Questions

Have another question not answered here? Contact me! kim@sweetspotssavannahs.com

Size.  I get many emails from people that want a larger than average size cat.  Unfortunately the fact that SOME savannahs may get pretty big has been generalized to the entire breed, and this misconception has been promoted by the internet.  NOT all savannahs are big.  Typically, F1 males and females can be 12-20 lbs and they have very long legs and bodies which makes them look larger than their body weight.  F2 and F3 males often get 15-20 lbs, and an exceptional few may get larger than that (and again, long legs and long lean bodies tend to further exaggerate the perception of size).  BUT not all F2 and F3 males get big; some individual males will only get to be 10-14 lbs (what I consider average cat size).  On the other hand, F2 and F3 females  are usually 10-12 lbs.  Similarly F4 and later generations with lower serval content tend to be average cat size in both sexes.  So, if size is a key reason you want a savannah as a pet, then your best bet for getting that is an F2 or F3 male.  I would like to say though that a much better reason for getting a savannah, and what most savannah owners will tell you, is their incredible social and interactive personalities.   Savannahs are intelligent, playful, loving, interesting, and fun cats.  In some ways they do have dog-like personality traits.

Temperament. F3 and later generation savannahs are completely domestic in temperament and are most frequently sold as pets. F1 and F2 generations have a higher serval content, and may be much more energetic and playful (and naughty) than their lower percentage counterparts. In addition, F1s and some F2s can be more assertive than later generations; for instance, they hiss and growl more easily, which is intimidating and unpleasant to people who are not used to and don’t understand this behavior. However, even high percentage F1 savannahs are extremely loving and affectionate and can make good pets under the right conditions. Many people have raised F1 savannahs to have close loving relationships with their children, and I have placed several F2 kittens in homes with older children (ten and up).  I do not recommend F1 or F2 savannahs for families with young children unless a parent is at home with them at all times AND has previous experience with hybrid cat breeds.  Regardless of which generation of savannah or ANY kind of pet you choose, small children should never be left unattended with them – this is true whether the pet is a savannah or other breed of cat, a lizard, a bird, or even a gerbil.

Price. Obviously, cats and offspring that conform closely to the breed standards (“type”) are more expensive than those with nonstandard traits. Higher serval content cats are also more expensive, therefore fewer people can afford to buy F1 or F2 savannahs. Prices for F1 breeding females range from $15,000 and up (note that we do not own any servals and do not breed F1s).  I do not know what F1 males are sold for anymore as prices have gone up in the last several years (F1-F4 males are always sold as pets because they are sterile).  F2 generation females sold with breeding rights are generally about 50% more expensive than females sold as pets (spayed), which range $4,500-6,500.  Fertile male savannahs (F5-F7) with good type range $2000-4000 depending on their quality and pedigree. Prices for pet savannahs range from $1,000-$6,500, with higher percentage, standard patterns/colors, and/or breeder quality kittens in the upper part of that price range. Male savannahs are often in higher demand than females as pets because males tend to get larger, therefore I usually ask more for males than for females of the same generation.  If you are interested in a loving pet at a lower price, look for a savannah that does not confirm to the breed standard (marbled rather than spotted, or an off color such as snow, blue, orange, or torbie).  Occasionally adults that are retired from breeding, or that are no longer being bred (perhaps their kittens do not have the right qualities), are often sold as pets at a very reasonable price.  Savannah Rescue also has cats available for adoption from time to time: http://svrescue.com/

Showing savannahs. Breeding or show quality savannahs are frequently sold as pets, and must be spayed or neutered prior to registration with TICA. Anyone can participate in TICA cat shows, one does not have to breed cats to show them. If you are looking for a savannah that can be presented at TICA cat shows, only ‘SBT’ are eligible for judging in a show ring. A savannah coded as ‘SBT’ (Stud Book Traditional) has three generations of savannah to savannah breeding behind them.  By default then, only F4 and later are coded as SBT.  Pet owners are encouraged to show their cats in the Household Pets category, as it greatly benefits the breed (and is lots of fun).

Breeding savannahs is exceedingly difficult for many reasons.  Intact males AND females typically spray urine, so they require some kind of a contained room or enclosure that is easy to wash down and keep clean.  Females often will not breed with particular males, and you may need to have more than one stud to successfully breed them.  Separate housing may be required for each breeding cat, and is mandatory for females when they are pregnant or raising kittens.  One also needs to be knowledgeable about cat health and diseases, husbandry, reproductive biology, genetics, how to assist during the birthing process, and how to properly take care of newborn kittens.  Breeding savannahs (or other cats) is NOT an activity that should be done simply to provide this experience for children (or owners) or as a means to pay for the price of a pet; it is expensive, time-consuming, heart-breaking, and a tremendous amount of work.  It will take over your home and dominate everything in your life.  If you do not want to make this level of commitment, then don’t attempt it.  If you can make this commitment, and keep it up for several years and after many disappointments, then the joy and reward of breeding savannahs might be worth the effort for you.

If you are interested in purchasing a savannah for breeding purposes, you must generally pass the scrutiny of the selling breeder, be a member of TICA, and if you are new to savannahs, have an experienced mentor willing to answer questions and guide you.  Prices for savannahs with breeding privileges are usually 50-100% higher than pet prices.  You cannot register savannah kittens with TICA unless the parents are registered and owned by the same person that bred them (so you cannot buy a savannah at pet price and then decide to breed her without having paid for breeding privileges; TICA will not issue registrations on kittens of unregistered cats as savannahs).

Legality of savannahs.  Most states in the U.S. consider savannahs as a legal pet, even the F1 generation (a 50/50 serval/domestic hybrid).  The federal government and USDA consider a hybrid of a domestic and exotic animal to be a domestic by definition (this is how many breeds of livestock are improved).  The main purpose of selectively breeding wild or exotic species with established domestic species over several generations is to incorporate beneficial or desired traits into a breed while still maintaining a domesticated ‘people-friendly’ personality.

A few states (Hawaii, Georgia, New York, Alaska, Delaware) have legislation that has banned savannahs, although NY allows F5 and later generations and Delaware allows F4 and later generations.  Much of this legislation (like other breed-specific bans) is a result of Animal Rights groups such as PETA and the Humane Society promoting the ridiculous idea that savannahs are ‘dangerous wild animals’.  Some wildlife officials who are not familiar with the behavior of savannahs consider them a possible threat to native wildlife (which is certainly true of ALL domestic cats, but doesn’t happen if the cat is kept indoors as they should be). Unfortunately most animal lovers and people that enjoy the rights and privileges of pet ownership are seldom aware that such legislation is slipped into place without public notice or warning.  Once the legislation is in place – it is extremely difficult to change. 

To check if your state considers savannahs as legal domestic pets, go to: http://www.hybridlaw.com

Animal rights groups have the ultimate goal of making the use of animals for any purpose illegal; this includes animals kept as pets, used in research, or raised for food.  They think we should all be vegans, and do not see anything wrong with forcing other people to do the same.  Their strategy is to slowly chip away at our right to own animals, starting with breed-specific legislation (e.g., pit bulls, savannahs) and breeding bans, and then continuing to whittle away our rights to own or breed animals until we are all vegans with plants and rocks for pets.  Animal rights groups have a powerful political presence and deep pockets thanks to people who donate money (many of which have no idea of the group’s actual agenda).  ‘Animal Rights’ groups are not the same as Animal Welfare or Animal Conservation groups, which are simply concerned with animal cruelty and the best interests of animals, or in some cases species preservation (respectively).  If you enjoy the love and companionship of any animal (even a fish), or if eating meat or fish is an important part of your diet – DO NOT give money to PETA or the Humane Society, they are a national entity and very little money donated goes to directly benefit animals rather than maintaining their offices and promoting their agenda.  There are many deserving rescue groups who devote every penny donated to the animals they care for, and most of them are local to your community.  Make sure you carefully research ANY of the groups you donate money to first, there are a lot of money-making scams and schemes purporting to be legitimate charities.

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