FAQ’s Courtesty of the Savannah Breed Section Website
Bringing a Savannah Home
There are two important reasons why your new kitten should be quarantined for a minmum of two weeks. First, the stress of being ripped from all familiar surroundings and people, traveling to a new home, and meeting a new family is very stressful on a kitten. This can sometimes cause health problems by suppressing the immune system, just as it can in humans. Cats in general are very susceptible to certain illnesses and a stress response can trigger an illness such as an upper respiratory infection (cold) or a bout of diarrhea. If there are other cats in the household, it is always a good idea to keep them separated until you are assured that the new kitten is not going to succumb to such an event.
The second reason is that the kitten needs to be kept in a small room where it can easily find its food, water, and litter box. It also needs this time to get to know it’s new human family and to develop a bond with them. A new kitten being left to wander freely in a new home when first arriving can easily be overwhelmed and at the least have some litterbox mishaps because it forgets where the box is, or at the worst hide in as safe, dark environment (e.g., under a bed), which will necessitate you ‘chasing after’ it to retrieve it. This can cause even more fear and stress in the kitten and set up an unhealthy relationship between it and you.
When a kitten is restricted to a single room such as a bedroom or a bathroom with only you going in and out to interact with it, it will soon learn that you are the center of it’s life and a strong bond will form. Once this has been accomplished, you can start to slowly introduce it to other parts of the house, and to other pet members of the household as well.
Yes, generally a Savannah gets along well with other animals. If you have a dog, it may take a Savannah a little while to adjust if they were not raised around dogs. Other cat breeds that are similarly high energy (Oriental breeds, Abyssinians, Ocicats) seem to work well, as do very patient breeds such as the Maine Coon, Ragdoll, and PixieBob breeds.
A Savannah is not recommended in a house full of birds and fish. A Savannah, like any cat, has strong prey drive and likely will devote much time to devising ways to “play” with caged birds or tanks with fish.
Savannahs are high energy cats, with loads of intelligence, but are not necessarily destructive. If left alone for long periods though, a Savannah might find things to amuse itself with what may not be an activity you would choose for them. It is important to make sure that they are well-occupied, possibly with another companion pet, or that your house is well Savannah-proofed.
It is also important to train your pet in the way you would like it to behave. Dissuade and distract from inappropriate behavior and give them suitable toys to expend their energy on. A Savannah is not simply a gorgeous animal, it is highly interactive and needs time with its humans. If you do not have much spare time between your job and activities, then a Savannah may not be the right breed for you.
The rambunctious energy of a Savannah may be “hard” on toys. Many cat toys available are not suitable for a Savannah. Toys that lack durability may not last long, and some toys might be ingested causing serious harm to your cat. Talk to your breeder about the type of toys suitable for a Savannah.
Preparing your home for a Savannah can be similar to toddler-proofing your house from floor to ceiling.
Any breakable objects should either be put away for a year or two, or safely shut into a glass-fronted cabinet. Savannahs are energetic and definitely can be clumsy when racing about the house in a fit of gleeful play.
Secure objects that might be knocked over before bringing your Savannah kitten home. Museum wax/gel is reported to work well for some households.
Remove poisonous plants, definitely. Here is the link to the ASCPA webpage listing plants that have been reported as having serious deleterious effects on animals.
Be aware that a potted plant looks like a lot of digging fun to a Savannah kitten, and the plant itself is “asking” to be dragged all over the house. So, even if the plant is not toxic to your cat you may not successfully keep house plants after introducing a Savannah to your household.
While teething, many Savannah kittens will chew on inappropriate things, including electrical cords. Bitter sprays can be perfect for this, also consider removing and storing any cords that are not necessary at that time. There are also home products available that can encase many cords within the one larger tube. This is a really good idea, especially while your Savannah is young.
Toilet lids should be placed down, as a Savannah kitten will see an open toilet bowl as a “wading pool” and splash around in there. Some Savannahs learn how to turn on water taps, which will either require changing the taps (to a round shape that is more difficult for them) or learning to keep the bathroom door shut.
Savannahs have been known to open doors and drawers. Childproof latches on cupboards containing toxic substances (such as cleaning supplies) is a good idea.
Not ALL Savannahs will be troublesome – it depends on the individual personality and the time they have to themselves. It is best to be aware of situations an intelligent and energetic cat might create. Forewarned is forearmed!
If the kitten is to be left alone for many hours a day, it may be advisable to make a “Savannah-Safe” room to shut the kitten in while you are away. Design it with cat trees, and safe toys, and comfy beds (maybe even leave the radio or TV on) so that it is a pleasant place for your cat to be until you return home.
Savannahs have amazing energy combined with high intelligence and come with a strong “prey drive” — they LOVE to chase things. These cats do not make good outdoors cats. They will be fascinated by a bird and stalk it, see a butterfly and follow that, then see another bird and chase that one… within hours they will be miles from your home with no idea how they got there! When a cat wanders, they are rarely located and returned to their homes. Savannahs are not recommended as anything but indoor-only pets.
General Information About Savannahs
A Savannah is a domestic cat with a Serval ancestor.
This is a question frequently asked! There are some obvious differences between the two breeds. Bengals are derived from the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC). Savannahs are derived from the African Serval. The different species of wild cat influences many attributes of the two breeds. Although both have beautiful spots, Bengal spots are tri-colored “rosettes” and Savannah spots are solid. There are several differences in physical type, also. The Bengal has a compact body type similar to a wrestler or football player. It has smaller ears set wide apart and large round eyes. The Savannah is taller and leaner in body likening to a basketball player. It has large ears set close on top of its head.
There are no guarantees when it comes to the size of a Savannah cat. The heritage of Savannahs is both the very tall Serval and the normal-sized domestic cat, therefore the kittens could end up close to either size. The extremely tall kittens occasionally produced started out as average weight and size kittens. They do not exhibit tell-tale signs of how big they will be often until they are three months or older. Most breeders will not guarantee a large sized cat, though it often happens anyway.
The size of a Savannah depends on the generation and cats outcrossed into a particular pedigree to create him. Although there have been some huge F2 and F3 SVs, the largest generation is the one closest to the Serval – the F1 generation. By the time you get down to F4 and F5 generations, most Savannahs are simply taller and longer than a domestic but not much heavier.
Savannahs appear to grow for up to three years. Most of the height of a Savannah will be achieved in the first year, but still an inch or two might be added later on. More muscle mass is gained in the second year, and the body will fill out over a year or two once it is not growing upwards so fast.
Savannahs come in a variety of colors and patterns. Most Savannahs are spotted, preferably with solid black or dark brown spots. Some are brown spotted tabbies (BST), which means they have golden, cream, or sandy colored backgrounds. Others are silver spotted tabbies (SST), which means they have white backgrounds. Still others are black, or smoke (black with white hair roots) with a spotting pattern. Because of the variety of domestic breeds introduced into the Savannahs’ gene pool you might also see some non-standard colors including chocolate, cinnamon, blue, red, or colorpoint. You might also see a marble pattern, which looks like s swirling elongated bullseye pattern.
Size is NOT the most important attribute. Of course, it is impressive to see a BIG cat, but the Savannah is so much more than ‘big.’ The Savannah should be tall, long, lean and elegant in appearance. His ears should be tall and upstanding and the spots dramatic. It is the proportions that make a Savannah appear exotic, and so, simply being large does not necessarily mean ‘correct.’ Most Savannah owners will probably tell you that the attribute they consider the most important and unique is their Savannah’s personality.
The Savannah personality is highly energetic, intelligent and sociable. It is hard to describe what it is like to live with a Savannah. They are wonderful companions for people who enjoy interacting with their pets. Because of their intelligence and energy, they may also be trouble too; they think up a lot of pranks, and you might not always be too impressed with what they come up with! A sense of humor is essential to live with a Savannah.
Servals hunt in water for frogs and small fish, so we often find that a Savannah tolerates water more than the average domestic cat. Some Savannahs LOVE water and will turn on taps and jump into baths and showers whenever possible. However, not all Savannahs share this trait, so please do not expect them to love the bath. No cat likes to HAVE to do anything. And, like all cats, Savannahs do not wish to be dumped into the water – if they enjoy water they will come to play all by themselves. Many Savannahs enjoy going outside into an outdoor enclosure when it rains and come in dripping wet, but not all want to jump in the bath!
Savannahs are curious, outgoing cats that often enjoy going for walks. They usually adapt well to a harness or walking jacket ( www.joykatz.net/walkingjackets.htm ). With careful training you can often have them walking on a leash like a dog, except maybe not quite as obedient. They love to explore so will want to wander around.
Health and Care of your New Savannah
Savannahs eat commercial cat food like any other domestic cat would, but are usually also very receptive to a raw diet. We recommend a high-quality cat food brand be used, especially as Savannahs grow fast in the first years of their life, so will need good nutrition.
Raw vs. Kibble: Premium cat food, whether raw, canned or kibble is recommended and your Savannah will be happy and healthy on premium foods. If you choose to feed raw food, please research dietary requirements for cats prior to preparing a raw diet. You can find many nutritious recipes by researching BARF diets online.
Savannahs are a new breed and as yet do not have any health issues associated with them. Of course, different breeds have been used in Savannah breeding programs and those breeds may bring genetic susceptibilities with them. As the breed progresses, more health information will become known.
Savannahs are in reality domestic cats so should not need a veterinarian that specializes in exotics. However, there are veterinarians who have never seen or treated a hybrid cat, and others who have strong feelings about whether hybridization should even be allowed. It would be wise for you to talk to your veterinarian about his/her experience and comfort level with treating a hybrid before purchasing a Savannah. If your veterinarian doesn’t seem comfortable, or you don’t have a veterinarian, be sure to call around to find one in your area who has treated hybrids before, or who is at least willing (and better yet eager) to learn more about them.
Yes, Savannahs should receive routine kitten vaccinations just like domestic cats. The type and number of vaccinations is sometimes debatable, but it is generally accepted that they should have at least two initial vaccinations as a kitten (most veterinarians recommend three), with one being after they are 12 weeks old, and then a booster at a year of age and then every one to three years thereafter. Many breeders recommend killed virus vaccinations only because exotic cats have been known to have serious reactions to the modified live viruses. However, killed virus vaccinations have been associated with sarcomas at the injection site. Modified live viruses do not have this same concern so more breeders are beginning to use the modified live virus vaccinations. You may find your breeder will be very specific and require you to use only a certain type of vaccination, another breeder will allow you to choose your personal preference.
Intact breeding cats often spray. When neutered/ spayed at an appropriate age (5 months or earlier as recommended by your vet is optimum) Savannahs are not known to spray.
A well socialized, happily acclimated Savannah will use its litter box religiously! Like most cats, some Savannahs can absolutely require their boxes be extremely clean, and you must make sure there are plenty of litter boxes for the number of cats in your house. The general rule is one litter box per cat and one extra. Additionally, Savannahs can grow to larger-than-normal sizes, so you may need the jumbo-sized litter pans. Some people find that plastic tote boxes make excellent litter boxes, especially with those cats that like to dig and fling litter about.
Any cat litter is acceptable.
If Males Up Until F5 (Fifth Generation Away from the Serval) are Sterile, Why Would I Need to Neuter a Male Kitten?
Although males may not make viable sperm, they still produce the male hormones and will exhibit male (tomcat) behavior that makes them undesirable as pets in the intact state. For example, they will still spray and mark their territory and be continually searching for an available female to mate to.
Purchasing A Savannah
It’s hard to decide where you might want to get your kitten. There are many breeders with kittens available, which makes it important to consider many factors. A kitten (cat) should live 15-20-odd years, so your new family member should be a well thought-out decision. The breeder is part of that decision. The breeder you choose to purchase a kitten from should be someone you trust and whose opinion you value. Contact a few breeders and ask questions. Ask about their breeding program, the potential parents of your kitten, what the parents’ personalities are like. Ask about previous kittens and what they are like now they are grown. Ask for referrals.
If problems arise once you have the kitten you still want your breeder to be available to help answer questions and share the experience of your Savannah. Ask about the breeds behind that kitten, and for a copy of its pedigree. Discuss what breeds went into making that particular kitten and what attributes those breeds may contribute to its health, looks and personality. As the Savannah breed is still in development, there are many influences to consider.
Some kittens conform more closely to the breed standard, they are more sought-after and the price reflects this.
If the breeding stock was selected as the absolute best then that breeder probably paid “top dollar” for their cats and might expect the same for the kittens produced.
Sometimes there is an element of “you get what you pay for.” A kitten that is not as typey might be priced lower than its littermate that is amazing looking. Remember that this does not mean the personality of the kitten is different or lesser-quality, and if you are looking for a pet then the blackest of black spots might not be as important as an outgoing friendly disposition.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a kitten that is priced high is necessarily the “best” kitten available, just that the breeder is asking a premium price. Buyer beware – do your research and ask enough questions to know that the price is fair for that particular kitten.
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 breeder’s 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 you.
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 veterinarian’s information and include a telephone number where he or she can be reached for additional comment and a personal reference.
This is a HARD question, and there are no easy answers! Many times breeders have sold a kitten they thought was “pet quality” only to see it grow up into a stunning cat and wished they had kept it.
There are some indications that a kitten will be better than another, but kittens grow and change so much in the first weeks that it really is difficult to make that assessment when they are so young. It is easiest when there has been a previous litter from the same parents. Then you can possibly see pictures of how they turned out as older kittens or adults and compare that to baby pictures of the current litter to get an idea of how the kittens that are offered now might turn out.
Also, if you can see baby pictures of one or both parents and compare those to current pictures of them now, then you might get some clues as to how the their kittens will turn out as well.
This is also very hard to predict. Often kittens are born brown and as they develop golden highlights appear. Some kittens seem extremely golden as babies yet may end up more brown or ‘cool’ toned. A bold spotting pattern looks dramatic, no matter what the ground color.
States, counties, and cities differ in their laws and regulations. There ARE some states where Savannahs are illegal, and other states where only certain generations are allowed. You MUST check your state, county, and city laws before you purchase your Savannah kitten. Remember that even if your State allows hybrids your local laws may have more stringent rules that will override State regulations – www.hybridlaw.com is a good place to start your investigation.
Registering and Showing Your Savannah
Yes, The International Cat Association (TICA) is the only feline registry that will accept Savannahs or other hybrids. You can learn more about TICA and how to register your Savannah at www.tica.org If your breeder doesn’t register your kitten for you, you should receive a ‘blue slip’ with it when it arrives that you can send in to TICA to register the kitten with a name of your choosing. The kitten will have the breeder’s cattery name as part of its registered name per TICA protocol.
“F” stands for “filial” generation… in the case of the Savannah breed, it refers to the number of generations away from its wild ancestor, the Serval. For example, an F1 is one generation away from the Serval, this means that the Serval is the parent of an F1. An F2 is two generations away, so the Serval is the grandparent.
These terms refer to the Registration Codes given to our cats by our Feline Registry TICA.
A-registered Savannahs are Savannahs with only ONE Savannah parent, usually the Savannah mother and a domestic outcross sire (such as one of our permissable outcross breeds – Egyptian Mau, Oriental Shorthair, Ocicat or Domestic Shorthair).
B-registered Savannah is one in which both parents are Savannahs, but not all grandparents are Savannahs. For example, crossing an A-registered Savannah to another A-registered Savannah will give you B-registered offspring.
C-registered Savannahs are when all four grandparents are Savannahs … or two generations of Savannah to Savannah breeding. Crossing a B-registered Savannah to another B-registered Savannah will give you C-registered Savannah offspring.
SBT stands for “Stud Book Traditional” and is a cat with three generations of Savannah to Savannah breeding – all great-grandparents are Savannahs. Two C-registered Savannah s will produce an SBT litter. This is what is considered a purebred cat and is the eventual goal of our Savannah breed section.
These codes are not terribly important to the pet buyer, but critical to a breeder. To develop this breed, we need to progress through the codes to SBT. The importance to the pet buyer of codes might simply be that you might expect a “B” kitten to be typier than an “A” kitten. This is not true in all cases, as careful selection of the cats is necessary no matter what the “code is.
Savannahs are now a Championship breed with TICA, which means that certain Savannahs can be shown. The criteria required is that the cat is at least four months of age, is at least an F4 or further generation from the Serval, and is an SBT registered cat. It must also be one of the permissible colors, so BST, SST, black, or smoke.