Considered one of the newest breed of cats, the Savannah is created by a Bengal cat breeder, Judee, Framk, in 1986 when she crossed the wild Serval cat of Africa with a domestic cat. A kitten of unexpected beauty and grace resulted from the mating and was named Savannah. It became the first F1, that is, the first generation of this hybrid cross as well as the foundation stock for the subsequent generation.
The dynamic personality and attractive physical traits of the Savannah have gained itself much attention from those who have come to learn about it. One of those who showed great interest was Patrick Kelly, who obtained one of the Savannah kittens, so as to produce a new breed of domestic cat. Kelly enlisted the help of Joyce Sroufe, a cat breeder, to assist him in this endeavor. Their efforts paid off when they were able to successfully produce a new feline breed. They were also credited for writing the breed’s standard for The International Cat Fancier (TICA) in 1996. These have led the Savannah to be recognized as a New Advance Breed in 2001 by TICA.
In fact, the TICA is the only cat registry that recognizes the Savannah. It is very difficult to breed the Savannah cat and many states do not recognize the Savannah as a domestic breed, making it an illegal cat to own. Currently banned in Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York, the half wild side of Savannahs it too wild for some. They are worried that the wild side of the Savannah could emerge and change the ecosystem if too many of them escaped into the wild. However, for many owners, it is precisely this wild element that attracts them to the Savannah, making owning this cat a unique experience.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Savannah is by far the largest domestic cat, weighing up to 30 pounds. It possesses a long, lean and well muscled body. It has prominent shoulders that produce a gait and a hip that appears slightly heavier in proportion to the rest of the body. The legs of the Savannah breed are longer than most average cats, making it appear to stand as tall as a medium sized dog. While the legs are strong, they are neither heavy nor overly delicate, and they taper into oval medium sized paws. A characteristic ability attributed to its legs is being able to jump an amazing 7 feet in the air from a standstill; the Savannah jumps higher and farther than any other domestic cats. Balancing the body is a long tail of medium thickness, tapering into a rounded end.
This cat has a wedge shaped head that appears like an equilateral triangle. The triangle is formed from the horizontal line above the brows and the sidelines along its jaw bones. The lines converge into a rounded finish at the muzzle. Above this wedged shape, the forehead and the ears form a rectangle that can be traced from the brow line to the tips of the ears. The ears are large and work like radars, being able to spin 180 degrees for the Savannah to hone in on its prey. They are set upright and are well furnished with ear tufts. Savannah’s eyes are medium in sized and oval in shape. They are set underneath a slightly hooded brow. Black tear marks run from the outer corners of the eyes and down to its whiskers. The same marking may also be traced from the inner corners of the eyes to the nose. All eye colors are acceptable and are independent of its coat color. Viewed in profile, the forehead shows a straight and slightly convex curve from the top of the head to the ridge of the brow. There will then be a slight change in direction into a slight concave curve along the nose of the ridge of the brows. From the profile, the nose appears slightly protruding such that the line from the tip of the nose to the firm chin slants back. The muzzle is slightly blunt with unpronounced whisker pads. Adding to its elegance is a long and lean neck.
Savannah cat wears a coat of short to medium hair and is moderately dense. The coarser guard hair is covered with a softer undercoat. The coat is marked with bold solid spots that can be round, oval or elongated. A series of parallel lines run along its spine from the back of the head to the rump. The coat can come in black, brown or smoke color.
Personality and temperaments
The Savannah is a confident cat marked with high intelligence. Despite its loveliness, the Savannah is not a cat meant for everyone or for first-time cat owners. The reason being, it is a highly active, assertive and curious cat, requiring a lot of interaction and attention on a daily basis. It seeks out adventure at every opportunity. While it is not a lap cat, the Savannah shows its affection by following its loved ones around the house and giving them frequent head butts. It has a special love for water and love games like catch or fetch. Savannah can be a very loyal cat, capable of building strong bonds with the family.
Care and health issues
Savannah is a hearty breed with an average lifespan of between 15 to 20 years. Due to its breeding with the wild cat, the new breeds do not suffer from inbreeding, thus, there are very few health specific to the Savannah cat. Even though it is a generally healthy cat, it is still always wise to purchase the cat from a qualified breeder who can provide you with a written health guarantee of the cat.
The short-medium luxurious coat requires only a weekly brushing to keep it healthy. However, since it is twice the size of the average cat, it also takes twice as much to groom. The other basic grooming care includes the trimming of nails, usually weekly; frequent teeth brushing with vet-approved toothpaste; and ear checks for infections.
The ideal home
The Savannah is suitable for both indoor and outdoor living. However, due to its highly adventurous and curious nature that is coupled with its excellent agility, it is no surprise that the cat might venture out if left in the outdoor spaces. Thus, the outdoor gardens or spaces must be safe and escape-proof for the Savannah to explore and play safely. Otherwise, equipped indoor spaces with cat gym sets, cat trees as well as interactive toys to prevent boredom. The Savannah does not tolerate solitude and would need the companionship and interactivity either from its own humans or that from other family pets. This will help to prevent the cat from becoming destructive when left on its own. Thus, the Savannah is clearly not a cat for those who have not owned a cat before. It requires patience and attention and the family should be prepared to set aside time on a daily basis to care for it. Under responsible and loving family, the Savannah will certainly thrive in its affections and loyalty to the family, bring much amusing antics and joy to the home.