How big will my Savannah get?
Although Savannah cats are represented as large cats (and that is part of their allure) not all Savannahs are big. These cats are often between 10-20 lbs in weight with earlier generations tending to be larger and thus heavier. However this is not a hard and fast rule and it often depends on the individual cat itself. Males tend to be larger in size than females especially in the earlier generation cats (F1-F3). And of course genetics plays a part in the size of the cat as well. A cat that has larger ancestors in his/her pedigree and is also on the larger side likely will produce larger kittens. However, no breeder can guarantee the size of any one Savannah cat, although they may be able to guess at it by looking at prior kittens from the same breeding. Savannah cats tend to have long legs making them taller and thus larger in size. However, try not to get hung up on size as this is definitely not the one thing that makes these cats so unique and sought after.
Why are they so expensive?
The Savannah cat is a hybrid cat - a mix between an African Serval (wildcat) and a domestic cat. The genetic makeup and differing gestation periods between these two cats is different enough that it is difficult to produce viable offspring. Not all pairings are successful with many breedings being reabsorbed, queens miscarrying, many still births and higher infant mortality along with premature births. Earlier generation males are sterile and thus to produce a useable Savannah stud, you must breed down until about the 5th or 6th generation. This is essentially why these cats are expensive - when you breed Savannahs, you aren't always guaranteed kittens and to be able to produce a Savannah cat to Savannah cat mating, you need to breed down six generations! Later generation Savannahs cats are less expensive than the earlier generation cats.
What makes a Savannah cat so unique?
Savannah cats are not only exotic in their appearance, but also different than other breeds of cats in their personality and temperament. There is nothing quite like a Savannah cat. They are bold, but friendly. They bond especially tightly to one person, but can be perfectly social with everyone. They jump high, play hard and show their love for you in unique ways. This cat is highly inquisitive and more dog-like than any other breed. Many of them will play a form of fetch and quickly learn words, including their name. Some Savannahs love water, while others are content to simply watch. Some Savannahs love to play, play, play (especially as kittens) while others are more interested in a quick play session before a long cuddled nap with you. Savannahs love the outdoors and can be trained relatively easily to walk on a leash. They will also come to enjoy car rides and going places if you continually take them on these trips. Savannah cats are intelligent beings and can quickly be taught not to get on kitchen counters etc. However, they can also be stubborn and refuse to follow your orders! If you would like a cat that is often times on the go, loves to cuddle with their people and be around people and is always into something - then this is the cat for you!
What does F1, F2, F3 etc. mean?
The "F" stands for the filial generation of the cat. In other words - how far removed from the Serval the cat is. An F1 denotes that the father is a Serval, an F2 has a Serval grandfather, an F3 has a Serval great-grandfather and so on down the line. An F1 cat is also considered a foundation cat (the first Savannah cat - parents are Serval father and domestic mother).
What does "A", "B", "C" and "SBT" mean?
This is a bit more complicated. Essentially the letters used after the "F" denote how far back an out-cross (not a Savannah cat) was used in a particular cat. An "A" cat for instance has a parent that is not a Savannah. An F1 cat will always be an "F1A" since its Serval father is a non-Savannah. An F2 will always be an "F2B" because its grandfather is a non-Savannah (Serval). The "B" indicates that one or more of the grandparents in the cat's lineage is non-Savannah, however both of the parents are Savannahs (Savannah to Savannah breeding). "C" indicates that one or more great-grandparents is non-Savannah, but both parents and grandparents are Savannah to Savannah (2 generations of Savannah to Savannah pairings). "SBT" means "Stud Book Tradition" and refers to the fact that a cat has at least 3 generations of Savannah to Savannah breedings in their pedigree. These are the only cats TICA (The International Cat Association) considers purebred Savannahs and are thus allowed to be shown at cat shows.
When will my cat reach his/her full size?
Savannah cats are unique in that they take longer to reach maturity than most cats because of their wildcat ancestry. Savannah cats grow until about 2 or 3 years of age before they reach full maturity.
What do I feed my Savannah?
A good quality cat kibble is sufficient for a Savannah although most Savannah cats (especially earlier generation cats) need more taurine in their diet than regular cats. You can add a supplement called Wild Trax to wet food or raw food in order to give them everything they need. A lot of Savannah cat owners are turning to a raw diet for their cats, but this is more an individual owner's choice than a necessity for your Savannah cat. I myself feed my cats a good quality kibble and supplement once in a while with cut up raw chicken dusted with Wild Trax.
Is there any special care I should give my Savannah?
Savannah cats can be treated very much like a regular cat. However there are some important things to know. Sedatives can be used on Savannah cats in the same way you would use on a domestic cat, but NEVER use the drug ketamine. This is a drug vets often use to put cats under during surgery, but it is known to cause severe problems in Savannahs including death.
Be very wary of where your cat is at all times - they are amazing escape artists that can weave their way out of regular harnesses and are lightning quick! If you have a door to the outside open, you can bet your cat will be out that door and on its way to exploring the big outdoors before you can think. To keep your Savannah safe - do not let him/her outside unless on a leash attached to you or in a fully enclosed enclosure (with a top). Savannah cats are known to take off and do not always return.
Outdoor time for my Savannah cat?
Allowing your cat outside is not entirely a no-no. However there are some guidelines you should follow in order to keep you cat safe. Savannah cats do love the outdoors and if provided with an outside enclosure, will spend many happy hours watching the world go by. As mentioned above, always be careful when letting your Savannah cat outdoors. Never allow them outside unless they are on a leash or in a sturdy enclosure with a ceiling. Savannah cats can roam, but do not always return. They can get lost, stolen or mistaken for a wild animal and killed. It is always better to be cautious with your wonderful, expensive pet and keep him/her safe!
Why do I need to quarantine my kitten or cat?
A two week quarantine period is essential to protect both your new kitten/cat and any other pets you have in your home. The quarantine period gives your kitten time to adjust to a new home and environment as well as giving you time to make sure your kitten is healthy. A sick kitten who isn't quarantined, will likely pass on the illness to the rest of your cats. Two weeks is enough time for any illness in your kitten to show up. This quarantine period is also important for the rest of your pet family as it gives them time to get used to the smell and presence of your new kitten, without being able to physically interact with the kitten (and potentially hurt him/her).
The color patterns of a Savannah
Savannah cats can come in a variety of colors (depending on the out-cross in their lineage). The standard colors include the typical Savannah cat that has a brown base coat with black spots called a brown (black) spotted tabby or bst. There is also the melanistic color - black coat with black spots, and silver coat with spots (sst), and the smoke color which is similar to the melanistic but the spots are very visible and the coat color is lighter. The snow coloration is a white base coat with spots (but this not considered a breed standard color). There are also different coat patterns including the marble and some cats can have white paws or chests. Savannah cats can also come in regular domestic cat colors such as calico, tuxedo, grey etc., but all of these are considered non-standard.