If you’ve recently purchased a Savannah kitten, or perhaps are thinking of getting one, you may be wondering whether its fur will change color over time. Savannah cats are very different to many other types of cat, but whether or not they change color is a big talking point for many.
There’s no way of knowing for sure what color a Savannah kitten will be as an adult. Some Savannah kittens will stay more or less the same color as they grow older, while others may become gradually darker or lighter over time.
The markings your Savannah kitten has at birth — whether it’s Spotted, Marbled, or Rosettes — are as unique as fingerprints and will remain the same throughout its life. But their overall color can change as they grow up, so let’s find out why.
Why Savannah Kittens Change Color
All In The Genes
Just as a person can be born with blonde hair that gradually turns brown as they get older, some Savannah kittens may display colors at birth that change over time. Each Savannah kitten’s color and spots are the results of its unique genetic makeup. Some genes are dominant while others are recessive, but recessive genes can sometimes influence the way dominant genes express themselves.
4 Main Types
There are 4 main types of Savannah cat color which we will go into more detail about in a later section. These are the Brown Spotted Tabby, the Silver Spotted Tabby, Melanistic and Smoke. These four colors are recognized as the Breed Standard because they represent the colors of the African Serval, from which the Savannah cat descends.
There are also non-standard Savannah cats, known as Snow. These Savannahs are pale-colored and often have blue eyes. They result from recessive genes that show aspects of albinism, and some breeders believe they should be included in the Breed Standard.
A rare subtype of the Snow is known as the Lavender, which has silver spots on a cream or peachy-cream base coat. Since there are so many genetic variations of Savannah cat coat colors and markings, it’s impossible to know exactly which genes your Savannah kitten carries just by looking at its fur.
One thing you can be sure of is that your Savannah kitten’s markings will never change since they are like fingerprints and remain the same throughout their lives. However, you will probably notice that your Savannah kitten’s spots may appear more defined at times and more blurry at others.
This is most noticeable during the first year of its life when it goes through several fuzzy stages. Each fuzzy stage affects the appearance of your Savannah kitten’s spots, but it will become sleek again once it has finished growing. You might notice that your Savannah kitten’s color changes with each round of shedding.
However, not all Savannah cats change color, and some remain more or less the same from birth. Whether they change or not depends on their genes, so it’s best to talk to the breeder about your Savannah kitten’s ancestry to determine how likely it is to change color.
How Savannah Kittens Change Color
There’s no way of knowing for sure exactly what color your Savannah cat will finally be. It may never have a “final” color. However, if you want a Savannah kitten with certain traits, such as a specific basecoat or nose color, there are some general signs to look for when choosing a Savannah kitten.
In Brown Spotted Tabby Savannahs, kittens with a lighter base coat will, in general, have lighter color spots or markings as they get older. Brown Spotted Tabby Savannah kittens with black noses will generally have a neutral beige base color, rather than a warmer gold or orange.
Smokes can become lighter or darker with age, while Melanistic Savannahs generally stay more or less the same color. Silver Savannahs’ markings can become more or less defined as they grow older, and Snows may also become lighter or darker over time.
When Savannah Kittens Change Color
Savannah kittens change color the most during the first year of their life when they shed their fur multiple times. Some Savannah cats may continue to change color even after the first year. Many owners report their Savannahs’ colors still changing even at five or six years old.
However, the most dramatic changes usually occur during the first six months, when Savannah kittens go through several fuzzy stages. They shed their fur multiple times during this period, with the fur often changing color with each regrowth. There are three main fuzzy stages.
When Savannah kittens are first born, their fur is short and sleek. The first fuzzy stage begins when they are one week old and lasts until roughly three weeks of age. During this stage, a Savannah kitten’s fur is very fine, but it starts to grow longer, giving it a soft, downy look and texture. This means their markings are not as clearly defined during this stage as when they are newborn.
The second fuzzy stage occurs from six to ten weeks of age. This is when Savannah kittens show their Serval heritage by growing guard hairs. Wild Serval kittens use these guard hairs to camouflage themselves during their first excursions out into the world when they are still vulnerable to predators.
The long guard hairs are double the length of the normal fur, which helps Serval kittens blend in with the bushes or long grass. The guard hairs lay on top of the shorter fur underneath, muddling your Savannah kitten’s markings. Savannah kittens often go to their new owners around this age, so don’t be alarmed if your Savannah kitten doesn’t look as “sharp” as you expected — that will soon change.
Your Savannah kitten’s fur will go through more fuzzy stages as he or she goes through growth spurts. During these phases, its body focuses all its energy on growing, and its coat may take on a lackluster appearance. Don’t worry — this is completely normal, and your Savannah kitten’s fur will become thicker and richer again once it’s finished growing.
Changes in Eye Color in Savannah Kittens
All kittens, including Savannahs, are born with blue eyes. As they grow older, their eye color gradually changes. Although many new Savannah kitten owners hope their cat’s eyes will stay blue as it gets older, this is rarely the case for Breed Standard Savannahs. Their eyes usually become brown, gold, or green. Blue eyes in adult Savannah cats are mainly seen in the non-standard Snows.
Savannah Cat Coat Colors
Brown Spotted Tabby
This is the quintessential Savannah cat. With its golden, orange, brown, and beige hues contrasting against its black spots, this Savannah is the one that most closely resembles its wild ancestor, the Serval. It’s not surprising, then, that this is the most popular and sought-after Savannah cat color.
The Brown Spotted Tabbies range from neutral, beige tones to warmer shades that evoke the color of an African sunset. Savannah kittens of this type with black noses generally have a more neutral basecoat color, while pale-nosed Savannah kittens usually have warmer colors.
Silver Spotted Tabby
Silver Savannah cats are also popular for their ethereal beauty. Like the Brown Spotted Tabby, they come in a range of shades. The base coat color can range from a pale, white-silver color to a darker charcoal grey. Spot color also ranges from charcoal grey to inky black, with darker spots generally corresponding to a darker base color.
Despite their black color, Melanistic Savannahs do have spots. You will most likely only be able to see them under direct light, but they are there nonetheless. Melanistic Savannah kittens, like other black cats, may become lighter or darker over time, depending on the seasons.
Smoke Savannah cats have black fur that is white at the roots, which gives them a lighter appearance than Melanistic Savannahs. Their spots are usually visible in spite of their dark color. Although there are no Smoke color Servals, they are recognized as standard because they are a variation of black.
Although they not recognized as Breed Standard, Snow Savannahs are highly sought-after. Their blue eyes and pale fur give them a mesmerizing, angelic air. Since they are a result of recessive genes, Snow Savannahs are much rarer than other colors.
Even less common is the Lavender subtype of the Snow Savannah, with silver or grey spots on a cream or peachy-cream basecoat. Although neither the Snow nor Lavender Savannah is acceptable for show, they are beautiful, making them popular among Savannah cat owners.
Savannah Coat Patterns
There is only one standard Savannah coat pattern, which is Spotted. However, two non-standard patterns — Marbled and Rosettes — are highly sought-after by Savannah cat owners for their “wild” appearance.
The Spotted Savannah cat resembles its wild ancestor, the Serval, which is why this is the only type of marking recognized by the Breed Section. However, the size and pattern of the spots vary greatly. They may be small or large, irregular or uniform, linear or chaotic.
The Marbled pattern comes from a recessive gene from domestic cats, which is why it is considered non-standard. However, many Savannah cat owners prefer this type of coat because they consider it more exotic looking.
Rare Rosettes Savannahs are stunning, but again, non-standard. Although they may not be acceptable for show, many Savannah cat owners find the Rosettes pattern captivating.
Savannah cats can change their coat color over time, but their markings will never change. There are a few main color types of Savannah cat, with a few that are not recognized as Breed Standard, but are still color variants nonetheless. They can change color over long periods of time, but the most noticeable differences occur within the first year.