The Savannah Cat
The Savannah Cat is a cross between an African Serval and a domestic cat. This can be another Savannah or up until June of 2013, TICA (The International Cat Association) accepted the out crosses of the Egyptian Mau, the Oriental Shorthair, and the Domestic Shorthair. As the Savannah’s are still a relativity new breed, out crosses are sometimes brought in, by experienced breeders, to strengthen desirable traits or to avoid those traits that may cause genetic defects.
Savannah’s are classified by the “F” followed by the number of the generation. The kitten that is produced from the crossing of an African Serval and a female cat is referred to as an F1A. First generation with the “A” symbolizing that one of it’s parents is an not a Savannah. In the “A” case, that would be the Serval. When an F1 is bred, the kitten she produces is an F2 – second generation from the Serval. If the breeding was Savannah to Savannah, the designation would be F2B. Indicating the one of the kittens grandparents was an outcross, again the Serval. If the breeding was F1 Savannah to an outcross, the designation will be F2A – one of it’s parents was an outcross. This logic follows all the way down the generational lines until 3-generation-back Savannah to Savannah is reached. Then the Letter is dropped to be replaced by SBT (Standard Breed Tradition). In reality, the earliest you can achieve SBT is in the Fourth Generation from the Serval. So even with Savannah to Savannah breeding all the way from the Serval, F1’s will always be A’s. F2’s will always be B’s. And F3’s will always be C’s.
Early Generation (EG) Savannah’s are considered Hybrid animals. Hybrid can be defined as the offspring resulting from the breeding of two genetically distinct individuals. In the Savannah’s case, this is a single-cross hybrid, two true breeding organisms. When genetically distinct individuals produce offspring, the males are always sterile. This can be defined by Haldane’s rule. Without getting too technical, all F1 – F5 male Savannah’s are sold as pets only. Thus, when producing an F2 kitten, an F1 female is bred with a male Savannah below the fifth generation.
As a Savannah is bred further away from it’s ancestral parent, the biggest trait that is lost is the size. F1 and F2’s are the big Savannah that you see on YouTube, NatGeo, etc. F3 and down are normal size domestic cats but they still retain the many of the looks and traits that are what makes the Savannah what it is today.
Coats and colors:
Savannah’s not only come in all sizes but in many different colors as well, although only the spotted pattern (spots) is allowed. Accepted colors are black, brown spotted tabby, black silver spotted tabby, and smoke. SV’s are also produced rosetted, marbled, snow color (point), blue, cinnamon, chocolate, and lavender. Diluted colors are from the out crosses that were used in the beginning stages of the breed. This also influences the eye colors of blue, green, and brown, although a Serval’s eyes are yellow.
About Us and Our Savannahs:
We are located in Northern Michigan and we purchased an F3 Savannah for the first time a seven years ago. We had read about the breed and wanted to know if they were everything that was written about them…..and they are!
Our Savannahs are our pets and part of our family first and foremost. They are highly intelligent, stubborn, very playful, and very loyal. Each one, whether one of our F1 girls to our F6 boys, is an individual with different traits and quirks.
Listed below are personal observations from our Savannah family:
**Savannah cats LOVE the water. They join us in the shower where Ember wants you to spray her with the shower head. They jump in the bathtub with the children and chase the tub toys from one end to the other. Saria “dives” for rocks in her outdoor pool and throws them out so you can throw them back in again. We always have help when washing our hands.
**Savannah cats are highly intelligent. They open cupboards, refrigerators, toilet seats, drawers, etc. They figure out where their treats are and coordinate their efforts to raid that particular cupboard. Loki has even figured out how to hold open a rotating garbage can lid while reaching in with the other paw.
**They learn their names quickly and come when called. They train very easily to walk on a harness and usually walk along the edge of the path or sidewalk. Saria loves to stalk through the grass, pressed to the ground, hunting butterflies. We recommend starting them as young as possible with harness training as they need to adjust to the noises outside and not be easily startled. They have superior hearing. The distinctive clink of their treat bowls has them come running as fast as they can.
**Savannah cats are very, very playful. Myst and Saria will play fetch with anything you throw for them. Wadded paper, stuffed animals, cat toys, etc. They will chase any string, robe tie, thread, backpack strap, purse string, belt, etc. that you run across the floor in front of them. They are stealth artists that hide under bed covers and as you walk in the bedroom, jump out to scare you. They especially like it if you yell and jump because then they’ll do it all over again. Loki and Rain love the game Chase and Hide and Seek. They will chase the children from one end of the house to the other and find them in whatever place they are hiding.
**Very loyal and affectionate. They come running to the door when we get home. They enjoying giving head butts and rubbing their cheeks along our feet and legs. Savannahs are not cuddling cats and this is especially true of the higher generations. They want to lay next to you, not on you. They will lay along our legs while we sleep or at the foot of our beds. With the children, they take whatever pillow the child is not currently using. We can pick them up when standing and they will lay on our chests but they do not like when you “hug” them. Ember doesn’t like to be alone and makes chirping bird noises until you call her. Myst will hiss and chatter until you pet her and acknowledge her presence.
**Savannah cats jump up to 7 feet from a sitting position. So they will go from the floor onto the top of your china cabinet without blinking. They are very agile as well. We have high shelves holding knick-knacks that they simply walk around without knocking over.
Each one of our Savannahs are a joy to live with and we discover new and surprising things about them everyday.
A word of caution…..:-)
** These are not domestic cats that can be “beat” into good behavior. Outside of the fact that you should never, ever hit or kick an animal, high generation Savannah’s have enough “wild blood” in them to see you as a threat instead of a master. You will end up with a cat that hides every time they see you. We recommend squirt guns for bad behavior, apple bitter to stop them from eating house plants, and double sided tape to deter jumping into places they are not welcome.
**Savannah cats are extremely active and playful and they do not like to be alone. If you are going to be gone hours on end each day, they are not the cat for you. We suggest that you have another cat and/or dog in the home as well so they a companion while you are away.
**Savannah kittens are notorious food thieves. In their first year, they will try/eat just about anything that smells like food, and some things that don’t. Even loaves of bread must be put away.
**As mentioned before they LOVE the water. Close your toilet seat lids….:-)