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Breeding Nonstandard Savannahs for Beginners

#1
Hi Everyone,

Okay- so I've been thinking about writing this post for a while now and I can say- out of most of the people in the SV world- I am uniquely qualified to make this post.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BECOMING AN ETHICAL, REPUTABLE BREEDER- do NOT purchase a nonstandard cat as your initial cattery investment. PLEASE invest in standard cats- you have four gorgeous standard colors to choose from- silver, smoke, mel, and of course- BST (which can be warm or cool- so it's like FIVE standard colors, right).

First- you will IMMEDIATELY create an uphill battle when it comes to obtaining quality cats to breed to your nonstandard. Good breeders are going to immediately wonder WHY you started with a nonstandard cat and if you are looking to add to your cattery (or just to find a stud or a queen to breed to said cat)- you better be able to JUSTIFY why THIS nonstandard cat was worth purchasing as a breed. And you better KNOW what you are saying when you say it.

Second- you need to know your GENETICS behind your purchase. Sure, nonstandards pop up- recessives are forever, as we say, but what do YOU know about the color/pattern you are breeding? How much do you know about it? For example- I saw a cattery with snow and cinnamon Savannahs listed as breeders- I had to ask MYSELF after being in this breed for quite a few years now, what the heck colors would this breeder be producing? I figured if I wasn't sure- I'm pretty sure this brand new breeder doesn't know! Or care!

Third- ask yourself, is there a MARKET for the nonstandard kittens you are going to produce? Oh sure- you don't want to think about it, but it's a reality. Nonstandards IMHO do not have the same market as a warm BST. No way, no how. A nonstandard can look JUST LIKE a Serval, but be the wrong color and most people will still migrate to that warm BST kitten, 9 times out of 10.

Fourth- WHY are you buying this kitten again? Admit it- oftentimes, the reason why new breeders choose nonstandards is because they are cheaper. Well, ask yourself- first, if a breeder is going to sell to a brand new breeder a nonstandard kitten, how reputable do you think they are? How good of a reputation do you think they have in the Savannah community? Ask yourself- am I buying this nonstandard kitten because I cannot afford a standard one? Because I don't have the patience to wait for the right standard kitten? What IMPRESSION am I giving to the SV community starting off with nonstandard kittens as my breeders?

Fifth- got thick skin? Oh, most of us think we do- but trust me, it's different when someone is tearing apart a baby you brought into this world. Very very different.

Now, I know I'm coming off as a hypocrite and frankly, as a female dog- because yes, I did start with a nonstandard female and I STILL use her in my program. Let me tell you- I was very very lucky to be entrusted with my stud and I have busted my BUTT to be respected in the Savannah community. I created the problem- myself- with starting with a nonstandard female.

So- want to get into breeding Savannahs? PLEASE do yourself a favor and start with standard colored cats. I KNOW the nonstandards are gorgeous, I KNOW the nonstandards are fantastic and worthy of just as much love as a standard, but I am telling you- save yourself your reputation, the heartache, the backstabbing, the pettiness, the stress, and start with standard cats. If you want to add some gorgeous marbles or BSTs with white or snows or whatnot into your program once you are established- good on you. You'll understand the breed, you'll understand type, you will have a good reputation by then and it will be much easier to do.
 
#3
I don't think that you came off as a hypocrite, but more as words from someone that has lived the criticism and understands what impression it can give about program etc.
Thanks, B. I'd been thinking through this post for a while now and how to word things.

It's just an incredibly hard way to start off a cattery and let's face it- we don't have an easy breed as is. LOL.
 
#4
Hi Everyone,

Okay- so I've been thinking about writing this post for a while now and I can say- out of most of the people in the SV world- I am uniquely qualified to make this post.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BECOMING AN ETHICAL, REPUTABLE BREEDER- do NOT purchase a nonstandard cat as your initial cattery investment. PLEASE invest in standard cats- you have four gorgeous standard colors to choose from- silver, smoke, mel, and of course- BST (which can be warm or cool- so it's like FIVE standard colors, right).

First- you will IMMEDIATELY create an uphill battle when it comes to obtaining quality cats to breed to your nonstandard. Good breeders are going to immediately wonder WHY you started with a nonstandard cat and if you are looking to add to your cattery (or just to find a stud or a queen to breed to said cat)- you better be able to JUSTIFY why THIS nonstandard cat was worth purchasing as a breed. And you better KNOW what you are saying when you say it.

Second- you need to know your GENETICS behind your purchase. Sure, nonstandards pop up- recessives are forever, as we say, but what do YOU know about the color/pattern you are breeding? How much do you know about it? For example- I saw a cattery with snow and cinnamon Savannahs listed as breeders- I had to ask MYSELF after being in this breed for quite a few years now, what the heck colors would this breeder be producing? I figured if I wasn't sure- I'm pretty sure this brand new breeder doesn't know! Or care!

Third- ask yourself, is there a MARKET for the nonstandard kittens you are going to produce? Oh sure- you don't want to think about it, but it's a reality. Nonstandards IMHO do not have the same market as a warm BST. No way, no how. A nonstandard can look JUST LIKE a Serval, but be the wrong color and most people will still migrate to that warm BST kitten, 9 times out of 10.

Fourth- WHY are you buying this kitten again? Admit it- oftentimes, the reason why new breeders choose nonstandards is because they are cheaper. Well, ask yourself- first, if a breeder is going to sell to a brand new breeder a nonstandard kitten, how reputable do you think they are? How good of a reputation do you think they have in the Savannah community? Ask yourself- am I buying this nonstandard kitten because I cannot afford a standard one? Because I don't have the patience to wait for the right standard kitten? What IMPRESSION am I giving to the SV community starting off with nonstandard kittens as my breeders?

Fifth- got thick skin? Oh, most of us think we do- but trust me, it's different when someone is tearing apart a baby you brought into this world. Very very different.

Now, I know I'm coming off as a hypocrite and frankly, as a female dog- because yes, I did start with a nonstandard female and I STILL use her in my program. Let me tell you- I was very very lucky to be entrusted with my stud and I have busted my BUTT to be respected in the Savannah community. I created the problem- myself- with starting with a nonstandard female.

So- want to get into breeding Savannahs? PLEASE do yourself a favor and start with standard colored cats. I KNOW the nonstandards are gorgeous, I KNOW the nonstandards are fantastic and worthy of just as much love as a standard, but I am telling you- save yourself your reputation, the heartache, the backstabbing, the pettiness, the stress, and start with standard cats. If you want to add some gorgeous marbles or BSTs with white or snows or whatnot into your program once you are established- good on you. You'll understand the breed, you'll understand type, you will have a good reputation by then and it will be much easier to do.
I do not think you are being a hypocrite. You are speaking from experience and it is something that people need to hear.
 

Mrs.CC

Savannah Super Cat
#5
I'm not a breeder...just a new SV owner, and will never be a breeder. I figure it safe to say, that Trish knows what she's talking about, seeing that she is a breeder, and has probably experienced this firsthand. That being said, I find it sad that it has to be this way.

I understand in the international cat world, that cats most resembling the Serval are what's most desired. What I don't understand, is why a new category of nonstandards can't be introduced. Please don't take this wrong, and knock me for it. I'm not familiar with TICA, it's history, regulations, etc. I'm just the owner of a uniquely beautiful cat, and hate the thought of him being considered anything less than perfect. Each marble is unique...no two the same, and the patterns are gorgeous! I'm not trying to be a smart aleck, or argumentative, but could someone please tell me why a melanistic is considered okay? They are gorgeous, but if spots are the goal, they don't fit the criteria either.

It's a shame that so many beautiful, nonstandard cats aren't recognized. Triton has the right colors, just the "wrong" pattern. I didn't choose him because I couldn't afford a standard. I chose him because what I saw in his pattern and his sweet little face tugged at my heartstrings. He came from an extremely reputable breeder, and from gorgeous parents.

I, myself, am a nonstandard in a world of standards. I have Muscular Dystrophy. Before the disease became apparent, I was just like everyone else. No matter how man strives to be perfect, it will never come to be. Humans and animals are all beautiful in their own way. It's just too bad that we all can't be recognized as such.
 
#6
I'm not a breeder...just a new SV owner, and will never be a breeder. I figure it safe to say, that Trish knows what she's talking about, seeing that she is a breeder, and has probably experienced this firsthand. That being said, I find it sad that it has to be this way.

I understand in the international cat world, that cats most resembling the Serval are what's most desired. What I don't understand, is why a new category of nonstandards can't be introduced. Please don't take this wrong, and knock me for it. I'm not familiar with TICA, it's history, regulations, etc. I'm just the owner of a uniquely beautiful cat, and hate the thought of him being considered anything less than perfect. Each marble is unique...no two the same, and the patterns are gorgeous! I'm not trying to be a smart aleck, or argumentative, but could someone please tell me why a melanistic is considered okay? They are gorgeous, but if spots are the goal, they don't fit the criteria either.

It's a shame that so many beautiful, nonstandard cats aren't recognized. Triton has the right colors, just the "wrong" pattern. I didn't choose him because I couldn't afford a standard. I chose him because what I saw in his pattern and his sweet little face tugged at my heartstrings. He came from an extremely reputable breeder, and from gorgeous parents.

I, myself, am a nonstandard in a world of standards. I have Muscular Dystrophy. Before the disease became apparent, I was just like everyone else. No matter how man strives to be perfect, it will never come to be. Humans and animals are all beautiful in their own way. It's just too bad that we all can't be recognized as such.
Mrs. CC- you have very valid questions/thoughts and I wanted to address them before I forget them...

The fact is- ALL breed associations- from TICA to CFA to the AKC to the Bunny Fanciers' Association (Yeah, I made that one up- but yes, there are bunny shows and I know there is a rabbit association- just don't know the name of it) have breed standards for EVERY breed under the sun. From kitties to dogs to rabbits to chickens to... You name it- if there is an association, there is a breed standard.

A breed standard never ever says that a nonstandard pattern or color (because that is what it is- your CAT isn't nonstandard, but the color is nonstandard for the show hall) is ugly, or unimpressive, or undesirable in a pet. What it IS saying is that THIS color (or these colors) adhere to the show standard and to the breed standard.

The fact is- if we didn't have a color standard for our cats- we would have pointed Savannahs in the show hall, marble Savannahs in the show hall, chocolate and cinammon and tortie, we would have bicolored Savannahs, we would have Savannahs with white. We would have everything under the sun and we would have NO BREED standard. It's a 'standard'. It's not the end all and be all as far as pet owners should be concerned- but it is a bar set 'yay high' for those of us who show and want to improve the breed.

The neat thing about TICA is that TICA permits new colors to be shown- in the New Traits category. HOWEVER- this requires multiple fanciers to persistently show their cats and PROVE to TICA why this color or that color (or mutation- ear curls? Bobbed tails? Folded ears?) should be accepted into the breed standard. I will tell you what TICA would say at this MINUTE if we started showing marbles in the New Traits category. They would say, "You guys JUST submitted for Championship like what? Yesterday? Why didn't you submit these guys too if you thought they were appropriate for your breed standard?" This is- as far as I understand- one of the reason the snow enthusiasts are not pushing for snows to be accepted into the breed standard.

You have to stop looking at having a nonstandard color that can't be shown as a negative thing. First- you can show- in Household Pet where the beauty of your cat's character shines through! (Well, you can if you have the right generation to show). You have to view it more as certain cats are closer to what WE want as a breed group.

So no one is telling you marbles aren't beautiful. In fact, you will hear SV breeders gush over their marble kittens. But you know- I gush over my blues too! So does that mean blues should be in the show hall? Well, I think that'd be silly! My blues are STUNNING little buggers, but it's not appropriate for them to represent Savannahs in a show hall. The breed was created with a purpose in mind- without that purpose in mind, we lose the actual breed we have worked so hard to create.

And you can think of this outside of color too- what if you have excellent Savannahs for the most part, but they have teeny-tiny ears? Well, to YOU- they are gorgeous! WHY NOT show them? Well, you could as long as they are SBT and the right colors, but one would hope the judges probably would not place those cats. Why? Once again- that breed standard.

EVERY cat and kitten is beautiful to its breeder and its family. EVERY SINGLE one. But if we don't have a breed standard- we have no cat shows- we have no TICA- we have no groups to fight for our rights to own the breeds we love- but then again, we have no BREED.
 

SV Dad

Savannah Super Cat
#7
And now I've learned something about breed standards. Thanks.
Marbles are great looking cats no matter which breed. All of my SV's are non standards, but all my friends and visitors are impressed by their heritage and personality. The best trait is the most memorable! (It ain't the spots!)
I know it has been a long hard road for all of the breeders, and work still needs to be done. But this breed is growing very nicely. Keep up the good work.
 

John Popp

Site Supporter
#8
Being a personality first buyer, it was just by chance I ended up with a fairly classic example of an F3. I am somewhat leery of breed standards and what happens with a limited gene pool, primarily from BYBs. Certainly not the case with most breeders, but something that should be a concern for all of us as there are lots of examples with other pets being overbred and ending up with significant health issues. Not sure how many Servals are involved with Savannah breeding programs, but my guess is not a lot and doubtful very many new ones are being introduced.

I do think there is a need for breed standards and also am in full support of organizations like the TICA. To the contrary there are definitely a few breeders that stray from tight adherence to the breed standards with good cause and produce stunning cats. I can site a whole slew of breed standards that aren't on my radar, and the cost wasn't going to dissuade me from bringing us the perfect cat for our home.

Also, I totally agree with Rascal's signature "You get your first for the spots, your second for the personality!". If I were to find a breeder that ascribed to being a personality first breeder, I'm sure that's where my next kitten would be coming from.
 

admin

Paige
Staff member
#9
I think the correct terminology is Non-permissble, not non-standard...non-standard refers to say, long hair vs short, tail kink, cow hocked, etc.

Non-permissbile is mainly about the coat color...

I have Cinny...she is gorgeous and has very good type...I have thought long and hard about breeding her and decided not to...I have had many breeders who want her for their programs, but decided to keep her...
many breeders would question why I am repeating the breeding when it is obvious that both parents carry for cinnamon, since Cinnamon is a recessive, therefore both sire and dam have to carry for it.

Well..it is my choice, I love Shelby's Izzy and 7 out of 8 kittens were BST and very, very nice kittens...several were show quality. I don't mind getting another Cinnamon kitten - they are stunning! I may even end up with a chocolate, who knows...

Bottom line is this...you can breed two BST's, which I did...both Izzy and Zuri were BST...and depending on the pedigree (or not), you may know what the cat carries for. In my case, cinnamon was nowhere on the radar and unfortunately, this is true of many pedigrees...so I did not know. But it actually would not have mattered to me...

My own male will be BST, but quite honestly, since most pedigrees are inaccurate, that does not mean a recessive dilute (cinnamon, blue, lilac) won't show up...or a locket (non-standard) or a marble (non-permissible). Just my 2 cents...
 
#10
I think the correct terminology is Non-permissble, not non-standard...non-standard refers to say, long hair vs short, tail kink, cow hocked, etc.

Non-permissbile is mainly about the coat color...

I have Cinny...she is gorgeous and has very good type...I have thought long and hard about breeding her and decided not to...I have had many breeders who want her for their programs, but decided to keep her...
many breeders would question why I am repeating the breeding when it is obvious that both parents carry for cinnamon, since Cinnamon is a recessive, therefore both sire and dam have to carry for it.

Well..it is my choice, I love Shelby's Izzy and 7 out of 8 kittens were BST and very, very nice kittens...several were show quality. I don't mind getting another Cinnamon kitten - they are stunning! I may even end up with a chocolate, who knows...

Bottom line is this...you can breed two BST's, which I did...both Izzy and Zuri were BST...and depending on the pedigree (or not), you may know what the cat carries for. In my case, cinnamon was nowhere on the radar and unfortunately, this is true of many pedigrees...so I did not know. But it actually would not have mattered to me...

My own male will be BST, but quite honestly, since most pedigrees are inaccurate, that does not mean a recessive dilute (cinnamon, blue, lilac) won't show up...or a locket (non-standard) or a marble (non-permissible). Just my 2 cents...
Yes, you are right, I do believe, Paige, about the terminology, but it's just easier to use the terminology most people use when discussing colors- standard colors versus nonstandard.

Your point is valid about breeding two BSTs as well- that nonstandards will pop up and I think that's part of the excitement of the breed, BUT that should not be used as an excuse to simply breed nonstandards either without care for the breed.

John- you were not looking for a breeding cat therefore looking at all of your options is best. It is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ballgame between purchasing a breeder and purchasing a pet. When you look for a pet- you look for the kitty that speaks to your heart most. When you are looking to improve your cattery or START your cattery, you need to put aside your 'cute kitten' feelings and be more critical. You HAVE to look for breed standard or else- why breed Savannahs? Why not just breed moggies and call them what they are- domestic shorthairs?