Becoming a Savannah cat breeder may be something you’d like to do if you have spent enough time with the breed to really grow to love it. Savannah cats are a unique hybrid species, and so there’s a lot to know if you want to become a Savannah cat breeder.
Becoming a Savannah breeder takes a lot of time, dedication, and significant financial investment. You will have to establish yourself as a reputable breeder amongst the Savannah cat community, including receiving your certification from The International Cat Association (TICA).
It is important to do your research before taking the plunge into Savannah breeding, especially if you have never owned a Savannah or bred other cats. This article should serve as a crash course guide into what you might expect and how to create an action plan to get you started.
How To become A Savannah Cat Breeder?
Firstly, if you have considered Savannah cat breeding as a means to make a profit, you may want to reconsider. When talking to most Savannah breeders they will tell you they are not in it for the money, and that they in fact rarely break even from their initial investment. This may seem odd considering Savannahs sell for anywhere from $2,000-$20,000 depending on generation.
So, why are these cats so expensive if no one is making any real money? Well to become a breeder you first have to consider all that goes into the breeding process and its cost to you. A lot of breeders will spend an initial investment of $15,000-$20,000 just to get started and they may not even make a sale within the first year. A successful first litter is not always guaranteed.
Register With TICA
Financial investment aside, becoming a breeder still takes a lot of leg work. Although it’s not required, registering with The International Cat Association (TICA) and signing their code of ethics is a good idea. TICA is recognized globally and is a highly respected organization in the world of cat breeding. Becoming a member is a good start to becoming a reputable breeder.
Anyone can become a Savannah breeder as long as they stay within their country, state, or city’s law requirements for owning Savannahs. Some places in the United States don’t allow you to own earlier generations (F1 or F2) meaning you could only own an F3 or later. This would limit you to what generations of Savannah cat you can produce and sell.
Other states within the US may require you to obtain a breeder’s license, which is not just required for Savannahs. You may also need a permit to own your Savannah or, in the case of breeding F1s, a permit for an African serval. You may need additional licenses to operate as a commercial breeder (breeding for profit).
Even after you have started to breed your Savannahs and have had a successful litter, you will need to register all of your kittens with TICA. As a reputable breeder you want to offer your customers certified pedigree papers proving that they have purchased a genuine Savannah cat. Registration can be done after your kittens have been for their first visit to the vet.
What Does Breeding Savannah Cats Entail?
While anyone can potentially become a Savannah breeder once all the legalities are in place, there are still a lot of other logistics to consider. As we mentioned, investing in Savannah cat breeding is not cheap, even if you take the bare minimum route, which would involve starting with a “non-permissible” Savannah.
TICA has what is called a “breed standard” much like any other breeders’ association might. This is a set standard of colors and patterns that are considered in the professional showing of Savannah cats. A Savannah that doesn’t possess these standards is called “non-permissible” or shows new color or pattern traits.
It Can Make Things Harder
Because non-permissible Savannahs have traits that differ from the standard, they tend to cost less but are considered amongst breeders to be a poor choice for professional breeding. However, that is not to say that “non-permissible” Savannahs are any less beautiful or worthy of love and admiration, but as a first-time breeder it can make creating a name for yourself more difficult.
Either way the fact still remains that it is expensive to start any Savannah breeding program. If you are looking to breed early generations such as an F1 you will need a male Serval, which is usually going to set you back around $5,000. This doesn’t include housing, food, supplements, veterinary care, permits, or licensing.
An African serval eats a diet of two pounds of fresh raw meat,prepared with supplements, per day and on average can cost about $1,500 per year based on a $2 per pound estimate. This only considers the meat and not the addition of the necessary supplements, which will add to the cost. So, with just your serval, minus the vet visits, you’re already at $6,500+.
Now, you also have to decide how many females you want to have. Many breeders will start with a minimum of two females, but usually you want three or more to increase their chances of producing a litter. To produce an F1 kitten you can still use later generation females, and most opt for F3 or F4 which cost around $3,000-$5,000 each.
Costs For Year 1
If you opt for at least two females, you can now expect to have invested at least $11,000 just purchasing your breeding cats. When you add in the cost of feeding both your serval stud and Savannah females your total will be closer to $13,500 for the first year.
In addition to purchasing your breeders and providing food you will also have to create a specified living space for your male and females. Aside from breeding sessions your male(s) should be housed separately from your females. Male enclosures should be equipped to handle a Savannah spraying urine, so a room in your home may not be suitable!
Enclosures or housing can be small or large, but they must be able to accommodate the needs of your cats in an ethical manner.There should be access to fresh water, and plenty of space to roam, play, and groom. Setting up proper housing for all your cats can cost between $2,000-$10,000 depending on how far you decide to go. Some breeders opt to build outdoor enclosures which drive up costs.
You are now looking at roughly $15,500 for initial investment for the first year not including veterinary costs. As a responsible breeder, regular vet visits are vital, especially once your female Savannah is pregnant or has had a litter of kittens. Vet bills can vary a lot, especially for hybrids (Savannah) and exotics (serval).
With the added costs of the vet bills, the average first-time Savannah breeder can expect to invest close to $20,000. This is the minimum for breeding early generation Savannahs with the minimum number of breeders and housing requirements. If you decided to breed later generations, you are still looking at $15,000-$17,000.
Not All Plain Sailing
Once you have set everything up you can expect to spend most if not all of your time caring for your breeding cats and eventually their offspring. This includes dedicating time to introducing your stud(s) to your females in the hopes that they mate. In some cases, this may fail, resulting in no successful litters and a loss of investment.
However, if you are lucky and can proudly boast a successful litter, your kittens will require around the clock care. Many early generation kittens are born prematurely and need to be bottle fed every two hours in addition to nursing. This means setting alarms every two hours for all hours of the day and night!
Socialization Is Vital
Kittens will also need to be socialized by being handled on a daily basis in order for them to adjust to human touch. As a hybrid with wild genes, socialization helps curb their wild instincts, including the urge to bite or scratch. Natural urges should still be encouraged through healthy means like using wand toys to redirect their attacks!
Once your kittens have reached 14 weeks of age, they should have been fully vaccinated, certified, litter trained, socialized, and ready to go to their new home. Be sure to thoroughly interview each interested party and prep them on Savannah cat care. You want to set your kittens – as well as their new owners – up for success.
Are You Sure About Breeding?
Now that you know more about what it takes to become a breeder, you have to ask yourself if breeding Savannahs is the right fit for you. It’s clear that if you were considering Savannah breeding for the money, you’re in for a shock. Savannah breeders are in it for the love of the breed, and not for the potential profits.
Financial investment aside you must ask yourself why you want to become a breeder. Are you willing to put the health and wellbeing of your cats above all else? Can you dedicate yourself to them nearly 24/7 for 365 days per year? Unless you have the kind of capital that you can hire professional caretakers versed in breeding Savannah cats, running a cattery is a full-time job.
Making A Name For Yourself
Additionally, to be a successful breeder you have to build a reputation within the Savannah cat community. This takes time and dedication and requires a thick skin,as the world of Savannah cats can be very competitive. Making a name for yourself increases your chances of adopting out your kittens, which is a sign of your skills and hard work.
If you are satisfied in your motives and dedication to becoming a breeder, the final step is to consider the cost. Can you actually afford to become a breeder? With a heavy investment and little to no profit, it’s important to be honest with yourself. Remember that if things go wrong, it’s not just the money you lose but you also put your animals at risk.
Even with the estimate we’ve discussed, there can be other costs to consider, importantly including those associated with emergencies. You never know what the future may hold and without a financial safety net you could run into trouble. This is especially true if your Savannah or serval get sick or injured due to circumstances out of your control. So, always prepare for the worst!
Becoming a Savannah cat breeder isn’t just a case of bringing a male and a female together. You must consider the logistics involved, along with the financial investment, legalities, housing, feeding, caring, and the dedication required to become a successful Savannah cat breeder.
Becoming a Savannah cat breeder is about the love of the breed and not financial gain. The ability to love and care for these animals, while educating new owners on the importance of Savannah stewardship, is what it’s all about. If you think you’re cut out for it, there’s no reason you can’t become a Savannah cat breeder!