Is the Savannah Cat Domesticated?


There are many cats that require very little breed-knowledge before acquiring. They are just…cats and as long as they are looked after, fed well and common sense is applied, they will do just fine. Pretty much anyone can look after them with a small amount of information.

The Savannah cat does not fall into this category. It is a cat unlike most other felines and there are reasons why in many US States it is currently illegal to own one. Therefore, much groundwork needs to take place before you even consider the large financial commitment and time that is required to purchase and live with one of these.

One of the first questions people who are interested in this breed ask is to do with how domesticated the Savannah cat is – so let’s answer this.

The F3 or F4 Savannah cat can become more domesticated over time but the F1 and F2 types will always have wild tendencies. If you want a truly domesticated cat then a Savannah probably isn’t the best fit for you.

Is the Savannah a wild cat?

Arguably, you could start answering this by saying that all cats have a certain element of ‘wildness’ within them and I’m sure if all us humans suddenly vanished from the planet, cats would do just fine!

What we’re actually asking here really is whether the Savannah cat is wilder than your typical domesticated cat and undoubtedly the answer to this is yes.

Is the Savannah Cat Domesticated?
Two wild Serval cats

However, as simple as I’d like to make answering this question – there is more to it than just a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Depending on how close the Savannah is to its wild origins in the Serval (the Serval is a wild cat that is native to Africa) your Savannah will be classified in different ways, using an ‘F’ number, let me explain further.

  • F1 Savannah cat – these cats will have the biggest percentage of wild cat (the Serval) within them – and have an associated high-cost to them. The F1 Savannah cat will be 50% Serval.
  • F2 Savannah cat – the lower the ‘F’ number the smaller the percentage of Serval cat is found within them and the cheaper they will be. The F2 Savannah is 30% Serval.
  • F3 Savannah cat – the F3 only has 19% Serval within it and is typically the most popular type that people opt for. They still have the wild qualities that people like but are also more manageable around children for example.
  • F4 Savannah cat – the F4 has less Serval in them than the F3 and around 15% of the F4 is wild Serval cat. You will still be able to identify them as a Savannah but they have more features and behavioral traits in them that are recognized in the traditional feline breeds than the Serval and the other F types.

In summary, the F1 Savannah is as wild as they come – the most popular Savannah tends to be the F3 but ranging from $3,000 to around $9,000 – this is a lot of money to spend on a pet!

There are further breed categories, such as the F5 and F6 but you get the picture I think.

Can the Savannah cat be trained?

It all depends on what you mean by ‘trained’. For most questions related to training and the Savannah, the answer will be ‘no’ but you will have more chance with an F4 than you will with an F1!

Firstly, before looking at the Savannah directly – have a think about your typical cat and what you can train it to do. You will be able to get her to recognize her name and use a litter tray but really, what else does your cat do on your request? This is actually one of the things that people like about cats though – they do exactly what they want, when they want!

Is the Savannah Cat Domesticated?
Savannah Clark / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

The Savannah cat, particularly the F1 and F2, should not be left around young childrenOpens in a new tab.. These cats may still be relatively small but their teeth are sharp and their claws are pointy. This could be said for any animal but undoubtedly, more care is required with the Savannah.

Should the Savannah cat be kept inside?

The natural habitat of a Savannah is arguably outside, and it knows this! Especially the F1 and F2. So, given an opportunity, it will get outside and it may well not want to come back. But, is it fair to keep one of these cats inside? Actually, it is recommended – with conditions though. If you’re going to keep a cat like this inside then you need to have lots of space. Ideally, some of that space will be outside and in a completely wired-off area.

By having this access to the outside world, they have the safety of the inside and the excitement of the outside – but with restrictions. They will be okay with this, well – of course, you can not make guarantees with any animal but as long as you acquire an F3 or higher (F4, F5, etc..) you should find yourself with a cat that can be kept happy inside.

It’s not all up to the Savannah cat though – it’s primarily up to you. You find that typically when someone buys a cat such as this they generally know what they are doing – you wouldn’t spend this much money otherwise! The owners know what they are getting themselves into and what to expect. You see, the Savannah cat is one that can only truly be enjoyed by those people that really know what they are doing.

Does the Savannah cat like people?

Personally, I think the Savannah cat tolerates people, rather than likes them! Okay, that’s not totally fair perhaps but my point is that we need them more than they really need us!

Is the Savannah Cat Domesticated?
Leekimbud / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

However, that doesn’t mean that the Savannah cat won’t grow fond of us mere humans and actually they will come to rely on us, eventually. Given enough time and with enough trust built, they will see their owner(s) as part of their family. They will greet you when they come into a room where you are and they may show the classic signs of them trusting you.

These indicators may involve them rolling onto their back when they see you or ‘slow-blinking’ when you look at them. If you’d like to understand how to gain a cat’s trust then do check out this article (opens in a new window).

Can I leave the Savannah cat alone all day?

It is not recommended to leave any cat home alone all day and this includes the Savannah. Some websites seem to suggest that it’s okay to leave them alone for 24 hours – but I would not recommend this. A lot does depend on whether it’s an F3 or more but even with these, it’s not a good idea. If it’s an F1 or F2, then definitely not.

These cats have strong links to the wild Serval cat, as you know. These ties are close and they do not like to be trapped without any form of interaction. With an F1 or F2, this may manifest itself in aggression towards anything it can get its teeth around.

At the very least it will develop into anxiety-related problems and this can be said for all Savannah cats. Having a cat that suffers from anxiety will eventually lead to some serious health issues and can take a long time to resolve.

Therefore, it is important to not let your cat become anxious. How do you do this? Don’t leave it by itself for long periods of time and interact with it as much as possible. It’s actually quite simple. However, you see these problems less frequently with the Savannah cat because (as I said earlier) the people who end up with them tend to know how to look after cats!

Summary – is the Savannah cat domesticated?

There’s a lot of variables when answering whether the Savannah cat is domesticated or not, particular around what type of Savannah cat you end up owning (F1, F2, F3, etc.) However, if you are used to the domesticated nature of some of the more popular lap-cats (such as the Ragdoll) then any type of Savannah is a long way from this.

However, with time, patience and a lot of interaction and love from your side, you will find yourself with perhaps the ultimate cat. One that still has its roots in the wild but chooses to accept you into its life.

Matt

I'm Matt Pettitt, joint founder of the Pets Knowledge Base alongside my wife, Jane. Since I was just 2 years of age I've had pets in my life - which I don't mind admitting is 47 years! I strongly believe that when you introduce a pet into your family you should do everything you can to give it the best life possible. I've learned a lot during the past (almost) five decades and this blog gives me a medium to share everything I have learned ( both good and bad) about pets. If you'd like to know more about us, and how to contact us - take a look at our About page here!

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