Will a Savannah cat protect you?

No, in general (with some exceptions), under normal circumstances, a Savannah cat will not protect you like a guard dog. I wouldn’t adopt a Savannah cat to protect me as it wouldn’t work. The question in the title is making presumptions which is why it has been asked. It presumes that we are referring to an F1 or F2 Savannah which are big enough to genuinely protect a person. However, an F5 Savannah cat is no bigger than a standard domestic cat. And the title also presumes that cats protect family i.e. pack members. We know that dogs do this because wolf packs are families and they protect each other.

The reason why a dog barks is to alert other members of the pack including the human pack, if the dog is domesticated, to the intrusion of something strange and therefore possibly hostile. So the bark is made as part of a range of behaviours to protect family members. That’s why there are guard dogs; working animals.

A top quality F1 Savannah cat wathcing Cat TV.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

A top quality F1 Savannah cat watching Cat TV. The photo is published with permission.

Domestic cats in general

But cats are different. The domestic cat is essentially a solitary animal which has become quite social over, it is believed, about 10,000 years of domestication. The reason why they are solitary is because the foundation cats going back 10,000 years were North African wildcats. This small wild cat species is solitary and looks like a rangy tabby cat with faint markings. But this small wildcat does not live in a pack, tribe or pride. The male lives alone and the female lives with her kittens until they are adult. Except for a mother defending her kittens against predators (see below), there is no natural instinct to protect pack members or warn them of impending danger by growling or making a loud calling sound.

Domestic cats frightened of strangers – not always

Also, there is an instinctive fear of strangers by domestic cats. They become attached to their human caregiver but normally domestic cats tend to shy away from strangers. It does vary between individual cats and the more confident cat will go towards a stranger but we know that by and large they do the opposite. This works against the idea that even F1 Savannah cat will go towards a stranger and protect their owner. Although the more outgoing and confident F1 Savannah cat is more likely to resist going into hiding and it is just conceivable that they might attack a stranger which would afford their owner some protection.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Serval is wild cat part of the Savannah cat

Of course, the Savannah cat’s ancestor (wildcat genetic element) is not the North African Wildcat but the serval. However, there is no difference in terms of being solitary. The serval is exactly the same as the North African wildcat in terms of solitary behaviour.

Serval in the home

Serval in the home. Photo: Merrimack Police Department.

Dogs instinctively protect you, the pack leader

So to reiterate, Savannah cat will not protect you like a guard dog. In August of last year, there was a nice story of a Staffordshire bull terrier defending their owner’s home against armed burglars. It was a classic case of guard dog behaviour, a dog defending the family or the pack. But, with rare exceptions, there’s never been a similar incident regarding a domestic cat, Savannah cat, any other breed or random bred cat. You won’t normally find a story on the internet which reports this kind of feline behaviour.

There are some exceptions

Exceptionally domestic cats can attack intruders they perceive as being hostile to a human who is their friend (an associate). There is a well publicised case of a cat attacking a dog who attacked a toddler outside the home. There is a video of it which you can see here (see video below). However, you can’t take this as a being a general principle or typical behavior. You’ll see this in other videos but very rarely in my opinion.

Cats defend themselves when provoked

What you will find on the internet, on the topic of domestic cats attacking people, is when they are provoked by a person and they fight back to defend themselves (on the basis they are healthy). It is personal defence. This may indirectly protect their owner.

Female cats protect their kittens

Female domestic cats protect their kittens. They protect them fiercely and with great courage but they don’t see their human caregivers (owners) as their kittens to be defended. Domestic cats normally relate to owners as surrogate mothers but when they bring back prey they may be confused in that they appear to be bringing it back to train their kitten (human) how to hunt. Arguably, it indicates a slightly confused mental attitude. But don’t take this as meaning that female Savannah cats will protect humans. They won’t in my opinion.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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