The Savannah is a domestic breed that results from mating a Serval with a domestic cat. It is an unusual and beautiful cat, with exceptionally long legs, long neck, and medium-length tail. It has tall ears with pronounced ocelli – a central light band bordered by black, dark grey or brown. (pic)
The Savannah has boomerang shaped (hooded) eyes, and ‘Cheetah tear’ markings from the corner of the eyes down the face. The Savannah has bold dark spots and dramatic markings. The International Cat Association (TICA) breed standard (see link below) recognizes brown spotted tabby, silver spotted tabby, black, and black smoke colors.
It is a curious, assertive and active cat, and craves a lot of interaction on a daily basis, with humans or a companion cat. The Savannah is not typically a lap cat, but prefers to show affection by shadowing or giving frequent headbutts.
(see TICA breed standard for Savannahs:
The Background Story
The first known Savannah was born in 1986 when a female domestic cat owned by breeder Judee Frank gave birth to a kitten sired by a Serval. The kitten was named ‘Savannah’, which came to be the name of the breed she inspired. Savannah was fertile and, bred to a domestic cat, produced a number of litters.
The breed started gaining recognition in the 1990s, and in 2001 TICA accepted Savannahs for domestic registration. They were initially granted ‘Experimental New Breed’ status; in 2004 they were granted ‘Advanced New Breed Status’. This is the status they still hold. The Savannah breed group has published a notice of intent to request advancement to ‘Championship Status’. It is expected that TICA will formally consider advancement to Championship Status in May 2012.
(see TICA's Savannah breed section:
Savannahs are produced by crossbreeding Servals and domestic cats. Each generation of Savannah is marked with a filial number, which indicates the number of generations since the Serval / domestic cat cross.
The cats produced directly from a Serval/domestic cat cross are the ‘F1’ generation.
The ‘F2’ generation has Serval grandparent and is the offspring of the F1 generation.
The ‘F3’ generation has a Serval great-grandparent.
The ‘F4’ generation has a Serval great-great-grandparent. This is the lowest generation that will be eligible to show in Championship class. (see Savannah cat breed history:
While female Savannahs are fertile from the F1 generation on, males are sterile until at least the F5 generation. Females of the F1 through F3 generations are usually held back for breeding, with only the males being offered as pets. Once the F5 through F7 generations are reached, the males are used as studs for Savannah-to-Savannah (SV x SV) breeding. When a SV x SV breeding takes place, the mother’s generation is used as the filial number to determine the filial number of the generation. For example, an F7 male x F2 female breeding with produce F3 kittens.
Savannah generation filial numbers also have a letter designation that indicates the generation of SV x SV breeding.
‘A’ means that one parent is a Savannah and the other is an outcross.
TICA allows the following outcrosses: Serval, Egyptian Mau, Ocicat, Oriental Shorthair, or a domestic shorthair that is not a member of a recognized breed
‘B’ means that both parents are Savannahs, and one parent is an ‘A’.
‘C’ means that both parents are Savannahs, and one parent is a ‘B’.
‘SBT’ (which means Stud Book Tradition) is the product of two ‘C’ parents, one ‘C’ parent x ‘SBT’ parent, or two ‘SBT’ parents.
(see 'Savannah Alphabet Soup: TICA Registration Codes' - article in Savannahs Illustrated, Vol. 1, No. 3)