medications that may have spilled on the floor. They
can be deadly. Remove any poisons especially mouse bait.
Put lids down on toilets and be careful with full bathtubs.
Watch for hanging drape cords as playing kittens can
strangle in them. Rocking and lounge chairs pose a big
hazard as kittens can be injured easily by the mechanisms.
As your kitten grows watch out for the hot stove and
easy to open cupboards. Sneaking out the door is something
to watch for and be careful closing any door as they
like to run through them. Some kittens never seem to
get into trouble and others are always into things but
attention to safety issues will give you peace of mind
no matter your kitten's personality.
How do I go about acquiring my kitten?
First....Decide what type of kitten will best suit your
family environment. (Do you want a high energy kitten
or one that is more laid back?) Decide what your budgetary
constraints are. Decide whether you are willing to pick
up your kitten in person, or if it will be necessary
to have your kitten shipped to you.
Next....call the breeder(s) and determine which breeders
have kittens available that meet your requirements (as
If the breeder(s) you wish to purchase from do not
have kittens available, decide if you are willing to
place your name on their waiting list, or if you would
rather alter your requirements in order to be able to
purchase your kitten sooner.
If you DO decide to place your name on a breeder's
waiting list, and then ultimately purchase from a different
breeder, please have the courtesy to notify the first
breeder of your decision so that they can remove your
name from their list and give your position on their
list to the next in line.
Once you determine that your breeder of choice has
an available kitten, request a copy of that breeder's
purchase agreement. READ IT CAREFULLY. Ask any questions
you may have, and obtain any clarifications that are
needed UP FRONT!
When you have agreed upon the terms of purchase, give
that breeder a deposit to hold your kitten. (Most breeders
will not hold a kitten without a deposit.) If, for any
reason, your situation changes and you are NOT able
to take he kitten agreed upon, notify the breeder AT
ONCE! Failure to do so may result in forfeiture of your
deposit and/or legal ramifications, if the breeder has
turned away other buyers for that kitten.
Make sure you understand the deposit agreement BEFORE
you decide to purchase a kitten. Buying a Savannah is,
not only a big monetary investment, but is a life long
commitment to the care and welfare of that kitten, as
well. Be sure you are willing to take on this life-long
commitment BEFORE you assume the financial commitment.
Are there waiting lists?
These kittens can be high in demand so one may not be
available immediately. You may have to go on a waiting
list or contact several breeders to find a kitten. Some
breeders may require a deposit to go on their wait list.
What is the average length of time to wait for a
It often depends on what generation kitten you are interested
in. For example, for an F1 male a waiting list of 12
months is not unusual. For an F2 male you may be lucky
enough to find one available, or have to wait for a
few months until the next litter is born. This wait
would also be dependent upon your specificity. If you
want a kitten from a specific pairing, of course your
wait might be a lot longer than if you were on several
breeders wait lists for any kitten!
Why has the Savannah been called the 'Most Desired'
Many people dream of sharing their lives with an exotic
cat, but due to laws prohibiting them, in addition to
very few of us having the proper space and facilities
to keep a wild cat, our dreams would go unfulfilled,
if it were not for this magnificent breed. The Savannah
breed allows us to share our lives with a feline that
encompasses the best of both worlds
.all the majesty,
grace and beauty of the wild cat without the undesirable
traits usually associated with owning a full blooded
Much like other high-energy domestic breeds, the Savannah
cat thrives in a home environment. They are intelligent,
affectionate, and quite dog-like in their behavior and
interaction with members of the family. They are very
social animals, by nature, and bond quickly to humans
and pets. They are self confident and curious creatures,
with a warm and loving personality.
The beauty, grace and intelligence of the Savannah,
coupled with their warm, affectionate personality account
for the Savannah cat being referred to as the
most desired new breed.
Lastly, due to the overwhelming popularity of this
breed and the limited number of kittens produced annually,
it is very important to note that, in general, Savannah
Breeders consider their kittens very precious, and many
have adopted a screening process to qualify prospective
buyers. As it is part of the Breeders responsibility
to assure that the kitten you select is well matched
to you and your living situation, please do not feel
offended if at some part in your search, one or more
breeders request a wealth of personal information from
While not all breeders will require this, you should
be prepared to submit a written description to your
breeder detailing your lifestyle and type of home you
can provide, including information regarding your family,
age of children, age and type of existing pets, space
available for play, time spent away from the home working,
etc. You should also provide your veterinarians
credentials and include a telephone number where he
or she can be reached for additional comment and a personal
Savannah Myths and Other Useful Information
as provided by
SAVANNAH CAT RESCUE
Myth #1 All Savannahs are HUGE!!!
This is an unfortunate falsehood spread by some websites
and uninformed &/or less-than-honest people.
Savannah size can vary from close to the very tall
Serval ancestor to the more average domestic cat height.
The most consistently large generation is of course
the F1 generation as it has the Serval parent contributing
half their genetic make up. Interestingly though, some
of the tallest Savannahs around are F2 generation, but
the range of sizes in the F2 generation is more variable.
There are some pretty nice-sized F3s but further on
most Savannahs of lower generations (and that is the
MAJORITY of the Savannah population) are simply taller
and longer than the average domestic.
Of course most breeders have produced a nice big Savannah
and if we all wished to do so we could take a picture
of that tall cat walking with a petite toddler and photograph
it so that the cat was walking in front hence exaggerating
this cats size
but most Savannah breeders
feel it is more ethical not to create such a false image
of our breed. This unfair impression of the breeds
size leads to buyer disappointment, and sometimes I
fear the expectation of size can lead to the new owner
not valuing the other great traits of their Savannah
(exotic looks and great personality) because they are
upset because it is not the Labrador-sized kitty they
were dreaming of.
Myth #2 Savannahs are wild and dangerous!!!
For many people, wild equates with feral,
they figure that the exotic cat heritage must express
in a cat like a Savannah as aggression and dominance.
This is simply not true.
The African Serval is known to be one of the most domesticatable
of the exotic cats, the reason it is more commonly kept
as a housepet than most other wild cats. Savannah Rescue
does NOT recommend this at all, it is still a wild cat
and as such unpredictable and not easy to live with.
But the fact remains that it is more gregarious and
interactive with humans than most other wild cats. And
most importantly it doesnt view the human as prey.
So by crossing this exotic cat with a domestic cat we
do not get an F1 Savannah that is difficult to handle,
antisocial or dangerous. We get a very high energy,
interactive, housepet that although more suited to some
pet households than others, makes a wonderful loving
pet for many.
It is Savannah Rescues opinion that F2 and onwards
are the better pets, F1s are more intense and more determined
to have their own way than most cats and therefore take
a more experienced and prepared household. Much like
not all people should have certain dog breeds, I would
counsel one about deciding on a Beagle as pet for example.
I love my beagle, but hes a lot of hard work!
Myth #3 Asheras are Not Savannahs
Although presented by Lifestyle Pets Inc as a distinct
proprietary blend of Serval, Bengal and domestic cats,
the three Ashera cats that were confiscated at Schiphol
Airport in Amsterdam were definitively determined to
be F1 Savannahs bred by Chris Shirk of Cutting Edge
Savannahs from his Serval and his Egyptian Mau female.
It seems that Asheras were indeed Savannahs marketed
heavily for an exceedingly inflated pricetag. Buyer
beware, do your research!
Myth #4 All Savannahs are Super-Expensive
Yes, the early generations of Savannahs are expensive.
They are difficult to produce and a lot of work goes
into them. The later generations, the F4s and F5s are
a different situation. Being mainly domestic (an F5A
is theoretically 97% domestic heritage for example)
they are just as easy to produce and raise as a domestic
cat. Therefore you just might see lower generation Savannahs
offered for the same prices as many domestic cat breeds
possibly by the same kinds of lower-quality breeders
for cut-rate pricing. If a Savannah is offered for very
very little money, there just might be a reason for
it! Thats not to say that if a cat is priced very
high it must be of good quality of course. Theres
extremes both ways, and people that advertise supreme
branding that are outrageously priced are as much to
be avoided. Always do your research and ask questions
about why a kitten is priced high or low.
Myth #5 Savannahs Need to Have a Raw Meat
Savannahs do not require any care that another domestic
cat breed doesnt also need. Savannah breeders
recommend a high quality diet of course, but it doesnt
have to be raw meat.
Sure there are Savannah breeders that prefer to feed
their cats a raw diet, but there are also Birman, Ocicat
and Tonkinese cat breeders that do the same and swear
their cats are healthier for this diet. Its easy
to assume that these things must be true due to the
wild heritage of the Savannah.
Myth #6 Savannahs Cannot Be Around Small Children
Along with the assumption that because they have wild
heritage then they must be dangerous, some folk assume
they must be kept in cages and away from other pets
and small children. The reality is that Savannahs are
no different from any high energy domestic cat breed,
and all small children should be supervised around pets.
Children can move and act unpredictably, they can decide
to see how soft a cats eyes might be if they poked
them, or how hard they can pull the tail before they
get a reaction
all things that might get a child
scratched when the kitty is startled. A Savannah is
unlikely to be at all different in this case, therefore
we recommend children are supervised around all pets
and taught to interact properly.
Most Savannahs live in houses not only with humans
but with other pets, in particular other cats and dogs.
They do very well with dogs, maybe as they tend to be
on the more confident outgoing end of cat personalities.
Like most cats though, they think fish tanks and mice
cages are toys, and would love to get into their toy
and play more directly. Therefore we recommend that
all those kinds of pets are kept in very secure accommodations,
and possibly with a door between them and the kitty
when not supervised.
Myth #7 Savannahs are Super-Predators
The Australian Government passed a ban on Savannahs
due to an ill-researched report gleaned
from online sources, none of those sources actually
included Savannah breeders nor cat judges that had some
experience with the breed. They believed a few sensational
websites that claim outrageous sizes for their Savannahs,
and put that together with a presumed innately superior
hunting ability and came up with a super-predator
that would climb their trees and kill endandgered koalas.
Laughable though it seemed to those of us that live
with these cats, this ban passed! Due to this action,
many people now claim that the Savannah is indeed some
sort of superior predator cat, yet no actual proof has
ever been presented to back up such a claim. The Savannah
is high energy therefore likely to be enthusiastic,
yet being an indoor pet is no more likely to be efficient
as a hunter than any other domestic cat.
Myth #8 ALL Savannahs Love Water
Servals hunt in creek beds, they will hunt for small
fish and frogs. Therefore there is the assumption that
all Savannahs are going to inherit a love of water.
This is not true, just like because your grandfather
or great great grandfather was an Olympic athlete does
not mean you will be breaking any world track records.
It does however seem that a lot of Savannahs are comfortable
with water in a way that most domestic cats are not.
They may still not be impressed when you dunk them in
a bath, but they may join you in the shower to bat at
the spray and they may get under the tap in the bathroom
making it impossible to wash your face easily at night.
How much of this is due to Serval and how much is due
to them being a highly interactive and enthusiastic
personality breed, I dont know. In any case, when
you get your Savannah kitten, dont assume it will
enjoy being thrown into a full bathtub. Run the tap
and see how interested your kitten is
water lukewarm in temperature and inviting. Run a bath
with a couple of inches and throw in some ice cubes
or bath toys. It can be very amusing, but only if your
particular kitty enjoys water sports!
Myth #9 Savannahs are Hypoallergenic
This particular myth is not confined to the Savannah,
Ive read this about the Bengal also. Im
not sure if this is because some think that there is
wild cat heritage therefore this would mean hypoallergenicity.
Or else the fact that these are both low-shedding breeds
of cat might mean that people tend to react less to
them than other cats and assume it is hypoallergenicity.
If you are allergic to cats, be very careful! There
is no substantiated data on these cats and allergies.
You may have less reaction, it most likely depends on
what triggers your allergies and what threshold you
have to that allergen.
Myth #10 Savannahs Need Special Housing
This comes back to the wild heritage, people
assume this means the Savannah is unpredictable hence
cannot live in a house like a regular domestic cat.
This is simply not true. Every generation from F1 through
F100 is suitable to live in a house. Savannahs may not
be suitable for every house, their energy and exuberance
may make living in a house with a lot of breakable antique
vases a bad fit. We as breeders and rescuers sometimes
suggest Savannah-Proofing as something similar
to toddler-proofing a house from floor to ceiling but
mainly as a way for you to keep your valuables safe
and intact while you work out just how klutzy your Savannah
might be and just how much fun your belongings might
be to them.
Myth #11 Savannahs Need an Exotic Animal Veterinarian
Many websites state that Savannahs need special veterinary
attention; only killed vaccines, no ketamine, etc and
many assume that the same vet that treats exotic cats
is going to understand a Savannah better. In reality,
many domestic cat breeders also advocate only killed
vaccines and to avoid ketamine as an anesthetic. The
only difference between the average domestic and a Savannah
is really that they look wild and hence
a vet that has never met one before might be worried
and extra-cautious, while a vet that treats wild cats
on a regular basis wouldnt give them a second