Above is one of our F5 SBT kittens, Swagger. Although he is 5 generations removed from the Serval, one can easily see the similarities in a well bred kitten!
Above is an African Serval.
This page was created with information that I have learned and compiled over the past few years. It is important that potential families are aware that Savannah Cats are beautiful loving pets and will become cherished, well behaved family members with the proper amount of time, training and love. The higher generations are more of a challenge and before making the commitment to purchase one you must make sure that you are equipped to properly care for such a cat. They are not mean or bad but if not properly socialized and trained, issues can and will arise. For this reason we carefully screen potential families. We want our kittens and their families to have the best possible lives filled with love and happiness. Lower generations in our experience have the domestic cat personality and behavior with just the right amount of a wild influence to make them so much fun to have around. They never fail to create laughter love and amusement. They will amazr you with the athletic feats and silly antics. Many people describe them as having more of a dog like personality because some of their qualities include the love of water and water play, They can be trained to walk in a walking jacket with a leash. They can also be taught to play fetch and they can jump higher than any cat we have ever seen! The higher generations have these same fun qualities. All of this wrapped up in a beautful exotic looking package that will snuggle and purr !!! What could be better?
The savannah cat became popular among breeders at the end of the 90's and in 2001 TICA accepted it as a new registered breed, and in May 2012 it was accepted as a championship breed by TICA.
A breeder in the US successfully bred the Serval and a domestic cat in February of 1986 and the very first Hybrid litter was born in April. The breeder called these exotic beauties Savannah cats and that was the beginning of this amazing wonderful breed!
Initially, Savannahs are produced by crossbreeding servals and domestic cats or Savannah Cats. Some breeders shoose to breed Servals to other exotic cats, such as Bengals. Each generation of savannah is marked with a Filial number, for example, the cats produced directly from a serval/domestic cat are 50% Serval, if the Serval is bred to a domestic cat. If the serval is bred to a Savannah cat the percentage of Serval increases. The higher the Fillial number is of the Savannah Cat that is bred to the Serval the higher percentage of Serval will be in the F1 and therefore, the Savannah will have more of the wild traits both in look and behavior. This is the first generation they are called F1. F1 through F5 Savannah males are normally sterile and cannot reproduce. There have been exceptions and some F4 and F5 males have been successfully bred. The second generation or F2 will be at least 25% serval as the serval is now the grandparent. The offspring of the F2, the third generation, or, F3 as it will be known will be at least 12.5% serval and so on through subsequent generations. Of course all of these percentages will be higher if the original F1 parent was of a higher percentage due to the cross of a Serval to a Savannah which is now very common. Most breeders prefer a Savannah to Serval breeding. The breed is now established enough that there is no need to use domestic cats in our breeding programs.
The F1 Savannah remains rare and expensive because they are very difficult to produce due to the significant difference in size of the cats being bred, the gestation periods and chromosomes between the serval and a domestic cat. Kittens are frequently born premature and special around the clock care is required. We currently offer F3 through F6 Savannah kittens for sale. Our kittens are healthy, well socialized and very sweet. We raise them in our home with our grand child and other pets.
The F1 savannah is one of the largest breeds of domestic cat. Its tall and slender build gives the appearance of greater size than their actual weight. (size will reduce as the generations move further away from the serval).
A Savannah Cat's unique appearance is due to the presence of many distinguishing Serval characteristics. Most prominent of these in the early generation savannah include the various color markings, tall deeply cupped, wide, rounded, erect ears, long legs with the rear end often higher than the shoulders. The small head is longer than it is wide and it has a long slender neck. The backs of the ears have Ocelli and ideally, black or dark `tear-streak` or `cheetah tear` markings run from the corner of the eyes down the sides of the nose to the whiskers, much like that of the cheetah. A well bred lower generation will often have these same traits but not to the same extreme.
The information below came from Wikipedia.
A Savannah cat is a cross between a domestic cat and the serval, a medium-sized, large-eared wild African cat. The unusual cross became popular among breeders at the end of the 1990s, and in 2001 the International Cat Association accepted it as a new registered breed. In May 2012, TICA accepted it as a championship breed.
A Bengal breeder, Judee Frank, crossbred a male serval, belonging to Suzi Woods, with a Siamese (domestic cat) to produce the first Savannah cat (named Savannah) on April 7, 1986. In 1996, Patrick Kelley and Joyce Sroufe wrote the original version of the Savannah breed standard and presented it to the board of The International Cat Association. In 2001, the board accepted the breed for registration.
The Savannahs' tall and slim build gives them the appearance of greater size than their actual weight. Size is very dependent on generation and sex, with F1 hybrid male cats usually being the largest.
F1 and F2 generations are usually the largest, due to the stronger genetic influence of the African serval ancestor. Most first generation (F1 Savannah Cats) will possess many or all of exotic looking traits, while these traits often diminish in later generations. Male Savannahs tend to be larger than females.
Early-generation Savannahs can weigh 14-25 pounds (6.3-11.3 kg), with the most weight usually attributed to the F1 or F2 neutered males due to genetics. Later-generation Savannahs are usually between 7 and 15 lbs (6.8 kg). Because of the random factors in Savannah genetics, size can vary significantly, even in one litter.
The coat of a Savannah should have a spotted pattern, the only pattern accepted by the TICA breed standard. The spotted pattern is the only accepted pattern because it is the only pattern found on the African Serval Cat. Non-standard patterns & colors include: Rosetted, marble, snow color (point), blue color, cinnamon color, chocolate color, lilac(lavender) and other diluted colors derived from domestic sources of cat coat genetics. These nonstandard colors should be placed as pets only to be culled out of the gene pool.
In order to achieve a spotted pattern early in the breed's development other spotted breeds such as the Bengal and Egyptian Mau were used. The International Cat Association (TICA) breed standard calls for brown-spotted tabby (cool to warm brown, tan or gold with black or dark brown spots), silver-spotted tabby (silver coat with black or dark grey spots), black (black with black spots), and black smoke (black-tipped silver with black spots) only.
Domestic out-crosses from the early days in the 1990s have greatly impacted the breed's development in both desired and non-desired traits. As of 2012 most breeders perform Savannah to Savannah pairings; using out-crosses is considered less than desired. The domestic out-crosses for the Savannah breed that are permissible in TICA are the Egyptian Mau, the Ocicat, the Oriental Shorthair, and the Domestic Shorthair.
Outcrosses that are "impermissible" according to the TICA breed standard breeds include the Bengal and Maine Coon cats. These impermissible breeds can bring many unwanted genetic influences. Outcrosses are very rarely used as of 2012, as many fertile savannah males are available for studs. Breeders prefer to use a Savannah with the serval to produce F1s, rather than a non-Savannah breed in order to maintain as much breed type as possible.
A Savannah's exotic look is often due to the presence of many distinguishing serval characteristics. Most prominent of these include the various color markings; tall, deeply cupped, wide, rounded, erect ears; very long legs; fat, puffy noses, and hooded eyes. The bodies of Savannahs are long and leggy; when a Savannah is standing, its hind-end is often higher than its prominent shoulders. The small head is taller than wide, and it has a long, slender neck. The backs of the ears have ocelli, a central light band bordered by black, dark grey or brown, giving an eye-like effect. The short tail has black rings, with a solid black tip. The eyes are blue as a kitten (as in other cats), and may be green, brown, gold or a blended shade as an adult. The eyes have a "boomerang" shape, with a hooded brow to protect them from harsh sunlight. Ideally, black or dark "tear-streak" or "cheetah tear" markings run from the corner of the eyes down the sides of the nose to the whiskers, much like that of a cheetah.
Some Savannahs are reported to be very social and friendly with new people and other cats and dogs, while others may run and hide or revert to hissing and growling when seeing a stranger. Exposure to other people and pets is most likely the key factor in sociability as Savannah kittens grow up.
An often-noted trait of the Savannah is its jumping ability. They are known to jump on top of doors, refrigerators and high cabinets. Some Savannahs can leap about 8 feet (2.5 m) high from a standing position. Savannahs are very inquisitive. They often learn how to open doors and cupboards, and anyone buying a Savannah will likely need to take special precautions to prevent the cat from getting into trouble.
Many Savannah cats do not fear water, and will play or even immerse themselves in water. Some owners even shower with their Savannah cats. Presenting a water bowl to a Savannah may also prove a challenge, as some will promptly begin to "bat" all the water out of the bowl until it is empty, using their front paws.
Another quirk Savannahs have is to fluff out the base of their tails in a greeting gesture. This is not to be confused with the fluffing of fur along the back and full length of the tail in fear. Savannahs will also often flick or wag their tails in excitement or pleasure.
Vocally, Savannahs may either chirp like their serval fathers, meow like their domestic mothers, both chirp and meow, or sometimes produce sounds which are a mixture of the two. Chirping is observed more often in earlier generations. Savannahs may also "hiss"—a serval-like hiss quite different from a domestic cat's hiss, sounding more like a very loud snake. It can be alarming to humans not acquainted to such a sound coming from a cat.
There are three basic factors that affect the nature of the Savannah cat behavior: lineage, generation and socialization. These three factors follow the nature vs nurture argument with nature being breed lines combined with generation and nurture being social upbringing. As of 2014 the Savannah breed development is still in its infancy and most Savannah cats have a very broad range of behaviors.
If a breed line has a tendency for a specific behavior over other behaviors[clarification needed] it is likely to be passed to the breed lines offspring. As outside lines are used there is a merging effect of the base behaviors.
When breeding lines starting from early generations such as first filial and second filial generations (F1 and F2 Savannahs), behavior stemming from the wild out cross, the Serval, is more apparent. Behaviors like jumping, fight or flight instincts, dominance, and nurturing behaviors are more noticeable in early generations. Since fertile males that are F5 and F6 are used in most breeding programs, later generation Savannah cats behaviors tend to act more like traditional domestic cats. Overlying behavior traits for all generations are high activity and high curiosity.
Probably the most influential factor is early socialization. Kittens socialized with human contact from birth and human interaction each day reinforces kitten and cat human interaction behavior that lasts throughout the cats life span. Kittens within litters will tend to have varied social skills with some that like human interaction and others that fear it. If kittens that fear humans never grow past that fear they will tend to exhibit a more shy behavior and are likely to hide when strangers are present. Kittens that look forward to human visits and likely to engage in play with humans tend to grow to cats that are more welcoming of strangers and less frightened of new environments. These cats tend to become the life of the party versus a cat that will find a hiding place until the party is over. Human cat socialization should be practiced each day with positive reinforcement for a kitten to grow into a well rounded social Savannah cat. Kittens that go for long periods of time without human interaction and only interact with their mothers or siblings usually do not develop a strong bond with humans and tend to be less trusting of humans. These kittens tend to be shy and are likely to hide when unknown people are present.