Spotted or striped coats go a long way toward giving certain felines an exotic look. It’s not just the spotted fur and muscular body that make the Savannah cat wild at heart, though. The breed is a result of pairing a Siamese with a wild cat known as the Serval.
Depending on the generation — or how far removed the Savannah is from their wild ancestor — these cats’ personalities can vary greatly. While early-generation Savannahs — like F1s and F2s — might be more prone to acting as wild as the Serval, later generations tend to be more docile and domesticated.
Generally, F1 and F2 Savannah cats are considered more dangerous than later generations. The earlier generations are often the members of the breed that are banned in many countries around the world. Understanding whether the Savannah cat is dangerous means understanding the breed and their ancestry.
What Are Savannah Cats?
First introduced in 1986, the Savannah is a relatively new hybrid breed. The original pairing was a Siamese and a Serval. Their kitten, named Savannah — the breed’s namesake — was the first recorded member of this breed.
Through the efforts of Patrick Kelly and Joyce Sroufe, the Savannah breed was further developed. These two breeders worked together to establish the original TICA breed standard and fought to get the breed officially recognized. They succeeded when TICA registered the Savannah as a breed in 2001 and later accepted them in competitions in 2012.
As a hybrid breed, the Savannah has many traits from both the Siamese and the Serval. Here’s a brief introduction to both breeds.
Native to savannahs with plenty of water, the Serval is found in most of Africa except Central Equatorial Africa, the south, and the Sahara. Unlike Siamese cats, which enjoy companionship, the Serval is solitary except for when the females are in heat or when the mothers are raising their kittens.
Not only are they impressive hunters, but they’re also fierce athletes and can jump up to 1.5 meters high.
Beyond their poise and elegance, the Siamese is known for their vocal nature and enjoyment of following their human family members everywhere. They’re affectionate to a fault and don’t like to be left alone for too long. While they’re not wild cats like the Serval, their intelligence and energy levels get them into mischief.
Their big ears and spotted coat give the Savannah a wild, exotic appearance no matter how far removed they are from their Serval ancestor. While their wild blood is tempered by that of the domesticated Siamese, especially in the later generations, many of the Savannah cat’s physical traits are a result of the Serval’s bloodline.
The muscular body, long neck and legs, and unique ears are all traits that they inherit from their wild ancestor, along with the spotted coat.
Despite how much influence the Serval has on the Savannah breed’s appearance, though, the Savannah is small due to their Siamese blood.
Both the Savannah cat’s wild and domestic ancestors give the Savannah an energetic personality. The Siamese is well-known for their high activity levels and impressive intelligence. As a wild cat, the Serval’s energy levels are considerable too.
The Savannah is inquisitive and not shy about sharing their opinion. They might not be lap cats like the Siamese, but the Savannah is more than happy to share affection with their family members.
The Savannah does best in households with plenty of companionship from other pets and humans and plenty of toys to challenge them. Keeping them entertained and active is also a good way to prevent less wanted behavior from surfacing.
What’s the Difference Between F1-, F2-, and Later-Generation Savannah Cats?
F1 and F2 designations refer to the generation that the Savannah cat is and how far removed they are from their wild ancestor. F1 Savannah cats are first-generation crosses. Their parents are the Siamese and the Serval. An F2 is a second generation. The original Siamese and Serval pair are the F2’s grandparents and so on. F4 Savannahs and onward are generally considered suitable as family pets.
Are Savannah Cats Dangerous?
The Savannah cat doesn’t pose much of a risk at all toward humans — no more so than other domesticated cats, anyway. The danger posed by the Savannah depends on how closely related they are to their wild ancestor. F1 Savannahs, for example, are 50% wild, while an F4 has less wild DNA. The further removed the Savannah cat is from their Serval ancestor, the more domesticated traits they have.
F4 Savannahs, with several generations between them and their Serval great-great-grandparent, are far more docile than their F1 counterparts. They also tend to be smaller in size and more manageable for many families.
That said, F1 Savannahs aren’t necessarily considered dangerous to humans. They do pose a threat to smaller pets due to their hunting instincts, which can be said for all domesticated cat breeds.
There are times when their hunting instinct might be more prone to making itself known, which can pose a risk to unsuspecting humans, especially if your Savannah is feeling lonely or bored.
In the end, making sure you respect your cat can help you both stay safe. Familiarizing yourself with their body language can also help you determine whether they’re happy to cuddle or would rather be left alone.
While many countries don’t consider early generations of Savannah cats to be acceptable pets due to their wild natures, the breed is no more dangerous than other domesticated cats. They do, however, require plenty of companionship and entertainment to keep their minds active and to prevent boredom.
Keeping them active can help direct their hyperactivity and hunting instincts onto more acceptable targets. Later generations of Savannah cats might also suit your household more than F1s or F2s due to their calmer temperaments.
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