Savannah cat care – The hybrid breed

Cats Human Classroom

This magnificent cat attracts the attention of many people for its great appearance and for being the tallest domestic cat in the world. Due to his ancestry, you have these exotic features that make him a unique cat, apart from having a very loving, active, and playful personality, many people compare the Savannah cat as a dog because he acts like them but they are more independent. It is a cat that has a high monetary value and you have many restrictions to have it, even in some countries they are not allowed to import them. If you are interested in the savannah cat, I invite you to read on.

History

Unlike many other ancient breeds, the savannah is a very recent breed. In the United States on April 7, 1986, the first Savannah kitten was born by being sired among a domestic cat with the African serval (Leptailurus serval) which is a feline that comes from the savannah of sub-Saharan Africa. This first kitten is the first to be registered and was named as the F1 or F1 savannah kitten, meaning first-generation, and was called both this feline and the breed with the name Savannah due to the place of origin where the serval cat is found. This breed at the beginning was a bit controversial because many people are against creating cats by means of wild cats just for the idea of creating a domestic cat with their appearance, but at the same time, this hybrid attracted the attention of many American breeders. Especially Patrick Kelly who when he found out about the Savannah cat decided that he wanted to develop this breed together with another breeder called Joyce Sroufe, who he persuaded to join him, and together they established the first Breed Standard before The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2001. The savannah breed was finally accepted to participate in the championship status by TICA in 2012.

The generations of this breed is an important factor to take into consideration and more so because of its closeness to its serval parent. The savannah are categorized by their bloodline or generation as follows: 

  • F1 Savannah Cat
  • F2 Savannah Cat
  • F3 Savannah Cat
  • F4 Savannah Cat or Purebred Savannah cat

The F1 represents the first Savannah cat born, later the F2 being sons of the F1, and F3 being grandchildren of the F1, and so on. This cat cannot be crossed with any other cat breed, and so after F4 all following generations are classified as Purebred. TICA requires that to enter in cat championships they must be from F4 or later since they must be as far away from their wild ancestor as possible, and have the category of being a domestic cat.

This breed has many legal restrictions in some states of the United States, because they consider the savannah to be part of the range of exotic pets, and yet in the allowed states, it must meet a series of requirements and guidelines that they need to adopt this feline through the State Department of Agriculture. The states that have restricted the savannah cat breed are Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, New York, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Hawaii. It is also known that in Australia this hybrid is forbidden to import because it can be an invasive species that can affect the preservation of local fauna. 

Characteristics

This exotic cat inherited from the African serval many physical traits that make it attract a lot of attention but maintains the charm of being a domestic cat. This breed has a long life expectancy between 12 and 20 years, because they enjoy good health for many years as long as they are given the care they deserve. One of the characteristics that have amazed the world this feline is that since 2006 they have held the Guinness Book World Record to the tallest domestic cat in the world measuring about 19.05 in, but on average they get to measure between about 14 or 17 in and get to weigh between 12 and 25 pounds, the male savannah cat tends to be bigger than the female. The body of the savannah cat is long, elegant, slender and athletic. Their face is triangular, the nose is long with a small chin, their ears are big and straight, they are also wide with a deep triangular base with rounded tips, this trait is inherited from the serval since it is the wild cat with the biggest ears, also another cat with similar ears is the Oriental Shorthair. A unique trait they also inherited is that on the back of their ear they have patterns called ocelli marks that served the purpose of scaring away predators. Their eyes are almond-shaped where the entrance of the eyes from the middle is slightly tilted downwards with an exotic look and a black border around the eyes, the common colors are brown, gold, or green, but other colors can also be accepted.  Their limbs are long and thin but agile, with a medium-length and fine tail. 

The coat of this hybrid undoubtedly emphasizes that of a wild cat, its coat is dense and short that can have a soft texture, the colors and patterns of the savannah cat are brown spotted tabby, silver spotted tabby, black, and smoke. The patterns of its body begin with parallel stripes that go from the back of the head to slightly to the back, in the rest of the body there are dark points that can be round or oval, also smaller spots can be found in the face, legs, and feet.

Personality

Depending on which generation your pet is, the temperament of your savannah cat will be determined, the farther away from the F1 the less wild they will be and the more they will have the qualities of a domesticated cat. 

In spite of having a wild look, this feline has a very loving and playful personality, they get along very well with people and more if they had positive socialization ever since they are a kitten, more so they are attached to their owners and create unique bonds with them. In addition to this, they get along very well with children and other pets like dogs and cats, although they can be a bit territorial because of their natural instinct. It is not a lap cat, but they will seek to demonstrate their love in their own way, whether it is by chasing you, giving you certain strokes or greeting you at the door. The savannah cat is a very intelligent spotted cat, so much so that they compare it with dogs since you can teach them from kittens to use a leash with a harness and go out for long walks, taking into account their origin they are very curious and active, a fact that you should consider because they are felines that require time to do activities. It is known for jumping in trees or very high places, as it likes to jump a lot and being very agile can reach heights over 2 meters, also inside the house you can put some shelves on the wall of different levels that allows you to move without problems. 

Because they are active you can interact with game sessions that allow you to stimulate or play intelligence games so that it has good mental development. As he has a great hunting instinct don’t be surprised if you see him running after a rodent or a bird. Compared to other domestic breeds, the Savannah cat loves water, jumping in puddles, and swimming. If you are an active person who likes to go out, take long walks, and look for a companion for a long time, undoubtedly the savannah will be your choice as a pet owner.

Care & Health

Savannah’s coat care is easy to maintain and only requires weekly brushing to remove dead hair and stimulate the skin’s natural oils. As this cat is a water lover, as long as he is used to it since a new kitten, you will not have any problem at the time of bathing him, on the contrary, you will enjoy it and have a good time. I recommend you to use natural shampoos free of chemicals that can harm him for a long time. To maintain a colorful, beautiful, and healthy coat, the best thing you can do is to feed it a good diet and give it natural food with a high content of Omega 3 or you can also get high quality feeds that have a high percentage of fatty acids.

You should also be careful to clean his eyes but using gauze with an ophthalmic cleaner recommended by your vet, to avoid possible diseases such as conjunctivitis or other eye discomforts. Always check their ears and keep them clean using special cat cleaners and avoid hurting them as they are sensitive in the ears. You should also maintain a good oral hygiene in your savannah cat and accustomed since kitten so you do not have problems as an adult, use a toothbrush and toothpaste special for cats, this way you will avoid that he gets to suffer from oral diseases.

Exercise is something very important in this breed as I mentioned before, because they have a lot of energy and are very active, they should be stimulated or given the freedom to move and spend their energies. They can have access to a safe yard and have fun in their own way. Also in this way, you will be preventing your cat from developing obesity. Due to its size, this cat requires a lot of space, so you should take this into consideration, as it could develop stress patterns due to lack of enough movement. To make your pet comfortable indoors you can also give him a particular room to have fun and do what he likes, and you can put a cat tree or window hangers that are sold in pet stores with different levels so that he can climb or rest whenever he wants, making him feel that it is his own space. If you like your cat to stay indoors more, don’t forget to give it a sandbox to relieve itself and keep it clean every day, once you feel it has a bad smell you should change it for a new one.

As this is a very recent breed, it is difficult to determine if they can suffer from any genetic disease, also in these years, the savannah cat has proven to be a cat that has good health and does not suffer from pathologies.  Despite this, because it is a hybrid cat, it can have different health problems than a normal cat, for example, it can have a smaller liver, so you must be careful when you give it medication. Your vet must also notice this and will recommend the best for your cat. It has also been shown that some of the first generations can be infertile, especially males. When cats are pregnant they are at risk of premature births, as the normal time for cats is 60 days and for Serval 75 days, so you should be very aware of this and more if you are going to breed this cat. It has also been noted that Savannah cats have resistance to anesthesia and should use anesthetics that are for exotic or hybrid cats.

To also maintain good health, you should visit your vet at least twice a year for check-ups and rule out any type of illness, be up to date with your vaccination schedule, and have your pet dewormed both externally and internally.

Feeding

Savannah doesn’t tend to tolerate industrial or processed food, so you can try them with high-quality food to see if they can handle it, but if they can’t choose a raw or natural food, you must make sure they eat all the necessary nutrients, especially their proteins, so they can develop good energy and have good growth and health. Also their feeding will be based on their lifestyle, age, and activities, be sure you can always ask your vet what kind of food is the best for your pet. You must also control the rations and be aware of how he processes his food to avoid gastric problems. An excellent way to know which food is right for him is to see the shine of his coat. You must always be attentive to leave him clean water within his reach and keep him well hydrated. 

Breeding

Once you have decided to have a Savannah Cat as a pet, the first thing you have to do is get informed about this animal, everything about its breeding, care, feeding, and lifestyle. Then you should look for a reputable breeder who is registered in an association and has all its legal documentation. The Savannah cat price can be a few thousand dollars,  depending on which generation it is and only if they are pure breed, if you think that the price is a little high, don’t resort to buying one that is at a low cost because you won’t have the security of their breeding and they can be lying to you. One thing to keep in mind is that you should make sure that it is best to be a fourth-generation cat or following generations, as mentioned before, this will ensure that the behavior and temperament of your kitten are the same as a domestic cat. Also, a poorly developed bloodline of savannahs can be mistaken for Bengal cats, even if they have a different body structure, this is why you should be very informed about this breed.

By the time you decide to make this investment, your breeder will allow you to have contact with your kitten, and when it’s old enough, you can include it as a new member of your family. You should make sure that your Savannah cat breeder gives you all the health certificates and shows you if it has any diseases, that has been cared for and raised correctly, and that its mother has been checked and cared for as she should be, get all its vaccinations and dewormed up to date and has been reviewed by a veterinarian.

To obtain this breed there are people who must wait for years to have it, due to the problems of having a litter from this breed, so you must have patience and search until you get it.

If after reading all this information and you are aware of all the requirements that must be met both personally and by law to obtain a savannah cat, then it will be a tremendous option for you. If you are a cat lover who likes to enjoy moments with your pet, and you are an adventurous person who likes to give accompanied walks, and also have a family with children and wish to have a new member in the family, the savannah cat is perfect for you. If you have any questions or if you think I’ve missed anything please let me know in the comment section down below.

Professor Whiskers

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