Savannah frequently asked questions FAQS

What makes Savannahs expensive?

Establishing a good Savannah breeding program requires a substantial financial investment. It is extremely hard work and demands a wealth of patience. Breeders choose premium foods or raw meat diets to give their kittens the best and healthiest start in life.  Veterinarian care and testing are very expensive; for a single kitten, immunizations and testing make up a great deal of the price. Gestation periods vary greatly between exotic and domestic cats. Because of this, a great number of kittens are born premature, require incubation, and 24-hour round the clock care. That is extremely time-consuming.  As a result, there are a few Savannahs available for buy each year. At present, the public demand for Savannah kittens far outweighs availability.

Do they get along well with kids and other pets?

Savannahs are affectionate and tend to be the clowns at the party.  You can expect them to get along well with other pets after the initial getting to know one another phase.  They like children and can tolerate hugging and other child-like activity. Most Savannahs will move away to somewhere they cannot be reached when they have enough.  Savannah Cat Association does not recommend F1 or F2 Savannahs to homes with an infant or small child.

Are Savannah cats hypoallergenic?

There is a mixed bag of answers on Savannah cats and if they are hypoallergenic.  All domestic cats produce the protein in their saliva named Fel d 1.  Fel d 1 helps cats keep their cats clean and healthy. Some of the hybrid cats such as Savannahs and Bengals seem to have less of that gene.  Perhaps the Serval and Asian Leopard cat don’t produce that protein.  We don’t know.  What we do know is that female cats produce less than males so if you have an allergy to cats, a hybrid breed may be your best bet.  Then, a female should be chosen.  Finally, Purina now has food they claim will reduce the production of the allergen.  If you want a Savannah cat badly these tips may help.

Can you train a Savannah like a dog?

Savannahs are not quite as versatile as dogs. However, they are highly intelligent, and as such, training is simple.  They will respond to simple commands. Most Savannah cats respond well to leash training. They love a vigorous game of fetch. Also, many will recognize their names and come when called.

Are they destructive?

The Savannah cat is not aggressive or destructive by nature.  They are high energy, intelligent, and like to try to figure things out.  They will watch their human family closely. Then, they will try to repeat their action of turning on the water or opening cabinet doors.  Savannahs need to have stimulation, exercise, attention, and daily play routines to keep them occupied. Think, about two Savannahs to keep each other company if you are away for work daily.

Do all Savannahs like water/swimming?

Most (NOT ALL) Savannahs enjoy bathing and playing in the water. In fact, many owners report that their Savannah cats insist on regularly joining them in the shower or bathtub.

Can Savannah cats be leash trained?

Most Savannahs enjoy walks. It is easy to leash train using a special harness or “walking jacket.”  Several good designs are available.

Is my adopted cat a Savannah?

Chances are your cat is not a Savannah cat.  Many tabbies have striped and ringed tails and a spotted pattern.  Many cats have developed a way to ‘talk’ to their humans as if they are saying something.  Finally, breeding a cat that you think looks like a Savannah and selling “Savannah kittens” without papers is highly unethical.  Know that your cat is a cat and your constant and loving companion.  Be incredibly happy to have her in your life.

Is a license required to own a Savannah?

Some states, counties, and cities require a license or permit for some generations.  See our List of States for the information you need to determine if you can own a Savannah and in addition please check with your city and county animal authorities.

Do Savannah cats require immunizations like other cats?

Yes.  Kittens should receive their first veterinary visit and set of vaccines by 8-9 weeks of age.  Reputable breeders give two vaccines before sending a kitten home.  In addition, individual states and municipalities mandate somewhat different rabies vaccination schedules.  Once the kitten has arrived home, it is the responsibility of the owner to assure these regulations are followed.  Please DO NOT vaccinate for FeLV  (Feline Leukemia Virus) unless it is non-adjuvanted.  Never vaccinate for FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis).  These vaccines either have very bad side effects, such as injection-site sarcomas. It may even predispose cats to contract the very diseases they are supposed to prevent.

Are Savannahs wild or domestic?

Domestic.  They eat, sleep, use the litterbox like any other domestic cat.  Immunizations are the same as well as a rabies vaccine.

Does a Savannah cat use a litter box?

Yes. Good hygiene habits are taught by mother cats to their kittens noticeably young.  Most kittens have little to no problem with litter box habits. Consequently, kittens should be fully litter box trained long before the time they arrive in your home. There is of course, ALWAYS the chance that an individual cat may have difficulty.  But this is usually a short adjustment that CAN be found and resolved easily in most cases.

Do they need a special diet?

Savannahs are considered domestic cats and can maintain optimum health on a diet of premium commercially manufactured cat food.  Always remember to ask your breeder for a dietary recommendation and do not ever make any sudden changes in diet. This is particularly important with kittens who may not even tolerate a different flavor of the same brand of food. Slow and steady wins the race of change.

Does a Savannah cat need a specific veterinarian?

No.  The Savannah cat is a domestic cat and any veterinarian can treat a Savannah and give health check-ups and vaccinations.

Should I worm my new kitten?

Kittens should be tested for internal parasites and wormed prior to arriving in your home.  If your kitten is not exposed to the outdoors, worming should be done at your yearly wellness check.  Give flea and worm medicine to any Savannah who has access to outdoors or who are near other outdoor animals.  Discuss this with your veterinarian.

What Kind of veterinary care should I expect my Savannah kitten to receive prior to coming home?

Your Savannah kitten should have received at least two vaccinations for the standard diseases, be free from parasites, and have been tested for FeLV, PRA, and PK Def; or have been negative by parentage in which case you should ask for those tests.  Kittens should be 12 weeks of age before leaving their breeder home and are eligible to receive their first year’s rabies vaccines as well.

What is an HP Savannah?

HP simply refers to a High Percentage of Serval in the pedigree.  The only truly high-percentage Savannah is an F1 Savannah bred to a serval cat litter.  So, this results in a mostly serval cat that is infertile in both genders.  However, this type of Savannah is legal in states than ban serval ownership.

Do they have any known or breed-specific health risks or problems?

Savannah cats have two specific heritable diseases.  They came in from other breeds at the beginning of breed development.  There are genetic tests available for these diseases.  Therefore, reputable breeders can test for these diseases and remove any that might carry the disease from their breeding program.  The diseases are Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency.  Please ask your breeder for proof of testing.

How do I buy a Savannah kitten?

First, decide what generation and sex will best suit your family environment and your budget. Then, contact breeders to determine which cattery has or will have kittens available that meet your budget and other requirements.  Savannah Breeders consider their kittens very precious.  They cherish them and want the best homes for the kittens.

Many have adopted a screening process to qualify prospective buyers. It is part of the breeder’s responsibility to assure that the kitten you select is well matched to you and your living situation.  Please do not feel offended if, at some part in your search, one or more breeders request a wealth of personal information from you. Although not every breeder will require this, you should be prepared to answer questions regarding your state of residence, your lifestyle, and type of home you can provide. This may include information about:

  • Your family members the ages of any children.
  • Ages and types of existing pets,
  • Space available for play.
  • Time spent away from home working, etc.

Additional information to have ready

You should also supply your veterinarian’s credentials.  Include a telephone number where he can be reached for a personal reference. If the breeder you want a kitten from does not have kittens available, join their waiting list or search elsewhere. Or, if you would rather switch breeders to buy your kitten sooner.

Once you determine that your breeder of choice has an available kitten, request a copy of that breeder’s purchase agreement.  READ IT CAREFULLY.  Keep in mind that buying a Savannah is not only a big monetary expense but is a life-long commitment.  Clarify all questions you may have UPFRONT. Address any special payment terms currently. Most breeders will ask for payment in full at the time of purchase. They will typically work with a buyer to take a 50% nonrefundable down payment with balance due prior to shipping.

If, for any reason, your situation changes and you are NOT able to take the kitten, notify the breeder. Failure to do so may result in the forfeiture of your deposit and/or legal ramifications. Particularly if the breeder has turned away other buyers interested in purchasing the same kitten.

Are there waiting lists?

Savannah kittens are in high demand.  You may have to wait until new litters are born to get exactly what you want. This seems particularly true of the F1s. Not many breeders devote their programs to producing high generations. Therefore, the number of kittens available for purchase on an annual basis is small. You may also have to wait if you only want a kitten from a specific pairing. Consequently, you may have to add your name to a waiting list and contact several breeders to find a kitten.

Many breeders require a deposit to add your name to their waiting lists. It is not unusual to wait up to 12 months before the kitten of your choice becomes available. Waiting lists are sometimes long and you may decide that you cannot wait so buy a cat from another breeder. As a matter of courtesy, please notify the breeders who have added you to their waitlists. This courtesy helps the next person on their lists.

How old are the kittens when they can go to their new home?

Responsible Savannah Breeders typically release their kittens to go home no earlier than 12 weeks. TICA mandates a kitten have two sets of immunizations. Also, a rabies shot if over 16 weeks.

Can I show my Savannah?

Yes, both registries, TICA and CCA allow Savannah cats to show. However, they must have a registration that begins with the letters SBT.  Normally that rules out F1-F3 or 4.

Will my kitten be registered?

Yes, The International Cat Association (TICA) and Canadian Cat Association (CCA) in Canada both register Savannahs. As a result, a responsible breeder should have registered the litter with one of the associations mentioned.

Can I let my Savannah outside? Do they need an enclosure?

No. Savannah cats should NEVER roam freely outside, even part-time. Savannahs are extremely curious and therefore are at extremely high risk for car accidents. They can easily wander off never to return.  Falls or injuries by another animal are also a factor. In addition, Savannahs are also in danger of mistaken identity as a wild cat and injury by humans. Or possibly stolen by an admirer. NEVER, EVER allow a Savannah cat outside unless on a leash or in an enclosure complete with a secure top.

Will Savannahs climb fences?

Yes, they can climb almost any type of fence.  Therefore, they must only go outdoors in an enclosure that has a secure top. A leash using a walking jacket or secure harness also works too.

How high can they jump?

Savannahs are very agile.  Like any cat, they can jump to the top of a refrigerator or bookcase. Also, they can run close to 30 mph if let outside. (Please do not let your Savannah outside to check.)

Is there a way to stop my cat from scratching my furniture?

Like all cats, Savannahs have the practice of scratching on things we do not necessarily want them to scratch on.  The reason they scratch stuff at all is inherent in all cats.  This is a way to mark their territory using the scent glands in their paws.  It is a good exercise for them to stretch and flex their paws and legs. In addition, this also removes the dead layer on the outside of their claw which is like our nails getting a manicure.

The best remedy for inappropriate scratching is to provide a scratching post or cat tree. Use a pheromone if the scratching is to mark territory from other cats. Finally, correcting improper scratching by removing the cat from the area.  Use gentle correction telling your cat no or uh-uh, then show him where scratching is okay will help a lot.

What is the difference between ‘your’ Savannahs and the Hoobly, eBay, etc. $200.00 Savannah?

Simply put, the level of care and devotion a reputable Savannah breeder puts into their cats and kittens is unimaginable. Their pet kittens are normally altered or with a contract that requires altering.  Even so, some unethical people will lie and buy unaltered pets. Then put them into service breeding cheap cats and sell them on places like Hoobly or pet stores.  They do not have papers; they do not receive veterinary care or immunizations.  Most simply breed cats, call them Savannahs, and give no guarantees.  Many times, these cats are not even Savannahs.  Even worse they may have inherited bad traits or illnesses.

Is there much difference between a Savannah cat and a Bengal cat?

Both Savannah cats and Bengal cats are TICA and CCA registered.  However, that is where the similarities end.  Savannah cats have, in the first generation, a serval cat.  Bengals, at the first generation, have an Asian Leopard Cat.  The Savannah is tall, long, and thin with huge ears; Bengals are the opposite, shorter, and heavier boned with tiny ears make a good Bengal.  Spotting is different as well.  Savannahs, Inky black, solid spots, and Bengals have beautiful dark circles with lighter centers called rosettes.

What is an Ashera cat?

The Ashera cat is a hoax.  Simply put, any Ashera is a Savannah by another name.  One man Simon Brodie drew many people into this hoax.  It cost those people many times what a Savannah cost.

None of Mr. Brodie’s Ashera story is true.