Savannah Cat Breed Information
Savannah Cat's History
In the early 1980's, Judy Frank bred an African Serval to a domestic shorthair cat. The mating produced one female cat, later named Savannah, whom went on to produce other female kittens to establish the Savannah breed. Other breeders were impressed with the unique look and friendly, outgoing temperaments of the Savannah and went on to begin their own breeding programs. In 1996, breeders submitted an application to have the Savannah registered with The International Cat Association ( TICA) but the TICA board had placed a moratorium on accepting any new breeds. It was not until the year 2000 that the Savannah was accepted for registration. In 2002, the Savannah was unanimously accepted into show status and was shown in May of that year. The popularity of the Savannah breed has continued to grow in monumental proportions.
The Savannah Cat's ancestor, the African Serval.
The adult Serval is a medium sized African wild cat indigenous to the savannah plains of Africa. The Serval weighs between 25 - 45 lbs. with the males on the heavier end of the spectrum. It is approx. 40 inches long including the tail and 21 to 25 inches at shoulder height. It has bold black spots on a tawny, wheat colored background. The Serval is a tall, slender cat with long legs and graceful neck. They have extremely large ears that sit high on their head. Servals are very athletic and agile. They have been known to run speeds of up to 45 mph and can jump to heights of 12 feet.
The Savannah Cat's Appearance
The Savannah Cat is a smaller replica of the African Serval. The Savannah Cat is a tall, lean, graceful cat with bold black spots against a luxurious background coat of golden, silver, smoke, or melanistic ( black). The exact shade and texture of thecoat, however, is directly related to the breed of cat used for the domestic outcross. The International Cat Association ( TICA) permissable outcross breeds are theegyptian mau, the ocicat, the oriental shorthair, and the domestic shorthair. Some breeders use "non-permissible" breeds such as Bengals and Maine Coons to add the spotting patterns and large size. The Savannah is considered one of the larger breeds of domesticated cats. The tall, slim build of the Savannah gives them the appearance of being larger than their actual weight. The early generation Savannahs, F1 and F2, are usually the largest, due to the strong genetic influence of the African Serval ancestor and may weigh as much as 25 lbs. A Savannah's wild look comes from the traits inherited from it's ancestor, the African Serval. One of the most distinquishing of these traits is the tall, erect ears with ocelli or 'night eye' markings, a light band of color with dark borders giving an eye-like effect. . The Savannahs have extremely long legs which contribute to their amazing jumping ability. The eyes are shades of green, gold, and brown with a slight 'boomerang' shape and are often adorned with 'tear stains' that run from the corner of the eye down the sides of the nose much that of like a cheetah.
The Savannah Cat's Temperament
Savannah Cats are unlike any other breed. They are often described as being very 'dog like' in behavior. They are very outgoing and active, loyal, and get along well with both children and dogs. They are easily leash trained and often do very well with clicker training. They show their affection by giving a "head-butt" where they literally bump heads with you. They are also extemely intelligent and curious. They quickly learn to open doors and cabinets and make a game of finding the hiding place of their favorite treats. Another unique trait of the Savannah is their love of water. They find great delight in splashing in their water bowl or in the tub.. All Savannahs have very high energy levels and are extremely curious and playful. These traits are exaggerated in the earlier generations due to the inheritance of size and wild traits from their ancestor, the African Serval. They require a lot of attention because they have a tendency to get into mischief when bored. They are also very vocal with a wide range of chirps, trills, and hisses.
The Foundation Savannah Cat
You will commonly hear of Savannahs being described as an F1, F2, etc. Each generation of Savannahs is labeled with a foundation or 'filial' number. For example, a Savannah with a Serval as a parent is an F1 and typically has 50% serval genes. An F2 Savannah has a serval as a grandparent, the F3 has a serval as a great grandparent, and so on.. Most F1 and F2 generation Savannahs will possess many traits of the their Serval ancestor while later generations will have them to a lesser extent.