If you find yourself intrigued by wild cats and are curious what it would be like to own one, then maybe you should consider bringing a Savannah into your life. While they are categorized as domesticated, they typically have a carefree personality, a great deal of spunk, and they're direct descendants from exotic African cats. So, what is a Savannah cat? Read on to learn more!
A hybrid of servals (wild African cats) and various domestic house cat breeds such as Bengals, Egyptian Maus, and Oriental Shorthairs, modern-day Savannahs still maintain characteristics and appearances of their exotic ancestors.
Among the wide world of cats, Savannahs are one of the newest, or youngest, breeds around, the first one being born in 1986. This female was named Savannah, after the habitat of her serval parent. In just a few decades, the popularity and demand for these cats have grown significantly, and they can now be found all over the world.
Inherited from their serval ancestors, Savannah cats have a tall, lean appearance, a long neck, and big ears. Their coat also resembles that of a wild cat that you would see on an African savanna. Sporting a darker colored, spotted coat, people unfamiliar with this breed have mistaken them for small cheetahs, or another type of wild cat.
Coat colors and patterns for this cat breed can include black, brown, or black-spotted tabby, although the most common appearance is a lighter cream or sandy coat with solid black or brown spots. Even the spots on Savannahs can vary, some being round and others taking an oval shape.
These cats usually adore getting attention and being around people, so it is often not in their best interest to be left alone for long hours, multiple days a week. Being such sociable creatures, Savannahs typically do well with families of all sizes and ages, and they also generally get along well with children. Remember, it's important to teach kids how to interact safely with animals. As a good rule of thumb, all interactions between a child and pet should be supervised until the child is of an older age.
Although they are undeniably adorable, it is important to seriously consider if a Savannah is the right choice for you. Some common questions people have before adopting these cats include:
How Long Do Savannah Cats Live?
On average, these cats will live anywhere between 12–15 years, but there have been many accounts of them living all the way to 20 years old. The lifespan of your cat can be determined by many factors, including their diet, exercise, living environment, and existing health conditions.
Are Savannah Cats Hypoallergenic?
Savannah cats are usually not hypoallergenic. While some cat parents report less shedding from these cats than other types of cats, unfortunately, if you are allergic to cats, Savannahs are probably not the right choice for you.
How Big Do Savannah Cats Get?
Savannahs can vary greatly in size, and this is mainly due to the fact that they are a hybrid breed. However, when looking at averages, these cats will teeter around 10-20 pounds, but don't be completely surprised if yours tips the scales up to 30 pounds.
These medium to large cats are also quite tall, typically measuring around 16 inches in height. Although there is a variance in their size, it is a given that male Savannah cats will almost always be larger than females.
Savannah Cats vs. Bengal Cats
Often mistaken for one another, chances are that if you are doing research for and looking into adopting a Savannah cat, the name Bengal is going to make an appearance as well. Although both Bengals and Savannahs are a hybrid of domestic and wild cats, these cats are actually quite different.
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to tell these two apart is to look at their coat—Savannahs appear to be more spotted, while Bengals have a rosette-marked coat. Also, Savannahs are much larger than Bengals, and, in some instances, they are even twice a Bengal's size.
Grooming and Care
When it comes to grooming, Savannahs usually don't have a long list of needs. Their short, coarse coat will need brushed about once a week, but multiple brushings a week will never hurt. Even just a couple brushings a week will help remove dead hairs, keep the coat healthy, and reduce the amount of hair in your home—not to mention frequent brushings will give your vacuum cleaner and lint roller a much-needed break.
Other items that should be a part of your cat's grooming routine involve weekly teeth brushing and nail trimming when necessary. It's helpful to establish these grooming habits as early as possible so that your cat is acclimated and unstressed with these activities.
A big part of providing proper care for your cat is to give them with a well-balanced and healthy diet. Talk to your veterinarian about which types of food will best suit your cat and their needs—a cat's diet will change as they age, so you may need to consult your veterinarian multiple times. Besides diet, perhaps the most important element at keeping a Savannah cat happy and healthy is to provide them with an ample amount of exercise and playtime.
Not known for being a lap cat, Savannahs would typically much rather spend their time exploring and playing, but most importantly, they just want to spend time around their family—these cats do not enjoy being left alone for long periods of time. In order to keep them physically active and to provide some mental stimulation, many cat parents have taught their Savannahs tricks or have even leashed trained them.
These high energy cats are smart and ornery, so it is best to provide multiple toys throughout the house (or even a climbing tower) and to switch out the toys for different ones every few weeks. Curiosity is already a strong characteristic of these cats, but this trait is only doubled when your cat becomes bored.
Don't be surprised if you find your cat atop your refrigerator, inside a cabinet, or scooping his/her toys out of the toilet. Many Savannah parents recommend having a sense of humor if you get this breed, and to be patient with their silly antics, it's just part of what makes these cats so unique and lovable.
Even though it is vital to consider each of these elements before you bring a Savannah cat into your home, it is even more paramount that you look into the legality of having a Savannah in your area. Many governments, in states and cities, classify these cats as "too exotic," making it illegal to have one in your possession in these locations.
For instance, no one in Australia is allowed to have one, and so it is even illegal to try and ship one into the country. In the U.S., states such as Hawaii, Georgia, and Massachusetts have varying laws about these cats, but places like New York City have banned them completely. Before getting a Savannah, look into your state and city guidelines on the Hybrid Law for more information.
Common Health Issues
Just like any other cat, Savannahs are susceptible to some health issues. According to our claims data*, the top five health conditions that affect these cats include:
Although they are susceptible to these conditions, in particular, that does not mean that your cat will develop any or all of these issues. Even with these in mind, Savannahs are still considered to be a healthy cat. One of the easiest ways to ensure their health is to provide them with an appropriate diet and daily amount of exercise. Obesity in cats is a serious issue that can lead to a long list of other health conditions.
For the safety of your feline friend, it is also best to keep them as an indoor cat. If they escape outside, there are countless diseases they could pick up, they could become injured, or they could have an altercation with another animal. Not to mention, because these cats are exotic looking and not the most common, there is also a chance that your Savannah could be taken or harmed by another person.
There is always more to learn about the unique Savannah cat. Read on for some fascinating and fun facts.
- Due to their personality and various traits, Savannahs are often described as dog-like.
- Savannahs can learn to cohabitate with other cats and dogs. However, it is not a good idea to have smaller pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, birds, or fish in the household. Savannahs are natural-born hunters who are intelligent and athletic, so in other words, no little critter would be safe in the house.
- If you are interested in adopting your own Savannah, you may need to do some research as to where you can adopt one because they may be slightly difficult to locate.
- Two Savannah cats have held the Guinness World Record for World's Tallest Domestic Cat.
- Any Savannah cat with a serval mother or father is thus classified as an F1 cat. With each generation, the number increases (F2, F3, etc.). It's always a good idea to be aware of what generation your new cat is from, since F1 and F2 Savannahs are typically larger, while F3's are further removed from their African ancestors.
- With their long legs inherited from their serval relatives, Savannahs are able to jump to great heights, so be mindful of what you keep on top shelves or on top of the refrigerator.
- Savannahs love playing in water, so you may want to keep your toilet seats down, and don't be too surprised if your cat treats their water dish as a toy.
It's almost a sure-fire statement that life with a Savannah is never dull—it's almost like having your very own live-in, live entertainment.
After finding the perfect cat, perhaps the next most difficult choice is selecting a name. Check out our list of African continent-inspired names for your Savannah cat.
*Internal Claims Data, 2019
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian