This guide to the Savannah cat breed details the characteristics and common features of a Savannah, as well as the history behind the breed in addition to some, must know facts.
They’re a stunning cat given their unique markings and dark spots that cover their fur. They are closely related to the African Serval and look quite similar too albeit a lot smaller.
They started to grow in popularity when interest in exotic cats saw an uptick in the 80s. These days, they can be found in many homes in the United States and England where their popularity is at its highest.
They are known to be outgoing as well as kind and affectionate which is why they are so often a key member of any household.
History of the Savannah Cat
It was in the mid-80s that the Savannah cat started to be bred at an increased level. It was first bred by crossing a domestic cat with the African Serval that so heavily influences the look of a Savannah. The offspring of this mating was the first recorded Savannah cat.
The offspring was seen by a prolific breeder called Patrick Kelly who liked the new mixed breed. He then went on to propagate the Savannah as a breed in itself along with Joyce Stouge – another successful cat breeder. They saw potential in the initial pairing of the domestic cat with the African Serval and so set about making the breed more standard across the board.
In fact, it was only in 2001 that the Savannah was actually seen as a breed by The International Cat Association or TICA. Even to this day, it has not been accepted by the GCCF though it did receive Championship status in 2012.
Regardless of this, the pretty cat is incredibly popular and its demand grows each and every year. They are becoming more and more common in households across the globe.
Quick Facts About the Savannah Cat Breed
- The Savannah Cat is incredibly bright
This breed is smarter than most. They need a fair amount of mental stimulation therefore in the form of games like chase with their owner.
- The Savannah Cat likes to be up high
The Savannah is one of those cats that will love it if their owner sets up a car highway for them around the home where they can see things from a high vantage point. If a window perch is not available you can usually find them on countertops or high tables.
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- The Savannah Cat loves water
This is a trait that is not common across all breeds. However, the Savannah cat loves water so owners soon learn to keep the toilet seats down in their homes.
- The Savannah Cat likes to play fetch
Much more like dogs in this respect, one of the Savannah cat’s favorite games is that of fetch or any game where he or she has to retrieve items.
- The Savannah Cat doesn’t just meow
As well as the common meow, this breed of cat also chirps and hisses.
Read more about 10 Cat Sounds and What They Mean.
- The Savannah cat holds Guinness World Record
It was two Savannah cats that made it onto the record pages when they reached 19 inches tall from their shoulder to their toes.
Things You Should Know
Here are some basic things everyone should know about a Savannah before bringing one into their home. Would-be buyers should learn facts about the health, feeding habits, temperament, and energy levels of a Savannah before making a final purchase to ensure that the breed is the right fit for their home and lifestyle. However much we like the look or idea of a cat, sometimes their characteristics just don’t mesh well with our everyday lives and so it is better to look at another breed, or in some cases none at all. This way you ensure that no stress or anxiety is caused to the cat or even to you.
The Savannah lives to an old age, even for cats. It can be expected to reach anything from 17 to 20 years provided that it is looked after properly by being given an appropriate diet that is suited to their needs and requirements.
They are struck down with very few hereditary disorders and in fact, are only known to have one condition that may affect them and that is Pyruvate Kinase deficiency.
However, it is important to note that given that the Savannahs were only really bred in the 80s, they are an incredibly young breed so that not a great deal can be known about their hereditary issues as yet. This is why it is important to buy from a reputable breeder who will not only provide you with a healthy cat but also will help to maintain the breed as a whole.
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Savannahs are not fussy eaters on the whole. However, it is still important to follow a few rules when you bring a Savannah into your home. For starters, if you buy from a breeder, try to stick to the routine that they set in relation to feeding. In this way, you cause minimal distress to your new cat as well as minimizing the possibility of causing your kitten any stomach issues that may transpire from any sudden changes.
Changes, therefore, need to be made gradually, if at all. If you are anxious or nervous about changing their diet and feeding schedule to fit your lifestyle, talk to a vet or even the original breeder about some specific tips that will help keep your cat healthy. If they do ever get a stomach upset, consult your vet for guidance.
When your Savannah matures, a high-quality food is still required to ensure that they receive a nutritionally balanced diet. When they are much more mature, ensure that they do not gain weight slowly but surely by changing their diet in accordance with their energy levels. If a cat becomes overweight or obese, they are likely to suffer from other ailments that weighing too much can cause.
Check out the best dry cat food brands, and find something that is healthy and that your feline will love.
The Savannah does not have any unique care requirements relatively speaking when compared to other cat breeds. But this means that they still need a regular groom and brush which will ensure that they remain free of fleas or any matts that can cause skin infection.
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Whilst Savannahs do need regular grooming like other breeds, their short coats mean that they are otherwise relatively low maintenance. Breeders recommend a weekly brush that is then finished off with being wiped down with a soft leather as this helps maintain the health of a cat’s coat. It also supports giving the coat a nice shine.
Savannahs are known to shed their fur in the Spring as well as Autumn so this is when owners will need to brush their cat on a more regular basis – especially if they do not want their homes covered in cat fur.
Whilst grooming your cat, take the opportunity to check their ears as they are prone to a waxy build up. This can be the cause of infection which can cause cats a great deal of pain. Breeders and vets always advocate trying to prevent infections from occurring in the first place as one of the best cures out there. It really can stop a great deal of stress on both you and your cat. Savannahs are also prone to ear mites like other cats so a weekly ear check will mean you keep an eye out for these little critters too so you can stop any problems from becoming worse.
Savannahs are similar to many cats in that they do not like change. This means that owners should try to keep changes to feeding schedules to a minimum as well as keeping furniture in the home in the same place if feasibly possible.
However, the Savannah is a wonderful cat to have around the house so owners never resent this rigidity. In fact, many of their traits are known to be almost dog-like as they love to be around people and are far more inquisitive than many other cat breeds. They are gregarious and have a great deal of energy so love to be played with.
This helps build bonds with family members who they adore being around at all times if possible. They love getting attention so will lap up their weekly grooming sessions and any other love that is bestowed upon them.
Their fascination with water really sets them apart from other cat breeds and they can even be walked as they love exploring as well as being taken places by their owners. This need to be with their owner can be a lot more demanding than other cats so if you have to leave your home for long periods of time, the Savannah may not be the cat for you.
While they will certainly love being outdoors, either with you or on their own, they do survive well as purely indoor cats as long as they get lots of attention from their family members and any other people in their homes.
They love playing with interactive cat toys so if you do have to leave them at home for any period of time, this is a great way of reducing their stress and anxiety. As will any cat highway that an indulgent and attentive owner wants to set up.
Lastly, they are talkative little breeds and love to converse with their owner. Owners should lap this up and talk back as it will entertain your cat and mentally stimulate him or her thus making them calmer for the rest of the day.
Before buying any cat it is always imperative to check the breed’s considered energy level to ensure that you can properly answer its needs in the future. The Savannah is one of those cats that does, in fact, have a lot of energy that seems almost inexhaustible at times. However, due to their intelligence, they are easily occupied with games like puzzles or chase. It is remarkable to see how good they are at problem-solving. However, a game of chase the laser will keep them entertained for an extraordinarily long period of time while all you have to do is direct your pen from your sofa. Another idea to help them is if you have a safe garden – they will absolutely love being let outside as a way to expend all that pent-up energy by exploring all the fascinating sights and smells that the great outdoors has to offer.
The Savannah cat breed can be one of the most rewarding cats to bring into your home owing to their intelligent, kind and affectionate natures. Plus, they are incredibly handsome creatures that will attract a whole host of attention from jealous onlookers. While they obviously have their nuances that would-be owners should be aware of – like their inexhaustible energy, owners often grow to love Savannah’s need to be played with as much as possible as well as their need to be around their family at all times.
They will definitely make a rewarding addition to any home – especially large families that can bestow the new cat with unfaltering love and attention as much as possible. They’re certainly not a low maintenance cat, but all Savannah owners would not have it any other way!
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- Mark Mancini, Exotic or Exploited? The Controversial Savannah Cat, HowStuffWorks
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