Savannah Cats - Stunning Looks and a Loving Personality
What are these graceful and muscular felines?
Long, lean and tall with large ears that are towards the top of the head. And how about those magnificent spotted coats, surely these must be some species of wildcat!
No, these beauties are Savannahs a hybrid cross between a Serval (an African wildcat) and a domestic cat.
As well as the very large and prominent ears one of the most noticeable features of Savannah Cats are their short thick tails, only about three-quarters the length of normal domestic cat’s tail.
Savannahs are remarkably good looking with smallish heads that are long and slender with a triangular face.
The beautiful eyes can be yellow, green, caramel or golden and are often deep set. Around the eyes are distinctive tear stain markings.
The bodies of Savannahs are long with a deep rib cage, the rear end is often higher than the shoulders, supported by long, slender but strong legs with small oval feet and lengthy toes.
Their awe inspiring coats can be silver with dark spots, tan with black spots, marbled, smoky black (melanistic,) white and several other colors and patterns.
There is some variation amongst Savannah cats depending on the generation, the closer an individual Savannah is to the Serval/domestic mating the more it will have of the wildcat’s looks.
Often Bengal Cats are used as the domestic partner but sometimes other breeds, such as an Egyptian Mau or Oriental Shorthair, are used and that too will effect the appearance of the Savannah kittens.
Savannahs are a relatively new breed. The first known Savannah cat was attained in the mid 1980s by Bengal breeder Judee Frank.
The new breed would have much of the appearance of its wild exotic ancestor but with the temperament of a domestic cat and it can be said that aim has been achieved.
This female hybrid was named after the grassland Savannahs of Africa.
Savannah attracted the attention of Patrick Kelley, who for many years had been fascinated by exotic domestic cats and he purchased one of Savannah's offspring.
Determined that Savannahs should be developed as a breed he contacted several breeders of Servals but was unable to stir much enthusiasm until he teamed up with breeder Joyce Sroufe.
In 2000 they were successful in getting the breed accepted by the International Cat Association (TICA)
As with the establishing of the Bengal Breed, the aim in developing the Savannah cat breed was to form a domestic variant of a wildcat, in this case the Serval.
The new breed would have much of the appearance of its wild exotic ancestor but with the temperament of a domestic cat.
With Savannah cats it can be said that aim has been achieved.
First generation Savannahs, 50% Serval and 50% domestic, are known as F1, second generation Savannahs are 75% domestic and 25% serval and known as F2, third generation are known as F3, fourth generation known as F4 and so on.
Savannah males are sterile and therefor cannot reproduce until they are at least 4 times removed from the Serval.
It is not easy to breed Servals to domestic cats.
Most Serval males are simply not interested in the prospect of mating with a female that is too small and has the wrong scent, and it can be quite a dangerous mating for the domestic females.
Most successful pairings are achieved by using male Servals and domestic females that have been reared together.
Also, the length of pregnancy for a Serval is 74 days but the average pregnancy for a domestic cat is shorter at 63 days.
The Serval impregnated domestic female will frequently go into labor when her normal time arrives, which will in fact be premature for a Serval birth.
This coupled with the fact that Savannah kittens are much larger than domestic kittens means the litter has a poor chance of survival unless the mother cat can be made to be overdue.
These, and other, breeding difficulties mean that there is currently a scarcity of cats and kittens so that those that are available command exceptionally high prices.
This scarcity has resulted in reports of full-blooded Servals being passed off as Savannahs, an extremely dangerous deception.
Savannahs are reported to make an excellent pets and wonderful companions being sociable and intelligent animals.
Some owners report that the early generations are a bit less at ease with strangers but none-the-less are still able to bond deeply with their owners.
These cats have a love of water and some are reported as being willing to jump into a bath!
There are many Savannah cats that have been trained to walk on a leash and fetch thrown toys.
Owners say that Savannahs tolerate and get on with children very well, but as with any cat, care should be taken when introducing a Savannah in a home with very small children.
Savannahs get along well with other cats, but may tend to be a bit domineering, they are also said to live very well with dogs. They are a very energetic breed and love to climb and make full use of their long legs to do so.
All in all, Savannah cats not only have unusual and stunning good looks but a loving and devoted personality to boot.
Owners of Munchkin cats insist that their pets are not hampered by their short legs. They say Munchkin cats are agile and fast as any cat and their pets can climb much like any other cat.