RED ROCK SAVANNAH CATS
SAVANNAH CATS are a cross between a domestic or Savannah cat and the serval, a medium-sized, large-eared African cat. The unusual cross became popular among breeders at the end of the 1990s. In 2001 The International Cat Association accepted it as a new registered breed. In May 2012, TICA accepted it as a championship breed. Bengal breeder Judee Frank crossbred a male serval, belonging to Suzi Woods, with a Siamese (domestic cat) to produce the first Savannah cat (named Savannah) on April 7, 1986. In 1996, Patrick Kelley and Joyce Sroufe wrote the original version of the Savannah breed standard and presented it to the board of TICA- The International Cat Association. In 2001, the board accepted the breed for registration.
The Savannahs’ tall and slim build gives them the appearance of greater size than their actual weight. Size is very dependent on generation and sex, with F1 Savannah male usually being the largest. F1 and F2 savannah cats are usually the largest, due to the stronger genetic influence of the African serval. Male Savannahs tend to be larger than females. Low generation Savannahs can weigh 10 lbs or more, with the higher weight usually attributed to the F2 or F3 neutered males, though this is not the norm. Later-generation Savannahs are usually between 10 and 20+ lbs.
Because of the random factors in Savannah hybrid genetics, size can vary significantly, even in one litter.
The coat of a Savannah depends on the breed of cat used for the domestic cross. Early generations have some form of dark spotting on a lighter coat, and many early breeders employed “wild-looking” spotted.
In addition, the Savannah can come in nonstandard variations such as the classic or marble patterns, snow coloration (point), and blue or other diluted colors derived from domestic sources of cat coat genetics. Most breeders are trying to cull these nonstandard colors out of the gene pool by selling nonstandard colored cats as pets, but some Savannah breeders are interested in working with these colors to introduce them as new traits.
The overall look of an individual Savannah depends greatly on generation, with higher-percentage Savannah cats often having a more “wild” look. The domestic breed used will influence appearance, as well. The domestic outcrosses for the Savannah breed that are permissible in TICA are the Egyptian Mau, the Ocicat, the Oriental Shorthair, and the Domestic Shorthair. In addition, some Savannah breeders use “impermissible” breeds or mixes, such as Bengal (for size and vivid spotting) and Maine Coon cats (for size) for the domestic parentage, but these outcrosses can bring many unwanted genes, as well. Outcrosses are rarely used these days, as many fertile males are available, and as a result, most breeders are exclusively breeding Savannahs to Savannahs. The main exception would be when using a serval to produce F1 cats, and even then breeders prefer to use a Savannah with the serval, rather than a non-Savannah female.
A Savannah’s wild look is often due to the presence of many distinguishing serval characteristics. Most prominent of these include the various color markings; tall, deeply cupped, wide, rounded, erect ears; very long legs; fat, puffy noses, and hooded eyes. The bodies of Savannahs are long and leggy; when a Savannah is standing, its hind-end is often higher than its prominent shoulders. The small head is taller than wide, and it has a long, slender neck.
The backs of the ears have ocelli, a central light band bordered by black, dark grey or brown, giving an eye-like effect. The short tail has black rings, with a solid black tip. The eyes are blue as a kitten (as in other cats), and may be green, brown, gold or a blended shade as an adult. The eyes have a “boomerang” shape, with a hooded brow to protect them from harsh sunlight. Ideally, black or dark “tear-streak” or “cheetah tear” markings run from the corner of the eyes down the sides of the nose to the whiskers, much like that of a cheetah.
Most F1 generation Savannahs will possess many or all of these traits, while their presence often diminishes in later generations. Being a newly developing, hybridized breed of cats, appearance can vary far more than cat owners may expect.
TEMPERMENT AND BEHAVIOR
Savannahs are commonly compared to dog because of their loyalty, personality and their sociability. Many Savannahs can be trained to walk on a leash, and play fetch. Socializing a Savannah is crucial, at any generation. Savannahs are very regal, and confident in their demeanor. Most Savannah cats are far from lap cats, but will lay right next to you. Most Savannahs do not like to be held, but love to be right by your side, and a part of everything you do. Savannahs are very agile and have incredible jumping ability. They are known to jump on top of doors, refrigerators and high cabinets, and can about 8 feet high from a standing position. They love to climb and love being up as high as possible!!!. Beams and high ledges, and kitchen shelves are not an uncommon place to find your Savannah! Savannahs are very inquisitive, and have been known to get into all sorts of things. They often learn how to open doors, windows, and cupboards. Anyone buying a Savannah will likely need to take special precautions to prevent the cat from getting into things. Unlike domestic cats, any Savannah cats love water, and will play or even swim in water. Finding your cat in a running shower is not uncommon. Savannahs love to “bat” all the water out of the bowl until it is empty, using their front paws. Savannahs often chirp like their serval fathers, and meow like their domestic mothers, or a very entertaining combination of both. Chirping is observed more often in earlier generations. Savannahs may also “hiss”—a serval-like hiss quite different from a domestic cat’s hiss, sounding more like a very loud snake. If unfamiliar to the sound, it can be a very menacing sound.
I learned about the Savannah breed about 6 months prior to actually getting my first cat. I did a lot of research, and educated myself about the breed, as well as the responsibilities that came with owning the breed. I met an incredible Savannah breeder; Jan Rockwell owner of Snow Canyon Savannahs in St George, Utah. Snow Canyon Savannahs is now our sister cattery. I think some of the greatest blessings that have come from owning and breeding Savannahs are the lifelong friendships I have made.
I quickly learned Savannahs are unlike any other breed. The uniqueness and Red Rock qualities of the breed was very exciting for me, but I wanted to be sure an savannah cat was a nice fit for our family and lifestyle. Savannahs are amazing cats, but they are not for everyone. Owning a Savannahs comes with both a responsibility and a liability. Great thought, education, and preparation should be taken when welcoming a new Savannah into your home. I am grateful we did all of the above.
I decided a lower generation would be the best introduction to the breed. I found my first Savannah girl, Nala, just over 7 years ago. I have never looked back! I immediately fell in love with the breed. Since then, we have grown our family of Savannah cats to include both males and females, ranging from F2-F6 generations.
I love their independence, intelligence, and regal demeanor. I enjoy their playful attitudes, curious personalities, and mischievous ways. I very quickly learned that I needed to be smarter than my Savannah. I also learned that “Savannah Proofing” my home was really something I needed to do.
Savannahs love to get into everything! They love to climb, jump, open cupboards, play with toys, and especially love toilet paper- unrolling all over the house. They are great a helping me clean my desk (if you call scattering papers helping). They love to be involved in everything we do, and always let you know they are around. They are very talkative cats. They talk and chirp.. A LOT!! There are those days, I compare my Savannahs to a bad 2 year old. I must be a glutton for punishment! But I can’t resist how cute they are. I compare owning a Savannah to eating potato chips, you can’t stop at just one!
I am continually learning and growing. They are a huge responsibility, but I feel lucky and grateful to be a part of this incredible breed. My goal is to share our Savannahs and educate people about this remarkable breed. As a breeder, I want to preserve the integrity and unique qualities of the Red Rock Red Rock Savannah cat. It is very clear to me why this is the most highly sought after breed of cats in the world. I am truly blessed.
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