If you’re considering buying an F1 Savannah cat you probably have a lot of questions as a first-time hybrid cat owner. Deciding to own a hybrid breed, let alone an F1 generation Savannah, comes with a lot of challenges and responsibilities.
An F1 generation Savannah is a first-generation Savannah bred from a male African Serval and female Savannah cat. In some cases, an F1 may be produced by breeding a domestic female to the serval rather than a Savannah. However, this is no longer very common in order to preserve the bloodline.
An F1 will share much more of its genetics with a wild serval than F2s and later generations. These Savannah cats require more care, attention, and a special diet. We will discuss more about the F1’s personality, behavior, health, physical body, and more throughout this guide.
What Is The Price Of A Savannah Cat?
If you have made it this far you’ve probably already heard that Savannah cats can cost a pretty penny. On average, an F1 Savannah kitten will cost $16,000 or more depending on the breeder and lineage. F1 generations are the most difficult and expensive to breed, making the cost to the consumer substantial. This is why it’s important to be certain you’re ready to care for an F1 Savannah.
Those who breed F1 Savannah cats only produce 1-2 successful litters per year, each only producing 1-3 Savannah kittens. However, there are many costs that must be covered between the time it takes to successfully breed their cats and the time they are ready to send kittens to their forever homes.
First, you have to consider the cost of starting a breeding program for Savannahs, which can be very expensive. Breeders will have to purchase at a minimum one male serval and one female Savannah cat. However, some breeders will opt to purchase as many as three Savannah females to increase their chances of breeding a successful litter of F1 kittens.
To purchase a serval, a breeder will pay up to $5,000 just for the cat, and they will then also need to purchase a special permit to keep the serval. These permits often need to be renewed every year depending on where the breeder lives, costing on average $200.00 per year per cat owned. Additionally, you need to purchase liability insurance ranging from $1,000-$5,000 per year for servals.
So far, just obtaining a male serval and all of the legal permits will cost up to $12,000 in the first year. This doesn’t include the cost of feeding an adult serval two pounds of meat with supplements per day which could be conservatively estimated to cost around $2,200 per year based on a cost of $2 per pound of chicken.
Finally, you have to consider the cost of veterinary care for an exotic cat, which can reach into the thousands of dollars. This would include their routine exams as well as their vaccinations and any other necessary procedures for the health of the serval.
On top of all those costs you have to add in the cost of the Savannah females purchased as well. Most breeders will opt to purchase 2-3 F3 or F4 Savannahs, which average about $1,000-$3,000 per cat. That’s another $3,000-$9,000 investment. A breeder can also expect to pay about as much per Savannah per year to feed as a serval, even if they’re using a kibble and canned diet versus a raw diet.
These costs can be even higher if a breeder is producing high serval blood lines of 62% or higher. Creating a high percentage serval bloodline will require an F1 or F2 Savannah female which can set the breeder back $6,000-$16,000 per cat. To avoid these costs breeders will often opt to produce their own F1 and F2 generations using F3 and F4 females in the initial breeding process.
They Need Space
The final cost to consider when considering the price of an F1 are the enclosures that breeders must build. If you are purchasing from a reputable breeder, they will have spent up to $10,000 just to build enclosures for their serval and Savannahs. These cats need a lot of space and areas to climb, as well as high walls or outdoor areas that can handle the cats “spraying” (marking with urine).
So, although the price of an F1 Savannah may seem very expensive, there are actually a lot of costs that go into producing them. If while researching breeders you find that some are selling for a significantly cheaper price, you should be very skeptical as to whether or not they are a trustworthy breeder. Thoroughly research your breeders and even request to see their facility if you can.
Where Can I Get An F1 Savannah Cat?
Finding a reputable breeder can be challenging, but if you start looking in the right places and asking the right questions it will become much easier. The International Cat Association (TICA) website is a great place to start. The website even lists all Savannah cat breeders that are members of TICA and have signed their Code of Ethics
However, TICA also mentions it does not personally endorse the breeders on their website unless otherwise stated. This is why it is still a good idea to thoroughly research any of the breeders that you are interested in buying from. When purchasing an F1 Savannah you have to treat it as a business endeavor in order to avoid scams.
Do Your Research
Before contacting any of the breeders you’re interested in, it’s recommended that you see if there are any reviews from past customers. Most trustworthy breeders will have references listed on their website, but it’s also useful to do an internet search. There are many Savannah cat forums and communities that post reviews of different Savannah breeders.
The advantage of seeking out breeder reviews outside of their own site is that they will be less biased. Breeders will always want to promote their best reviews, which is not surprising but doesn’t give you a broad look at all of their customers’ experiences. Feedback from a broad range of customers from different breeders can help you narrow down your options.
How To Find A Good Savannah Cat Breeder
Once you have done your research and are ready to start calling breeders, you will want to gather a list of questions. Any reputable breeder should be able to answer some simple questions about the cats they’re selling.
1. What Type Of Personality Does An F1 Savannah Have?
Breeders should be able to provide a basic description of how these Savannahs behave, their social capabilities, energy level, etc. This is quite an obvious one, but it’s a quick litmus test to see if the person really knows anything about the cats they’re selling.
2. Do They Provide A Written Health Guarantee And What Does It Include?
A reputable breeder will include a written agreement that guarantees the health of your Savannah kitten with a detailed description of their medical records including their vaccinations and a spay/neuter certification. This guarantee also includes who is responsible for health conditions that may occur later in your Savannah’s life.
3. Will A Written Bill Of Sale Be Included?
A sales agreement should always be included when purchasing a Savannah cat of any generation. As Savannahs are an exotic hybrid breed, it’s important that you receive a written contract stating that the cat is yours. This is especially important if you live in an area that has restrictions on exotic breeds or requires a permit.
Additionally, this agreement should also include your F1’s pedigree papers and TICA registration and other applicable organizations.
4. What Breeding Methods Are Used And How Are Kittens Raised Prior To Sale?
Reputable breeders should have no issue discussing the conditions in which their cats are kept and cared for and will provide you with any information you need. It’s also a good idea to ask for photos/videos or a tour of their breeding facility. Most breeders will also provide you with a guide on how to care for your new F1 kitten, giving you tips on feeding, litter training, and more.
5. Can They Personally Provide References?
While you may have searched their website and alternative website pages, it’s still a good idea to ask your breeders for past references. Their willingness to provide information is a good sign they are trustworthy.
Once you have found the right breeder, they will provide you with a list of their available kittens along with their photos. Now is the time to pick out the perfect F1 Savannah kitten just for you! Sometimes, you may also be put on a waiting list if the breeder does not currently have kittens available.
There are some cases in which you can find an F1 Savannah through a rescue that specializes in exotic and hybrid breeds. In these situations, you would not be purchasing through a breeder and would want to ask the rescue for a full background and history of the F1 in question. These rescues are often still able to provide all of their rescue’s pedigree papers and certifications.
Many of these Savannahs are rescued because the previous owner was not prepared for the responsibility. Savannahs, especially F1s, can be a handful and unfortunately can end up at a rescue or even a wildlife refuge. These cats will also come at a cheaper price as they are desperate to be rehomed. These rescues will also do a thorough home check and interview before adopting out.
What Do I Need To Know About F1 Savannah Kittens?
In general, F1 Savannah kittens are no different than other Savannah cat generations and are in fact pretty similar to domestic kittens. Like all kittens, F1s need plenty of attention in their early development for socialization, motor skills, exercise, etc. However, with their strong serval bloodlines, these kittens need extra attention to help tame their wild side.
Most F1 Savannah kittens are bottle fed by their breeders for a couple of reasons. In the beginning, before Savannah cats reached championship level with TICA in 2006, many F1 kittens were produced using a domestic female and male serval. This caused many premature births of kittens requiring bottle feeding. This is due to the difference in gestation times for domestic cats versus servals.
Another reason breeders will bottle feed their F1s is to help socialize them and get them used to being handled by humans. This is important for F1s because they often have a serval bloodline of 50-75% depending on the generation of female used. The wild bloodline will influence the kitten’s personality causing it to be less tame, but bottle feeding them will help reduce their wild nature.
To clarify, the kittens do still nurse from their mother, especially during the first few weeks when their immune systems are developing. After about three weeks breeders will begin doing bottle feedings about three times a day in addition to the kittens’ nursing. This balance keeps the kittens healthy while learning to be handled.
Even as F1s, Savannah kittens are still quite similar to a domestic kitten and don’t require much more attention and care. However, one of the most important things to keep in mind when bringing home a kitten is to continuously use socialization techniques. Kittens are very playful, and by participating in playtime you help them develop their brains and better temperaments.
Kittens are prone to biting and scratching, which is completely normal and plays off of their natural instincts. All cats are predators, and F1 kittens are no exception and will often want to “hunt” and attack “prey” which can sometimes mean your fingers or toes. Using plenty of toys and other alternatives to your body can help your kitten know what is okay to bite and what is not.
Another good tip for bringing your F1 home would be to isolate them in a smaller room before introducing them to the rest of the house. This will help them not become overwhelmed, but it’s also good for litter training in their new environment. While many kittens come litter trained from breeders, it’s still possible for them to become confused in a new environment.
If you have to leave your kitten alone for a short period of time it’s also best to keep them isolated to one area, even if they have begun exploring the whole house. They are still young and can get into all sorts of trouble including getting stuck, chewing cords, and jumping on counters. You want them to be safe when unsupervised, somewhere they can’t do any damage.
How Big Does An F1 Savannah Get?
Male F1 Savannah cats are often larger than females, with added muscle weight and can weigh between 17-25 pounds. Most females will weigh between 13-19 pounds. Both share similar heights and length measuring 16-19 inches from shoulder to toe and 22-24 inches from chest to rump. Their long legs allow them to jump heights of up to 8 feet!
Because F1s share a lot of their genetics with the African Serval they also inherit many of their physical attributes including their size. As stated, males will often grow much larger than females, which may be something to consider when bringing home an F1.
Much Bigger And Heavier
To put it into perspective, the average domestic cat weighs between 9-11 pounds and measures 18 inches chest to rump and only 10 inches head to toe. This makes even a female F1 considerably larger than what the average cat owner is used to. This is important if you are someone who lives in a smaller living space, although it doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot own an F1 Savannah.
Because of their size you want to make sure your home is ready for a large animal that’s also able to climb. If you are purchasing a kitten you may not have to worry about some home modifications until they start to grow, but with adults you want to provide plenty of space. F1s need lots of stimulation and exercise, so lots of climbing towers and leash training is recommended.
What Is The lifespan Of An F1 Savannah?
Savannah cats have a lifespan of 12-20 years, but an F1, with their strong serval bloodline, will live closer to the 20-year mark. This is all of course dependent on how well you take care of your F1, with important factors including diet, exercise, and regular vet visits.
According to breeders and vets, Savannah cats – even F1s – are not more or less prone to the same health risks as a domestic cat. As long as you do your duty as a pet owner and take proper care of your F1 they will live a long and happy life. However, with all animals there are always exceptions, and underlying health risks can still be present.
Raw Meat Diets
It has been shown that an all-raw diet with added nutritional supplements for Savannah cats result in a longer life span. While a raw diet can benefit any cat, it is especially good for Savannahs because they are a hybrid species. Their wild genes instinctively crave fresh raw meats, the way they would in nature.
A healthy diet, in combination with regular vaccinations and veterinary exams, will help ensure your F1 lives a long and happy life. Frequent exams twice a year can help identify any abnormalities that may have developed and can be taken care of right away. If you ever feel something is off with your Savannah outside their regular check-ups, never hesitate to contact your vet for help.
Do F1 Savannah Cats Shed?
Because of their short hair and active lifestyle, Savannah cats of all generations are considered to shed at a minimum. However, they are not considered to be hypoallergenic.
F1 Savannahs are known to be a low-shedding breed with short hair that only really sheds due to changes in their surrounding climate. Savannahs will shed their winter coat for a slightly lighter one even in what is perceived as a warmer climate. Even in tropical areas there are times of the year where the temperature changes enough to provoke shedding.
Regular Brushing Is Key
Luckily, Savannahs shed at a minimum even when they are changing coats, and can easily be managed with the right tools. For your F1 you will want to brush them about twice a week to cut down on any shedding. Your F1 has a “close” coat meaning their hairs are very short and close to the skin, making a brushing glove a perfect choice.
A brushing glove is typically made of a silicone like material with little nubs and is made to grab excess hair while gently massaging your cat’s skin. Because it is a glove it allows you to just pet your Savannah rather than wrangling them to be brushed with a traditional cat brush. It also promotes bonding and socialization between you and your Savannah.
What Do F1 Savannah Cats Eat?
Many Savannah cat owners recommend a raw food diet consisting of chicken, turkey, or duck with added supplements. This has shown to improve the overall health of Savannahs, including F1s, helping to promote a longer life. However, a healthy diet of high-quality canned food is also acceptable.
Servals in the wild, as well as in Savannah breeding facilities, require a diet of high-quality raw meat. These cats are wild animals, and their bodies are made to eat raw meat which provides them with their protein, nutrients, fiber, and nearly all of their required water intake. F1 Savannahs are between 50-75% serval and as such inherit many of the serval’s genetic makeup.
A Balanced Diet
Breeders will even start to feed their F1 kittens daily meals of raw meat starting when they’re four weeks old. This diet is generally made up of raw chicken with added organ meats and nutritional supplements. The supplements ensure that your F1 receives all of their required vitamins and minerals.
Raw diets have been proven to be a healthier alternative to dry foods which are often full of fillers and meat byproducts. There is also a lot of added fiber to dry food which is not part of a cat’s natural diet. Many cats that eat dry food also have a lot of issues staying hydrated and often don’t drink as much water as they should.
Easy To Find
To provide a raw diet you can prepare your F1 Savannah’s food on your own using one of many recipes online. This will require some extra work on your part, but it’s definitely worth it for the health of your F1. However, you can still get raw food from a specialty or holistic pet store, and even most major chains now carry some raw options. These are a bit more costly but will save you time.
Additionally, if a raw diet just isn’t for you and your F1, you can opt for a high-quality wet food diet. You’ll find suitable wet food at most pet stores or online. Your veterinarian can help you determine which diet is best for your Savannah and help explore your options.
What Is An F1 Savannah Cat’s Personality?
F1 Savannah cats are known as the most “wild” generation as they share many of their genetics with the servals. These cats are very loyal to their immediate “house family” but tend to be shy around new people and often hide. While they are loyal, they are not much of a lap cat. They have a lot of energy and require lots of playtime and attention, including going for walks or playing in water.
Deciding to bring an F1 Savannah home is a big responsibility as they are the most high maintenance out of all the Savannahs. These cats are not like the average domestic feline and can’t be left alone for long periods of time. Without their human companions Savannah cats get awfully lonely and do not like being left out. Many are known to meow and chirp loudly when they miss their humans.
Very Curious And Energetic
Their energy levels are quite high and require a lot of toys and plenty of cat-friendly high places to jump up to. These cats are natural born hunters and jumpers, and without the right things to occupy them they can quickly become a nuisance. They have the ability to jump up to 7 feet high, making it easy for them to reach all the wrong places, which is why cat trees and shelves are a great idea.
Savannah cats love play time, especially when their human or other Savannah companion jumps in to play too. Having lots of fishing pole toys or even electric mouse toys is a great way to feed their hunting instinct and tire them out.
F1s are known for their loyalty and will follow their human companions wherever they go. Whether it’s sleeping in the bedroom, cooking in the kitchen, or taking a shower, they will be there. Many owners have commented how much their Savannah loves to play in the shower and even the bathtub. They’re not the most lap friendly cats and would prefer you pet them while they lounge on the floor.
Are F1 Savannah Cats Dangerous?
Any pet has the potential to pose a certain level of danger if not cared for and trained properly. With that said, it’s important to remember F1s are a hybrid cat species between that of a wild serval and domestic feline. Because of their wild nature, Savannah cats can play a bit rough at times or swat you when agitated. Because of their size this can result in some substantial injuries.
It’s important from day one when you bring your F1 Savannah kitten home to practice different socialization techniques. Hopefully your breeder will have already started this process through bottle feeding and frequent handling. You want to make sure you are handling and playing with your kitten often, so that they become accustomed to your touch.
Teach The Right Behaviors
Playtime with toys and offering treats for positive behavior will help your kitten distinguish good play from bad play. If you allow them to play rough with you, letting them bite your fingers, toes, or scratch you, it will be difficult to break this habit when they are older with bigger teeth and claws. Be consistent and develop a routine with your kitten to train them early.
Taking these steps will help ensure that your Savannah will learn to respect your boundaries. Of course, even with domestic cats the claws will sometimes come out and they’ll accidentally scratch you. A common method used to correct this is to use a spray bottle or to isolate your Savannah for a short timeout (5-10 mins maximum).
It’s still always a good idea to be safe and have the proper first aid on hand if you do suffer an injury from your F1. If you have ever been scratched by a domestic cat you know it is pretty painful, and a Savannah scratch is even worse. Just keep in mind that these injuries are often accidental and not malicious if you have taken the proper steps to care for and train your F1 Savannah.
Can F1 Savannah Cats Be Trained?
F1 Savannah cats are considered to be very intelligent, making them relatively easy to train. Even though they’re a hybrid breed these cats are easily litterbox trained as well as leash trained. Savannahs are said to be a lot like dogs in their ability to be trained, and this is often part of their allure.
Most F1 kittens are fully litterbox trained by the time they are ready to go to their forever homes. Breeders start litter training as early as 4 weeks by introducing the litterbox to the enclosure. Cats have the natural urge to bury their waste in sand or loose soil, making litter training a breeze.
Rule Out Medical Issues
If your Savannah is going outside of the box it is best to rule out any medical reasons first by consulting your vet. If they are cleared of any health concerns you can begin retraining your Savannah to use their box. This often entails isolating them to one room until they are successfully using their box again. Reward them with treats and play time for using their box.
The most popular thing to train your Savannah to do is walk on a leash. With a little bit of patience your F1 will be able to learn to walk with a harness and leash. This will provide lots of great bonding time and extra exercise for your Savannah in the fresh air. Plus, imagine the look on your neighbors faces when they see you strolling down the street with your exotic cat!
Getting Into The Wrong Places
Savannah cats also like to play games like fetch with their toys and play with interactive pet puzzles. There are even cool puzzle feeders you can buy to increase their mental development during feeding time. Other things your Savannah may learn to do include opening doors and cabinets, which can be less than desirable. You may want to consider some child locks to keep them out of unwanted spaces.
Your F1 is very adaptable and can learn many things with the proper motivation and positive reinforcement. This can help you with vet visits and other traveling, where you need your companion to remain relaxed. Early exposure as a kitten is your best bet, but training an adult isn’t impossible; it just takes more time.
Are F1 Savannah Cats Good With Other Animals?
Savannah cats, including F1s, are known for being friendly with other Savannahs, domestic cats, and even dogs if introduced properly. Ideally, you want to introduce your F1 to other animals as a kitten to help them socialize. But it is still possible to introduce new pets to a home with an existing adult Savannah using a slow approach technique.
As kittens, F1s are much more manageable and easier to socialize around other animals in the house than when they’re adults. They have not grown into their full personalities and are still developing social habits. Allowing closely monitored interactions between your F1 and other pets will slowly build up a relationship between them.
Remember that your current pet residents are also going to need time to adjust to the new arrival. Sometimes It’s best to do a slow introduction through a barrier like a closed door, allowing your other cat or dog to smell your F1 first. If their reactions are calm and relaxed, you can introduce your kitten by holding them first.
Eventually you will be able to let your kitten run freely to interact with your other pets. As a kitten they will form a strong bond with their animal companion. Many have commented that their F1 benefitted from having an additional companion to play with even if it was a dog. Because they get lonely easily, having another pet around can help when you’re not there.
Introducing an adult Savannah to other animals may be a little more difficult if they have never met another animal before. Cats are naturally territorial and could become defensive of their personal space or even of you. F1 Savannahs are very loyal and can act out by guarding you against other animals and sometimes other people.
To help them adjust to the new arrival, use the barrier method for a few days or even a few weeks. This slow introduction will get your Savannah and other pet to become familiar with each other’s smell. Your Savannah will become more relaxed as they become more familiar with the presence of the new animal.
Keep It Friendly
Eventually you can start a slow introduction on neutral ground like the living room or other open space. This lets both animals feel comfortable and not confined to a small area where they may feel nervous or trapped.
Have short introductions at first and slowly increase them over the next few days. Keep your F1 and new pet separated when not supervised. Then, just repeat until they have become comfortable with each other.
F1 Savannah cats, while beautiful, are a long-term investment and responsibility, requiring a lot of your personal time to be spent with your cat. As a hybrid they will require a high-quality diet, regular vet visits, and some training too.
With that said, these cats are excellent companions, being very loyal as well as intelligent, giving them the ability to be trained, so you can enjoy long walks and bonding outdoors with your F1 on their leash and harness. Their beautiful coats with very low shedding make grooming a breeze even with their large size. All in all, F1 Savannahs are a great companion to have!