Forever in My Heart: My 13 Days With an F2 Savannah Cat

By Daniel J. Haughton


Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Her name was Tabitha and she came into my life in mid-2009. I am disabled and live with my parents in central Mississippi with (at the time) my mother’s Pomeranian and my own gray and white tabby domestic shorthair rescue kitty. We had decided among us that we wanted another cat in our lives and based on a spate of television stories about Savannah cats at the time, we had them on the brain. With that in mind, I took to the internet and did a bit of research.

After finding a breeder we felt was reputable, we contacted them and inquired about the possibility of getting a kitten. The breeder had pictures of several kittens of the then current litter on her site and they were all gorgeous, but one in particular caught my eye. She was specifically noted as being “not for sale” and she was older than the other kittens. Significantly so. I asked about her and was informed that she was not for sale due to a heart defect that had been diagnosed when she was younger which would likely give her a dramatically shortened lifespan and quite frankly made her unmarketable. The breeder clearly cared for the cats and kittens she bred, but it’s a simple fact of cat breeding: serious birth defects mean a kitten is damaged goods from the start.

But I didn’t care. Tabitha was beautiful and I believed she deserved a forever home. Oh, she would’ve had one with the breeder, of course, but she was meant to be the pet of someone else’s family. That’s the whole point of cat breeding. To provide other people with cats to love and cherish. The breeder had given us fair warning about the potential problems she would face and we knew what could happen. She also only asked us to cover the charge of shipping her to us (she was on the East Coast, and we, of course, are on the Gulf Coast).

And so an F2 Savannah Cat arrived to our home one day, shyly peeking out of her pet carrier and wondering what that yapping little beast beyond the door was. She was roaming the room we prepared for her by the end of the night and playing with us the next day. She knew no fear. By the end of the first week she’d managed to teach the pom his place without hurting him and was on her way to earning the shorthair’s trust as well.

I’d expected a demure princess, but she made clear that she intended to be queen of the house. She cavorted and played with the dog and other cat as if she’d always been there, she chased the Wicked Feathered Thing and dueled with the Evil Red Dot and purred very loudly. Her meows, though, were so dainty and chirping as to be comical. She stole our hearts. What follows are four pictures of her in all her glory.

One day, a mere thirteen days after her arrival, I woke up to find that Tabitha had passed away in the night. She looked as though she just went to sleep and never woke up. I like to think it was a peaceful passing. Seven years earlier, another cat of ours, a pet of twelve years who had literally saved my life on an occasion when I was in a very dark emotional place, had died of liver cancer. We’d had him cremated and couldn’t bear to bury him and leave him alone, so he’d been on our mantle since then. With Tabitha’s passing, we interred them both together in our back yard to keep one another company.

The day before her passing, I’d gone to I Can Has Cheezburger and created this picture (heading the page). It still fits today.


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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

22 thoughts on “Forever in My Heart: My 13 Days With an F2 Savannah Cat”

  1. Daniel she is beautiful but thanks to you she had 13 wonderful days in a home where she was loved and was able to love in return; she looked very happy yet even so I am deeply sorry for your loss ๐Ÿ™

  2. After reading about HCM I recall that the breeder told me that Tabitha had a noticeable heart murmur which might indeed be HCM. The symptoms and possible complications and outcomes of HCM are what she described to me.

  3. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    Tabitha was very beautiful and I’m so sad for you that she only lived with you for thirteen days, it must have been a shock for you to find her dead Daniel.
    R.I.P Tabitha x

  4. Thats destiny. A beautiful, expensive pedigreed cat living for just 13 days.Appreciate the honesty of the breeder in admitting that Tabitha had a “Heart Defect” and hence presumably a short life-span compared to the average cat.

  5. It was very sad to read about Tabitha. Fate is sometimes so cruel and takes away the most beautiful of things from us.
    At a guess the heart condition was Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). It is not uncommon in pedigree cats that have not been adequately screened. In the case of Tabitha it would have been passed on from the domestic cat side of her ancestry, assuming that it was HCM of course.

    1. Thanks Harvey. What you state sounds right to me. As you say it is an example of below par cat breeding, bottom line. Perhaps there is one consolation. The duration of the relationship was short enough to lessen the bond between cat and human. Although, Daniel had a close relationship.

      I wrote this on HCM and the Bengal cat about five years ago. HCM in Bengal Cats.

  6. leanne (kays hill animal sanctuary)

    tabitha may have had a short time with you but you obviously filled that time with love and fun for her. i’m so sorry you lost her so quickly, it must have been terrible for you and your family, i cant begin to imagine. i am a firm believer that they dont completely leave us and i am sure tabitha is still around, playing and having fun. people probably think i’m mad, but it dos’nt matter, i love the idea that our furry friends stick around to keep an eye on things. it brings me comfort anyway. thank you for sharing such a personal, touching story daniel.

    1. I understand what you mean about them sticking around. There’s a reason we buried her alongside another old feline friend of mine, after all. I genuinely didn’t want them to be lonely.

  7. Michael, I’m afraid I have a poor memory and she passed on five years ago. I do not recall the details of her heart defect. In truth, I can’t recall the name of the cattery where we got her now, although I’m reasonably certain it was in North Carolina.

    1. Thanks anyway. HCM is or was quite a problem with Bengal cats, which as you know is another famous wild cat hybrid. It is due to irresponsible breeding, bottom line. Breeders have to “cull” (meaning remove from the breeding line) cats that have heart disease and clearly sometimes they are reluctant to do this because the cat might be a super looking cat.

  8. I nearly didn’t read this because, I could tell by the title, that I would tear up.
    So sorry. I don’t care how long we’ve had them. It’s still hard.
    You gave her a beautiful 13 days.

  9. This is an interesting article because (a) F2 Savannah cats are rare, (b) a cat dying after 13 days with her/his new caretaker is rare and (c) to have such a serious heart defect is concerning.

    Thank you Daniel for taking the time to write a very well worded article. It is appreciated.

    Tabitha does look wild as an F2 Savannah cat should. Do you have any information about why she had the heart defect? It is an interesting but sad topic. What sort of heart defect did she have? Did the breeder tell you? Sorry for the extra questions.

    Daniel, if you have some more photos please upload them in a comment and I’ll expand on my comments.

  10. Daniel. Thanks alot for sharing. It can be so much harder to lose a cat after a short time. I lost my cat after just one year – but 13 days I can’t imagine. In so short a time you can fall in love with a cat and be left wondering how wonderful your lives would have been together if she had been able to stay with you. There’s something special about the fact that she shared her last days with you, happily, I am sure very happy to have her own home and your love. You can safely say she died in a peaceful and perfect circumstance – not at a shelter or impersonal surrounding, but in a home of her own with friends and love around her. That’s the greatest gift you can give to a cat without a home of it’s own.

    Nonetheless you must miss her terribly. I know I’d be left imagining ‘what if’ – all the fun you would have had together. Sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing. I’m sure it’s not easy. She is beautiful by the way and you gave her a beautiful name.

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