Image supplied by Animal Photography
Savannah cats are the result of crossing a domestic cat and a Serval — a medium-sized, large-eared wild African cat. These first crosses are then bred again and the resulting cats are termed domestic and usually have a short spotted coat. As these cats are not common it is difficult to generalise about their personality traits and how predictable they are. A great deal may depend on how close they are to their first cross. According to reports, some are very social and friendly with new people, while others may run and hide or revert to hissing and growling when seeing a stranger. Apparently, Savannahs can also jump very high (8ft) from a standing position and learn quickly. Savannahs are quite large, active and strong – articles use the word ‘assertive’ quite frequently and most are written by breeders of these cats, so it is hard to find out more.
Health and welfare issues in the breeding of hybrid cats
Hybrid cats are developed by crossing the domestic cat Felis catus, with other wild breeds. While this crossing may produce a large or attractive looking cat, there are many concerns and unknowns about the temperament, behaviour and safety of these cats in a home setting and the effect on wildlife (or other cats if they are very territorial) if they get outside. Keeping them confined may not contribute greatly to the wellbeing of the hybrid cat itself either. The welfare of the female domestic cats used to breed with a much larger wild male cat, as well as the welfare of the wild cats and the early crosses which cannot be kept as pets and so must be kept in captivity, is often not questioned and there is little information available. We have many beautiful cats already, we do not need to breed hybrids. International Cat Care does not condone the creation of hybrid breeds for these reasons.
Breeding these cats obviously requires keeping Servals in secure housing and with good welfare. In the UK a Dangerous Wild Animals Act licence is required to keep both Servals and the first generation crosses. Quite how the first crosses between male Serval and female domestic cat are made safely is not openly discussed.
International Cat Care’s position on hybrid breeds
International Cat Care is very worried about the increasing number of ‘breeds’ which are being developed by crossing our domestic cat Felis catus with wild cats. Aside from the very early generations, these cats are being bought by people wanting a pet with something different, but the character and behaviour of the cats are uncertain and many of them are quite large cats. Add to this the problems if they go outside and are aggressive and highly territorial to other cats, or are much more avid hunters causing devastation to wildlife. What is also not considered is the welfare of the wild cats which are kept for breeding, the danger for the domestic cats which are mated to the wild cats and the welfare of the early generations which cannot be sold as pets but must be kept as wild cats. International Cat Care believes that there are plenty of lovely cats to choose from and that we should not add more hybrid cats.
Health and welfare issues – other
Pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency has been identified in this breed.
We have limited the information about inherited disorders to those conditions that are known and proven to exist within a breed. For many breeders and many conditions, insufficient information may be available at this time to know whether any particular breed is necessarily free of any particular condition.
In general, pedigree breeds use a much smaller gene pool for breeding than domestic cats and therefore have a higher risk of developing inherited disorders. In addition, a number of ‘newer’ pedigree breeds are derived from matings between one or more ‘older’ breeds, and in these situations perpetuation of inherited problems that were seen in older breeds is likely within the newer breeds.