Savannahs are stunning kitties with long graceful legs, oversized ears, and gorgeous coats that make heads turn. They have the beautiful spotted coats of a wild cat and a pet’s personality, which makes sense as Savannah cats are hybrids with wild African serval and domestic cat ancestry.
Most are relatively large cats, often weighing over 25 pounds. Between their stunning looks and sweet antics, these cats are made for Instagram. Savannahs are a relatively new breed and have only been around since the 1980s but have recently become increasingly popular. An F2 Savannah is a second-generation cat with an F1 parent and a serval grandparent. It has 25% to 35% serval traits.
The Earliest Records of Savannah Cats in History
Savannah cats are a mix between wild African servals and domestic cats, and the breed was established in 1986. Judee Frank, an established Bengal cat breed, woke up one morning to discover that her 8-pound Siamese cat had given birth to several kittens fathered by a 30-pound serval named Ernie.
The very first kitten was named Savannah! Patrick Kelly adopted one of the first F2 kittens and fell in love with the breed. He later became instrumental in securing the breed’s recognition by The International Cat Association (TICA).
While African servals are decidedly wild, they’ve lived near humans for millennia, although they’ve never been domesticated. Servals tend to be much larger than domestic cats, weighing up to 40 pounds and growing up to 2 feet tall. They’re native to most regions of Africa, although the species is under pressure in the continent’s north. Servals prefer to live around savannas and wetlands.
How Savannah Cats Gained Popularity
Savannahs are a relatively new breed. But the popularity of these stunning spotted cats has only grown since the birth of the very first serval-domestic hybrid back in 1986.
Social media appears to have played an important role in the growth of the breed’s cache. There’s a Savannah, Stryker, with more than 800,000 Instagram followers1. And Justin Bieber has two Savannahs named Sushi and Tuna, although both cats now live with a family member since Bieber was prohibited from keeping the animals due to a clause in his lease.
Unfortunately, these cats are often surrendered after adoption as many owners find Savannahs, particularly earlier-generation kitties, too much to handle. Australia has banned the importation and ownership of all Savannahs because of the danger these cats pose to native wildlife. The United Kingdom has a slightly more relaxed approach, prohibiting only the ownership of F1 cats.
Formal Recognition of Savannah Cats
After Patrick Kelly adopted one of the first Savannahs, he began working with Joyce Sroufe to develop the breed. The pair advocated tirelessly for the new breed’s acceptance. Kelly and Sroufe even wrote the initial TICA breed standard! TICA first recognized the breed in 2001, and Savannahs were admitted to championship status in 2012.
Neither the Cat Fancy Association (CFA) nor the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) accepts Savannah cats for registration. The breed is excluded from participation in most CFA and GFCC-sponsored events due to concerns about intentionally introducing wild cat genes to the domestic cat population.
Worries about the role of breeding of hybrid cats in the illegal wildlife trade have also been raised. Many are concerned that the rising popularity of these cats will strengthen the illicit wildlife trade by increasing demand for servals intended for breeding.
Top 3 Unique Facts About F2 Savannah Cats
Savannah cats are not only incredibly gorgeous, but they’re also fascinating. Read on to learn more about three fun Savannah Cat facts!
1. F2 Savannah Cats Have One Serval Grandparent
Savannah cats are classified by how many generations they are removed from their wild ancestry. An F1 Savannah has one wild parent, and an F2 cat has one serval grandparent. Cats in generations 1 through 3 tend to exhibit the most serval-like behavior, which can make them challenging to raise. Cats in the F1 and F2 generations also tend to be a bit larger. F2 Savannahs will also more likely require a special grain-free diet with extra protein. Early-generation cats sometimes have trouble with grain since their digestive tracts are similar to their non-grain-eating wild ancestors.
2. Female F2 Savannah Cats Cost More than Males
First-generation F1 Savannahs typically cost anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000. Be prepared to dish out $12,000–$16,000 for a male F1 and anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 for a female. Female early-generation cats tend to be more expensive than male cats from the same litter due to widespread sterility among male F1 and F2 Savannahs. An F2 male will set you back anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000. Female F2 cats usually cost in the range of $4,000 to $9,000. There’s not much difference in price between male and female F3, F4, and F5 Savannah cats.
3. F2 Savannah Cats Are Illegal in Some Places
Many jurisdictions regulate the ownership of hybrids like Bengals and Savannahs. Some states, like Georgia, Rhode Island, Nebraska, and Hawaii, prohibit residents from owning Savannahs. Others, like New York and Colorado, only permit the ownership of later-generation Savannahs. Some cities, like Seattle, have their own bans that supersede state regulations. And a fair number of counties and cities have local laws that prohibit or restrict Savannah ownership. Due to the high percentage of wild ancestry in these cats, F1 and F2 hybrids are almost always included in generationally-based restrictions.
Do F2 Savannah Cats Make Good Pets?
F2 Savannah cats can make excellent pets, but they’re not the right choice for everyone. Savannahs are sweet and curious cats that love to explore their world. They tend to be loyal and frequently become attached to their human companions. While most don’t like to be picked up and held, these cats habitually follow their favorite humans around.
F2 Savannahs are only two generations removed from their wild ancestry, and they often exhibit more “wild” behaviors. F2 Savannahs have strong prey drives, often fixating on and chasing small mammals, including smaller cats. F2 Savannahs are hunting machines that cannot roam outside unsupervised due to the risk these cats can pose to smaller animals and birds. Some F2 Savannahs struggle to use the litter box and are inclined to mark in the house.
F2 Savannah cats are gorgeous, wild-looking, active creatures. They have the stunning spotted fur of their serval ancestors and the temperament of domestic cats. F2 Savannahs aren’t far removed from their wild heritage and have a strong prey drive. Although they make great companions for active families, they’re not the best choice if your home has hamsters, mice, and guinea pigs.
Featured Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain, pxhere
- The Earliest Records of Savannah Cats in History
- How Savannah Cats Gained Popularity
- Formal Recognition of Savannah Cats
- Top 3 Unique Facts About F2 Savannah Cats
- Do F2 Savannah Cats Make Good Pets?