Why can’t I have a Savannah cat in my house in Texas?

by Heather
(Marshall, TX)

I have done tons of research looking for the right breed for our family. I feel we could give a Savannah cat a wonderful home to live forever.

On our budget I wasn’t sure we could afford one, but just because I couldn’t have it right this second doesn’t mean I give up!

I have spent weeks digging and avoiding scams. I was aware that in some states I wasn’t allowed to have them, but there are several breeders in TX, so I thought I was safe.

I then found out that I cannot have a Savannah in a home at all in Texas, has to be kept in a separate enclosure?!?!?!?!?

I do not want to breed, just love. My husband is home all day, I work 2 miles away four days a week, our 7 year old has ended a friendship over a playmate not treating animals (a cat) in a respectful manner, and Wall-E, our 3 year old mini schnauzer just loves other animals.. .especially cats!!!

I have searched everywhere and I don’t understand why??? Can anyone answer this?


Hi Heather… thanks for visiting. I thought I knew where wild cat hybrids such as the Savannah were banned: Alaska, Hawaii, Mass and NY.

However, it seems I was wrong. Your post got me looking and I came up with the same things as you it seems. I checked because I could not believe what you were saying!

F5 Savannahs are true domestic cats.

Anyway, the law for hybrid animals in Texas appears to be the same as for the potentially dangerous animals of which they are hybrids.

The code (law) is section 822 and definitions are at 822.101. “Dangerous wild animal” included a serval. And the Savannah is a serval/domestic cat hybrid. Animals that are hybrids of the listed animals are also governed by this law.

Licensing etc. is required and there are heavy restrictions. Am I missing something? Have I got this wrong? I find it strange. You can see the law here: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/txstatutes/HS/10/822/E

Some counties in Texas seem to have their own rules. This needs checking out.

One interesting point is that the leopard cat, a small wildcat that is the wild cat parent of the Bengal cat hybrid is not listed as a dangerous animal in this legislation. That would mean that the Bengal cat is acceptable in Texas. Bengals are wild cat hybrids just like the Savannah. I guess you know that. A high filial Bengal cat, say an F3, will have a character similar to the Savannah. You might consider that.

Daniel an F3 Bengal cat
F3 Bengal cat “Daniel”.

I will do further work on this subject over time. The reason why states are clamping down on wild cat hybrids is probably because things have been too slack and uncontrolled for many years and there have been problems (financial and animal health issues) with the keeping of large wild cats and other species of animal. Also there is the issue of conservation. Importing wild cats into the USA from their habitat (servals live in Africa) is not good conservation. Almost all the wildcats are under threat of extinction in the wild in the short or long term.


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Why can’t I have a Savannah cat in my house in Texas?

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Dec 27, 2011 🙁
by: Heather

I talked to animal control today. They are considering the Savannah a dangerous animal, because it does have a percentage of Servel in it. I can keep a cat as long as I register every year, take out $100,000 insurance policy, and build a separate enclosure because it will not be allowed in my house whatsoever.
I can go to the zoo at anytime. I am not interested in keeping a cat outside in a cage, I want one I can bring into the house. Thank you for suggesting the Begal, but I believe that I will rescue a cat from my local shelter.

Dec 23, 2011 Chaotic
by: Michael

Hi Heather. One thing is clear. The law is not clear! Nationally it varies a lot. There needs to be some coordination between states and some clarity because the law that I saw looked carelessly drafted. Good luck. Please leave a comment if you find out something useful.

Dec 21, 2011 Thank You
by: Heather

Thank you for responding to my post. Since I posted I first contacted Fish and wildlife, who told me I did not need to register with them, but to find my city law on the matter. I then contacted City Animal Control who was also unsure about it and gave me number to a Zoologist in the area. He believes the law was written not considering a Savannah and his advice was to contact Animal Control and find out what they would allow. I am currently waiting to hear back.

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Why can’t I have a Savannah cat in my house in Texas? — 12 Comments

  1. I believe it varies by county. I know in Jefferson county you can’t have them at all and although there are some restrictions in other counties your city and county officials can tell you just what those are. Some will allow f1 f2 with license and others just require permits and semi annual house checks. Most require that they are at least f3-f7. I’ve been doing a lot of research and they make wonderful owners because we all know they own us and not the other way around lol. The biggest fear I’ve heard of is the fear that if they aren’t contained they may wipe out lots of wildlife. I personally find that unbelievable due to what the other lady said, “they are primarily domestic now.

    • Thank you Gerri for adding to the article. Yes there is this fear that if they escape they’ll breed and create super feral cats which will wipe out native wildlife. It is a bit far fetched. The local authority decisions are somewhat political as well. The law makers feel they need to satisfy the concerns of citizens even if their views are misplaced due to ignorance.

  2. Heather you might look at this before you spend your money on a Bengal this is the list for Texas. I received it from Animal Control for Llano Texas. Leopard is on the wild animal list.

      • So are they saying a Savannah that is a pet not for breeding, sell or bartering is still considered a wild animal? I’ve seen domestic cats that are just as wild when not given the love of a family.

        • Yes, I understand your point. The issue is that the Savannah has wild genes and is classified as ‘exotic’. It is closely associated with the serval. But that said it does not mean these cats are wild, dangerous or exotic. It is a bureaucratic decision.

  3. I got a savvanah cat. In the severe cold weather, he wanted cpme in to my home. But i just found out the Texas law. So I don’t want to him to get sick in this severe cold wrather. Should I take him to animal shelter

    • I find your comment confusing. Are you saying this Savannah cat lives solely outside? No one with a genuine Savannah cat would do that. I don’t believe this cat is a Savannah cat. It is probably a tabby cat (random bred). Did you buy this cat from a breeder? Do have papers showing pedigree? Don’t take him to a shelter if you own the cat. If the cat is a tabby cat stray cat without owner then you may have to take him to the shelter. Good luck.

  4. Hi, I wanted to know any updates on Savannahs. I also want to own one but Im now a bit confused. Please let me know anything on this issue. Thanks

    • Hi, I presume you mean updates on the law with respect to keeping a wild cat hybrid in a certain state in the United States. I am sure you know that the law on keeping so called exotic pets including wild cat hybrid cats varies from state to state. Certain states ban them.

      This page provides some information on that:


      However, things are evolving. There is a gentle shift in the USA away from allowing wild cat hybrids as pets in my opinion. The same can be said about keeping tame wild cats. So, as things are always changing, I would advise that you check the current law by going to the state’s website and dig around or phone someone. The law is constantly in flux. If you want certainty it is best to check the current situation. Hope this helps a bit.

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