With gorgeous spotted coats and long, lean bodies, Savannah cats stand out. These cats are unusual because of their wild blood—they are a cross between a Serval and a house cat. Servals are much larger than house cats, so Savannah cats are the largest hybrid cats, sometimes weighing 30 pounds or more, and they can be high-energy and difficult pets.
However, most Savannah cats you see on the market have only a small amount of wild blood, so they’ll be that much closer to domestic cats. Their hybrid status still affects them, though, and Savannah cats can have some health differences from standard cats. Although they are a relatively healthy breed, here are five issues to watch out for.
The 5 Most Common Savannah Cat Health Problems:
1. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a disorder where the heart muscle becomes thickened. This means that the muscles can constrict blood flow through the heart and reduce its efficiency. Cats that have HCM can live their whole lives without showing symptoms, but they are at a higher risk of sudden heart failure. Other cats with this disorder might show mild symptoms such as labored breathing or elevated heart rates. Savannah cats have a slightly elevated risk of this disease.
2. Male Sterility (Early Generations)
Just like other mammal hybrids, the offspring of servals and domestic cats can’t always reproduce. Male Savannah cats are sterile for at least four generations removed from the Serval ancestor. This means that breeders looking to establish new Savannah lines can only use hybrid males in their breeding. This is less likely to affect most Savannahs you can buy, as early generation Savannahs are much harder to care for and rarely sold, but some later generation males can also be sterile.
3. Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
Pyruvate Kinase is an enzyme found in red blood cells that they use to make energy to survive. Pyruvate kinase deficiency is an inherited problem resulting in red blood cells surviving for shorter times in the circulation. The result is anemia.
4. Taurine Deficiencies
Taurine is an amino acid found in meat sources. Although humans can synthesize their own taurine from plant matter, cats depend on taurine found in their food, especially organ meats, to stay healthy. That’s one reason why cats can’t eat a vegetarian diet to stay healthy. Taurine deficiencies can cause degenerating vision, heart issues, and a host of other disorders. Although cat foods in the US will always have enough taurine for most cats, Savannah cats can have slightly higher taurine requirements.
5. Issues Inherited from Parent Breeds
Savannah cats aren’t pure wildcat, and their domestic ancestors have an impact on health as well. Some of the most common breeds in Savannah cats’ pedigree are Siamese, Egyptian Mau, and Abyssinian, but other breeds are common as well. When adopting a Savannah from a breeder, ask about your Savannah’s unique pedigree and any health problems that run in that line to get a better idea of what other health issues you might need to look out for.
Savannah cats are a healthy breed, but that doesn’t mean that they are free from all problems. These cats can bring a wild touch to our homes without the dangers and cruelties that come with owning a fully exotic cat. Owning a Savannah cat is not legal in all states so be sure to check. They can be loving, happy companions that form strong bonds with their owners. By keeping an eye on the most common Savannah health problems, you can make sure that your cat lives a long, healthy life.
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