Although Savannahs did not gain worldwide popularity and recognition until the late 1990s, the first known Savannah (pairing of an African Serval and a domestic cat) was achieved in the early 1980s by Breeder Judee Frank. The F1 female resulting from this unplanned breeding was named, "Savannah," and most appropriately, is the official name of this fascinating breed today, nearly 20 years later. The efforts of many dedicated breeders helped to establish the Savannah Cat in its elevated position as one of the rarest and most sought after domestic companion pets in the world today, however, very special recognition should be accredited to the following individuals:
Joyce Sroufe, considered the Founder of the Savannah Breed, who armed with little more than a vision, risked this experimental breeding and produced her very first litter of kittens in 1994 and officially introduced the "Savannah Cat" to the public.
Patrick Kelly, who presented the first Savannah Breed Standard to the TICA Board of Directors in February 1996, and continued to work diligently until 2001 when TICA lifted their moratorium on new breeds and accepted Savannahs for domestic registration and granted them Experimental New Breed Status.
Lorre Smith, the TICA Savannah Breed Chairman, whose tireless efforts continue to propel Savannahs forward within the ranks of TICA at a rate more rapid than any other breed in TICA history.
Spanky, an F2 savannah bred by Joyce Stroufe. Spanky and his owner, Sue Bowden, have done much to promote the breed by appearing in interviews and at the annual Westchester cat shows. Spanky is much beloved and admired by Westchester Feline Club members, and all who meet him.
In the short years since TICA first accepted Savannahs for registration as domestic cats, Savannahs have advanced from "Experimental New Breed Status" to "New Breed Status" and in May 2004, to "Provisional New Breed Status." Savannahs moved into Advanced New Breed status as of May 2008 and finally in May 2012 were awarded Championship Status within TICA! The response of TICA Judges and the general public has been overwhelmingly favorable over the past few years, establishing Savannah Cats, with their elegant, exotic looks and interactive personalities as perhaps the most sought after companion animal in the world today.
There are relatively few registered Savannahs in the world at this time, making them very special and highly sought after companion pets. Their exotic looks, larger size and domestic temperament make them a suitable alternative to exotic ownership. On average, Savannahs weigh between 15-20 lbs at maturity. They are lithe, tall, spotted cats with large "ocelli marked" ears and boomerang shaped eyes. Acceptable base coat colors include Brown Spotted Tabbies, "warm colored" (honey/golden) or "cool colored" (grayish), Silver, or Melanistic (black). Savannahs are very active, outgoing and intelligent cats with a keenly developed inquisitive nature. Somewhat "dog-like" in their behavior and devotion to their owners, they typically want to be the center of attention, are easily leash-trained using a "walking jacket" or harness, can be trained to play "fetch," adore heights, and may even enjoy bathing and swimming. At a young age, they can be easily socialized with other household pets, dogs included, and can be trusted with well-behaved children.
Some special terminology is used when referring to Savannahs, as a measure of how many generations they are removed from their Serval ancestors: F1= First Generation, has an African Serval Parent (usually 50% serval) F2= Second Generation, has an African Serval Grandparent (approximately 25% serval) F3= Third Generation, has an African Serval Great-Grandparent (approximately 12.5% serval) (and so on through subsequent lower generations) While all generations of female Savannahs are fertile, males are sterile until the fifth generation (F5) and should be neutered and placed as pets. Savannah females are typically bred to F5 Savannah males (termed Savannah to Savannah breeding) or to domestic outcrosses. Oriental Shorthairs, Egyptian Maus, Ocicats and Domestic Shorthairs are recognized as Permissible Outcrosses by TICA, but some beautiful cats have also been bred using Serengetis, and Bengals, just to mention a few. F1 Savannahs are rare and expensive.
Courtesy of Cynthia King.