Categories: Savannah Cat

People Are Breeding These Giant Cats To Be Just Like Dogs

I don’t agree with the title. It is wrong in my opinion. The cats referred to are Savannahs, specifically first filial Savannah cats. These are very large cats, similar in size to a medium-sized dog but much more slender than the average dog, so there is a similarity in respect of size but it more or less ends there.

I really feel I have to defend the Savannah cat. This is partly because I have lived with them for a couple of weeks in Oklahoma when I visited and stayed at A1 Savannahs at the time the Stuckis owned and managed the business.

Magic Savannah Cat Super Shot. Copyright A1 Savannahs

I played with F1 and F2 Savannahs and saw their normal behavior. They are definitely cats! Their behavior is definitely cat-like, I have to say.

The author who penned the title writes for The Dodo website. The title is deliberately provocative but overly provocative I’d say. It is unreal. The title is based upon a conversation with an employee of Big Cat Rescue, Susan Bass, and we know that the owner of Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin, hates wild cat hybrid cats especially the big F1 cats. Carole might hate them because she sees to many high filial Savannahs dumped on her organisation but I don’t know. The author is criticising the Savannah cat.

Breeders might claim that the Savannah cat has dog-like behavioral characteristics but then a lot of breeders say that about other breeds to give the impression to buyers and the public that their cat breed interacts well with humans. We know in all seriousness that you don’t take comments that a cat is dog-like that seriously. It might mean the cat plays fetch. A lot of cats will do this, not only F1 Savannah cats. It largely depends on the individual cat more so than the breed. But this one characteristic does not turn a cat into a dog.

It is true that F1 and F2 Savannah cats sometimes like to take a shower with their owner. Is that dog-like? Do dogs like to take showers? I don’t think so. If a Savannah cat likes a shower (and the most celebrated Savannah cat – Magic – did) it is because the large wild cat element of these cats takes over. Wild cats often like water or hunt near water because that is where the prey might be.

Susan Bass makes an interesting statement about the Savannah cat:

“We get calls all the time from people asking us — begging us — to take them off their hands,”

The reason, if this is an accurate reflection of Savannah cat ownership, is because the F1s and F2s are too near the wild serval. They retain certain wild cat characteristics (which incidentally is all the more reason why they are cat-like in their behavior).

Bass says that they howl at night and spray (scent mark) foul-smelling urine around the house! Hell. This is hell on earth. If that is true, once again this is not dog-like behavior but it is certainly unacceptable behavior to most cat owners. I would not expect this criticism to be entirely accurate. It is more accurate with respect to domesticated servals.

Bass does make one incontrovertible point: it is immoral (my word) to breed these exotic cats for adoption when there are perfectly good and beautiful cats languishing in cat rescue centers across America.

Bass makes another fair point: if a person wants a dog-like cat it is more sensible to adopt a dog! Yes, that too is incontrovertible.

The bottom line is this: F1 Savannah cats are very rare and hard to breed. They are very expensive at around $20k. They behave like cats and do require the caretaker to be an involved and special person who understands cats and who can spend more than the usual amount of time with his/her cat as they are intelligent and demanding of stimulation. F5 Savannah cats are more or less like your average cat breed with a very low percentage of wild DNA.

Read more about the Savannah cat on this page. Thanks.



Source: People Are Breeding….

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • I am strongly against keeping any animal as a status symbol or for monetary gain, but it happens everyday.

  • It's a catch 22 these days.
    Maine Coons make Great house pets and Savannah cats should be placed in a professional situation where the caretaker knows what to expect and how to train them properly. Some zoo's are very poorly run and our planet is polluted and overcrowded. We as humans are by far the most dangerous creatures on this earth. Do we release all wild animals back into the jungle to fend for themselves or do we cage them in our homes or in zoos?

    We have four Maine Coons and I can testify that they are intelligent strong gentle and loyal cats. I even trained two in defense tactics to protect my son and I. A Maine Coon Mother will take on the biggest monster to protect her young.

    • I don't own Savannahs, but I read a lot about them, I also sIaw them at a cat show. From what I read, they are very active, and potentially more destructive than a regular cat, but otherwise they are OK pets. They aren't for people who like a spotless house or has many breakable stuff there. For example, with my regular cats, I moved crystal vases to the very top shelf of wall units, but my crystal chandelier is fairly safe. If I had a Savannah, I'd have to replace my crystal chandelier and lock all the vases as they are very high jumpers. But they aren't wild animals, and they most certainly don't need professional situation - they are cats, F1 is 50% cats, but brought up at homes, F2 is 75% cats, etc.
      Incidentally, Big Cat Rescue claims they get a lot of Savannahs and "get calls all the time from people asking us — begging us — to take them off their hands", yet if you go to a web page of Savannah Cat Rescue, you'll see that they have no available cats and have a waiting list. This begs a question - why wouldn't Big Cat Rescue simply contact Savannah Cat Rescue? One issue with F1s is that they get attached to one person and may be more difficult to rehome, but surely Savannah Cat Rescue would be a better place as they know what to expect.

  • Breeding for placable Savannahs is a niche business, that does result in some that can't be placed, but at $20k each I'm sure they don't displace many adoptable domestic cats to make a significant difference either way. People who desire an exotic pet should be fully aware of all the ramifications and make an educated and responsible choice. A live Savannah cat is just as worthy to live well in a good home as any other cat; they're just different and cost more. People in general should also be aware of all the differences as well as similarities of the dog and cat species. I also cringe at measuring a cat's appeal to how much they act as if supposedly only a dog would. Many has been the time I've heard such comments about mine, simply because they come when called or follow me around - grown adults with apparently the mental capacity and life experience of a 5 year old. That's a bit harsh, but even so-called cat lovers often don't realize how affectionate and responsive their own cat could be if they only put in the effort to interact with them appropriately. Dogs have spoiled us because they've evolved to do all the work, and even take our neglect and abuse in stride, whereas a cat will not.

    • A Savannah cat is a human created hybrid. It falls under the just because you can doesn't mean you should. I am just as critical of some of the cat breeds, gag puke, that are little more than mutants of felines. Again they are status or in some cases novelty pets.

      • By branding and condemning like that, in your view and by extension, almost every dog on the planet, and many accepted cats are mutants as well. So a little historical research might be helpful. As for "novelty", who doesn't think of their pet, whatever it's lineage as special and novel in their eyes? When selective breeding fails, resulting in physical maladies is where we went off the rails. There's no physical failure in the Savannah cat. Also, we often view our domestics and little cousins of the wild cats we also admire. It's only natural to want to meet somewhere in the middle. And anything that helps promote admiration of felines in general is a good thing, in my opinion... they are regarded as way too disposable and too many die as a result. That is the bigger more urgent problem to warrant focus. Phasing out, limiting our options or chastising those who admire cats won't help.

        • I will not back down from my position that it is wrong and several other words to create a pet from the hybrid of a wild animal.

  • I understand that many breeders and owners are responsible. The question is do we need to bring in wild animals to domesticate them when there are more suitable domestic cats in shelters.
    You cannot be anti zoo and then keep what is for many generations a wild animal.
    I liken this to the wolf hybrid which I have known many and only one that was a suitable pet and probably only felt that way because I was more or less a member of the owners family.
    We have a wolf rescue here. They aren't wolves though. Each one is a hybrid some with many generations of crosses that were not in the end suitable as family pets or safe to keep in neighborhoods with other pets, livestock, children and in some cases adults.
    I have somewhere an interesting story of a Savannah that was caught stalking children. Comparing the size of the child and cat it is more than possible one in the right circumstances could do real harm.
    I have one long time pen pal online that has one. It is necessary to buy things like a new cat tree monthly. They need a special diet. You must absolutely have the time to engage them in exhaustive play to satisfy their prey drive. Normal fencing sold for domestic kitty cat will not contain them.
    There are several breeds like Maine Coons that have a reputation of being more ' dog like'. As a cat person I want a cat. But I don't want a cat that needs special handling or could pose a threat to other pets or people. They are vanity pets.

    • Only commenting about the risks here, not the moral aspect. From what I read, Savannah cats a lot better behaved than dog-wolf hybrids. From what I read Servals are not like wolves in that they are not naturally aggressive toward humans. They don't attack humans in their natural habitat, they tend to run away, they are easier to tame than any other wild cat, and the biggest issue with them as pets (aside for their need for space and outdoor enclosure to enjoy) is their activity level and destructiveness. In terms of risk, given that they are bigger than cats, one would probably need to be more careful around them - I'd be more careful around my cats if they weighted 40 pounds and had longer claws and teeth. I haven't seen a story of Savannah stalking children, nor have I seen a single story of a Serval or Savannah attack. I saw a Serval at a cat show once - this was ages ago when Savannahs were new, they had a presentation about the Savannahs and brought a Serval on a leash. The Serval was a whole lot better behaved and confident than my then-cat (regular tabby from shelter) would've been in similar circumstances - noise, crowd.

      Wolves on the other hand would attack humans in the wild. If you are in a jungle with Servals, you probably don't need to worry of them attacking you. If you are in the woods with wolves around, you do have to be afraid.

      • Good points, especially regarding a Savannah's ability to feel safe and friendly in a crowd of humans with a lot of noise. Domestic cats are actually more wild in that aspect. Our definition and admiration of what a cat is has some range, so we should stay open to interpretation and not too narrow-minded in what we think is pure and acceptable. I don't favor extremes, and I don't think a Savannah is extreme either way... it's in the middle.

        • Just to clarify. They brought an actual Serval on a leash to that cat show, not just Savannahs (and there were a few of those too). The Serval walked on the leash, and generally was calm around humans and on stage for a while, at they were showing various features of his looks. As the person showing started handling his ears to show them, the cat had enough of that. His reaction was pretty much as that of any cat who had enough of humans' touching - he stood up on his hind paws and started grabbing the human with his front paws. It didn't look like he was doing it particularly strongly, he was just showing he didn't like it. At this point, they took the Serval away.

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