Savannah cats, also known as bobcats or cougars, are a popular, stunning breed of domestic cat native to the American South.
These beautiful animals are very friendly and love to play, and are known for being extremely loyal and affectionate towards their owners.
They are also renowned for their lengthy lifespans – but just how long do Savannah cats tend to live for?
We have all of the information you need to learn more about these majestic creatures.
What Are Savannah Cats?
Savannah cats are a distinctive, spotted breed of domestic cat, whose presence dates back to the 1980s.
Every detail of these felines is designed with majesty and grace in mind, and Savannah cats are famous for their distinctive, cheetah-like appearance, including colorful, vibrant coats complete with black spots, and large, expressive eyes with dark tear stains.
The breed also has long, strong legs – they currently hold the record for the tallest domestic cat in the world – and very large ears – this gives them the gift of being able to hear a bag of treats being opened three rooms down.
One thing that sets the Savannah cats apart from other breeds is their unique coloring – Savannah cats typically have between eight and twelve spots that can appear anywhere across their body – each spot has its own personality, and some even have names that reflect what they look like.
Savannah cats are active breeds, and this, combined with their very high levels of intelligence, means that a lot of exercise and stimulation is required from owners.
In most cases, this tends to be a friendly, social breed, but ongoing socialization, friendly, supportive environments, and positive reinforcement during kittenhood are all very important.
The high intelligence levels of the breed also create a curious and mischievous side – this is a cat that will want to explore everything, share every single experience with you, and be involved in absolutely everything that you do – this is not the breed for you if you enjoy, eating, sleeping, or using the bathroom alone.
These are friendly felines but do tend to pout and sulk if they are left out of an event that they consider their presence integral to – i.e., everything that you ever do – and will develop a strong loyalty to their family and those that they adopt into their group.
For breeders, and those who show their pets, the breed standard is an important consideration and, for the Savannah cat, the standard is divided into two parts: coat color and body traits.
Coat color refers to the distinctive coloration of the breed, and includes both solid patterning, and spotting (which is considered desirable) – the standard requires that there must be between eight and sixteen spots across the body.
Spotting may be either black or white in color, and any combination of these shades is acceptable, with the exception of pure black cats.
Other spots on the body should vary in size, but never reach larger proportions than half of the chest or half of one ear lobe.
Spots should be evenly distributed over the whole coat; there should be no bald patches or stripes where there was once fur.
Body traits include height, length of the nose, tail length, the width of paws, and head shape.
All four feet should be equal in length and width, and the nose should extend approximately halfway along the jawline.
The shape of the head should be square, with the width being slightly less than the length. The head width/length ratio should be 2/3 to 4/5.
The shoulders should slant forward only slightly, not as far as in the American Shorthair breed.
The shoulder depth should be approximately 1 inch. Tail length should be proportional to the height of the cat.
The back should taper down towards the hindquarters, not extending past the hips, and the hips themselves should be well-rounded, and not be excessively narrow or wide.
When viewed from above, the head should lie within a straight line connecting the top of the shoulder blade tip with the base of the rear leg bone.
The most commonly seen color patterns are solid black with tan, cream, gray, or pale brown undertones, sometimes called “sable” patterns, or solid orange with various shades of brown, including gray, cream, and tan undertones, sometimes referred to as “cinnamon.”
If the cat has cinnamon markings, at least three-quarters of the belly fur should be brown. Solid tabby or tiger coloring may occur at random in some catteries.
There is also a rarer variation in color known as a Savannah blue; this occurs when the hairs around the cat’s eyes are lighter than its ears, whisker pads, toes, legs, and feet.
This often results in a distinctive smokey blue eye.
Blue coats can have up to five colors, ranging from dark blue to slate blue, and cats of this type frequently have the golden tabby appearance with creamy-colored skin.
Another very unusual color variant is a tricolor, and this is produced by breeding a Savannah cat with a long-haired domestic short haired breed.
The shade is characterized by having three different hair lengths on the same cat.
Savannahs with this tricolor gene usually have 3-4 inches of hair underneath the chin, while the rest of the coat is a mixture of medium to short length hair – on some occasions, tricolored cats may be born with more than 4 inches of hair beneath the chin.
Tricolors are typically kept as short hairs because the longer hair makes it easy to groom.
A History Of The Breed
The Savannah is a beautiful and popular breed and is a hybrid of a number of domestic house cats, including Bengals, mixed with wild African cats known as Serval cats.
Many modern-day Savannah cats retain the appearance, temperament, and characteristics of their exotic past, and are one of the youngest breeds in the world.
The name “Savannah” was derived from the expansive habitats of the wild ancestors, and it is thought that the breed first appeared in Texas in the 1980s, where they were originally developed to provide a playful pet and hunting companion for hunters.
Over time, it became clear that the breed’s unusual coat coloration made them incredibly easy to identify, which led to a surge in popularity.
As demand grew, issues began to emerge in the breed – breeders were soon producing litters of kittens at an incredible rate, but failing to check and register a certain standard of pedigree for parents.
The result was an enormous number of kittens born with serious health problems.
In order to stem this tide, the breed association decided to introduce a new set of standards and regulations regarding the quality of the breed itself and started work on developing a new, purebred line of cats.
Today, the breed still remains small because only around four hundred cats are registered per year worldwide, but they have not lost their popularity.
There are several different types of savannah cats available, and each has its own unique looks and personality traits.
Some are more active than others, and some are slightly bigger than others; it is important to do plenty of research to ensure that you find the right match for your abilities, experience, and lifestyle.
Types range from purebred cats registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), to highly-maintained pets who are used as hunting companions.
There are also semi-pedigreed cats who have been bred to a specific parentage, and are almost always referred to as Savannahs. These include:
Longhair & Short Hair
A longhair Savannah is defined by having long hair extending from the head to behind the shoulders.
A short hair Savannah is shorter than a longhair, but cannot reach any further down than the chest area.
Both varieties show off a distinctive stripe along their backs, which extends across their entire bodies.
They tend to look very large when compared to other domestic breeds, but generally weigh no heavier than 10 pounds.
Scottish Or Pembroke Savannah
Also called the “floppy” Savannah, the Scottish Savannah is much smaller than other varieties, and tends to shed more frequently.
It is possible to keep these cats indoors for about five years without needing regular grooming, however, if left outdoors for too long they need to take a daily trip to a good groomer.
They tend to be very affectionate and intelligent, making them ideal for people who enjoy living in small spaces.
A cross between a domestic short hair and a domesticated tabby.
They tend to be slightly darker than the average Savannah and may exhibit a slight amount of white markings on their feet and legs.
Pied Savannah cats usually come in three colors – black and white, tabby and white, and black and tick.
Very similar to the mini Poodle category of dogs, the miniature is roughly 13 inches tall.
As the name suggests, miniature Savannahs are on the small side; they will usually peak at 13 inches in height and can weigh anywhere from 1 lb to 4 lbs.
They are extremely sociable, playful animals; they love to be involved in all sorts of activities, and will demand a lot of your attention!
Seychelles Cats originated from Madagascar, where they were brought over by European colonists. Because of their origin, Seychelles Cats often have spots instead of stripes.
Their coats can vary greatly, ranging from silvery gold to rich brown to black, and sometimes even blue.
These beautiful cats make excellent indoor pets and can live for up to 14 years, generally weighing less than 8 lbs.
How Long Will My Savannah Cat Live For?
The lifespan of a cat depends on many different things, such as its environment, genetics, diet, health conditions, and behavior, among others.
Generally speaking, domestic cats tend to live longer than wildcats, with an average lifespan of around 15-18 years, and many Savannah cats are reported to have lived for up to 20 years – their longevity will depend largely on their African Serval cat heritage.
Diet and nutrition are both important factors in helping your pet to live for longer; in most cases, it is a good idea to avoid cheaper food, as this tends to lack the balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your pet needs to stay healthy.
Cheap filler meals can also result in brittle bones, and increase the risk of an upset tummy for your pet.
Savannah cats tend to grow very quickly, so it is important that you provide adequate nutrition to meet their needs.
If you have concerns or questions, you can contact your vet for up-to-date, personalized advice tailored to your pet.
What Are The Health Concerns With Savannah Cats?
Being domesticated animals, Savannahs are subject to the same diseases as most other cats.
With proper care, these issues can be kept under control, and some of the most common health concerns and issues include:
Some Savannahs suffer from some type of upper respiratory illness or injury.
This is due to the fact that their noses are packed full of hairs, which increases the surface area of their nose, allowing pathogens easier access.
Another problem common to Savannah cats is tooth decay – it is important that you ensure that your cat’s teeth are kept clean and strong.
Regular trips to the vet can also help you to keep on top of any potential issues or illnesses in the mouth or on the teeth, allowing you to take preventative action.
Obesity is an issue that can have an impact on many cats, and this can cause long-term issues with joints and heart health.
Make sure that you are feeding your kitty a healthy, balanced diet, and that they are getting plenty of opportunities to play and move.
If you allow your cat to roam outdoors, you will also need to keep a close eye to avoid any injuries that could occur through accidents, or scrapping with other cats – most felines do like to be the ruler of all that they survey, and this can result in fighting.
Cars are another risk to your cat, and with a pet as distinctive as a Savannah, cat-nap can also be a real issue; many thieves target the breed for their high resale value.
Always make sure that your pet is microchipped, and that details are up-to-date or keep your cat inside for extra safety.
Savannah cats are a stunning, majestic breed and, with a little luck and the right care and attention, can live for up to 20 years.
This is quite a commitment, so it is crucial that you ensure that you do plenty of research, and are totally prepared before welcoming a Savannah into your life.
If you take the leap, however, you can guarantee a long-lasting love affair and a wonderful addition to your family.