Are the rich being conned into buying servals that they think are Savannahs?

I think that some well-off people who want to purchase an F1 Savannah cat are being conned. They are being sold tame wild servals instead. And it is horrible.

Below on this page, I have a good but distressing example from Aliff Syukri in which the serval (meant to be an F1 Savannah) is scared as are the staff feeding it! The serval hisses. The staff jump in fear. But first I’ll tell you why this might be happening.

The owner thinks this is a Savannah cat but it is a serval and wild
The owner thinks this is a Savannah cat but it is a serval and wild. Screenshot.
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It is difficult to breed first filial (F1) Savannah cats. These are the Rolls-Royce domestic cats. They are the largest domestic cat, even larger than most Maine Coons (the largest domestic cat breed).

They are very glamorous and to many people a highly attractive cat, catching the attention of the rich and famous. They blend in with their gold-plated lifestyle.

To breed an F1 Savannah you have to get a male serval to mate with a tabby domestic cat or a Savannah cat. The serval is a large cat, much larger than a standard-sized domestic cat. The price, somewhere around $25,000, reflects the difficulty is creating these cats.

Secondly, to many people the F1 Savannah is very similar in appearance to the wild serval. This is particularly so if it is a smaller female and not yet fully grown.

Thirdly, it is easier for dealers to acquire a tamed serval than an F1 Savannah. And finally, the serval is cheaper for a dealer to acquire than an F1 Savannah. A serval costs around $2,000; less than one-tenth of the price of an F1 Savannah.

And breeders of these cats ship internationally so the buyer does not visit the breeder’s home.

Armed with those influencing factors it is plausible to suggest that some rich people are buying servals and not F1 Savannahs from dealers when they desire an F1 Savannah.

BUT, these are two different cats both in character and appearance if you look closely and if you have met both.

RELATED ARTICLE: Serval cats as pets

Aliff Syukri’s lost cat

Here is an example. Makeup millionaire Aliff Syukri is in the news today. He lives in Malaysia. He has lost his ‘F1 Savannah’ who escaped his home because of ‘the carelessness…of one of his staff’.

But his cat looks far more like a serval than a Savannah. Look at the comparison photos below.

The Savannah has a more innocent face. The markings on the coat are lower contrast and softer. The nose leather is not deep black as it is for the serval. Although in some F1 Savannahs the nose leather can be very dark.

The serval has high contrast black spots against a yellow background. The F1 Savannah has spots but nowhere near the same level of contrast and intensity.

I think Mr Syukri bought a serval and he believes that he is living with a Savannah.

Servals are notorious escapologists. There are numerous stories of servals escaping the captivity of their homes. This is to be expected as the size of their natural home in the wild can be up to 100 square kilometres!

Savannah cats are domestic cats. They are fully socialised to humans. F1s are half-wild and so their character has wild elements. But they are domesticated whereas the serval is tamed. Their character is distinctly different.

I’d expect Mr Syukri to struggle in looking after his cat. Servals can be a handful to many people. They are hard work. They are often given up to facilities as they are too much trouble. They are exotic but you pay a price in terms of hassle for the pleasure. They are not pets in the conventional sense. You are a zookeeper of sorts not a pet owner.

Look at this video from Instagram. The poor serval is frightened as are the staff looking after it. It is horrible to see.

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

5 thoughts on “Are the rich being conned into buying servals that they think are Savannahs?”

  1. Such a shame to see wild servals imprisoned by humans. I hate seeing wild animals sold and owned. Got to were I don’t even like zoo’s. People can now see wild animals all they want in youtube video’s. Only non release wild animals should be on display so people can see what we humans have done to them. Healthy rescued animals should be released back to the wild. That’s why I love SOS Wildlife. They only keep those that can’t be returned.

  2. Michael nice to hear from your after years as also the fact you are hale and active .Your “PICTURE OF CATS” site is a mega hit and as mentioned before you were my inspiration for being instrumental in starting the first cat club show in India. I repost some of your articles on “Mumbai Cat Club”, the group i administer and started in Mumbai and that now has 11,000 + members.


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