If you have seen pictures of Savannah kittens or seen them up close you may have noticed that their eyes often appear blue. This leave many owners wondering if all Savannah kittens are born with blue eyes, and if they keep their blue eyes throughout their lives.
Savannah cats do have blue eyes depending on their genetics. Many cats may have blue eyes at birth, but many will change as they develop into adult cats. In some cases, the gene for blue eyes has been passed on and the eyes will remain blue. However, blue eyes are rare in adult Savannah cats.
This article will discuss why a Savannah cat might have blue eyes and under what genetic conditions. We will also cover why blue eyed Savannahs are typically rarer to come by versus more common Savannah eye colors.
Will A Savannah Kitten’s Eyes Stay Blue?
All newborn kittens, whether a Savannah cat or other breed, will be born with their eyes completely closed. This is to help protect them during the birthing process and for the first couple of weeks of their life. After this, the eye lids will unseal to reveal blue eyes. At this time the kitten’s eyes have not started to produce the pigment melanin that determines their future color.
As a kitten develops their eyes will slowly begin to change color as melanin is produced. A kitten’s eye color can develop for up to a year before the true color has settled in. The color itself is determined by different genes that control the amount of pigment that is produced in the eye. Different genes will determine different colors just like in human babies.
In some cases, a Savannah kitten’s eyes will remain blue if they possess the right combination of genes from their parents. More commonly however, Savannah cat eyes will develop a green, gold, brown, or hazel variation of color. Breeders also find it more desirable to produce a deep colored gold or brown, as it more closely represents their serval relatives.
When Do Savannah Cats Have Blue Eyes?
In order for a Savannah kitten to be born with blue eyes they must inherit the gene for blue eyes from both of their parents. The blue eye gene is what we call a recessive gene and can easily be overwritten if paired with a dominant gene. For example, if one parent passes on the blue gene but the other passes on the brown gene, the result will be brown eyes.
However, if each parent possesses the blue gene and successfully passes it onto their offspring then they will keep their blue eyes. The blue eye gene will actually inhibit the production of the pigment melanin, resulting in the “lack” of color. While beautiful, this gene also makes your Savannah’s eyes more sensitive to light as it has little to no pigment to protect it.
Silver And Snow Savannahs
Any Savannah of any color or pattern can end up with blue eyes, although they seem to be more common in snow and silver Savannahs. This may have something to do with breeders deliberately breeding for different recessive genes, increasing the chances of Savannahs having blue eyes. Blue eyes also often look more prominent on a silver or snow.
In order for a breeder to produce kittens with blue eyes they will need to have a breeding pair that both have blue eyes. This is the easiest way to know that they will produce blue eyed Savannahs, as both parents physically exhibit the blue eye gene making it impossible not to pass on. This is because they only possess genes for blue eyes, and no other colors.
Sometimes a breeder may end up with a blue-eyed Savannah whose parents did not have blue eyes, because the parents still possessed the recessive blue gene. In this case it was the luck of the draw that both parents passed on the recessive gene and not their dominant genes. Sometimes the recessive gene can be passed on through several generations before it’s paired with a matching recessive gene.
Selective Breeding And TICA
There are several ways in which breeders can end up with a blue-eyed Savannah, but most deliberately breed against blue eyes. Blue eyes, while accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA), are often favored less as they do not resemble that of a serval. However, if a breeder is primarily breeding non-standard snow Savannahs, they will usually seek out other blue-eyed snows to breed.
In short, Savannahs will only have blue eyes if their parents’ genetic makeup allows for it. If both parents possess one blue gene, they have a 25% chance of producing a blue-eyed Savannah. If one parent has two blue genes and the other only has one there is a 50% chance. The only way there is a 100% chance of a Savannah having blue eyes is if both parents have blue eyes.
Why Aren’t There More Blue-Eyed Savannah Cats Available?
Based on what we have discussed you now know that the gene for blue eyes is a recessive gene, meaning that when matched with a dominant gene it will always be out competed. Dominant genes will always take priority and are more commonly passed from one generation to the next. This makes it much rarer for a recessive gene to present itself.
While blue eyes are popular among Savannah owners, especially those who are interested in snow Savannahs, it is still much more uncommon. One reason for this is that, overall, most breeders are still breeding according to the breed standard set out by TICA. Blue eyes tend to be less desirable by those who show their Savannahs in competitions as it can reduce their chances of winning.
Very Expensive To Produce
The other reason you see fewer blue-eyed Savannahs is that they are difficult to breed as the gene is recessive. It can be expensive for a breeder to obtain two blue eyed Savannahs to ensure that they will end up with a blue-eyed litter of kittens. Most Savannahs that have blue eyes will also be snows – an already rare type. Snow Savannahs can cost $20,000 each, making it quite the investment!
Even if a breeder doesn’t spend the money on two blue-eyed Savannahs, and decide to take the longer more difficult route of selectively breeding over time, it still costs a lot of money and requires a lot of dedication. For most, this may prove to not be worth the hassle, and they will stick to the more common breed standard.
Despite their rarity and difficulty to breed, it is still possible to find a blue eyed Savannah, but it will cost a lot. The good news is that blue eyed Savannahs can come in any generation, so you do not have to invest in an F1 or F2, which tend to be more expensive and time consuming as a pet owner. Plus, you will still be the proud owner of an exceptionally beautiful cat.
Savannah cats do have blue eyes when their genetics allow for it. All Savannah kittens have blue eyes at birth, but this changes as they develop. Blue eyed Savannahs are much rarer than Savannahs with other colors of eyes, and they are harder to breed and very expensive too.