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Owning a Savannah

il Gatopardo

Savannah Super Cat
#1
So you want one - good. Maybe.
I decided to write this because I hate the thought of seeing a cat up for adoption because the new owner could not handle their new buddy. These cats are like no other, at least mine is, I have had many cats before and I know. I have a domestic as well now. The difference is noticeable.
I speak as the owner( I hate that term, more like friend, caretaker would be better) of a high percentage savannah - F2. He's close to 30% serval as his father was a savannah.
And I can only speak from my personal experience with Henry. I am not an expert in any way. But as I said I do know cats.
This is not a cat. Not in the everyday way you may know. Not at all.
Henry is big, very big, and that is something to consider. He's also so strong the vet will not do certain things like take a blood test without putting him under. They cannot hold him still. I've tried, no go.
Your savannah will most likely get into everything, closets, drawers, cabinets etc. I have child locks on everything. Too many times I have come home to find the freezer door wide open and everything inside thawed. Everything and I mean everything is a toy or something to be investigated. These cats do not sleep all day, they are constantly on the move exploring and getting to everything.
They can scare people. I have had visitors ask that I put Henry in another room because he can give a look that will chill your spine. Try staring at a leopard or tiger at the zoo. You will get the idea. Do not leave them alone for long periods, It's unfair to them and as an owner your responsibility to be there for them. And if you do you will come to a wrecked environment. Do not on the other hand treat them like some wild animal to leave outside in a cage etc. They are very social and this would be cruel.
These are some things to consider but not all. I love my savannah more than anything and will, and do, gladly put up with it all. A savannah will bond to you like no other cat and I consider it a very special priviledge to be Henry's buddy. He gives me headbutts so hard I think he will break my nose when I come home. He follows me everywhere, every room I go into. He sleeps with me all night, every night. I am his world and he is mine. Sounds a bit over the top but it's true for me. And for all his wildness, sometimes scaryness, he has never ever scratched or bitten me or anyone. I used to take him to work with me and while he did not always like it, he put up with people coming to see and pet him. He's a good boy. It's true what say, they do indeed bond with one person. And one person only.
But that bond is extraordinary.
 

Alex and Katie

Savannah Super Cat
#2
I dont want to spark a huge debate and I appreciate that you are trying to give a portrayal of what these animals are like as pets but everyone on this forum has a unique animal and unique "problems" with the breed. One thing I will absolutely agree with you on is that they get into everything. The knock everything over they tear paintings off the walls, curtains off windows, will knock glasses onto the floor. I can never find anything haha. For the average person this would definitely not be tolerated. Their energy is unreal. They are OFF THE WALLS. again something most people dont seek out in a pet. I also agree with you. These are not cats. Theyre something SPECIAL! We have 6 male savannahs, two F1's one F2, and three F3's. (one of the F1's is an 8 year old adult that we are integrating into a pride of 5 kittens aged 6 months to almost 2 years). Our F2 Zuri is the only one who shows even the slightest hint of skittishness around strangers. and once he has observed from a distance he is quick to warm up to any and all. Our other 4 are absolute lushes with any and everyone. Male or female, any age or race. They are all fond of being held and our F1 Milo and F3 kovu will fight you if you try to put them down haha. Theyre all wonderful at the vet. Its like....the COOLEST place on earth to them. So many smells and treats and designs on the wall for them to paw at. None of them have ever made a peep getting shots. Even our most timid, F2 Zuri will just freeze in the vets arms and was perfect with having a catheter inserted when he needed IV fluids once. Our newest family member Simba is a very large insanely loving F1 named Simba. We had him at the vet the day we brought him home. He was headbutting her so hard she had to pull away. He loved us from the second he laid eyes on us. Are they intimidating in size sure but ive never had anyone over including my fiance's 18 month old nephew who was afraid of even the F1's. Thats how wonderful they are with everyone. As i said to begin with im not trying to oppose your post as i believe you have accurately described your experience with Henry. I just dont want people who would be considering the breed to hear the "horror stories" about savannahs and make a decision based on that. Im sure some will bond to one person or a family and some dont like strangers but truth be told with the exception of our F2 Zuri, all 4 of our others and even our new F1 simba show more attention and give more love to visitors than they do to us when we have people over. Almost like they have new toys to play with and brush up and against and headbutt.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#3
Completely agreed, like ALL animals they are individuals with their own quirks. I believe Savannahs in general are quirkier than most but if you listen to other pet owners there are plenty of domestic shorthairs out there that do crazy things and are a challenge to live with. The difference, imho, is that more are dumped outside if they are too much trouble while if someone has paid thousands for a cat they are more inclined to try to work it out ;-)

I will also mention that I have some very large Savannahs (F1 to F5) and not ONE of them needs to be sedated to have blood drawn.
 

Becki

Savannah Super Cat
#4
I agree we should be careful in the words we chose to portray personalities as something used merely for dramatic effect may feed directly into the anti savannah crowds misperception these are wild beasts instead of kitty cats. I have 2 f2s that theoretically have more than 30% Serval, neither one strikes fear in the hearts of anyone. In fact the only one capable of striking fear just by a look is me, and that tool is typically only deployed on my 15 year old daughter. :)

It is a myth these cats are all huge. Some are, some aren't. Nyah is good sized for a female, but is not broaching cheetah by any stretch. She just looks like a good sized cat. Kovu may be the kitty equivalent of Clifford the Big Red Dog at the rate he is going, but he so goofy and gangly that he looks more like he should have a staring role in a Monty Python film instead of a monster flick. Especially when he quacks, which is what he does as his version of a meow. A quacking cat incites fits of laughter, not screams. Trust me.

If your vet is afraid, I think I would consider another vet. Nyah is quirky and has stranger anxiety, but we have still managed regular vet care without resorting to tranquilizers. There are some tricks of the trade solid vet techs know to work with those of us with "special kitties". Maybe some social visits to the vet may reduce a bit of poor Henry's anxiety?

I appreciate you wanting to warn people who want a Savannah because it is trendy and then discover the energy level and intelligence these cats possess may be more than they signed up for, as they can bounce off the walls, and not everyone thinks your sink running all day is funny. Or finding your car keys in the bathtub is a laugh riot when you are already late for work. But at the end of the day, these are really cool, really loyal, really playful, really smart cats in an incredible spotted outfit.
 

SV Dad

Site Supporter
#5
So as not to freak prospective servants out, I have 3 SV's (1 F5 female and 2 F3 full brothers) and a DSH.
They do not tear pictures off the wall, destroy drapes, eat carpet, destroy furniture, eat human children, purchase on Amazon.com, text, or prank call. I do consider myself fortunate in that they are quite behaved.
Yes, they have high energy, intelligence, and are quite active. The DSH, F5, and younger F3 will all sit on your lap if the mood strikes them. They are all friendly, don't bite, and the SV's enjoy headbutting. Our vet's office has learned these are some of the best behaving cats in the client base.
So as we all say, they are all different in demeanor, but the personality is amazing.
 

il Gatopardo

Savannah Super Cat
#6
My vet was worried about Henry, not himself. Otherwise I don't think I shall reply to the rest. We all want the best for these wonderful animals. That's all that matters to me.
 

John Popp

Site Supporter
#7
There isn't all that much difference between a rambunctious domestic and a savannah. Certainly the energy level is a bit higher, the athletic ability greater and more wanting of playtime and attention.

Neither of our two SVs have ever been a problem at the vet. With the advice we received here each of them had a couple visits to the vet before ever getting poked or prodded. Not only did we make sure they were 100% comfortable at the vets office but so did the vet and her staff. What they really don't like is the car ride there and they are sure to sing the songs of their angst.

Our SVs have yet to scare anyone but they sure have made a lot of people laugh. They have rolled with me to work and met dozens of people as well as going to my wife's studio meeting the talent and clients. They have also posed with the models in some shots (not exactly the easiest thing ever accomplished) and would certainly love the studio to be their playground.

A Savannah certainly isn't the right cat for everyone. Of the care and home they are in need of they don't peg the energy/clown meter like an Abby, but have the size to make up for some of it. They aren't the right fit for someone looking for a lap cat who can be a wallflower, reserved and aloof. They do make a great pet for someone who can afford to be engaged in a couple hour a day entrainment program as well as being able to keep any possessions smaller than a basketball under lock and key.
 

NikkiA

Site Supporter
#8
I had never had a cat before. Now I have three. They are energetic, they are fiesty, they are determined, and they are fun.
My boys are occasionally destroyers of stuff, but pretty infrequently and always unintentionally.
When something has been broken, I can always tell who the culprit was, the kitty will walk around all day with a tail down and a hanging head.
I trust them implicitly. My F5 boy is a Therapy Cat, we visit nursing homes.
My F4 baby doesn't love strangers, but give him an hour and he is out and about and willing to meet new people.
My F3 baby was our problem child for his first year. He was nervous, skittish, and when frightened, would sometimes defend himself out of fear with claws or teeth. Once we identified the problem, and removed the cause for fear, he turned into his true self, a happy, confident kitty who LOVES to play.
My 3 year old niece can pick up and cart around all three of our boys. Even F3 Jarvis, who if an adult tries to pick him up may struggle after a minute, will let her and the other children who come to visit our home cart him around. He is about 18 pounds these days. Not a small cat.
 

il Gatopardo

Savannah Super Cat
#9
There isn't all that much difference between a rambunctious domestic and a savannah. Certainly the energy level is a bit higher, the athletic ability greater and more wanting of playtime and attention.
I beg to differ, this was my place after being away for several weeks.

DSC00739.JPG DSC00740.JPG kiychen4.JPG DSC00747.JPG DSC00744.JPG
 

Alex and Katie

Savannah Super Cat
#10
I havent spent more than 2 nights away from home since getting our savannahs. If I travel Katie stays home with the cats and if she travels I stay home. You should not be leaving ANY animal, let alone a social social cat for several weeks even if you had someone living there with the animal ESPECIALLY when you say your cat likes you and you only. Thats called neglect!