Savannah cat – domestic cat and serval in one

Savannah-catThe Savannah cat is a hybrid between two related species of feline. Through this hybridization a new line of cats was created, and known as the Savannah cat. The history goes back to when a Bengal cat breeder (also a hybrid cat) crossed a domesticated cat (Felis silvestris catus) with a Serval (Leptailurus serval). Although they are neither in the same genus, they are in the same Family Felidae and Subfamily Felinae, and are able to interbreed. After the first hybrids were produced, attempts were made for several years to get it popularized. Finally in the early 90s a breeder joined in the production and founding of the Savannah cat breed. As of the early 2000s there were nearly 22,000 Savannah cats.

Due to their hybridization with a large wild cat, they are typically larger than normal housecats and can weigh up to 35lbs for first generation offspring, while the second and later generations are between 15 and 25lbs. Due to the broad mixing of genetics the variability of size and weight occurs from litter to litter, with some in excess of 35lbs as adults, without obesity. Depending on the breed of domesticated housecat used, their patterns and overall coat will look different, and will produce wide variations. Of note is the fact that although the Savannah is a hybrid of the common domestic cat, only certain breeds of domestic cat are recognized, while others are not. Some breeders will mix the Bengal hybrid with the Savannah hybrid to create even more genetically varied stock, however the Bengal is not accepted as one of the breeds. Accepted breeds according to the TICA are the Ocicat, Egyptian Mau, Domestic Shorthair, and the Oriental Shorthair. Due to hybridization males are sterile until around the 5th generation, while females are not, and can be fertile with the first generation hybrids. Their costs go up accordingly, with females being much more valuable than males.

Strangely, for cats, they are comparatively placed next to the temperaments of domestic dogs with descriptions of being loyal, and exhibiting common domesticated dog traits such as following their owner, playing fetch, and use of a leash, they are mostly considered to be friendly and social when greeting new people, however there is a variance in this as some have reported hissing and general displeasure with meeting strangers. One other trait not associated with normal domestic housecats is that the Savannah cat generally enjoys water, and swimming.

The health of these hybrids has been evaluated as having a trait known as “Hybrid Vigor” which means that they benefit from the hybridization more than the possible consequences of hybridization. Known or possible issues are minimal, but a vet must be informed to avoid any issues or possible negative outcomes with treatment, such as lower dosages for their size due to a smaller liver, and possible reactions with Ketamine and live vaccinations. As for their diet there is much controversy, ranging from general cat-food being good, to raw diets of organics being the only acceptable diet; however they are denoted as being hardy in either case or ranges in between.

Currently the only place totally illegal to own a hybrid cat, even if it is more than five generations out, is New York City in New York. Other areas have restrictions and registrations along with permit laws, however New York City is the only place in the United States that explicitly forbids ownership of any hybrid animals. Many arguments have been made by the owners of these hybrids, and there have been no recorded attacks, or fatalities, from the Savannah Cat (as their size would dictate they would be unable to hurt much except for small children, but seem to be good around children anyways). However, it is possible that ignorance of the issues involving hybrids by those in charge of the laws in New York and New York City have painted their views on the matter. In several interviews many officials have seemed concerned about safety, even though not one was able to name an incident involving the Savannah Cat (because there have actually been none, with over 22,000 currently kept as pets).

One Response to “Savannah cat – domestic cat and serval in one”

  1. What a handsome hybrid! The ears make it absolutely gorgeous.

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