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Black Savannah Cat: Facts, Origin & History (With Pictures)

Gregory Iacono

By Gregory Iacono

black savannah cat lying

The Savannah cat is an extra-large cat breed that’s athletic, friendly, and intelligent. They’re taller than most other cats with big ears and long legs, and they sport gorgeous, spotted coats that make them unique in the cat world. Black Savannah cats, like most, are very affectionate, at least with their owners, and are one of the more loyal of the feline species. If you’re looking for more information on the Savannah cat, especially black Savannah cats, read on. We have everything you need to know about this fabulous feline below.

The Earliest Records of Black Savannah Cats in History

It was in Pennsylvania in 1986 that a domestic Siamese cat was crossbred with an African Serval, a species of feline found all over Africa’s sub-Saharan countries. The breeder was named Judy Frank and was already well known for her work breeding Bengal cats.

The very first kitten born from this mating of domestic Siamese cat and serval was a female that was, not surprisingly, named Savannah. She and her litter mates possessed the traits of both cat species, including the size and temperament of a domestic house cat and the long, lithe, athletic body of a serval.

Black Savannah cats were seen in the first few years after Savannah’s successful breeding. Black Savannah cats aren’t rare by any means, but it’s unusual to find a Savannah cat that’s all black with no spots. The only drawback of black Savannah cats is the bias and bigotry that has followed black cats for generations due to unfounded fears and myths.

How Black Savannah Cats Gained Popularity

There are several colors of Savannah cat, including ebony, lavender, chocolate, silver, brown, sable, and, of course, black. The popularity of black Savannah cats has always been relatively low due to their color and the bias we mentioned earlier. However, as the breed became more popular in the US, black Savannah cats became more popular also.

That’s not surprising when you see a black Savannah cat, as they are truly gorgeous. Black Savannah cats have beautiful, thick coats that seem to change color depending on the light. With their unique, extra-large ears, supple bodies, longer legs, and tall frame, a black Savannah cat has a regal and classy look, unlike most other cats.

Like all Savanna cats, black ones are friendly, affectionate (with their families, at least), and have more of a dog-like disposition than most cats. Black Savannah cats are independent but loving and make excellent companions, which is why they’re so popular today in the US.

Formal Recognition of Black Savannah Cats

The International Cat Association (TICA) was presented with the first Savannah cat breed standard in 1996, 10 years after the breed was created. The problem was, the same year, a 2-year moratorium was passed that prevented any new breed of cat from being accepted. However, in 2001, TICA announced that the Savannah cat was being assigned the “registration only” status, which was the first big step towards being officially recognized.

That same year, in October of 2001, TICA accepted the Savannah breed unanimously, which meant it could be entered in all cat exhibitions. The only caveat was that any Savannah cat exhibited must be a 3rd generation (F3) Savannah cat or later. In 2002 in Oklahoma City, OK, the first Savannah cat was included in a TICA show. Ten years later, in 2012, the first Savannah cat was named a champion, meaning that the breed could compete against other cats at any show around the US.

Top 7 Unique Facts About Black Savannah Cats

1. Savannah Cats Like to Swim

It’s unusual for any cat to like water, but the Savannah cat does. Many Savannahs love to swim, a trait they kept from their Serval ancestors.

2. Savannah Cats Can Be Taught to Fetch

You might think that only dogs can fetch things for you, but since they are so intelligent, you can also train a Savannah cat to fetch. Indeed, Savannah cats are smart enough to learn how to open doors and, like dogs, love a good puzzle if food is involved.

3. Savannah Cats Are Expensive

The Savannah is a rare breed, which commands big bucks when you adopt one. For example, F1 Savannah cats can cost between $1,000 to $20,000 depending on their lineage, sex, and other factors. Female Savannah cats usually cost even more than male cats as males, even F1, F2, and especially F3 males, are sterile and thus can’t make new Savannah babies.

Black Savannah cat playing with feather toy
Image Credit: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

4. A Typical Savannah Cat Can Jump Upwards of 8 Feet High

Sure, cats are athletic animals that display feats of skill that leave humans in the dust. Black Savannah cats, however, put those basic cat skills to shame with their own. If you’ve ever seen a Savannah cat jump from the floor onto the top of a fridge in one amazing leap, you’ll know exactly what we mean.

5. Savannah Cats Have the Guinness World Record for Height

Amazingly, there have been two entries in the Guinness Book of World Records for the tallest cat, and both cats were Savannahs. The cats, named Trouble and Arcturus, were at least 19 inches tall. Arcturus still holds the record today.

6. Savannah Cats Act More Like Dogs

You’ll be surprised just how much like a dog your average Savannah cat can be. They will come when called, fetch, love water, love to play, and will walk with you on a leash.

7. Savannah Cats Demand a Lot of Attention

Most cats will let you know if they’re hungry, thirsty, or have to go out. Savannah cats, however, are much more demanding. They will come to you to play and snuggle, for example, and they can roughhouse as well as many dogs. They have tons of energy, too, and will play with you for hours on end. In fact, they won’t let you stop playing and can be very demanding of your attention.

Does the Black Savannah Cat Make a Good Pet?

A black Savannah cat would be a wonderful pet for many types of people and families. These cats get along well with everyone in their family and have even been known to greet their humans at the front door when they come home. Savannah cats are affectionate and playful and can be taught tricks relatively quickly. They are also independent but not standoffish like most cats.

Unlike many cat breeds, a Savannah cat will approach strangers in your home to say hello and play with just about anyone who shows interest. They make fantastic companions for seniors, especially those living independently. They’re gentle with little ones, but some caution is needed.

Final Thoughts

Although they haven’t been around for a long time, the Savannah cat, including the black variety, has quickly ingrained itself into the lives of American cat lovers. Savannah cats are graceful, athletic felines that are larger than your typical domestic cat and can jump higher by far. They’re also more like dogs and can be trained to do many things the average cat will never do, like fetch and walk on a leash. Yes, black Savannah cats can be extremely expensive, but if you adopt one, you’ll have a feline friend for life that will surprise you with its intelligence, loyalty, friendship, and affection.

Featured Image Credit: kuban_girl, Shutterstock

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