Savannah cat: Cat breed characteristics & care (2024)

Savannah cat: Cat breed characteristics & care (1)

Table of Contents

  • Savannah fun facts
  • Savannah temperament and characteristics
  • Common health problems
  • History
  • Caring for your Savannah
  • Breeds similar to the Savannah
  • Frequently asked questions

Breed overview

  • Weight — 17-25 pounds (F1 and F2), 12-16 pounds (SBT)
  • Coat characteristics — Their coats are short to medium length and slightly coarse. They have three different coat patterns and four color variations.
  • Enrichment needs — Very high
  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Frequent and diverse
  • Life span — 12-15+ years
  • Temperament — Confident, alert, curious, and friendly
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — United States

Savannah fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Savannahs Loki and Simba. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Savannahs love Nala, then Cleopatra.

  • The Savannah is a relatively new breed. The first Savannah cat, who gave the breed its name, was born in 1986 by accident when a cat owned by Judee Frank and gave birth to a kitten sired by an African serval
  • All Savannah cats are hybrids of domestic cats and servals. Savannah litters are marked with the generation number. The smaller the number (i.e. F1, F2), the closer to the wild cat they are.
  • Savannahs are amazing jumpers. Most can jump higher than seven feet and love spending time on high-up spaces like your fridge.
Savannah cat: Cat breed characteristics & care (2)

Savannah temperament and characteristics

Savannah cats are very high energy and playful pets. They are very curious and love to get into things (including the occasional bit of trouble). Savannahs love to go on walks and play fetch with their humans. Because of their size and activity level, they do best with older children. They tend to get bored and lonely easily, so having a companion cat or cat-friendly dog is very important for cat owners.

Savannahs are known as “velcro cats” because of their loyal nature. Don’t be surprised to have your Savannah follow you around when you’re home. On the flip side, this attachment can lead to behaviors like anxiety or depression when left alone for too long. Despite their friendly natures, without socialization and training as kittens, they can be suspicious and wary of strangers.

Savannah cats are quite talkative and can have many different distinct vocalizations, especially if they come from F1 or F2 generations.

Common Savannah health problems

The Savannah cat is a generally healthy breed with no major inherited conditions reported. However, they could have common issues because they are a hybrid breed with domestic breeds such as Siamese, Egyptian Mau, and Abyssinian. Consult with your vet to check if your kitty has any health issues.

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is a rare but serious condition that can be inherited. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes the muscle lining of the heart to thicken. This condition could lead to blood clots due to decreased movement of blood through the heart.
  • Taurine deficiencies. Taurine is an amino acid found in animal protein. Because of their high energy and large size, Savannah cats need a higher amount of taurine than other breeds.
  • Diabetes. Common in older cats, Savannahs have a chance of developing diabetes especially if more treats are given than walks.

🚨Male neutered cats are susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can become fatal if left untreated. Make an appointment with the vet immediately if you notice that your cat is having accidents.

Cost of caring for a Savannah

Even though Savannah cats tend to be a very healthy breed, you’ll still need to take them for regular health check-ups. The cost of annual routines can be offset with proper budgeting or even with pet insurance. Make sure to get pet insurance when they are young to get the best benefits. It’s also important to have a plan for emergency costs because it’s better to be over-prepared than underprepared.

On top of the other expenses of owning a cat, you’ll likely drop a pretty penny to purchase one of these kitties. The average cost runs between $7,000 for a female and $12,000 for a male from a breeder and $200-600 for adoption. You may also find that the cost to fulfill their enrichment and activity needs will be higher than other cats.

Savannah cat: Cat breed characteristics & care (3)

History of the Savannah

The very first Savannah cat was accidentally bred in Pennsylvania in 1986 when Bengal breeder Judee Frank found her Siamese cat giving birth to a hybrid kitten with the serval sire she had just acquired. That kitten was named Savannah and that’s where the breed gets its name. Three years later, Savannah was bred with a Turkish Angora and gave birth to three kittens – one stillborn serval, one white male, and another female Savannah. This litter marked the official beginning of the breed. Through the efforts of 18 hard-working individuals, the Savannah cat was solidified and added to the International Cat Association.

Because of the hybrid nature of this breed, they are classified by their generation in relation to how close they are to their African serval ancestors. The first generation that comes from the direct coupling is considered F1. The generation that comes from that is F2, and so on. It takes approximately four generations and only Savannah parents to be registered as “stud book tradition” or SBT, which means there are no traces left of the wild African Serval. Many breeders today will often breed and sell later generations and SBT Savannah cats.

Caring for your Savannah

When it comes to giving your Savannah the special love and attention they deserve, there are a few basics to keep in mind. As with all cats, make sure to keep your Savannah current on their vaccinations. FidoAlert is a great option to help owners keep tabs on their outdoor-friendly cats and give them peace of mind.


Savannah cats don’t have any special grooming needs on a daily basis. They do like to go for walks with you so keep an eye on what they get into on the walks. If it’s a particularly dirty walk, they might enjoy a bath to get clean again when you get home. Because of their short hair, you won’t need to brush your Savannah kitty often. You’ll want to keep an eye out for any hair loss or scabbing on their skin.

Regardless if your cat is an expert at grooming themselves, there are still some routine tasks that you should help with to prevent issues like gingivitis. Brushing your cat’s teeth, bringing them to the vet for routine dental care, and trimming your cat’s nails are all essential to a healthy cat and a happy you.

Savannah cat: Cat breed characteristics & care (4)

Diet and nutrition

As a rule of thumb, all cats need a diet high in protein. Savannahs need a very high amount of protein in their diet because of activity level, size, and heritage to the African Serval. When selecting the food for your Savannah, make sure that the ingredients have full protein options and limit carb amounts. Foods high in animal meal or grains won’t give your Savannah enough protein to support them throughout their life. Consults our recommended cat feeding guidelines based on which food you select.

Always check with your veterinarian to make sure your cat is healthy and maintain a routine of annual check-ups just to be sure.

If you are looking to get a Savannah kitten, it is important to note that they have different dietary needs than their adult counterparts. For the first 12 weeks, it’s recommended to feed kittens a diet of raw chicken with added supplements. For the next year until adulthood, they’ll need to have wet food. You can start mixing dry kibble into the wet food as they get closer to adulthood. When they’re younger they typically don’t have any interest in dry food and will often ignore it.

Although cats drink less water than a dog their size, it is still important to make sure your cat is getting enough water. Cats typically prefer moving water over water that sits still. Cat water fountains can be a very beneficial investment in your cat’s health.

Enrichment and environment

This breed is one that needs a lot of space and a lot of attention. Savannahs love to run and hunt. They are also prolific jumpers, so you might find them on your refrigerator more often than not. Savannahs love going on walks with their parents so investing in a good cat harness and leash is a good idea. Pay attention to your cat’s body language, and if they seem bored or restless, try to introduce some new forms of mental exercise or enrichment.

If you want to give your kitty outside time, make sure they are in an enclosed catio or back deck. They can easily jump over seven to eight feet high, clearing most privacy fences with no problem. Also, never leave your Savannah unattended. Because of their rarity and high cost, they are highly sought-after and unfortunately frequently stolen. While Savannahs may do better than other cats in hot weather because of their African serval ancestors, it’s still important to make sure they don’t get too hot or too cold.

Savannah cat: Cat breed characteristics & care (5)

Breeds similar to the Savannah

Not quite sure that a Savannah is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Bengal cat. Like the Savannahs, Bengals or hybrid cats. They have a similar spotted coat and independent nature. Similarly to the Savannah, you’ll need to check the legality of the cat in your state before purchasing.
  • Egyptian Mau. Maus have a similar energy level and loyalty, but are fully legal in all 50 states.
  • Turkish Angora. If you are looking for a cat that is also tall and lanky but is sweeter and quieter, look into the Turkish Angora.

Frequently asked questions

Are Savannah cats legal in my state?

Some states have a total ban on all Savannah cat ownership such as Georgia, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Rhode Island. Some require permits like Delaware and Texas. Some states restrict the generation you can get like Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It is very important to check with your local city and county regulations as well as they may be different.

Why do Savannahs cost so much?

The cost is high for Savannahs because of the difficulties breeding. Many F1 kittens will be stillborn, and all F1 and F2 males will be sterile. The number of Savannah breeders are also affected because of the ownership restrictions.

Are Savannah cats protective?

Because of their loyalty and attachment to their humans, Savannahs can be wary of strangers. This can manifest into protectiveness if they aren’t socialized as kittens.

Why are Savannah cats large?

Savannahs get their size from their Serval ancestor. The closer the generation is to the Serval, the bigger your Savannah will be.

Savannah cat: Cat breed characteristics & care (2024)


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