savannah cat standing by the window

Since Savannah cats are a hybrid cat breed with wild Serval ancestry, there can be some legalities involved with owning the breed. Savannah cats are legal in a lot of places, but they are also deemed exotic and banned in others. The legality of owning a Savannah cat can vary state by state or even by county or municipality.

Savannah cats are even categorized by generation, and the generation can play a role in legal ownership as well. It is so very important to know your state and local laws regarding the ownership of both hybrid and exotic animals before ever bringing one home.

Savannah Cat by Generation

Savannah Cats are categorized by filial generation, or how many generations they are removed from the Serval. You will notice Savannah cats labeled per filial generation, F1 through F8. F1 is closest generationally with the Serval, and F8 being the furthest.

Legal ownership can very well be dependent on filial generation. Some states will only allow certain filial generations for legal ownership, typically F4-F8.  You will see below our table that goes over the legalities by state.

The Importance of Legal Ownership

Laws surrounding the ownership of exotic and hybrid animals not only vary by state, county, or municipality, but they are subject to change at any time.

Any person who is interested in ownership of an animal that fits into the category of hybrid or exotic, needs to be aware of their local laws and fully prepared to adjust if the law were to change. Here are some things to consider before bringing home a Savannah cat:

Find a Reputable Breeder – When searching for a Savannah cat, make sure you research and get in contact with a respected Savannah breeder. Reputable breeders will care about where their kittens go and will ensure they are being sent to a home where ownership is legal. They will also be able to advise you on the precise filial generation.

Generation Legality – When you are looking into the local laws, make sure you compare any legalities related to the filial generation of the Savannah cat. If you are in an area that only allows F4-F8, you must follow the law.

Permits – There are certain cities, counties, and even states that will require you to obtain a permit to own a Savannah cat. Check with your local government about the law and the way you can obtain any needed permits if they are required.

Crossing State Lines – Even if you live in an area that allows all generations of Savannah cats, you could be in for some trouble if you were caught transporting the cat across state lines. Even if you are just traveling with your pet, you can get in some legal trouble for bringing an animal deemed exotic across state lines. Before traveling with your Savannah, look up the laws in the cities and states you’ll be visiting.

Consequences of Illegal Ownership – There can be serious consequences if you were to be caught illegally housing a Savannah cat or any other exotic animal. In some cases, the animal will be confiscated and potentially euthanized. At the very least, you will be subject to serious fines.

savannah cat on leash lying on green grass
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Savannah Ownership by State (Current Legalities)

As noted above, the laws regarding the ownership of exotic and hybrid animals, including the Savannah cat are subject to change. Here’s a reference to the current legalities surrounding ownership of the Savannah cat by state:

State Legal Savannah Cat Ownership by Categorized Generation
Alabama All generations legal
Alaska F4 -F8 legal
Arizona All generations legal
Arkansas All generations legal
California All generations legal
Colorado F4-F8 (Illegal within Denver city limits)
Connecticut All generations legal
Delaware Permit required
Florida All generations legal
Georgia Illegal statewide
Hawaii Illegal statewide
Idaho All generations legal
Illinois All generations legal
Indiana All generations legal (permit may be required in certain counties)
Iowa F4-F8 legal
Kansas All generations legal
Kentucky All generations legal
Louisiana All generations legal
Maine All generations legal
Maryland All generations legal (Must weigh under 30 pounds)
Massachusetts F4-F8 legal
Michigan All generations legal
Minnesota All generations legal
Mississippi All generations legal
Missouri All generations legal
Montana All generations legal
Nebraska Illegal statewide
Nevada All generations legal
New Hampshire F4-F8 legal
New Jersey All generations legal
New Mexico All generations are legal (Some cities may require a permit)
New York F5-F8 legal (Illegal in New York City proper)
North Carolina All generations legal
North Dakota All generations legal
Ohio All generations legal
Oklahoma All generations legal
Oregon All generations legal (Permit may be required in certain cities/counties)
Pennsylvania All generations legal
Rhode Island Illegal statewide
South Carolina All generations legal
South Dakota All generations legal
Tennessee All generations legal
Texas Illegal in most counties (must check with county government)
Utah All generations legal
Vermont F4-F8 legal
Virginia All generations legal
Washington All generations legal (banned in Seattle city limits
Washington D.C. All generations legal
West Virginia All generations legal
Wisconsin All generations legal
Wyoming All generations legal


The legality of Savannah cat ownership does vary state by state and even by county or municipality. Some states may allow all generations of Savannah, while certain counties or cities within that state have the right to ban them entirely. It’s important to check with your state and local laws before bringing home a Savannah cat.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock