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What is a Savannah?

A Savannah cat is the name given to the spotted offspring of a domestic cat and an African serval, which is a long-legged, large-eared wild cat. The unusual cross became popular among breeders at the end of the 20th century. In 2001 The International Cat Association (TICA) accepted it as an Advanced New Breed and in January of 2012, the Savannah was accepted as a Championship Breed.

Savannahs are much larger and more social than typical domestic cats, and they are often compared to dogs in their loyalty. They will follow their owners around the house like a canine. Savannahs are also excellent jumpers and can easily jump up on top of doors, refrigerators and ledges.

Savannah cats are the largest breed of domesticated cats. The Savannah's tall and slim build gives the appearance of greater size than their actual weight. Size is very dependent on generation and sex, with F1 generation male cats usually being the largest. F1 hybrid and F2 hybrids are usually the largest, due to the stronger genetic influence of the African serval ancestor. Male Savannahs tend to be larger than females. It is possible for early generation Savannahs to weigh up to 20 lbs or more, with the higher weight usually attributed to the F2 or F3 neutered males, though this is not the norm. Later generation Savannahs are usually between 10 to 20 lbs. Because of the random factors in Savannah hybrid genetics, there can be significant variation in size, even in one litter.

The coat of a Savannah depends a lot on the breed of cat used for the domestic cross. Early generations have some form of dark spotting on a lighter coat, and many early breeders employed "wild" looking spotted breeds such as the Bengal and Egyptian Mau for the cross to help preserve these markings in later generations. 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.

In addition, the Savannah can come in nonstandard variations such as the classic or marble patterns, snow coloration (point), and blue or other diluted colors derived from domestic sources of cat coat genetics. Most breeders are trying to remove these non-standard colors out of the gene-pool, by selling non-standard colored cats as pets, but some Savannah Breeders are interested in working with these colors to introduce them as new traits.

The overall look of an individual Savannah depends greatly on generation, with higher-percentage Savannah cats often having a more "wild" look. The domestic breed that is used will influence appearance as well. 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. In addition, some Savannah breeders use "non-permissible" breeds or mixes such as Bengal (for size and vivid spotting) and Maine Coon cats (for size) for the domestic parentage, but these "non-permissible" outcrosses can bring many unwanted genes as well. Outcrosses are rarely used these days, as there are now many fertile males available, and as a result, most breeders are exclusively doing Savannah-to-Savannah breeding. The main exception would be when using a serval to produce first generation (F1) Savannahs, and even then breeders prefer to use a Savannah with the serval, rather than a non-savannah female.

A Savannah's wild 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 nose and hooded eyes. The bodies of Savannahs are long and leggy; when a Savannah is standing, their hind-end is often higher than their prominent shoulders. The small head is taller than wide, and they have 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.

Most F1 generation Savannahs will possess many or all of these traits, while their presence often diminishes in later generations. Being a newly developing, hybridized-breed of cats, appearance can vary far more than cat owners may be used to.

As Savannahs are produced by crossbreeding servals and domestic cats, each generation of Savannahs is marked with a filial number. For example, the cats produced directly from a serval/domestic cat cross are the F1 generation, and they are 50% serval. F1 generation Savannahs are very difficult to produce, due to the significant difference in gestation periods between the serval and a domestic cat (75 days for a serval and 65 days for a domestic cat), and sex chromosomes. Pregnancies are often absorbed or aborted, or kittens are born prematurely. Also, servals can be very picky in choosing mates, and often will not mate with a domestic cat.

Savannahs are commonly compared to dogs in their loyalty, and they will follow their owners around the house like a canine. They can also be trained to walk on a leash, and even fetch. (See our You Tube Videos!) Some Savannahs are reported to be very social and friendly with new people and with 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 the Savannah kitten grows up.

Owners of Savannahs say that they are very impressed with the animal intelligence of this breed of cat. An often-noted trait of the Savannah is its jumping ability. Savannahs are known to jump up 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, and have been known to get into all sorts of things. 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 things.

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 (Our F2 Phonic does this!). Another quirk Savannahs have is to fluff out the base of their tail in a greeting gesture (Phonic does that, too!). 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, or do both, sometimes producing 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.





What is an African Serval?

To better respect the Savannah breed, it's important you research its heritage. A Savannah cat is the name given to the spotted offspring of a domestic cat and a Serval. The Leptailurus Serval is native to Africa, where it is widely distributed south of the Sahara. It is a medium-sized cat, measuring 23-36 inches in head-body length, with a relatively short, 7.9-18 inch tail, and a shoulder height of about 21- 26 inches. Weight ranges from about 15-26 lbs in females, and from 20-50 lbs in males.

It is a strong yet slender animal, with long legs and a fairly short tail. Due to its leg length, it is relatively one of the tallest cats. The head is small in relation to the body, and the tall, oval ears are set close together indicating a particularly acute sense of hearing. The pattern of the fur is variable. Usually, the Serval is boldly spotted black on tawny, with two or four stripes from the top of the head down the neck and back, transitioning into spots. The backs of the ears are black with a distinctive white bar called "ocelli". In addition, melanistic Servals are quite common in some parts of the range, giving a similar appearance to the "black panther" (black with visible black spots). This gene contributes to the beautiful melanistic coat also found on Savannah cats (our Midi).

Its main habitat is the Savanna, although melanistic individuals are more usually found in mountainous areas at elevations up to 3,000 meters (9,800 ft). The Serval needs watercourses within its territory, so it does not live in semi-deserts or dry steppes. Servals also avoid dense equatorial jungles, although they may be found along forest fringes. They are able to climb and swim, but seldom do so.

As part of its adaptations for hunting in the savannas, the Serval boasts long legs for jumping, which also help it achieve a top speed of 50 mph. The long legs and neck allow the Serval to see over tall grasses, while its ears are used to detect prey, even those burrowing underground. They are able to leap up to an incredible 12 ft from a stationary position.

Servals are extremely intelligent, and demonstrate remarkable problem-solving ability, making them notorious for getting into mischief, as well as easily outwitting their prey, and eluding other predators. Like many cats, Servals are able to purr. The Serval also has a high-pitched chirp, and can hiss, cackle, growl, grunt and meow. Life expectancy is about 10 years in the wild, and up to 20 years in captivity.

An adult serval reaches sexual maturity from 12-25 months of age. Estrus "heat" in servals lasts for up to four days, and is typically timed so the kittens will be born shortly before the peak breeding period of local rodent populations. Gestation lasts up to 77 days and commonly results in the birth of two kittens. A reason that F1 Savannahs are hard to produce is the fact that domestic cats tend to only carry their young for roughly 65 days, often causing the Serval/domestic kittens to be born pre-maturely.

An African Serval is a small exotic/wild cat, regulated in the United States as a wild/exotic animal (similar to a lynx or bobcat). While strongly resembling the African Serval, Savannahs are bred to demonstrate domestic temperament and are classified as domestic cats by both the USDA and The International Cat Association (TICA).

State, County and City laws require most owners to obtain special permits to own a Serval here in the United States, and in some areas it is illegal to own one. The Savannah on the other hand, the majority of states follow federal and USDA code, which define wild/domestic hybrid crosses as domestic. In these states, there are no restrictions to owning a Savannah of any generation. Some states however have more restrictive laws, for example, Savannahs more than 5 generations from the Serval are allowed in New York State, but not in the city of New York. Other states known to have laws restricting hybrid cat ownership include (but may not be limited to): AK, IA, HI, MA, and GA. Visit the Hybrid Law website to check your state laws.

Servals require MUCH more than an average pet. They require large amounts of space to run and play. When kept as pets they are reported to have one of the most outgoing and friendly personalities of the wild cats and bond strongly to their owners. They have been kept as pets since Ancient Egyptian times, but in today's world are not good house pets because of their size, curiosity, hyperactivity, propensity for spraying and frequent refusal to use the litter box. Their lifespan is 20 years and they do not adaptable easily to environmental or family changes therefore, Serval ownership is a long-term commitment and not one to approach casually. 





How long has the breed been around?
Savannahs are one of the newest breeds available (although ranked top 5 most popular breeds by TICA). The first successful mating of the serval with a domestic cat was accomplished in the mid 1980's by Judy Frank an innovative Bengal breeder. The breed got Registration Status with The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1999 and Evaluation Status with TICA in 2001. Savannahs became a Championship breed in January of 2012. There are relatively limited numbers of Savannahs available throughout the world. At present the public demand for Savannah kittens far outweigh availability.





What makes a Savannah the most desirable feline?
Many states do not allow private ownership of exotic cats (Servals), but do allow hybrids (Savannahs). Savannahs are smaller (approximately 15-30 pounds) and more manageable than a Serval (do not require special diets or facilities). Savannahs simply possess the beauty of the Serval, but are considered domestic. Savannahs are the largest hybrid feline available. They are normally excellent with other pets and children. Savannahs are extremely intelligent and "talk" quite often. They create strong bonds with their owners. Savannahs are the exotic feline of the 21st century!





How big do they get?
Savannahs reach maturity at approximately 3 years of age. F1's can weigh approximately 15-30 pounds when full grown, and each subsequent generation decreases slightly in size. Although still distinctively exotic in appearance, by the fourth (F4) generation, Savannahs are only slightly larger than a regular housecat.





Which gender is larger?
The male kittens in most litters are generally larger than their female littermates.





Why are they so expensive?
Savannahs are very difficult to breed. It takes several years and lots of money to purchase and raise a serval with several queens. Out of these queens few will go on to produce litters. Savannahs are very rare thus they are priced accordingly. Servals themselves breed quite readily, whereas the crossing of species between the serval and domestics is extremely difficult. There are many people attempting this cross; however, only a few breeders worldwide have had any success. Years of time and money have been invested in what seems to be the impossible. There are few first generation Savannahs in the world and the demand for these exotic beauties is tremendous.





How much is a Spotlight Savannah?
Our pricing depends on the kitten's closeness to the breed standard, confirmation, coat color and pattern quality. We always post our price with each available kitten. Our Savannah kittens will only be sold as breeders if the potential buyer has a registered TICA Cattery and completes an application/breeder interview. We do not have "breeder pricing", but instead sell breeding rights for an additional $1,000.  We reserve the right to be very selective when selling our kittens, and we hope you can understand that we have the breed and kitten's best interest in mind. We are currently producing only SBT Savannahs, and average price can range between $1,000 - $1,500.





Do Savannahs have wild personalities?
Savannahs have been said to have a domestic "dog-like" personality. Owners have reported that they are amazed with how their Savannah follows them around the house and comes when their name is called. Several of our Savannahs play fetch!





Do Savannahs get along with other pets and children?
Introducing a Savannah to the household is like introducing any domestic cat. The breed itself is extremely energetic, being very active and playful. Savannahs seem to bond with and can be trusted with well-behaved children. As with any animal, interaction with infants or very small children should be supervised at all times.





Are they affectionate "lap-cats"?
Ours are! But Savannahs are extremely active cats and rarely enjoy being picked up, carried around or being restrained in any way. But most of the kittens produced here at Spotlight Savannahs are so highly socialized, that they will happily climb up into our laps for pets and napping. They like to sleep in bed with their owners, they follow their owners around the house, give headbutts, love to be petted and especially love interactive play (cat wands with feathers are a favorite!).





Do Savannahs use the litter box?
Absolutely. Just like other domestic cats, Savannahs are usually litter box trained prior to leaving for their new home. The kittens will use a litter box as faithfully as any domestics. We recommend natural pine litter and tall Sterilite tubs (those long legs can kick a lot of litter around!), but have known some cats to have an allergy to pine - so please use with caution. We require all of our pet kittens be spayed/neutered before they turn one (1) year old to prevent spraying. Spraying is common in any unaltered domestic cat to "claim territory" - so do yourself a favor and much sure you get your pet spayed or neutered!





Is the Savannah recognized by any Breed Registry?
TICA (The International Cat Association) and the CCA (Canadian Cat Association) are the only two known breed registries that recognize the Savannah. Because we are in the US, all kittens purchased from Spotlight Savannahs will come with TICA registration papers.





What does the F1, F2, F3, A, B, C, SBT, etc. mean?
What do those letters and number mean? The letters are part of The International Cat Association registration (TICA) code, the main organization in which Savannahs are registered. They explain how many generations of Savannah matings are in the background of the particular kitten or cat.

TICA has three Registries, each of which reflects a different stage in the development of a breed. The Experimental Registry is for unaccepted breeds or for those with unknown background. The Foundation Registry is where most Savannahs are registered at this time. And the Stud Book Registry, where more and more Savannahs are registered each day, designates a pure bred cat. Cats in this registry carry the letters "SBT," the "T" meaning stud book traditional. In the case of a Savannah, it indicates studs and queens for the last three generations have been Savannahs in an SBT Savannah's pedigree. 

The "A" designation simply means one parent is not a Savannah.

The Savannah breed was created by breeding the serval to a domestic cat. The kittens from this mating carry an "A" designation, which means they are the progeny of two cats of different breeds. So all F1 (first generation) Savannahs are registered "A." And since Savannah males are not fertile until the fourth (F4) and fifth (F5) generations, all males bred to Savannah females were "outcrosses" or non-Savannahs until a fertile male Savannah was born. While the males may be purebred from other breeds, a combination of breeds or a "domestic shorthair," the kittens resulting from an outcross is an "A." This means you can also have an F2 A, F3 A, etc. Any mating in which one of the parents is not a Savannah results in an "A" designation. 

If two "A" registered Savannahs are crossed, "B" registered kittens result. "B" means both parents are Savannahs, but the cat has at least one grandparent of a different breed.

Cross two "B" registered Savannahs and you have a "C" registered kitten. "C" tells both parents and grandparents are Savannahs, but at least one great grandparent is of a different breed.

When you cross two "C" registered Savannahs, an "SBT" results. A kitten with "SBT" in it's registration number has three generations of Savannah to Savannah matings in it's pedigree - parents, grandparents, great grandparents. It is impossible to have SBT kittens before the fourth generation. The SBT designation is what is needed to show in Championship Class.

The system can be a bit more complicated, however since the filial (F) generation i.e., the generation removed from the serval, works independently from the A, B, C, and SBT designations. For example, if you breed an F3 A to an F5 C, you will get a F4 B. And if an outcross was used to breed to any generation, those kittens would be "A." That is, if an F3 C were bred to an outcross (Bengal, barn cat, etc.), kittens would be F4 A kittens. Letters progress forward from the "lowest" parent's letter. Numbers do also. Following are some basic examples of what matings will produce:

F1 A x F5 A = F2 B Kittens
F1 A x Outcross Male = F2 A Kittens
F2 B x F5 B = F3 C Kittens
F2 B x F5 A = F3 B Kittens
F2 A x F5 C = F3 B Kittens
F3 B x F5 SBT = F4 C Kittens
F2 B x F5 SBT = F3 C Kittens
F4 B x F5 C = F5 C Kittens
F3 C x F5 C = F4 SBT Kittens
F5 C x F5 SBT = F6 SBT Kittens
F4 SBT x F5 SBT = F5 SBT Kittens
F5 B x F5 C = F6 C Kittens 

So, what does all of this mean when you are looking to purchase a kitten? That depends on why you are purchasing a kitten. It means little if you are looking for a pet. Our recommendation is to find the kitten that has the look you are seeking. If you want to show your cat, at this time it must be an SBT. It is the goal of most breeders to get to the SBT level in their F4 kittens (very little outcrossing). As of now, we are proud to announce that the breed is at Championship status as of January 2012. 





What colors to they come in?
Our registry, TICA, recognizes the spotted pattern in the colors brown spotted tabby, silver spotted tabby, black and black smoke (the black and black smoke display the spotting pattern however the spots are not acknowledged in the color). Savannahs are produced in other colors and some have the classic pattern due to the outcrosses that were used. These non-standard colors and patterns may be registered but not shown.





Can I enter my Savannah into a show?
Currently, only SBT generations can be shown. This is why we strive to achieve stunning show quality SBT's.





Can you explain the TICA breed standard?
HEAD
Shape: The face forms an equilateral triangle. The triangle is formed by the brow line over the eyes and the sides follow down the jaw bone with a rounded finish at the muzzle. Above this triangle the forehead and ears form a rectangle from the brow line to the tops of the ears. The head is small in proportion to the body.

Ears: Ears are remarkably large and high on the head. They are wide with a deep base. They should be very upright and have rounded tops. The outside base of the ear should start no lower on the head than at the height of the eyes, but may be set higher. The inside base of the ears is set close at the top of the head; ideally a vertical line can be drawn from the inner corner of the eye up to the inner base of ear. Ear furnishings may be present; pronounced ocelli are desirable.

Eyes: Medium sized and set underneath a slightly hooded brow. The top of the eye resembles a boomerang, which is set at an exact angle so that the corner of the eye slopes down the line of the nose. The bottom half of the eye has an almond shape. The eyes are moderately deep set, low on the forehead, and at least one eye width apart. Tear stain markings are present along and between the eyes and the nose. All eye colors are allowed and are independent of coat color.

Chin: From the frontal view the chin tapers to follow the triangle of the head. In profile, the nose is slightly protruding so that the angle from the nose to the chin slants back, which may cause the chin to appear recessed.

Muzzle: The muzzle is tapered with no break. It falls within the bottom portion of the facial triangle that runs from the brow to the point of the chin. Whisker pads are not pronounced.

Profile: The forehead is a straight to slightly convex curve from the top of the head to the ridge just above the eye, where there is a slight change of direction and a straight to very-slight concave curve from that ridge to the tip of the nose. In profile, the face also forms a triangle from the top of the eye to the tip of the nose, turning to follow the jaw line and back up to the eye.

Nose: Viewing from the front, the nose is wide across the top with low set nostrils. In profile, there is a slight downward turn at the end, giving a rounded appearance. Nose leather is slightly convex, and wraps up over the nose.

Neck: Long and lean.

BODY
Torso: The torso is long, lean, and well-muscled with a full deep rib cage, prominent shoulder blades, a slight, but not extreme tuck-up, and a rounded rump. The hip and thigh are full and long, and somewhat heavy in proportion to the rest of the body.

Legs: Longer than average, well-muscled, without appearing heavy or overly delicate. The back legs are slightly longer than the front legs.

Feet: Oval, medium in size.

Tail: Medium to thick in width. Medium in length, ending between the hock and just above ground level when standing, with preferred length just below the hock. Tail should taper slightly to a blunt end. Whippy tails are not desired.

Boning: Medium boning with density and strength.

Musculature: Firm and well developed. Athletic yet not bulky. Lean but not delicate.

COAT
Coat: Short to medium in length, moderately dense and loose. It has a slightly coarse feel to it and lacks resilience. Coarser guard hairs cover a softer undercoat. The spots have a notably softer texture than the texture of the ground color hairs. Glitter is not desired. 

Colors: Brown (Black) Spotted Tabby, Black Silver Spotted Tabby, Black, Black Smoke. No preference is given to ground color on the Brown (Black) Spotted Tabby. Bold solid markings are preferred on all tabbies. In any variation the lips are black, and the tear duct lines are prominent. On the spotted Savannahs the nose leather can be pink to brick red surrounded by liner, solid black, or black with a pink to brick center or stripe. In black Savannahs, the nose leather must be solid black. Paw pads in any color variation should be deep charcoal or brownish black.

Pattern: SPOTTED PATTERN ONLY. The spotted Savannah pattern is made up of bold, solid dark spots which can be round, oval, or elongated. A series of parallel stripes, from the back of the head to just over the shoulder blades fan out slightly over the back. The spotting pattern follows the line of the stripes from the shoulders and continues along the length of the body. Vertically aligned spots are not desired. Smaller spots may be found on the legs and feet, as well as on the face. In the black Savannah ghost spotting may occur. A visible spotting pattern on the smoke Savannah is preferred. In all divisions, any visible pattern must be spotted.

TEMPERAMENT
The ideal Savannah is confident, alert, curious and friendly. 

GENERAL DESCRIPTION
The overall impression of the Savannah is a tall lean graceful cat with striking dark spots and other bold markings, on a background color of any shade of brown, silver, black or black smoke. The Savannah cat is a domestic breed, which closely resembles its ancestral source the African Serval, but is smaller in stature. Affectionate and outgoing, with exceptionally long neck, legs, and tall ears, as well as a medium length tail, the Savannah is both unusual and beautiful. The Savannah is also an exceptionally graceful, well-balanced cat with striking color and pattern. 

ALLOWANCES
Females proportionately smaller than males. 

PENALIZE
Rosettes. Spots that are any color other than dark brown to black. Any distinct locket. Mackerel tabby type stripes. Cobby body. Notably small ears.

DISQUALIFY
Extra toes. Temperament must be unchallenging; any sign of definite challenge shall disqualify. The cat may exhibit fear, seek to flee, or generally complain aloud but may not threaten to harm. Evidence of intent to deceive the judge by artificial means, cats with all or part of their tail missing (except those breeds whose standard calls for this feature), totally blind cats, cats having more or less than five toes on each front foot and four on each back foot (unless proved to be the result of an injury or as authorized by a Board approved standard), male cats in the adult championship class which do not have two descended testicles, and, at the discretion of the judge, tail faults (visible or invisible) and/or crossed eyes shall be disqualified from championship competition. 

(Text reference used with permission from Paige at Agato Savannahs.)





Do Savannahs have to be kept indoors?
No, they do not have to be kept indoors. However, we require our owners to keep their Savannahs on a leash due to the fact that there are often stray animals that carry various diseases. There are also large numbers of risks you take when allowing your cat to freely roam outside - such as traffic, larger animals and/or theft. You have to ask yourself: after that kind of investment, is it really worth the risk? Several of our owners have built custom-made "catio's" for their Savannahs!





Can they be leash trained?
Some Savannahs love to walk on a leash and they learn easily due to their "dog-like" personality. We do not currently walk our Savannahs, but are happy to assist in early training and walking-jacket wearing for owners who request it.





Do they like to play in water?
Many pure domestic cats find a fascination with water. It is believed it to be the highly active cats that tend to want to play in water thus many of the Savannahs do find pleasure playing in water. The Serval loves to play in water so it only comes natural for a Savannah to enjoy it, too.





What do I feed my Savannah?
Savannahs can be fed a broad spectrum of diets, from regular food to completely raw. Yes, they are considered domestic cats and eat the premium cat foods on the market. Spotlight Savannahs is a proud and active member of the Feline Nutrition Education Society (www.feline-nutrition.org) and we don't take what we feed our SVs lightly - and neither should you. We keep all of our adult SVs on a bone-in ground raw diet. Although we highly recommend you feed raw as well, we understand if you want to feed kibble or canned - just do your research before grabbing any bag off the shelf. Feeding your SV a high quality diet should be your top priority - their health and quality of life depends on it! Also, if you are on well water and you don't drink it, please do not give it to your cat either. Please see the below links for more information on feed raw and its benefits.

Just What is a Raw Meat Diet, Anyway?

The Benefits of a Raw Diet for Your Cat

How to Transition Your Cat to a Raw Diet

Easy Raw Feeding for the Busy Person

Making Raw Cat Food for Do-It-Yourselfers

Spooked By Salmonella: Raw Food!!!

The Dangers of Dry Food





Do Savannahs require special veterinarian care?
It is important to note that (in our expert opinion) Savannah cats must only receive KILLED VIRUS vaccines and under no circumstances should be administered anything classified as live or modified live. We are aware there are several breeders out there who advocate using modified-live and have used so without adverse effects - we however, prefer to take the "better safe than sorry" route. Also please do not vaccinate for FELV (Feline Leukemia Virus) or FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitus) as it has been reported these vaccines either have very bad side effects or may even predispose cats to contract the very diseases they are purported to prevent. Other than that, a Savannah can be treated just like any domestic cat. A regular veterinarian is qualified to treat a Savannah. The only other difference between the average domestic and a Savannah is really that they look "wild" and a vet that has never met one before might be worried and extra-cautious, while a vet that treats exotic/hybrid cats on a regular basis wouldn't give them a second glance.





Are they destructive?
Honestly, cats in general can be destructive depending on how you train them, what you provide for them to scratch on or play with and how you handle them when they're scared, upset, etc. The early generation Savannahs tend to be more high-energy cats. They love to romp and play. You must provide them with plenty of toys and playmates to prevent destructive behavior.





Should I declaw my Savannah?
We have chosen to not de-claw our Savannahs, but maintain a "pro-choice" mentality on the subject. We regularly trim all of our Savannahs claws and they don't mind much. A cat's toe has three bones; the claw grows from the end of the last bone. In traditional declawing, the veterinarian amputates the end section of the last bone, along with the nail. This removes the claw and prevents it from growing back. We do not recommend this method. Surgical lasers have been used in declawing for several years at veterinary colleges, but it has just recently become an affordable option for veterinary hospitals to offer clients. Laser declaw surgery requires anesthesia and amputation of the bone and nails as described above. However, laser surgery offers advantages. As it cuts, the laser automatically seals small blood vessels and nerve endings around the cut, so there is less bleeding and pain. As a consequence, cats recover faster from laser declawing. We recommend you speak with your vet about options if you decide you want to de-claw.





Are Savannahs hypoallergenic?
No. Savannahs are a low-shedding breed of cat and that basically means that people tend to react less to them than other cats and assume it is "hypoallergenic". If you are allergic to cats, be very careful! There is no substantiated data on these cats and allergies. You may have less reaction, it most likely depends on what triggers your allergies and what threshold you have to that allergen.





What is an "Ashera" cat?
Nothing more than a Savannah with an OUTRAGEOUS price tag. The "Ashera" was a hybrid cat marketed by Lifestyle Pets. The "Ashera" was an alleged domestic/wild hybrid cat, a hybrid between the African Serval, the Asian Leopard Cat, and a domestic housecat. The authenticity of this breed has been challenged, as the only known examples of "Ashera" cats have been proven by DNA testing to be Savannah cats.





Are some male Savannahs unable to reproduce?
Savannah males are typically sterile until the 5th (F5) generation. This directly relates to the difference in genetics/DNA between a domestic cat and a serval. Fertility in 4th (F4) generation males is possible, but not common.





Do I need a permit to own a Savannah?
Every state is different. In fact, even in states where no permit is required by State law, some localities require permits, and others outlaw hybrids altogether. Therefore, it is crucial to research the laws in your city, municipality, county, township AND state BEFORE attempting to acquire a Savannah. Check out this website for specification: www.HybridLaw.com





When are Savannah kittens ready to go to a new home?
Savannah kittens are typically ready to be shipped/picked up at approximately 12 or more weeks of age. Spotlight Savannahs does not allow our kittens to leave the "nest" prior to 12 weeks of age. This is because their immune systems are not developed prior to that and a single serious bout of something as simple as diarrhea can kill a kitten. Dehydration can kill a kitten. A good chill can kill a kitten. They are so very very fragile up until 12-14 weeks of age. At 6 weeks (for example) kittens have just left the nest box about the week before. They are still getting used to the world- still experiencing the world. When left with Momma for the next 6-8 weeks, Momma teaches them everything. It is a very important time development-wise for kittens. We currently think that it takes until at least 12 weeks for kittens to have a fully functional immune system which is why we also recommend at least one vaccine at or after 12 weeks of age as the second vaccine. We can't just "fast-track" immunity by giving vaccines earlier and expecting that to give proper protection. They learn a lot from their siblings and momma cat, but their personalities also develop along with their confidence. At 12 weeks of age, Savannah kittens are very outgoing and interested in new things while at 7-8 weeks of age they are more easily worried and stressed. (Text reference used with permission from Paige at Agato Savannahs.)





Should I Savannah-proof/childproof my home before my kitten arrives?
Yes. Taking precautionary measures by identifying and addressing basic safety issues will give you peace of mind regardless of your kitten's personality. Just like most human children, inquisitive kittens seem to have a knack for finding trouble, so safeguarding your environment is an ABSOLUTE MUST.

You might be surprised at how quickly a toy will meet its demise under the wrath of a playful Savannah kitten! Savannah cats and kittens are very active and playful. As Savannah kittens love to chew, they can be very destructive to their toys and should be given appropriate toys to chew on. There are two types of toys to purchase for your kitten. The first would be interactive toys that you can use with your kitten such as feather teaser toys, though they should never be left alone with your Savannah for safety reasons. The second type are toys that can safely be given to your kitten to play with on his or her own.

Toys that are Safe for Your Savannah Kitten:
> Paper bags, crumpled paper, cardboard boxes
> Tennis balls
> Stuffed animals sturdily designed for heavy chewing dogs
> Cat teaser toys with feathers (supervision required)
> Nyla Bone, Dupont nylon products (cannot be chewed or ingested)
> Hard plastic balls, that preferably make noise when rolled
> Natural fresh or dried cat nip!

Toys to Avoid Giving Your Savannah Kitten:
> String, cords or ribbon
> Small foam balls
> Foil
> Stuffed toys with pieces easily pulled or chewed off such as eyes or a nose 

REMEMBER TO SUPERVISE YOUR KITTEN AT ALL TIMES IF IN DOUBT ABOUT A TOYS' SAFETY!

Hide any plastic bags, including grocery bags that are chewable and can easily cause intestinal blockage. Remove small objects such as chewable rubber toys, plastic wrap, ribbons, string, small plastic objects, etc. Check toys on a regular basis for wear and breakage.

Heavy objects, vases, and ANYTHING breakable or valuable should be removed or placed in an area where your Savannah kitten will not be injured and your possessions will be secure. You have no one to blame but yourself if these things get destroyed whether on purpose or accident.

Be sure to keep toilet lids closed and do not allow your kitten near a bathtub or sink filled with water. A kitten could easily be in over his or her head in a quick leap.

When using rocking chairs or loungers, care should be taken so as to not hurt your kitten, and never allow your kitten near a hot stove surface.

All small crawl spaces should be blocked off, including floor vents. Your curious kitten will quickly find these spaces and want to explore, possibly getting caught where you may not be able to reach them.

Carefully open and close all doors, including refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers, being mindful at all times of where your kitten is in your home.

Lock up medications, cleaning products, and any poisons so that they cannot be ingested.

Buy those plastic outlet plugs (available at places like Home Depot) to ensure a curious kitten claw can't get into the outlet and cause electrocution.

Supervise other pets, such as dogs, during the introduction period and never allow unsupervised playtime until you are 100% comfortable and secure in their relationship and that no harm will come to your Savannah, preferably after your kitten has become much older. p>

Savannah kittens, like their wild ancestor the African Serval, love to chew. They are usually attracted to cords for a while once they begin to explore the house. This is typically a phase that kittens go through while teething, and can quickly be discouraged by wiping or spraying "Bitter Apple" spray or vinegar on the cords. It may be necessary to reapply more than once weekly. In the event your kitten bites through a wire, you should know where your circuit breaker box is located to immediately cut the power. If this happens, do not touch the kitten or try to unplug the wire until the power is cut, once this has been done rush your kitten to the nearest emergency veterinarian clinic.

One of the most common household hazards is poisonous plants. Some curious Savannah kittens look to plants as if they are toys (Our DeciBelle loves to munch on our plastic plants, as well - so don't think those are safe, either!). Be sure that your plants are non-toxic and do not allow your kitten to chew on your plants. Some common plants are african violets, azaleas, oleander, lilies, and many more. If in doubt, remove all plants from the room(s) that your kitten will be accessing in your home.  





How do I get a kitten from Spotlight Savannahs?
Visit our Purchasing a Spotlight Savannah page, pick out your future baby on our Available section then fill out an Online Kitten Application to begin the interview process.