If feline Instagram and TikTok star Stryker the cat has stolen your heart, you won’t have been the first. Stryker is a Savannah cat, and at the time of writing, Stryker has amassed 850,000 followers on Instagram—that’s hundreds of thousands who have been (unsurprisingly) charmed by his beauty, engine-like purr, and protectiveness over his favorite treat—chicken legs.
In this post, we’ll introduce you to the Savannah cat and answer all your burning questions about this magnificent breed.
Are Savannah Cats Wild Cats?
Savannah cats are a cross between wild African Servals and domestic cats—they are bred to be domesticated and are not classified as wild, despite their ancestry. Servals are native to Africa and populate savannahs, especially bushy or grassy areas. They have golden, black-spotted coats, are medium in size, and have a special penchant for hunting poultry, a trait that has been passed down to the domestic Savannah cat.
The first Savannah kitten was named “Savannah” and was born in 1986, but it was only in 2012 that the Savannah cat was officially recognized as a breed. There are five types of Savannah cats, and each type pertains to what percentage of Serval they are:
- F1 Savannah: 50% African Serval, 50% domestic cat(FYI, Stryker is an F1 Savannah!)
- F2 Savannah: 25% or more African Serval
- F3 Savannah: 5% or more African Serval
- F4 Savannah: 25% or more African Serval
- F5 Savannah: 3% or more African Serval
What Do Savannah Cats Look Like?
Savannah cats are highly distinctive—especially as one of the world’s largest domestic cats—weighing between 12 and 25 pounds and standing up to 17 inches tall. Their short coats are silver, black, smoke-colored, or brown. Golden-colored Savannah cats must be registered as “brown spotted tabby”.
More colors are possible—including chocolate, fawn, and blue—but these are not considered “show-worthy” colors. Savannas have large, pointy ears with ocelli (a golden band surrounded by black), triangle-shaped heads, tall, slim bodies, and hooded eyes.
Are Savannah Cats Friendly?
If you’re wondering whether Savannah cats have retained the aggression of their ancestors, you can breathe a sigh of relief. While Savannahs do indeed share some traits with the Servals they descended from—in particular their hunting (beware if you have rodents or birds) and jumping skills, adventurousness, and high activity level—well-socialized Savannah cats can make wonderful, loving, and loyal family pets. That said, F1 Savannahs are illegal in some places, a fact we’ll discuss more below.
Socializing Savannah cats as early as possible is the best way to ensure good behavior later on. It’s important to be aware that these cats can be quite playful and mischievous, and some can be a bit of a handful, trying to get your attention by knocking objects off shelves and engaging in other tom-foolery.
They can become destructive when bored due to their high intelligence, so need plenty of play and mentally stimulating toys to keep them happy and active. In short, if you’re not around a lot, this is certainly not the cat breed for you due to the Savannah cat’s high-energy personality. Savannah’s may be better suited to experienced cat owners rather than first-timers for the same reason.
They’re also known for being extremely loyal and wanting to be close to their people and involved in their day-to-day business. Of course, this all depends on the individual cat rather than predispositions based on breed. You may get a Savannah with a mellow, chilled-out temperament, a mischievous, playful one, or a combination of both—there’s no way to know for sure until you meet the cat!
Is it Legal to Own a Savannah Cat?
In some places, yes, and in others, no. For example, in the UK, it’s legal to own F2, F3, and F4 Savannah cats, but you have to obtain a Dangerous Wild Animal License to get an F1. In the US, it depends on the state you live in. For example, California allows ownership of all Savannah cat generations, whereas other states, like Nebraska, completely forbid the ownership of Savannahs.
If you’re thinking of getting a Savannah, please be sure to check the laws in your state regarding Savannah ownership—you don’t want to invite one into your home only to have them face confiscation or even euthanasia because you weren’t aware it was illegal to own one.
We hope that this post has satisfied your curiosity about Stryker the cat’s breed and that you’ve found out all you wanted to know! If you’re thinking of taking in a Savannah cat yourself, be sure to give it some serious thought.
As wonderful as these cats are, they’re not for the faint of heart and need a capable, firm, loving, and patient human leader to cater to their needs and, of course, make sure they don’t end up completely ruling the roost in your home!
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