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Savannah Cat – Facts, History, and Health Problems

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Milla
Savannah Cat – Facts, History, and Health Problems

Quick Facts about Savannah Cats

One of the largest domestic cat breeds in the world, the Savannah cat is the product of a cross between an African wild cat breed and domestic breeds, becoming highly prized for many of its traits. Although it’s a relatively new breed, the Savannah cat is already three F generations old (three generations from the original breed). Savannah cats are known to be intelligent, adaptable, and loyal, but they retain the love of hunting attributed to their ancestors.

More Quick Facts:

  • Unlike most cat breeds, Savannah cats love water and enjoy playing in it
  • They can live between 12 and 20 years, and they take about three years to grow to their full size
  • Although they’re a recognized domestic breed, some US states still require licensing to own them due to their “hybrid” nature
  • Savannah cats are incredibly agile, with a jump ability of up to eight feet horizontally

Breed Overview

WEIGHT:12 to 25 pounds
LENGTH:20 to 22 inches
COAT COLOR:Black, black silver spotted tabby, brown spotted tabby
COAT:Short to Medium
EYE COLOR: All colors
LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 20 years

History

The Savannah cat breed began with F1 kittens first bred in the mid-1980s. They are a cross between the African serval—a middle sized, large-eared wild cat—and domestic breeds. The first, named “Savannah”, was born in 1986 and displayed the serval’s size, but the domestic mother’s temperament and personality. It was bred by Judy Frank, a Bengal cat breeder in Pennsylvania and later popularized by Patrick Kelly and Joyce Sroufe. The cross became increasingly popular with breeders in the late 1990s and was officially accepted as a domestic breed by the International Cat Association (TICA) in 2001.

Common Health Problems

Despite their hybrid status, Savannah cats are known to be quite healthy, and without many of the major genetic predispositions other hybrid breeds carry. Fortunately, this means your cat insurance costs should be relatively low. They have been recorded to have some tendency toward hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a thickening of the heart muscle) in servals, but the trait does not seem to be present to a significant degree in the Savannah cat population. Even so, most veterinarians and breeding experts recommend that Savannah cats receive genetic testing to avoid the development of breed-specific ailments, and that they receive regular veterinary care. Some additional things to look out for:

  • Male Savannah cats are still largely sterile until the F4 generation, making it harder for them to reproduce
  • While HCM is not a major concern, you should still test for it to avoid any unexpected problems 
  • Because they’re a relatively younger breed, there is still some genetic variability that could result in unexpected health issues in future generations

Savannah Cat Care

One of the most prized traits of Savannah cats is that they are loyal and affectionate companions. This means that they enjoy following you around and participating in your activities, though you should make sure to give them their space and let them engage on their own terms. They are also known to be active, so you should provide plenty of opportunities to engage in fun climbing, running, and play time. Moreover, they’re known to be intelligent, so they love fetching, and you can train them much like you would a dog (even getting them used to walking with you on a leash). 
In terms of grooming, Savannah cats’ short hair means that they shed less, so they require less frequent grooming than long-haired cats. Even so, you should aim to comb and brush them weekly to avoid hair buildup (and as a way to shower them with affection). You should also try to trim their nails weekly, as well as check their ears for signs of irritation or infection. If your cat’s ears are dirty, you can wipe them with a slightly dampened cotton ball (using a liquid prescribed by your veterinarian). You should also frequently clean your cat’s teeth and schedule dental maintenance appointments as necessary. 

Pros & Cons of Siamese cats

Pros:Cons: 
  • They are surprisingly easy to train 
  • They are high energy and demand attention
  • They are highly loyal and affectionate 
  • They are hard to breed, and thus Savannah cat prices are high
  • They’re easy to socialize with other pets and children
  • Some states may ban or restrict Savannah cat ownership 

Personality of Siamese Cats

Despite their serval heritage, most Savannah cats (even F1 kittens) are known to be calm, friendly, and not aggressive. Here are some other traits of Savannah cats:

  • They are known to be very loyal and attached to their owners 
  • They are receptive to training and even leashed walks 
  • TThey love to play in water 
  • They love to play, and are known to have a sense of humor 
  • They prefer to share sleeping spaces, and love getting under the sheets
  • They love to climb
  • They require constant, active engagement to be happy
  • They can be demanding of your attention
  • They actively seek social interactions
  • They keep some hunting instincts
  • They enjoy fetching
  • They like to show affection on their own terms 
  • They are high-energy cats
  • They remain kitten-like in personality throughout their life