Are savannah cats made to be domesticated?

It is because of this reluctance to adopt feral cats that the Ohio-based Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), the world’s largest purebred cat registry, n have not yet wished to recognize the savannah.

“The CFA has a policy of not accepting cats that have wild blood. We don’t want to promote this type of breeding,” explains Teresa Keiger, cat show judge for the association.

Savannahs are classified according to the genetic distance that separates them from their wild ancestors, which influences the selling price set by their breeders. An F1 (F for “filial”) means that the cat has a serval parent and a domestic parent: a single generation therefore separates the individual from its wild ancestors. The kittens of this F1 are F2, the kittens of this F2 are F3, and so on. While an F1 can cost more than 15,000 euros, the price of an F5 is around 1,000 euros.

Often savannah breeders also own servals, which is only legal in twenty-nine of the US states, twenty-one of which require a permit. Some states only allow savannah cats that are separated from their wild ancestors by a specific number of generations. Although they are banned in New York City, New York State legalizes their adoption if they are an F5 generation or later. Savannahs are completely banned in Hawaii, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Georgia, and all of Australia, regardless of generation.

(Read: No, wild animals don’t make good pets.)

Some F1 savannahs can weigh up to 11 kilograms, and their size and generational closeness to their wild ancestors can sometimes make them difficult pets.

For example, since most feral cats are solitary and have their own territory, F1 savannahs can have trouble adjusting to domestic life, Siracusa says. “F1 has a much more intense reaction, and when it’s determined to do something, it’s more determined to get it done,” adds Dana.

“Because of their resistance to change and their intense personalities, they are simply not suitable for most homes. »

Like servals, “savannah cats may want to defend their territory, especially males,” a behavior that can be mitigated by neutering, however, according to San Francisco-area veterinarian Sabrina Kong. “They have strong hunting instincts; they often exhibit stalking, jumping, and chasing behaviors,” which can be channeled with play and exercise.

Kornreich had the opportunity to see two savannahs in his clinical practice, and says their behavior was similar to that of many cats when they come to the vet: a little stressed and wary. “We had to be careful and measured in our approach, and they were very suspicious of me,” he explains.

Tommy Wilde, founder of the Texas-based Floofmania website, says he received a savannah, Oscar, as a birthday present when he was a child. Oscar was an F3, “so his blood was 12.5% ​​serval. Sometimes I felt like I had befriended a wild lion when Oscar approached me in the yard. I liked it a lot, ”he confides in an e-mail. The cat was “cuddly and sweet”, and “loved to play with his humans”.

According to Dana, later generation savannahs are perfect pets for people who want a companion they can interact with. “I can’t imagine our home without savannahs. My two children grew up with their two feline nannies, and now they play together and cuddle. »

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