Pet Panthers is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission.

How Smart is a Savannah Cat?

Savannah cats are incredibly interesting pets to have for a variety of reasons. Because of their hybrid nature — they have both domesticated cat and wild serval genes — they are definitely unique cats. You can see this when it comes to their intelligence.

Savannah cats are considered to be very smart cats. They can be easily trained to do a variety of things, and they often also learn things — such as how to open drawers, doors, and windows — by themselves. They’re also very playful, and you can see their intelligence come out when they play.

So, Savannahs are smart cats who love to play around, which is always exciting! Below, we’ll go into more detail about Savannahs’ intelligence, starting by discussing their playfulness and how this relates to how smart they are.

The Savannah Cat’s Playfulness

Savannah cats are many things: intelligent, friendly, loyal, and very playful. Savannahs love to play around. They always have a ton of energy, so they’ll spend every waking moment playing if they can. Because of their high energy levels, Savannahs need to be stimulated mentally and physically each and every day in order to keep them happy.

A Savannah’s intelligence often comes out when they are playing, whether they are playing with an interactive toy with their owner, or whether they’re playing by themselves. For example, if you give your Savannah a puzzle toy, chances are they’ll learn the gist of it soon enough. The same goes for if you play a game with them in a pattern. They’ll see this pattern and use it to their benefit.

When they play by themselves, they’ll use their intelligence to enhance their game. Often, Savannahs enjoy putting their toys in their water bowl and then “fishing” these toys out. This is something Savannahs can learn from other cats, or by themselves. And they love doing it!

Savannahs And Boredom

Savannahs need to be stimulated mentally and physically every day. While they love to run around, they also need to be challenged mentally to really keep them happy and healthy. They’re intelligent creatures, and they needto allow their intelligence to show itself.

Often, a Savannah cat can get bored playing the same game, or with the same toys, day after day. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to always have an array of toys for your Savannah to play with. The last thing you want is for your cat to become bored. All Savannah owners know that a bored cat is a destructive cat. They need toys and activities that truly challenge their intellect.

A Savannah’s Dog-Like Personality

Savannah cats have long been said to have dog-like personalities. And this is true! You can see this when it comes to their playfulness, as well as their intelligence. Often, people think that only dogs can be successfully trained. While many domesticated cats can actually be trained, some breeds are harder to train than others.

Savannahs are relatively easy to train, at least in comparison to other domesticated cat breeds. In this way, they are very similar to dogs. A Savannah’s dog-like personality also appears in their loyalty. They’ll follow their owner — or their favorite person — around the house consistently, always around the ones they love. They’ll also often greet people at the door with a meow!

A Savannah’s dog-like personality also shows up when discussing things that you can teach your cat to do. For example, you can train your Savannah to play fetch, as well as to go on a walk outside with a harness and a leash!

Things Savannah Cats Learn By Themselves

Because Savannahs are incredibly smart cats, they often learn things by themselves. This includes learning how to open up cabinet drawers and doors after watching you, learning how to open bedroom doors and windows, and even learning how to flush a toilet, as Savannah cats love water and enjoy watching the water swirling.

They’re intelligent cats, and they’ll get into things they’re not supposed to. That’s just what Savannah cats do! A lot of Savannah owners have gotten used to basically baby-proofing their entire homes. At the very least, they’ll try to contain their Savannah to one part of the house when they’re not home, lest they get into something they’re not supposed to.

Because that’s the thing with Savannahs — they seem intent on always getting into the very things you don’t want them getting into. For example, if they’re relegated to only one part of the house, the second they see something they want in the other part of the house, they’ll work diligently until they accomplish this goal. As we’ve said, they’re really intelligent creatures!

Opening Drawers And Doors

Savannahs cats, after watching you do it countless times, can teach themselves how to open up cabinet drawers and doors. All domesticated cats can be very curious. If you’ve had a regular house cat before, chances are you’ve experienced your cat looking into cabinets and drawers you’ve opened, curious as to what’s inside a part of the house that they never see.

So, why would Savannah cats be any different? If possible, they’re even more curious than your average house cat, thanks to their exotic genes. They’ll want to see what’s inside your cabinets and drawers when you open them, and when you don’t! If they’re curious enough and you’re not around, they’ll eventually just learn how to open them up themselves!

Therefore, many Savannah owners have taken to baby-proofing their cabinets and drawers. Sometimes, there can be potentially dangerous objects in these drawers (knives, things Savannahs could use to accidentally hurt themselves, etc), so locking them up somewhere your Savannah can’t get to them may be necessary for your situation.

Opening Doors And Windows

Another thing Savannahs teach themselves is how to open doors and windows. For the most part, Savannahs will teach themselves this for the same reason as to why they open up cabinets; they’re curious!

If a door in your house is closed, chances are your Savannah (like any domesticated cat) would like to explore the room they can’t get into. It’s a natural instinct. This is why it’s highly recommended that smaller animals that are naturally considered to be a Savannah’s prey — such as hamsters, fish, and birds — do not live in the same house as a Savannah.

Because even if a door separates them, a Savannah will somehow learn how to get to them. Therefore, to keep your Savannah safe, locks on your doors and windows can help keep your Savannah where you want them to be!

Flushing Toilets

Savannahs love water. They enjoy bath time and will seek out water throughout the day. If you run your sink’s tap to wash your hands or do the dishes, don’t be surprised if your Savannah will be right there to play with the water beside you. Savannahs will also dump their toys in their water bowl and then “fish” them out when they’re playing, as we said earlier.

They can also teach themselves how to flush a toilet to watch the water swirl. Again, Savannahs are smart. And when they want something, they’ll work until they achieve their goal. Savannahs love water, and they really enjoy watching the water in a toilet swirl. So, if you don’t want your Savannah consistently flushing your toilet, you’re going to have to work hard to keep them away.

As a side note, it’s highly important that you keep Savannah kittens away from the toilets. While most kittens are fine around toilets, some kittens have accidentally fallen into the toilet and hurt themselves, and in terrible circumstances drowned. So, to keep your curious kitty away, keep the bathrooms off-limits until they’re a little bigger!

Things You Can Teach A Savannah Cat

As we’ve said above, Savannahs are actually easily trained pets. Many people often think that, because of their exotic genes, they are very wild animals that are impossible to train, never mind the fact that they’re cats. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, domesticated cats actually can be trained, though some breeds are harder to train than others.

Secondly, Savannahs are incredibly intelligent, friendly, and loyal cats — which all helps to make them easily trainable. Of course, nothing happens overnight. If you’re looking to train your cat to do a variety of different things, it’s going to take you some time. As long as you have patience and an understanding that your cat is truly trying their best, you’ll have your cat trained in no time!

For the most part, it’s best to train Savannahs at a young age, preferably when they’re still kittens. However, you can still train an adult Savannah cat, it just might take a bit longer to do so. Find the training method that works best for you and your cat and stick to it. Remember, cats are creatures of habit. Stick with a consistent training schedule and you’ll eventually see results!

Playing Fetch

You may have heard that Savannah cats have dog-like personalities. They’re loyal, they’re very friendly, and they can be trained to do dog-like activities. For example, you can train your cat to play fetch with you, just like you would train a dog! Savannah cats are very energetic and playful creatures, so they love playing with their owners all the time.

Fetch, because it’s such an active game, is a much-loved activity for all types of Savannahs, regardless of their generation. As we’ve said previously, Savannahs need to be stimulated mentally and physically in order to keep them happy and healthy. Mentally, they need to be able to do activities that allow them to use their intelligence.

But they still need to move around! Playing fetch is a wonderful way to really get your Savannah moving — and it’s also a wonderful way to really tire them out. If you’re getting ready to turn in for the night and your Savannah is still in a playful mood, play fetch with them for a bit. Chances are, they’ll wear themselves out and be ready for bed soon enough!

Clicker Training

There are many different ways to train your Savannah cat. Some owners swear by one training method, some by another. Really, it just depends on what works best for you and your cat. However, many Savannahs have been trained easily and successfully when a clicker is involved. Both domesticated cats and dogs can be trained using a clicker, with great results.

Clicker training consists of using a clicker as you train your Savannah to do something, and then giving them a reward (such as a small treat) each time they do what you want successfully. Over time, your cat will understand that the clicking noise means that they’ll be rewarded if they do what you want. It’s a great way to quickly train your Savannah to do a variety of activities.

Of course, your Savannah won’t be trained overnight. Clicker training tends to be done best in small doses over longer periods of time, so your Savannah has the accurate amount of time to truly understand what the clicking means, as well as to fully embrace the training. So, always remember to be patient and treat your cat positively during training, even when they’re acting rather difficult!

Use Interactive Puzzles

Because Savannah cats are such smart pets, they truly thrive when they’re given a task to show off their intelligence. Interactive puzzles are such great additions to any Savannah cat’s life. There are many different types of interactive puzzles and toys you can buy, many of which deal with hiding a treat in a puzzle or maze that your Savannah has to “solve” before they can get their treat.

Savannahs can be trained to play with interactive puzzles and can actually learn quite easily. Some cats may pick it up immediately, while others may need to be directed on what, exactly, to do for each individual toy. Some owners actually prefer to buy puzzle treat games that were made for dogs. If your Savannah doesn’t like the ones made for cats, try these instead!

Interactive puzzles that “hide” their food or treats are a great toy to leave for Savannahs that will be alone for a few hours (if you’re going to work for example). While they’ll probably solve it relatively quickly, it still gives them something to focus on while you’re away. Plus, it helps keep them mentally active and stimulated, which is always a plus.

Problem-Solving Games

Similar to interactive puzzle games, problem-solving games often involve your Savannah working towards getting some type of reward, often their food or a treat. With problem-solving games, your cat is faced with a problem and must solve it, as the name suggests. Much like interactive puzzle games, these games help them mentally.

At first, you might need to train your Savannah on how to play these problem-solving games. Eventually, they’ll get the hang of it — especially if there are treats involved. Problem-solving games aren’t just interactive puzzles, though. Often, these types of games are similar to games where you allow your Savannah’s hunting skills to shine.

Playing with a laser, a robotic mouse, or any other type of interactive toy like this can allow them to use their hunting skills, while also improving their problem-solving skills. Therefore, these types of activities help enhance and stimulate your Savannah both mentally and physically!

Harness And Leash Training

Savannah cats are incredibly curious. They’ll teach themselves to open cabinets and doors, all because they’re curious as to what’s inside these closed-off areas. Because of this curiosity, they also enjoy window watching to see all that is happening outside. This also means that they absolutely love going on safe walks with their owner by their side!

Yes, this means that Savannah cats can be trained to go on leashed walks on a harness. It’s not recommended that you let your Savannah wander outside by themselves, as so many terrible things could happen. But this doesn’t mean they can’t see the world in a safe way with you! Savannahs are great on harnesses and leashes, but they do need to be trained to wear them first.

First, you should always train your Savannah to be comfortable with their harness. Once this happens, you can introduce them to walking on a leash with their harness on, indoors. As they get used to this, you can eventually take them outside in small doses until they’re completely fine exploring on a leash with you. Then, they’ll always be up for a walk around the park!

Final Thoughts

Savannah cats are hybrid animals, so it’s understandable why so many would be confused by the way they act. But while so many may think they’re incredibly hard to train because of their exotic genes, this is actually quite far from the truth. Savannahs can be trained, and can be trained quite easily, when compared to other cat breeds.

Savannahs will learn many things by themselves, such as how to open cabinet drawers and doors, as well as doors to rooms and windows too. They can also be trained to learn how to walk on a leash outside and even to play fetch. As with all animals, however, it’s always important to remember that patience and understanding go a long way during all training sessions!