Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Is It Legal to Have a Savannah Cat in California? Facts & Overview

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

savannah cat looking up

Once you’ve spotted a Savannah cat for the first time, you aren’t likely to forget! As one of the most unique breeds in existence, the lean, athletic animal makes quite an impression. If you live in California and are interested in owning one, you’re in luck because it’s legal to have a Savannah cat in California.

In this article, we’ll discuss more about the Savannah cat, including the complicated genetic status that leads them to be banned in some states. We’ll also talk about how just because it’s legal to own a Savannah cat in California, it doesn’t mean this breed is the best fit for every family.

Savannah Cats: The Generations Explained

All generations of Savannah cats are legal to own in California. But what does that mean exactly? Savannahs are hybrid animals created by crossing wild African serval cats with domestic breeds, like the Siamese.

Every Savannah cat receives a letter (F) and number (1-6 or higher) indicating their generation. The generational markers tell us how genetically similar a Savannah cat is to their wild serval ancestors. F1 Savannahs are the first generation cross between a serval and a domestic catf.

Later generations possess fewer wild cat traits than the early ones. Depending on where you live, your Savannah cat’s generation may decide whether it’s legal for you to own them. Some states ban early-generation Savannahs, only allowing F4 or later.

savannah cat sitting on couch
Image Credit: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

Before You Get a Savannah Cat…

The state of California may consider Savannah cats legal, but you should double-check with your specific town or city if you’re considering getting one of these animals. Local governments may have different regulations or licensing requirements for hybrid breeds, including Savannahs.

If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, confirm that owning a Savannah cat is allowed to avoid any issues. Finally, ensure you have a veterinarian lined up who is comfortable treating and handling Savannah cats of any generation. For liability purposes, some domestic pet veterinarians may not treat hybrid animals.

Owning a Savannah Cat: Not for Everyone

Owning a Savannah cat differs from caring for your average house kitty. This is especially true for early-generation Savannahs, who are most likely to exhibit some wilder personality traits. They’re also taller and sometimes heavier, weighing up to 25 pounds.

Early-generation Savannah cats may be less social and more suspicious of people they don’t know. Socialization from an early age is key to helping Savannah cats get along with other animals and humans. Well-socialized Savannahs typically have gentle, affectionate personalities.

Savannah cats of all generations tend to be highly energetic, and it’s one of the most significant differences you’ll notice in the breed. They are athletic and can climb and jump easily, often much higher than you’d expect. Savannah cat owners will need to be prepared to exercise their cats more as dog owners would and keep them contained if they go outside.

Sometimes called “dog-like” in their personality, Savannahs can often learn to walk on a leash and usually enjoy swimming. They get very attached to their humans and may follow them around in a way more commonly associated with our canine friends.

Because Savannahs have extra-strong predatory instincts, they generally aren’t safe around smaller exotic pets, like birds or rodents. They usually get along with other cats and dogs, although generational differences may play a role in the early introductions. Again, socialization is vital.

savannah cat looking at something
Image Credit: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock


Gorgeous Savannah cats are legal in California, but make sure you’re prepared to meet their socialization and exercise needs before committing to one as a pet. Also, be aware that if you buy an early-generation Savannah cat, it may not be legal if you move outside of California. Owning any pet requires research, planning, and preparation, but hybrid breeds like the Savannah can be a bit more complicated. Fortunately, their good looks and playful personalities make this breed worth the effort!

Featured Image Credit: kuban_girl, Shutterstock

Elizabeth Gray

Authored by

Elizabeth Gray is a lifelong lover of all creatures great and small. She got her first cat at 5 years old and at 14, she started working for her local veterinarian. Elizabeth spent more than 20 years working as a veterinary nurse before stepping away to become a stay-at-home parent to her daughter. Now, she is excited to share her hard-earned knowledge (literally–she has scars) with our readers. Elizabeth lives in Iowa ...Read more

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database