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The Savannah Cat

Like any good hybrid, the Savannah cat strikes a delicate balance. In this case, the balance between adventurous instinct and domestic tranquility. Since gaining official recognition from The International Cat Association in 2001, the breed’s popularity has only continued to grow (with a possible assist from the much-viewed documentary series Tiger King). If you’re thinking of welcoming one of these stunning cats into your home, take a moment to chew on these clarifying insights.

The Origins

Judee Frank, a breeder of Bengal cats, got the ball rolling in 1986 when an African serval cat under her care bred with her domestic Siamese cat. She eventually named the offspring “Savannah” in honor of the serval’s native habitat. Servals would later be bred with other types of domestic cats to create more variety. But with its spotted coat, prominent ears, and long legs, the Savannah cat is recognizable.


Despite its rising popularity, this breed isn’t for everyone—not so much because of temperament but because of financial and legal restrictions.

Because of perceived dangers associated with exotic DNA, some states—including Hawaii, Massachusetts, Texas, and Georgia—don’t allow Savannah ownership (so no Savannahs in Savannah, GA, ironically). While these cats aren’t a serious threat to humans, there are concerns about them escaping into the wild and changing the ecosystem by breeding feral cats. The fear of imperiling the robust native wildlife in Australia, for example, has led to Savannahs being outlawed across the continent.

Another barrier to ownership is the expense. Obtaining a Savannah isn’t as simple as swinging by your local humane society. Because they can be difficult to breed, these cats typically cost thousands of dollars. However, the cost reduces the more domesticated the filial generation is.

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