Savannah Cat Breed

Savannah Cat Breed

 

Savannah Cat Breed - Information and history

Savannah Cat Breed, description of Savannah Cat

General Description & History

The Savannah cat breed is a tall lean graceful cat with striking dark spots and other bold markings. It is a domestic breed which closely resembles its ancestral source, the African Serval, but is smaller in stature. It is affectionate and outgoing, with exceptionally long neck, legs, and tall ears, as well as a medium length tail, the Savannah is both unusual and beautiful. The Savannah is also an exceptionally graceful and well balanced cat.

The first known Savannah cat was born April 7, 1986 when a female domestic cat gave birth to a kitten sired by an African Serval. This F1 (first generation hybrid cross) was the first on record. This unusual female kitten had both domestic and Serval like traits. Both the kitten and breed were named “Savannah”. Patrick Kelly heard about Savannah and decided he wanted to try to develop a new breed. He persuaded a breeder, Joyce Sroufe, to join him in his efforts. Together they wrote the original TICA Breed Standard. TICA accepted the Savannah for registration in 2001. The Savannah was accepted for Championship status by TICA in 2012.

F1 generation Savannah cats are very difficult to produce, due to the significant difference in gestation periods between the serval and a domestic cat (75 days for a serval and 65 days for a domestic cat), and sex chromosomes. Pregnancies are often absorbed or aborted, or kittens are born prematurely. Also, servals can be very picky in choosing mates, and often will not mate with a domestic cat.

F1 Savannah cats can be as high as 75% serval. All 75% F1s (technically a backcross BC1) are the offspring of a 50% F1 (true F1) female bred back to a serval. Cases of 87.5% F1 (technically BC2) Savannah cats are known, but fertility is questionable at those percentage Serval levels. More common than a 75% F1 is a 62.5% F1, which is the product of an “F2A” (25% serval, female) bred back to a serval. The F2 generation, which has a serval grandparent and is the offspring of the F1 generation female, ranges from 25% to 37.5% serval. The F3 generation has a serval great grandparent, and is 12.5% Serval.

Personality

One of the most amazing traits of the Savannah cat breed is its remarkable personality. It is a very curious, assertive cat that seeks out adventure at every opportunity. It is a very active cat, that needs a great deal of interaction on a daily basis, either with its human family or with a companion cat. It is also a very loyal cat who will bond strongly with its human family. It is not a lap cat, but will show affection on its own terms, often by greeting family members at the door, following them around the house and giving frequent headbutts. Many Savannahs love to play in water. They can easily be trained to walk on a leash with a harness, and most love to play games such as fetch.

The Savannah cat  breed is a unique and amazing feline. Most people who own or have met Savannahs will say that they have never met a cat like them and become avid fans. The Savannah is not for everyone, but for those who seek a unique pet and lifelong companion, the Savannah fits the bill.

Savannah Cat Breed Information, care & History

Savannah Cat Breed photos Information and History

Savannahs are commonly compared to dogs in their loyalty, and they will follow their owners around the house like a canine. They can also be trained to walk on a leash and to fetch.

Some Savannah cats are reported to be very social and friendly with new people and other cats and dogs, while others may run and hide or revert to hissing and growling when seeing a stranger. Exposure to other people and pets is most likely the key factor in sociability as Savannah kittens grow up.

An often-noted trait of the Savannah cat is its jumping ability. They are known to jump on top of doors, refrigerators and high cabinets. Some Savannahs can leap about 8 feet (2.5 m) high from a standing position. Savannahs are very inquisitive. They often learn how to open doors and cupboards, and anyone buying a Savannah will likely need to take special precautions to prevent the cat from getting into trouble.

Many Savannah cats do not fear water, and will play or even immerse themselves in water. Some owners even shower with their Savannah cats. Presenting a water bowl to a Savannah may also prove a challenge, as some will promptly begin to “bat” all the water out of the bowl until it is empty, using their front paws.

Another quirk Savannahs have is to fluff out the base of their tails in a greeting gesture. This is not to be confused with the fluffing of fur along the back and full length of the tail in fear. Savannahs will also often flick or wag their tails in excitement or pleasure.

Vocally, Savannahs may either chirp like their serval fathers, meow like their domestic mothers, both chirp and meow, or sometimes produce sounds which are a mixture of the two. 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. It can be alarming to humans not acquainted to such a sound coming from a cat.

There are three basic factors that affect the nature of the Savannah cat behavior: lineage, generation and socialization. These three factors follow the nature vs nurture argument with nature being breed lines combined with generation and nurture being social upbringing. As of 2014 the Savannah cat breed development is still in its infancy and most Savannah cats have a very broad range of behaviors.

If a breed line has a tendency for a specific behavior over other behaviors it is likely to be passed to the breed lines offspring. As outside lines are used there is a merging effect of the base behaviors.

When breeding lines starting from early generations such as first filial and second filial generations (F1 and F2 Savannahs), behavior stemming from the wild out cross, the Serval, is more apparent. Behaviors like jumping, fight or flight instincts, dominance, and nurturing behaviors are more noticeable in early generations. Since fertile males that are F5 and F6 are used in most breeding programs, later generation Savannah cats behaviors tend to act more like traditional domestic cats. Overlying behavior traits for all generations are high activity and high curiosity.

Probably the most influential factor is early socialization. Kittens socialized with human contact from birth and human interaction each day reinforces kitten and cat human interaction behavior that lasts throughout the cats life span. Kittens within litters will tend to have varied social skills with some that like human interaction and others that fear it. If kittens that fear humans never grow past that fear they will tend to exhibit a more shy behavior and are likely to hide when strangers are present. Kittens that look forward to human visits and like to engage in play with humans tend to grow to cats that are more welcoming of strangers and less frightened of new environments. These cats tend to become the life of the party versus a cat that will find a hiding place until the party is over. Human cat socialization should be practiced each day with positive reinforcement for a kitten to grow into a well rounded social Savannah cat. Kittens that go for long periods of time without human interaction and only interact with their mothers or siblings usually do not develop a strong bond with humans and tend to be less trusting of humans. These kittens tend to be shy and are likely to hide when unknown people are present.

 

Traits

The Savannah cat has many traits that make it stand out. Perhaps the most obvious are the large, tall ears that are set right on top of its head. Another unique trait of the Savannah is it’s hooded eyes that are flat across the top. This gives it an exotic look unlike any other breed. The body on the Savannah cat is very long and the legs are quite long as well, creating a false image of a very large or heavy cat, but in reality, most Savannahs are just the size of a large domestic cat, and weigh less than another cat of similar size. It also has a very long neck and a short, thick tail, adding to its distinctiveness.

Health connsiderations

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a health concern in many pure breed cats. A link has recently been found between Bengal Cat (a similar hybrid) and HCM; there are cases that indicate that HCM may also be a reoccurring health issue in servals. Several responsible Bengal Breeders have their breeder cats scanned for HCM on an annual basis, though this practice is not as widespread in the Savannah community.

Some veterinarians have noted servals have smaller livers relative to their body sizes than domestic cats, and some Savannahs inherit this, but the medical consequence of this is unrecognized and is likely to be of no consequence. There are no known medical peculiarities of hybrid cats requiring different medical treatments than that of domestic cats, despite what many breeders may believe. The blood values of Savannahs are not known to be different from the typical domestic cat, despite its serval genes.

Like domestic cats, Savannahs and other domestic hybrids (such as Bengals) require appropriate anesthesia based on their medical needs but do not have specific requirements as breeders sometimes erroneously infer. It is unclear among the veterinary community how a particular anesthetic agent, specifically ketamine, has been listed as causing ill effects when this has not been found to be accurate. It is possible this comes from a misunderstanding of the drug and its common effects, since ketamine is an anesthetic that cannot be used alone.

Ketamine has been proven safe, when used in servals, together with medetomidine (Domitor, Dorbene, Dormilan, Medetor, Sedastart, Sedator, Sededorm) and butorphanol (Alvegesic, Dolorex, Torbugesic, Torbutrol, Torphasol) with the antagonist atipamezole (Alzane, Antisedan, Atipam, Revertor, Sedastop). Dexmedetomidine (Dexdomitor) is a new version of medetomidine, with fewer side effects.

Another inaccurate breeder recommendation is that of using only a killed vaccine. Modified live vaccines are appropriate for use in Savannahs and will not ’cause’ the disease. Savannahs are not more or less sensitive than the general population of domestic cats to a vaccine reaction. Modified live vaccines induce much better immunity than killed vaccines, and many modified live vaccines have the desirable bonus of lacking an ‘adjuvant’, a component in killed vaccines that predisposes the cat to vaccine-associated sarcomas.

In the United States rabies vaccines are recommended but not approved for non-domestic cats. If a non-domestic cat bites someone it will be treated as “unvaccinated” whether it has been given a vaccine or not. This means a state veterinarian may require a cat who has bitten someone to be euthanized or quarantined according to state laws.

Some breeders state Savannah cats have no known special care or food requirements, while others recommend a very high quality diet with no grains or byproducts. Some recommend a partial or complete raw feeding/raw food diet with at least 32% protein and no byproducts. Some recommend calcium and other supplements, especially for growing cats and earlier generations. Others consider it unnecessary, or even harmful. Most Savannah breeders agree that Savannahs have a need for more taurine than the average domestic cat, and therefore recommend taurine supplements, which can be added to any food type.

Savannah Cat Ownership Laws

Laws governing ownership of Savannah cats in the United States vary according to state. The majority of states follow the code set by the United States Department of Agriculture, which defines wild or domesticated hybrid crosses as domesticated. Some states have set more restrictive laws on hybrid cat ownership, including Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Georgia. Some cities may have laws that differ from the state. For example, Savannahs more than five generations from the serval are allowed to be owned in New York state, but not in the city of New York.

The Australian Federal government has banned the importation into Australia of the Savannah cat, as the larger cats could potentially threaten species of the country’s native wildlife not threatened by smaller domestic cats. A government report into the proposed importation of the cats has warned the hybrid breed may introduce enhanced hunting skills and increased body size into feral cat populations, putting native species at risk. The report states the Savannah cats are not worth the risk.

Savannah cats are legal in every province of Canada, although some provinces have restrictions on the ownership of F1 and F2 generations, and importing Savannahs from the United States requires rabies vaccination and special permits.

Many other nations have few or no restrictions on F2 and later generations.

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