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Are Savannah Cats Legal in California? Vet Approved Facts & Care Tips

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	Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM Photo

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Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM

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If you want to add a unique, high-energy pet to your California home, the Savannah cat might be what you’re looking for. However, because this breed is a hybrid with a true wild species as one parent, the serval cat, they aren’t legal in every state. California Savannah cat lovers are in luck, though, as all generations of this breed are legal to own without a permit, so yes, it is legal to own a Savannah cat in California.

In this article, we’ll learn more about how Savannah cats are bred, including the generational differences that sometimes decide whether one is legal or not in other states. We’ll also cover a few details about what it’s like to have a Savannah cat as a pet.

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Savannah Cats: Generations Explained

As we mentioned, all generations of Savannah cats are legal in California. But what is a generation, and why do some states restrict which of these you can own?

The Savannah breed was created by crossing domestic cats such as the Siamese with African serval cats, a wild species. All Savannah cats are assigned a generational number, starting with F1 and moving higher, which indicates how much of their genetics come from the serval. F1 Savannah cats are the most closely related to servals, containing up to 75% of the wild DNA.

Although all Savannahs are technically considered “domestic” because they’re hybrids, the presence of more serval cat genes can make a difference in the personality and behavior of the animal. Breeding Savannah cats to each other to create new generations further dilutes the influence of the serval ancestry. Because of this, some states will only allow later generations, F4–F5 and higher, for example, to be privately owned.

kitten breed Savannah_Kolomenskaya Kseniya_shutterstock
Credit: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

How Generation Impacts Behavior

All Savannah cats display behavioral quirks that are unlike their domestic breed relatives. For example, they’re much bigger than most other cats, especially males who weigh as much as 30 pounds. Savannah cats are also highly energetic, playful, and intelligent.

Early-generation Savannah cats tend to retain more wild traits. They are often more independent and have a more challenging time adapting to family life, especially if they aren’t socialized early. These cats might not like sharing their owners with other pets or kids.

Later generations of Savannah cats, F4 and higher, tend to behave more like domestic cats, although you can still expect them to be highly curious, energetic, and not particularly cuddly. However, they usually get along better with older children and dogs when given plenty of early socialization.

Owning a Savannah Cat

California residents can feel reassured they won’t be breaking the law by owning a Savannah cat, but there are other factors to consider before deciding if this is the pet for you. Unfortunately, some people decide they want a Savannah cat because of its exotic looks and don’t learn enough about what it’s like to live with one, leading to unfortunate outcomes for the animal.

Savannah cats are not the breed for those looking for a laidback kitty happy to snuggle on the couch. They are endlessly curious, mischievous, high-energy animals who need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Without it, they can quickly become bored and destructive.

Some cats tolerate spending much of the day alone, but the Savannah isn’t one of them. They bond closely with their humans and need plenty of attention. Later generations may enjoy another companion pet, but make sure they are carefully socialized together first.

Active individuals and families are best suited to life with a Savannah cat. This breed is intelligent and can quickly learn to walk on a leash, allowing them to join in outdoor adventures safely. Many Savannah cats even like to swim.

At home, Savannah cats enjoy climbing and playing with interactive toys. Cat trees, shelves, and perches are a must for this breed. They might not want to snuggle in your lap, but your Savannah cat probably won’t let you out of their sight, often following their owners around like dogs.

savannah sitting on the couch
Image Credit: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

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If you’ve done your research and believe you can provide a good home for a Savannah cat, choose a breeder carefully. The International Cat Association (TICA) registers Savannah cats and is an excellent place to start to find a reputable breeder. As we’ve learned, the different generations of Savannah cats can be very challenging to live with, and you must be sure that the breeder you choose is telling the truth about what you’re buying. Early socialization and training are also essential, and experienced breeders will give your Savannah kitten a good foundation.

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Featured Image Credit: AJR_photo, Shutterstock