Legal Restrictions For Savannah Cats Must Be Addressed Before You Buy
Professional breeders will warn prospective buyers that it is their responsibility to confirm that ownership of a Savannah is legal in their nation, state/province and municipality before they finalize a purchase.
You need to be careful about this. Regulations can vary widely from one jurisdiction to another. Also, the many possible variations in an exotic cat pedigree can complicate things further.
What you'll read on this page was gathered in 2012. This kind of information should always be reconfirmed, as regulations are constantly changing.
The last thing you would want to do is go through all the steps of adopting your new baby only to have it taken away by the authorities because it's not legal where you live.
Most states follow the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) code which defines wild/domestic hybrid crosses (such as the Savannah) as domestic and does not apply restrictions. There are exceptions, however.
Some states have more restrictive laws on hybrid cat ownership and some cities will have laws that are different than those of the state.
For example, ownership of Savannahs more than five generations from the Serval (F6 and above) are allowed in New York state but not in NYC.
Other states known to have laws restricting hybrid cat ownership include but are not necessarily limited to Hawaii, Massachusetts and Georgia.
The website HybridLaw.com will provide information on specific state-by-state laws on the ownership of Savannah cats as well as some information about other countries.
There is a lot of confusion about regulation of Savannahs in Canada as each province treats them differently.
Savannahs and Bengals are allowed as pets in every province in Canada but there are restrictions on which generations are permitted in some provinces.
A local breeder will be able to direct you to rules and by-laws in your region but the following is a quick sample of some of the differences.
Savannah cats cannot be owned as pets in Alberta unless they are F4 or lower generations (F5, F6 etc.)
The Savannah must be registered with The International Cat Association (TICA) and the owners must be able to prove that there is no serval blood (or other wild cat blood) in the cat's pedigree for three generations.
Any cat that is a Serval or F1-F3 can be seized and disposed of by the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Branch regardless of where it was purchased.
British Columbia does not restrict the ownership of hybrid cats such as the Savannah.
In the past, hybrid cats of all generations were illegal. For current regulations, contact the Saskatchewan Fish and Wildlife Office.
The Australian Federal government has banned importation of the Savannah cat for fear that this larger cat could threaten species within Australia's native wildlife not threatened by smaller domestic cats.
It is concerned that the accidental breeding of a Savannah with local feral cats could increase the body size of feral populations and enhance hunting skills, thus putting native species at risk.
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Savannahs are CITES cats; permits are therefore required to take them across international borders.
Over 170 nations are members of CITES, so if you purchase a Savannah outside of your country without a permit, it is illegal and your baby will be confiscated if discovered.
Also, traveling with your Savannah to and from other countries requires a CITES pet passport. Crossing the border without one will get your Savannah confiscated and most often your cat will not be returned.
Most breeders will get a CITES permit for a new owner but they will charge for this service.
International transportation will take some planning and it will add to the expense of your Savannah cat. By way of example, the US requires a CITES permit that costs approximately $100 and takes 7-8 weeks to process.
It also requires a USDA health certificate ($150), as well as a fish and wildlife inspection ($250) of the cat. Many countries also require pets to have a rabies vaccine before they can be imported.As you can see there are legalities to check out before you sign an adoption contract with a breeder. The best advice is to do a lot of window shopping, then do your due diligence and finally buy your Savannah.