What You Absolutely Must Know When Buying Your Savannah Cat
You're interested in buying a Savannah cat, but there are many variations to choose from. Which one is right for you? This will depend on your personal preferences, lifestyle and budget.
Savannahs are a very distinct breed and you want to be sure that this is the right choice for you and your family.
Before you make that actual buying decision, there are some basic questions to ask yourself:
- Are you away from home for long periods? If so, are you willing to have a second pet to keep your Savannah company? Savannahs love being with their humans and are not happy being alone.
- Is your home situation stable and likely to remain stable? Most Savannahs bond strongly with a few people and don't like to be rehomed.
- Do you like to cuddle your pets? Many Savannahs don't like to be held or hugged... especially in the earlier generations.
- Do you want a big cat or a small cat? The later generations are usually smaller but an early generation male can weigh 20-30 pounds.
These questions make it sound like you're adopting a child! In fact buying a Savannah cat is an adoption. The breeder (if reputable) will make every effort to place his baby in a decent home.
If you want a Savannah for breeding purposes, you will probably be quite rigorous in your approach and look for different qualities than if you want a pet to keep you company.
But even buying a Savannah as a pet is more complicated than buying a traditional non-hybrid domestic cat.
Each Savannah generation will have a slightly different appearance and a personality that is more or less wild depending on how far it is from its Serval ancestors.
And the skill of the breeders will make a big difference in both the appearance and personality of the kittens. Here are a few guidelines.
African Serval Cat
Servals are big cats. They can open doors, jump on counters, knock over heavy things and chew through almost anything.
They can swipe everything off of a table, dresser or fireplace mantel and make sure that their path is clear and everything is on the floor.
Some owners will find this entertaining while others will not.
Servals need a large litter box – more like a doggie litter box. They can also be prone to blockages because they chew on everything.
Servals love to be with their people. They'll be under your feet while you're trying to walk up the stairs. They'll play on your keyboard while you're trying to work. When you are sleeping, they want to play. (After all... cats are night animals.)
They will pull everything out of your drawers; pull the covers off your bed; and bring you wet toys that they have dipped into the toilet.
Servals are priced at $5,000-$6,000.
The F1 will range from 50-82% or higher wild blood from the Serval cat so you should see a lot of the stunning Serval beauty in an F1.
They are big cats that weigh 15-30 pounds and have the long legs and the elegant walk of a Serval. They also need a large litter box that is unlikely to fit into most bathrooms.
F1s bond strongly to their owners and do not appreciate a change of ownership. They generally gravitate to one person and expect to be scratched, petted and adored constantly.
They don't like to be picked up or carried around but they will sleep with you, cuddle with you on the sofa, and kiss and nuzzle you.
F1s are intense and energetic in everything they do. Thirty minutes of fetch is not enough and they will throw the toy in your lap or in front of you until you continue. They will never get tired or bored before you do. Fortunately, they get along well with other pets that hopefully will have enough energy to keep them entertained when you have work to do.
F1s love to learn and they can learn tricks. They can learn how to fetch, come, sit, shake a paw, kiss, beg and speak. Owners have to be firm and consistent with F1s. They can't order their Savannah off the kitchen counters one day and then allow it to walk all over them the next.
The F1 will challenge and test your rules at every opportunity. And they will pout if you get mad at them. Raising an F1 is a lot like having a teenager in your house... for the next twenty years.
Like the Servals, F1s can get on your nerves more than most pets. They will knock food off your plate and then eat it. Or when you aren't looking they will steal it and run off to a hiding place to eat your dinner. Your bed makes a great place to devour the slain beast from your plate.
An F1 will know when you are harboring his favorite food in your fridge. How it can smell the fish or chicken through the sealed refrigerator door is a mystery. But they will meow loudly and persistently for days, get under your feet and wake you up until they get their prey. F1s don't understand the word surrender.
Many breeders advise that although F1s are beautiful in appearance, for many people they are impractical to own. Savannahs at the F2 stage and beyond can retain enough wild exotic beauty but are more manageable and make better pets.
F1s are costly. They range from $8,500-$12,000 depending on the pedigree, the percentage of Serval in the mother and the appearance and markings of the kitten.
Some people think that the F2 is the best generation for looks, personality and price. But the F2 is still not a cuddly kitty and many find it is wilder than what they would like. The F2 will range from 25% to 50% Serval blood and will weigh 15-25 lbs.
It is an exotic looking cat that will definitely stand out amongst other cats. They are tall, spotted cats with large ears, long legs and they usually have the large Serval nose that is so lovely.
The F2 will bond with one or two people and allow itself to be held for short periods of time. They like to spend lots of time with their humans but they are not as needy as the F1s and they don't pout when they don't get what they want.
They are also not as demanding and possessive with their food. They tend to be friendly, active and love playing games with their human and other pets. Of course their personalities will vary significantly from kitten to kitten.
The F2 still needs a firm owner because they like to test the rules... although not quite as much as an F1. They will jump on the counters and they love to shred toilet paper. They can learn... but they need a lot of patience and persistence.
The F2 will cost approximately $4,000-$5,500.
Most F3s are still distinctively Savannah but have more of a domestic cat personality than earlier generations. If it looks too much like a Bengal, it may have too much Bengal in its breeding.
Some cats will have a warm base to their coat and you will have a beautiful, spotted cat even if it isn't the straw color of its Serval ancestors.
Much of the F3 appearance will depend on the skill and experience of the breeder.
For a family with children, F3s are usually a better choice than earlier generations. They usually behave well, accept strangers and adapt to new situations.
Unlike earlier generations, F3s can be rehomed... if absolutely necessary.
They are still not cuddlers, which can be hard for people who want to give their lovely girl or boy a big hug. But they do allow themselves to be held for short periods. They love attention and love rough housing and are also friendly to other animals.
F3s will cost approximately $2,500-4,000.
The F4 Savannah and above are the most domestic of the Savannahs and will be welcome members of most families. They are also the earliest generation that is eligible for show status within TICA.
The size and appearance of F4s will vary widely although this will change as Savannah breeders continue to work on developing the breed.
If you are looking for an F4, you will have to spend time finding a breeder that has the look you want for a pet, showing or breeding. Some F4s will be as large as F1s and others will be smaller than most domestic cats.
F4s are not as needy of your time and will actually allow you to get some work done and leave the house for longer periods. They are friendly and playful but not as large or rambunctious as earlier generations. They still like to play fetch and will also play with other animals.
The cost of a kitten is usually around $2,000-$3,000 but a show cat can be $3,500 or more.
F5 is the first generation that a Savannah male is likely to be fertile although some F4s are fertile. Until this point most are sterile. This makes good looking boys in high demand for breeding and a good looking stud cat can cost $4,000 or more.
These cats are average sized with spotting, large ears, elegant lines and a beautiful temperament. They are still very intelligent and very active.
They won't be lounging around on the sofa for long but love a game of fetch and will follow their humans around looking for some action. They are much friendlier with a variety of family members and with strangers than previous generations.
Pet kittens will normally be around $1,000-$2,000.
It is best not to rely on pictures of different generations, as it will mislead you about what each generation of cat looks like. There is a LOT of variability within each generation depending on the domestic cats used in the breeding and which genes are most dominant.
The pictures on this page provide a random sample of some different generations and you can also look at this video for examples of the various generations...
Examples Of Savannah Cat Generations