Are Savannah Cats Dangerous? – Pango Pets

Spotted or striped coats go a long way in making some felines look exotic. It’s not just the spotted fur and muscular body that make the Savannah cat wild at heart. The breed is the result of pairing a Siamese with a wildcat known as the Serval.

Depending on the generation – or how far the Savannah is from its wild ancestor – the personalities of these cats can vary greatly. While first-generation Savannahs — like F1s and F2s — might be more inclined to act as wild as Servals, later generations tend to be more docile and domesticated.

Generally, F1 and F2 Savannah cats are considered more dangerous than later generations. Older generations are often the members of the breed that are banned in many countries around the world. Understanding if the Savannah cat is dangerous means understanding the breed and its ancestry.

What are savannah cats?

savannah cat sitting on sofa
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Shutterstock

First introduced in 1986, the Savannah is a relatively new hybrid breed. The original pairing was a Siamese and a Serval. Their kitten, named Savannah – the breed’s namesake – was the first registered member of this breed.

Through the efforts of Patrick Kelly and Joyce Sroufe, the Savannah breed was further developed. These two breeders worked together to establish the original TICA breed standard and fought to have the breed officially recognized. They were successful when TICA registered the Savannah as a breed in 2001 and then accepted them into competitions in 2012.

Ancestry

As a hybrid breed, the Savannah has many traits of both the Siamese and the Serval. Here is a brief introduction to the two breeds.

The Serval

Native to water-rich savannahs, the Serval is found in most of Africa with the exception of central equatorial, southern and Sahara Africa. Unlike Siamese cats, which enjoy company, the Serval is solitary except when females are in heat or when mothers are raising their kittens.

Not only are they impressive hunters, but they are also fierce athletes and can jump up to 1.5 meters high.

The Siamese

Beyond their presence and their elegance, the siamese is known for his vocal nature and his delight in following his human family members around. They are affectionate to the end and don’t like to be left alone for too long. Although they are not feral cats like the Servals, their intelligence and energy level drives them into mischief.

Appearance

Their large ears and spotted coat give the Savannah a wild and exotic appearance, no matter how far away it is from its Serval ancestor. While their wild blood is tempered by that of domesticated Siamese, especially in later generations, many physical traits of the Savannah cat are the result of Serval lineage.

The muscular body, long neck and legs, and unique ears are all traits they inherit from their wild ancestor, along with the spotted coat.

Despite the Serval’s influence on the appearance of the Savannah breed, the Savannah is small due to its Siamese blood.

Temperament

The Savannah cat’s wild and domestic ancestry gives it an energetic personality. The Siamese is well known for its high activity level and impressive intelligence. As a wildcat, the Serval’s energy levels are also considerable.

The Savannah is curious and does not hesitate to share its opinion. They may not be cats like the Siamese, but the Savannah is more than happy to share their affection with their family members.

The Savannah does best in households with lots of company from other pets and humans and plenty of toys to challenge them. Keeping them entertained and active is also a good way to prevent less desirable behaviors from appearing.

What is the difference between Savannah F1, F2 and later generation cats?

Savannah cat on a leash lying on the green grass
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Shutterstock

The F1 and F2 designations refer to the generation of the Savannah cat and its distance from its wild ancestor. F1 Savannah cats are first generation crosses. Their parents are the Siamese and the Serval. An F2 is a second generation. The original Siamese and Serval couple are the grandparents of the F2 and so on. Savannahs F4 and higher are generally considered suitable pets.

Are savannah cats dangerous?

The Savannah cat doesn’t pose much of a risk to humans — nor do other house cats, anyway. The danger posed by the savanna depends on their degree of kinship with their wild ancestor. F1 savannas, for example, are 50% wild, while an F4 has less wild DNA. The further the Savannah cat is from its Serval ancestor, the more domesticated traits it has.

The F4 Savannahs, with several generations between them and their great-great-grandparent Serval, are far more docile than their F1 counterparts. They also tend to be smaller and more manageable for many families.

That said, F1 Savannahs are not necessarily considered dangerous to humans. They pose a threat to small pets due to their hunting instinct, which can be said for all breeds of domestic cats.

There are times when their hunting instincts may be more prone to come forward, which can pose a risk to unsuspecting humans, especially if your Savannah is feeling lonely or bored.

Ultimately, making sure you respect your cat can help keep you both safe. Familiarizing yourself with his body language can also help you determine if he’s happy to be cuddled or prefers to be left alone.

Conclusion

While many countries do not consider early generations of Savannah cats acceptable pets due to their wild nature, the breed is no more dangerous than other domestic cats. However, they do need lots of company and entertainment to keep their minds active and boredom at bay.

Keeping them active can help direct their hyperactivity and hunting instincts to more palatable targets. Later generations of Savannah cats might also be more suitable for your household than F1 or F2 due to their calmer temperaments.

Featured image credit: Pixabay

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