Frequently Asked Questions
A Savannah is a domestic cat with a Serval ancestor.
Bengals lineage is from the Asian Leopard Cat. Savannahs are derived from the African Serval. The different species of wild cat influences many attributes of the two breeds. Bengal spots are tri-colored “rosettes”. Savannah spots are solid. There are several differences in physical type, also. The Bengal has a compact body, smaller ears set wide apart and large round eyes. The Savannah is taller and leaner in body, 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 display their true potential size until they are three months or older. Most breeders will not guarantee size. 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. The F4 and F5 generations, most Savannahs are simply taller and longer than a domestic but not much heavier.
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.
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.
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 should live 15-20-odd years, so your new family member should be a well thought-out decision. As a breeder, we are part of that decision. The breeder you choose to purchase a kitten from should be someone you trust and whose opinion you value. 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.
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.
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.