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Why Does Our Savannah Cat Do this?



We were given a Savannah cat kitten that is an 8 month old F2 after a friend purchased it at a pet store. After keeping it (and moving it twice in 2 weeks) it began to pee and poop on her kids beds. For health and sanitation reasons with the kids she decided to give it to my husband and I for our barn. However, we wanted to give her a chance in our house and we have not had any potty problems. We have had her for the last 3 weeks. She is using the cat box and acclimating to our elderly cat. One thing she does really disturbs my husband so I agreed to go online and try and find the answer to her behavior.

She likes to sit on my husband when he is in the recliner. She will start sniffing him and eventually gently but with force bite him. She likes to slowly open her mouth, then sneakily push her face in and bit him on his stomach, arm or leg. She does this either through the clothes or on his skin. She does not seem to be playing but does not seem to be angry. Almost like she is comfortably sitting down to a tasty lunch. My husband is convinced she is trying to eat him and this bothers him.

What do you guys think? I am hoping you can shed some light on this behavior and help us figure out how to stop it. She does not do this to me. I am very experienced with animals and livestock and then to have a firm but very loving attitude with them. Many times I have taken in "problem" animals and the problem goes away or after correction stops. Unfortunately, since she is not doing this to me, I have not been able to experiment with changing her behavior. Any advice would be helpful. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Sara


Staff member
Sara, your Savannah cat is definitely not trying to eat your husband and I changed the title of your post to reflect my answer. We do not use these types of sensational titles...for many reasons...

When your husband is in the recliner, has he just come in from working? It may be some type of smell on him that is not on you that is affecting her...

Brigitte Cowell

Staff member
This sounds somewhat similar to a weird behavior one of my Savannahs does that I have never quite managed to change in him, and we have had him since birth. Baz when feeling cuddly will come to me purring... he will want to lick my face or neck purring away and then he will bite down, hard! When small we tried a number of things, scruffing and removing from our skin and saying "no bite!", putting a finger into his throat to gag him as he bit...but it didn't seem to stop his NEED to do this. What I've compromised with him is when he comes to me purring and licking I put my hand and wrist in front of my face or neck so that he licks that, and then he will bite my wrist, and stay in that position for about a minute just purring away.

I wonder if it is similar for your kitten, there is some comfort he is looking for when she pushes her face in to bite? Does she nip or just kinda clamp down for a bit? Is she purring and happy? Or does she seem to want to play at that time?


Staff member
It would probably help to know what, if anything your husband has tried to deter the behavior so far. I have found there are some cats who use biting as part of their shows of affection. I have one girl in particular who will be very insistent in trying to bite me multiple times while headbutting and purring - of course all while I'm trying to go to sleep. She is a Highlander but has Chausie in her background and I have wondered if the behavior doesn't stem from her 'wild' roots. None of my other Highlanders do this, but some of my Savannahs do - just not to the same degree or intensity that Kimi does

I think it is important for your husband to try to curb the behavior as best and as soon as possible. Start by saying a firm 'NO' whenever she starts, or even better, before she starts if he can anticipate the bite. If that doesn't work, then 'NO' with a scruff and remove her from the chair. If that still doesn't work then he should give her a time out by putting her in a crate (no more than 5 minutes). Alternatively, he can try positive reinforcement by offering her a wand toy or a ball to play fetch with before she starts in with her obsession. If all else fails consider contacting Marilyn Krieger, the Cat Coach.


Staff member
Try lemon juice. I kept one around when I knew we'd be in a situation where I would get love bites. A little lemon juice on my skin was a deterrent. I would also put it on my finder and then in the cat's mouth.


Keljin has an issue with this as well, and I have learned usually he just wants something. Usually he is 1. hungry, or 2. wants me to play with him. Usually #2 is what he wants, he just wants to go expend his energy and his bites on my arms and legs are like saying "HEY! come with me!"

If it's not food or play, and no aggression either, I think perhaps some sort of smell that your husband has that you don't? Something must be interesting her. Try giving your husband advice in showing the cat his displeasure, or redirecting her elsewhere. Its kind of a hit or miss thing to keep trying anything you can until you figure out what works and what she really wants!


Savannah Super Cat
Jengo still bites me to this day - no matter how many time outs he's gotten or no bites! I yell at him...he still does it. What I figured out was that it's his way of loving me. He will lay on his belly and get lots of love then grab my hand and bite - at first I thought it was play but as soon as I say no bites, he starts licking me profusely! He will also pop up behind me on the couch and chew & sniff my hair sometimes.

I would atleast try saying "no bites" firmly because that's worked with Jengo, although he forgets he can't bite when I say it he goes into "sorry" mode.