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Savannah Cat History


Staff member
This version of the Savannah cat history was excerpted from my article in Savannah's Illustrated.

Many passionate and devoted breeders facilitated the Savannah cat in becoming one of the most popular and sought after domestic cat breeds in the world. The Savannah currently ranks as the 4th most popular TICA breed.

In the early 1980’s, the unplanned mating of an African Serval with a domestic cat owned by Judee Frank, resulted in a new and unique hybrid. Owner Suzi Wood named the resulting F1 female “Savannah” – the moniker stuck and became the official name of the breed today.

Patrick Kelley, purchased the only female kitten Savannah produced, and approached different breeders, trying to pique the interest of anyone who could help him work with this wonderful new breed. With little interest from most breeders, Patrick persisted in his quest. Joyce Sroufe, a breeder of exotic animals, saw the potential of the Savannah and joined with Patrick, producing and promoting the breed. In addition, Patrick and Joyce wrote the original Breed Standard, which was presented to the TICA Board of Directors in February 1996.And so the Savannah breed really began with these two passionate, devoted people.

Joyce Sroufe became the first and eventually one of the most successful and prolific Savannah breeders to date. It is said that her diligence, perseverance, and belief in the Savannah breed, along with her broad knowledge and skills in cat breeding, allowed her to produce more Savannahs than any other breeder at the time. Joyce was one of the first breeders to produce fertile males in later generations. Her breeding program provided females and fertile males that became the foundation of many other Savannah breeding programs over the years. Her unrelenting faith and commitment to the breed, along with her experience, proved to be invaluable to the new breeders she mentored.

Patrick Kelley and Joyce Sroufe, as well as Lorre Smith and Carol Streit, the former and current Savannah Breed Chairs, deserve much of the credit for bringing this gorgeous, exotic looking, inquisitive and highly intelligent cat to its place in cat fancy history.