When lions, tigers, and bears were released in Zanesville, OH, the governor vowed to totally ban "wild and dangerous" animals from Ohio. HSUS has seized this issue politically, and is now wagging the dog. Part of their spin is that the Savannah is "wild and dangerous". Savannah breeders have tried to educate legislators to the true nature of our harmless domestic housecats, but HSUS has billions of dollars to spend, and this enables them to buy politicians. As a result, the Savannah is currently not included in the ban, but the bill as currently written will allow ANY species of animal to be added to the ban list again at qny time. Therefore, my Savannah cats are seeking pet homes and I will not resume working with the breed. Please contact me if you are interested in adopting a retired adult.
Any discussion of the Savannah cat, a hybrid breed, should start with a discussion of its wild ancestor, the Serval. The Serval is a wild cat, native to Africa. They have proportionately the tallest legs and ears of any cat species, with a long neck and body built for hunting in the tall grasses and sedges of wetlands and savannahs. All this length is contrasted by a very short, thick tail.
The Savannah cat is a rodent specialist, and approximately 90% of their diet consists of small mammals. They hunt on the ground, bounding high to leap over the tall grasses and pounce on the prey that burrows in the loose tunnels formed by grass stems and leaves. Fortunately, the Serval is not yet endangered, but their populations are in decline as a result of habitat degradation as human populations expand.
Let's take a look at the Serval in its natural habitat, by looking at some video clips, all while discussing the Savannah cat...
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Click "play" in the center of the panel below. This is a film taken from a wildlife viewing "safari" at Nkorho Lodge, in South Africa. Nkorho Lodge also is the site featured at www.africam.com, where a live continuous streaming video runs, showing a water-hole and the surrounding area. I like to watch it while I am at work on the computer, and when something wild shows up, I expand the browser to watch, and am transported to South Africa for awhile! The featured wildlife in this clip is the wild African Serval, in it's hunting grounds at night! You may want to stop the music at the top of the page before viewing. Enjoy!
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Below is more amazing footage, this time from the Serengeti, in southern Africa. The beauty and grace of the athletic Serval is admired by many people. Modern man has a deep desire to be close to the environment, and this desire has intensified as man has changed his environment to one that ensures survival and comfort, with less ties to the natural world. As a result, some cat enthusiasts own Servals. The Serval is a wild animal, not a pet, so one should never think of a Serval as a "pet". However, compared to some other species of wild cats, Servals naturally have good temperaments even without hybridization.
When a breeding between a domestic cat and a Serval occurred in 1986, the resulting kittens had some of the physical characteristics of a Serval, but also some of the personality of a domestic cat. As an eventual result, some cat fanciers began to breed and keep these hybrids (1994), calling the new hybrid breed the "Savannah".
The Savannah is registered with The International Cat Association, or TICA. A female domestic cat bred to a male Serval will produce the F1 generation of Savannahs. The female F1, a cat that may range from 20 - 35 pounds in weight, is accepted for breeding and registration, the male F1 is always sterile.
The F1 female is then bred to produce an F2 Savannah, and subsequent generations are dubbed F3, F4, and etc. You can always count the number of generations back to the closest Serval in the pedigree, by the F number. By the time the F3 generation is reached, the Savannahs have behavior that is virtually the same as a domestic cat. Also at this generation level, the size of the cats ranges from 10 - 20 pounds, similar in size to a Maine Coon cat. And when the F4 and F5 generations are reached, we begin to find fertile males which may be used to breed back to females with lower F numbers (higher percentages of Serval).
Another distinction in labelling Savannahs for registration, is the designation "A", "B", "C", and "SBT". When a Savannah is bred to a non-Savannah, the kittens are designated "A". When a Savannah has a pedigree with one generation of Savannah x Savannah breedings, it is designated "B". A Savannah is designated "C" when it has two generations of Savannah x Savannah breedings, or in other words, when the parents and grandparents are all Savannahs. Finally, when a Savannah has three generations of Savannah x Savannah in its pedigree (parents, grand-parents, and great-grand-parents), then it is designated "SBT". All kittens born after the "SBT" generation will also be "SBT" unless one breeds back to a Savannah that is lower than "C" in designation.
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Savannahs are now accepted in the following colors: Brown Spotted Tabby, Silver Spotted Tabby, Black, and Black Smoke.
Savannah breeders work tirelessly to produce healthy, friendly pets that look as much like a Serval as possible, while behaving as much like a domestic cat as possible. The idea is to satisfy that desire to be close to the natural world, but to do it in a way that produces a good pet, not a wild animal. Savannah breeders have done a great job in these early years of working with the breed, and both quality (Serval appearance and beauty) and domesticability (domestic cat behavior in the home with affectionate human-cat relationships) are being achieved.
Last Update: March 28, 2009.
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