Savannah Cat

The Savannah cat is ideally larger than a house cat, but this cannot be generalized because, strictly speaking, the hybrids are not yet the Savannah breed. By naming the branch generation, it is already referred to as such, which I will explain later. Because this is immensely important to be able to judge the breed.
She is slim and long-legged. Since it is a TICA-recognized breed, the permitted coat colors are specified. The best-known drawing is certainly brown-black mocks tabby, which is strongly reminiscent of the ancestor serval.
Savannahs are active and – something very special for cats – almost dog-like in their behavior. The focus on people and also the ability to be educated are very pronounced. However, when keeping a Savannah cat, one should always bear in mind that the wild animal characteristics can show through from time to time.

Origin and Breed History

A relative of the Savannah is the African serval, which belongs to the medium-sized small cats and can be tamed as a kitten. Hangovers can weigh up to 18 kg. Relative to their body, they have the largest ears in the feline world that function similarly to radar. Their success rate in hunting is an immense 50 percent. They feed mainly on rodents, fish, and small reptiles. Their jumping power is about 3 meters high.
The breed emerged from the mating of the serval with the domestic cat.

Nowadays, serious breeders no longer breed domestic cats with a serval, but rather Savannah cats of the higher generations (F1, F2). Due to their physical size, these come closer to the serval. Mating the male serval with the much smaller house cat is to be rejected because the mother animal would be exposed to a high health risk due to the size difference of the animals. If you want to keep a serval or breed with it, you must first contact the responsible veterinary office / the lower nature conservation authority. The respective requirements must be met before the animals are mated. The office can also determine which breeding cats are allowed to be mated by the serval and which are not.

Almost 40 years ago, however, by chance, a serval living in the household occupied the house cat – the first known hybrid litter “Savannah F1” was born.
And here we come to the most important explanation to understand the breed Savannah, the branch generation (F), which shows the degree of relationship to the serval:
A serval mated to cat results in Savannah F1 kittens. That is, the father is a serval, which strictly speaking is not the Savannah breed, but a serval hybrid.
F1 = father is a serval / F2 = grandfather is a serval / F3 great-grandfather is a serval / F4 great-great-grandfather is a serval. Up to the Savannah F4 generation, these are serval hybrids that are subject to the Species Protection Act and which in Germany are subject to different reporting requirements or licensing requirements or may even be prohibited in different federal states. From F5 on it concerns Savannah cats, which are not subject to any conditions and can be kept like any other cat.

But be careful, the branch generation F5 says nothing about the purebred, which I would like to explain below:
Since the male hybrid descendants of the Serval are only definitely fertile from F5 onwards, in order to avoid inbreeding and to build up the breed – in the so-called outcrossing process – male cats of other breeds, such as Bengal, Egyptian Mau (permitted breeds are precisely defined) as Stud cat used. In order to always be able to understand this in the pedigree, letter abbreviations have been added: A, B, C, and SBT.
Sounds more complicated than it is. Because A means one of the parents is not a Savannah cat, so an F1 is always A since the father is a serval. B means that one of the grandparents is not a Savannah and therefore an F2 is always B and an F3 C. The abbreviation SBT confirms that the last 3 generations are Savannah cats. If you now see that a Savannah is F5 A (shrewd salespeople simply omit the letter) that means nothing else than that one of the parents is a Savannah and the other is a different breed or a mixed kitten – you don’t have a purebred Savannah cat, but also a mix.

Temperament and Essence

As explained in detail in advance, the branch generation indicates the degree of relationship to the serval and thus the proportion of wild blood. How do the individual generations differ from one another?
While F1 still comes very close to the Serval in terms of size and appearance and some F2 cats come close to the Several, a lot is lost from F3 onwards. F3 does not necessarily mean that this cat is bigger than an F5 or looks more typical of the breed. Often it is more about the breeding lines that determine the appearance.
Of course, a lot of people initially flirt with an early generation – fortunately, there are many different requirements for the position from F1 to F4, which I will explain – and that’s a good thing. Opinions differ as to whether the requirements for up to and including F4 are actually justified. Because as I said, most of them will not be able to tell the difference between an F3 and an F5. And Switzerland has taken the first step and only requires a permit or bans for F1 and F2.

So the following is the character description and educability from F3:
Savannahs are certainly one of the most active cats. However, if they are well socialized, they can be brought up very well, as they form a particularly close bond with people. In this regard, one speaks of dog-like behavior. They are active and want to be challenged, so if you are only looking for a roommate who can be petted when needed, you should look around for another breed. If the kittens are well socialized and get involved with people, this is the best prerequisite for their upbringing. In contrast to many other breeds, the Savannah usually follows its owner at every turn. They love to fetch and are not afraid of water. Clicker training and other exercises are easy for them and once used to the Catjacket, they love going for a walk. Are they more difficult to train or wilder than other races? In my opinion not, because that applies to almost all breeds: The time that you initially invest in upbringing and building relationships is best spent on the entire life of a cat. But it is an active cat breed that wants to be physically and mentally challenged.

Every animal needs a conspecific that a human can never replace! Some talk about having a lone cat. It was usually not from the beginning, because normally the kittens eventually grow up in a group with their siblings. Most of the time, the affected cat was then alone for too long and has learned social behavior with other cats or has never learned it properly. Cats are solitary hunters, but not loners! This also or especially applies to Savannahs, as they have a very pronounced social behavior.
Do you then have to record a second Savannah? Definitely not! It is simply (as with all cat breeds) to make sure that the cats you want to socialize with each other. Especially when it comes to temperament/activity and age. For example, bringing an active and lively Savannah kitten to a calm 10-year-old Scottish Fold would not make anyone happy, including the owners. The animals should tick similarly in terms of age and, above all, with regard to their temperament – and for that, there is little breed exclusion. Everyone should know their first cat and, if in doubt, take a look at the temperament of a Savannah at a breeder. And even if someone has 2 or more Savannah cats: If you have taken the time to train each of them, everything works fine.

A full-grown Savannah F5 SBT male will weigh around 7.5 kg, girls weigh 1.5 to 2 kg less. Life expectancy is 15 to 20 years.


From F5 onwards, Savannah cats are subject to the same statutory law as other breeds, be it in the home or in the open air. The more active a cat is, the more space it needs to play and run around (in the small living room it is usually over chairs and tables …) – this is not a piece of wisdom that only applies to Savannahs. Furthermore, every cat loves to let the warm sunshine directly on their fur, to watch butterflies, and to hear the chirping of birds, but an apartment can also be converted into an adventure cat playground – and a secure balcony is also an easy alternative to be implemented. Somewhat unusual, but necessary for Savannah cats, is offering a bathing facility. Many love the water!

For the keeping of Serval hybrids of the generations F1-F4, the requirements to be fulfilled must be agreed upon with the responsible authorities (veterinary office, lower nature conservation authority). Here you should get advice before buying such an animal.
These cats have the typical wild animal characteristics more strongly than subsequent generations (enormous jumping ability, pronounced hunting behavior) and could thus, for example, cause damage when they are outdoors in nature – for example through much greater hunting successes. The legally regulated requirements for husbandry must therefore be complied with.


If you ask 3 people about feeding, you get at least 5 opinions. Natural feeding is desirable. In contrast to the dog, which shows omnivorous tendencies, a cat has a strictly carnivorous diet. As is typical for pure carnivores, the intestine is comparatively short and the digestive physiology is adapted to the intake of food of animal origin. But Generation F4 and F5 Savannahs can be fed just like other races.
For many, “mixed feeding” with fresh meat, day-old chicks, etc. – possibly supplemented with barf additives – and high-quality wet food seems to be an alternative that is suitable for everyday use. If you want to keep it simple, Savannah cats should ideally be fed high-quality wet food.

Buy Savannah Cat

Are you interested in an animal from generations F1-F4? Then you should first find out which legal regulations there are in your state for keeping Savannah cats. An enclosure must be available and please note that there are also building regulations for enclosures – many are not aware of this. See if you can do justice to such an active cat and spend enough time on it. If you have no cat experience or no savanna experience, it is advisable to start with an animal from generation F5. You can hold this like any other cat. The second step is to choose the right breeder who takes his responsibility seriously, has his animals examined for genetic diseases, and treats them well. He should breed with a pedigree from a recognized club. So you can be reasonably certain that you are getting a thoroughbred, healthy, and well socialized Savannah F5 SBT. And last but not least, Savannah cats are considered to be the most expensive breed in the world. Your own wallet also plays a role in the purchase. And be careful: Savannah cats are addicting, they say. 😉

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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