Savannah - A New Flame of Passion

Many passionate and devoted breeders facilitated the Savannah cat in becoming one of the most popular and sought after domestic cat breeds in the world. The Savannah currently ranks as the 4th most popular TICA breed.In the early 1980’s, the unplanned mating of an African Serval with a domestic cat owned by Judee Frank, resulted in a new and unique hybrid. Owner Suzi Wood named the resulting F1 female “Savannah” – the moniker stuck and became the official name of the breed today.Patrick Kelley, purchased the only female kitten Savannah produced, and approached different breeders, trying to pique the interest of anyone who could help him work with this wonderful new breed. With little interest from most breeders, Patrick persisted in his quest. Joyce Sroufe, a breeder of exotic animals, saw the potential of the Savannah and joined with Patrick, producing and promoting the breed. In addition, Patrick and Joyce wrote the original Breed Standard, which was presented to the TICA Board of Directors in February 1996. And so the Savannah breed really began with these two passionate, devoted people. Joyce Sroufe became the first and eventually one of the most successful and prolific Savannah breeders to date. Joyce is considered by many to be the founder of the Savannah cat breed. It is said that her diligence, perseverance, and belief in the Savannah breed, along with her broad knowledge and skills in cat breeding, allowed her to produce more Savannahs than any other breeder at the time. Joyce was one of the first breeders to produce fertile males in later generations. Her breeding program provided females and fertile males that became the foundation of many other Savannah breeding programs over the years. Her unrelenting faith and commitment to the breed, along with her experience, proved to be invaluable to the new breeders she mentored. You can read more about the history, compiled by the Savannah Cat Club here Savannah Cat History  

Savannah Cats Genetics

Since Savannah cats are produced by crossbreeding Servals and domestic cats, each generation of Savannahs is marked with a filial number. For example, the cats produced directly from a Serval/domestic Cat cross are the F1 generation, and they are 50% serval.

F1 generation Savannahs are very difficult to produce, due to the significant difference in gestation periods between the Serval and a domestic cat (75 days for a Serval and 65 days for a domestic cat), and sex chromosomes. Pregnancies are often absorbed or aborted, or kittens are born prematurely. Servals can be very picky in choosing mates, and often will not breed a domestic cat.


F1 Savannahs can be as high as 75%. 75% F1′s are normally the offspring of a 50% F1 female bred back to a Serval. There have been cases of 87.5% F1 Savannah cats but it is currently not known if they survived to full maturity and fertility is questionable at those percent Serval levels. More common than a 75% F1 is a 62.5% F1 which is the product of an “A” F2 (25% Serval, female) bred back to a Serval. The F2 generation, which has a Serval grandparent and is the offspring of the F1 generation female, ranges from 25% to 37.5% Serval. The F3 generation has a Serval great grandparent, and is 12.5% Serval.


A Savannah/Savannah cross may also be referred to by breeders as SVxSV (SV is the TICA code for the Savannah breed), in addition to the filial number. Savannah generation filial numbers also have a letter designator that refers to the generation of SV to SV breeding. The letters are A, B, C and SBT. A designation of A means that one parent is a Savannah and the other is an outcross. B is used if both parents are Savannahs and one of them is an “A”. “C” is if both parents are Savannahs and one of them is a “B”. Therefore A x (any SV) = B; B x (B,C,SBT) = C; C x (C, SBT) = SBT, SBT x SBT = SBT. F1 generations Savannahs are always A since the father is a non-domestic outcross (the Serval father). F2 generation can be A or B. F3 generation can be A, B or C. F4 Generation is the first generation that can be a championship breed SBT.

F1 – serval parent X domestic cat parent F2 – F1 parent X domestic cat parent (has a Serval as grandparent) F3 – F2 parent X domestic cat parent (has a Serval as great grandparent) F4 – F3 parent X domestic cat parent (has a Serval as great great grandparent)


Being Hybrids, Savannahs typically exhibit some characteristics of hybrid inviability. Because the male Savannah is the heterozygous sex, they are most commonly affected, in accordance with Haldane’s rule. Male Savannahs are typically larger in size and sterile until the F5 generation or so, although the females are fertile from the F1 generation. As a result, females of the F1-F3 generation are usually held back for breeding, with only the males being offered as pets. The reverse occurs when you reach F5 generation, but to a lesser degree, with the males being held as breeding cats, and females primarily offered as pets.

Earlier generation Savannahs are typically more expensive to purchase due to scarcity. A Savannah/Savannah cross may also be referred to by breeders as SVxSV (SV is the TICA code for the Savannah breed), in addition to the filial number.

Savannah Cats Temperament


Owners of Savannahs say that they are very impressed with the intelligence of this breed of cat. An often noted trait of the Savannah is its jumping ability. Savannahs are known to jump up on top of doors, refrigerators and high cabinets. Some Savannahs can leap about 8 feet (2.5 m) high from a standing position. Savannahs are very inquisitive, and have been known to get into all sorts of things. They often learn how to open doors and cupboards, and anyone buying a Savannah will likely need to take special precautions to prevent the cat from getting into things.


Many Savannah cats do not fear water, and will play or even immerse themselves in water. Some owners even shower with their Savannah cats.Presenting a water bowl to a Savannah may also prove a challenge, as some will promptly begin to “bat” all the water out of the bowl until it is empty, using their front paws..


Another quirk Savannahs have is to fluff out the base of their tail in a greeting gesture. This is not to be confused with the fluffing of fur along the back and full length of the tail in fear. Savannahs will also often flick or wag their tails in excitement or pleasure.


Vocally, Savannahs may either chrip like their Serval father, meow like their more domestic mother, or do both, sometimes producing sounds which are a mixture of the two. Chirping, when present, is observed more often in earlier generations. Savannahs may also “hiss”—a Serval-like hiss is quite different from a domestic cat’s hiss, sounding more like a very loud snake hiss, and can be alarming to humans not acquainted to such a sound coming from a cat.

Savannah (SV)

HEAD…..40 points









BODY…..40 points











CATEGORY: Traditional.

DIVISIONS: Solid, Tabby and Silver/Smoke Division.

COLORS: Black, Brown Spotted Tabby, Silver Spotted Tabby and Black Smoke ONLY.

HEAD: Shape: The face forms an equilateral triangle. The top of the triangle is the brow line over the eyes; the sides follow down the jaw bone meeting at the chin. The triangle excludes the ears. The head is small in proportion to the body. Ears: Ears are large and high on the head; wide with a deep base and rounded tips. The inner base of the ears are quite close at the top of the head. There are ear furnishings present that rarely extend beyond the edge of the ear. Light colored, horizontal bars (i.e., occelli) on the back of the ear are desirable. Eyes: The top of the eye resembles a boomerang set at the exact angle so that the corner of the eye slopes down the line of the nose. The bottom half of the eye has an almond shape. The eyes are set directly underneath a slightly hooded brow. The eyes are moderately deep set and low on the forehead with at least one eye width apart. Tear stain markings are present along and between the eye and the nose. Eye color is considered independent of coat color; the deeper, more vivid colors are preferred. Chin: From the frontal view the chin tapers to follow the triangle of the head. In profile, the chin is very shallow without much depth. Muzzle: The muzzle is a tapered muzzle with no break. It falls within the bottom portion of the facial triangle that runs from the brow to the point of the chin, Profile: The forehead is a straight to slightly convex curve from the top of the head to the ridge just above the eye where there is a slight change of direction and a straight to very-slight concave curve from that ridge to the tip of the nose. In profile, the face also forms a triangle from the top of the eye to the tip of the nose, turning to follow the jaw line and back up to the eye. Nose: Viewing from the front, the nose is wide across the top with low set nostrils. In profile, there is a slight downward turn at the end, giving a rounded appearance. Nose leather is slightly convex not flat. Neck: Long and lean.

BODY: Torso: A semi-foreign body type with a full deep rib cage and a slight, but not extreme, tuck-up and a rounded rump. The hip and thigh are full and long and somewhat heavy in proportion to the rest of the body. Legs: Very long and slender yet strong. Back legs are slightly longer than the front legs, and due to this extreme length, may now and then give a false appearance of being cow-hocked. Feet: Oval, small to medium, with elongated toes. Tail: Medium length and thickness, not reaching the floor when standing and tapering slightly to a blunt end; very articulated and expressive. Boning: Medium boning with density and strength. Musculature: Firm, well-developed, yet smooth.

COAT: Coat: Short to medium in length with a slightly coarse feel to it; a coat that has remarkable substance and texture. Coarser guard hairs cover a softer undercoat, though the spots have a notably softer texture. The coat is not inordinately dense and lies relatively flat against the body.

COLORS: Black, brown spotted tabby, silver spotted tabby, black smoke ONLY. The only color variations allowed are the gold to orange ground color with bold dark markings, the silver ground color with bold dark markings, solid black and black smoke. In any variation the lips are black, as are the prominent black tear duct lines on the inner sides of each eye. On the spotted Savannahs the nose leather can be either brick red, solid black or black with a light red or pink line running down the center. In black Savannahs, the nose leather must be solid black. Paw pads in either color variation should be deep charcoal or brownish black.

PATTERN: The spotted Savannah pattern is bold, dark-brown to black with round, oval and elongated spots. A series of parallel stripes, from the back of the head to just over the shoulder blades, fan out slightly over the back and the spotting pattern follows the line of the stripes from the shoulders continuing the length of the body. Smaller spots will be found on the legs and feet as well as on the face. The black Savannah should be solid black. Black spotting on a black background is the ideal. The spots should conform to the spotted Savannah’s standard. The smoke pattern will conform to the spotted Savannah’s standard.

TEMPERAMENT: The ideal Savannah is to be a confident, alert, curious and friendly cat.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The overall impression of the Savannah is a tall lean graceful cat with striking, large, dark spots and other bold markings on a luxurious tawny, gold , orange, silver, black or black smoke background. The cat is a replica of the tall, lean, muscular Serval cat of the African plains from which it originated. Affectionate and outgoing, with exceptionally long neck, legs and ears, as well as a medium length tail, the Savannah is both unusual and beautiful. The Savannah is also an exceptionally graceful, well-balanced cat with striking color and pattern. PENALIZE: Spots that are any color other than dark brown to black. Any distinct locket on the neck, chest, abdomen or any other area not provided for in the standard. Vertically aligned spots or mackerel tabby type stripes. Cobby body. Small ears.


Temperament must be unchallenging; any sign of definite challenge shall disqualify. The cat may exhibit fear, seek to flee, or generally complain aloud but may not threaten to harm.”

Evidence of intent to deceive the judge by artificial means, cats with all or part of their tail missing (except those breeds whose standard calls for this feature), totally blind cats, cats having more or less than five toes on each front foot and four on each back foot (unless proved to be the result of an injury or as authorized by a Board approved standard), male cats in the adult championship class which do not have two descended testicles, and, at the discretion of the judge, tail faults (visible or invisible) and/or crossed eyes shall be disqualified from championship competition.