If you’re thinking about becoming a reputable and respected breeder in the Savannah cat world there are a few things you must consider. From the financial costs involved to the time commitments required, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to breeding Savannah cats.
Breeding Savannah cats will involve different cats depending on which generation you are looking to produce. To meet TICA requirements you need to use a Savannah female no matter what generation you are producing. Earlier generations are more expensive to breed and are often more difficult too.
Becoming a Savannah breeder can be a complicated and tedious process even before you start the actual breeding. Below, we’ll discuss the different steps and precautions you will need to take to become a successful and respected Savannah cat breeder.
Important Things To Remember For Breeding A Savannah Cat
Firstly, if you are planning on becoming a Savannah cat breeder it should be addressed right away that this is not a way to make a quick profit and sometimes you make no profit at all. Many Savannah breeders will tell you that they often don’t break even from their initial investment. Being a Savannah breeder is about the love of the breed and educating new owners to deliver the best care possible.
As a breeder you are responsible for the health and overall wellbeing of your Savannahs, including feeding them a high-quality diet, providing proper enclosures, regular vet visits, socializing new kittens, and ensuring safe and reliable rehoming. Even if you do everything right it’s essential that you make sure your kittens are going to good homes.
It’s Not Cheap
Again, it should be noted that this is not a cheap investment and will most likely not result in large profit margins when done properly. Just purchasing your first male and female could cost you $10,000 and that is at the low end, as most breeders purchase multiple females, increasing the cost. There is the option of producing only high-generation purebreds which can cost $15,000 or more.
These have been the costs just for purchasing your Savannah cats to start your breeding program. As mentioned, you will also be facing costs for other amenities that keep your Savannahs staying healthy and able to reproduce. Cutting corners could jeopardize your cats and their kittens which means a complete loss financially, and more importantly you risked the lives of your beloved animals.
You must also keep in mind that as a breeder it’s a full-time job, requiring you to be present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. It cannot be stressed enough that you as the breeder are responsible for the welfare of these cats. For example, you may have to bottle feed kittens, which requires feeding them every 2-3 hours – even in the middle of the night.
Finding stand-in caretakers is difficult, especially if they’re not familiar with the Savannah cat breed. There are only 30 TICA (The International Cat Association) member Savannah cat breeders across the US, and around 60 worldwide. That limits your options of finding a helping hand who knows what they’re doing. You need to choose additional caretakers wisely and have them properly trained.
Additionally, the Savannah cat breeding community can also be pretty ruthless when it comes to judging new players in the game. Most breeders you will speak with abide by TICA breed standards. This means they are only showing and producing Savannahs that meet a particular standard.
TICA has described the Savannah cat standard in short on their website as: “The overall impression of the Savannah is a tall lean graceful cat with striking dark spots and other bold markings, on a background color of any shade of brown, silver, black or black smoke.” A more detailed standard can be found on their webpage.
As a breeder, selecting a nonstandard female or male to begin your breeding program could be considered subpar by the breeding community. It’s seen as being cheap and not being dedicated to the breed standard that breeders have worked hard to achieve. This is not to say a nonstandard Savannah is any less beautiful, but it decreases their worth and prevents them from achieving championship status.
It’s also not uncommon to still produce nonstandard kittens from standard Savannahs as recessive genes can still emerge. The issue breeders have is starting out with a nonstandard that will doom you from the start to producing more nonstandard cats. Nonstandard cats may not sell as well and can even reflect poorly on your reputation as a breeder.
However, it should be noted that not everyone in the market for a Savannah cat is going to be as interested in its breed standard as they are in the companionship of their Savannah. Nonstandard colors can be absolutely stunning, and the overall temperament of the Savannah is not lost. The most important thing is to remember that you became a breeder for the love of the animal – not the profits.
Getting Your Female Savannah Cat Ready For Breeding
Once you have committed to the challenges of becoming a breeder and have already taken all the necessary preparations (sorting enclosures, permits, trusted vets etc.) you are now ready to select your female(s). Many breeders will opt to purchase at least two females in order to increase their chances of producing a litter of kittens.
Depending on the route you’re taking, you have to first decide which generation you would like to breed. Producing the rare F1 generation will require either a domestic or Savannah female and a serval male. If you’re producing F2’s you will need a Savannah female and either a domestic or Savannah male, resulting in F2A (domestic) or F2B (Savannah) kittens. F3s and so forth follow the same principle.
Numbers And Letters
The number indicates how many generations removed from the serval the Savannah is and the letter indicates whether or not an outcross (non-Savannah stud) was used. The “A” indicates an outcross whereas “B” or “C” indicates a continued Savannah bloodline. Two “B” Savannahs create a “C”, and two “C” Savannahs create a purebred generation Savannah or “Stud Book Traditional” (SBT) per the TICA.
Once you have worked out all the details it’s time to prepare your female for mating. First things first, always consult with your veterinarian to confirm that your female is healthy enough and fertile enough to breed. The breeder you purchased your female from should be able to guarantee these things through vet records, but it’s always best to get a second opinion.
Your female should have a proper enclosure separate from your stud prior to the actual breeding process. This includes plenty of space to roam around and preferably some form of housing where she can give birth. The housing should be easily accessible by you or a vet in order to monitor her health and well as the kittens’. Some breeders just use a wooden box with plenty of bedding.
Make sure your female is eating a high-quality protein-packed diet that will help her throughout the breeding process including after she gives birth. Remember that a pregnant female Savannah cat will be dividing her nutrients between herself and the kittens she is carrying. Most breeders feed their females a diet of fresh raw meat along with nutritional supplements to keep them strong and healthy.
Next, you play the waiting game for your female to go into heat – or estrus – which can occur multiple times per year. Cat heat cycles are not set in stone and can depend on different factors – including the weather. Savannahs kept in indoor enclosures will not be as affected by changes in weather and temperature, and so heat cycles can be unpredictable.
You’ll know when your female Savannah goes into heat by her behavior rather than any signs of vaginal bleeding. Felines will become much more affectionate as they begin their heat cycle, rubbing on surfaces including you, rolling on the floor, and becoming very vocal. For many the sounds of a female in heat can be overwhelming, especially for a Savannah that’s already known for their loud vocalizations.
During her heat cycle she will also be releasing pheromones meant to attract any studs in the surrounding area. These pheromones are generally picked up by your stud but can sometimes be overlooked if you have an earlier generation female with more serval genes. This problem is seen only when breeding females to other Savannahs or domestic males.
Once your female has gone into heat you can begin mating sessions between your male and female. Unlike humans, female cats don’t release their eggs until male sperm has been introduced into the reproductive system. This means it could take up to four mating sessions in a day to achieve a successful pregnancy. If the mating has been successful, your female will exit her heat cycle.
Finding The Right Male And Introducing Them To Your Savannah Cat
When picking out a male it can be a little less complicated than determining a breeding female. However, if you’re producing F1 kittens you must purchase a serval, which will require some extra care as well as a special permit. Luckily a male serval will usually cost less than your Savannah females. Typically, a male serval will set you back about $5,000.
If you’re not producing F1s and are interested in using male Savannahs you will need to look for F4 generations and so on. Savannah males are generally not fertile until at least the fourth generation, but more often F5/6s are chosen as the chances of being fertile are higher. Additionally, you want to find a male with the right color, coat pattern, and other standard characteristics you desire.
Like your female, your male should have their own enclosure that’s (ideally) removed from your main house. Some breeders build a separate cat house all together for their stud to prevent damage from spraying (urine marking). An intact male even without the presence of other males will continue to spray in order to attract a female. Even separated, your Savannahs will be aware of one another.
Introductions between male and female should take place before your female goes into heat to ensure they are a good match. Much like when you bring a new pet into the house it’s important to conduct a slow introduction period to promote a healthy relationship, improving chances of successful mating.
Initial meetings should take place on neutral ground where neither cat has been in order to prevent them becoming territorial. You can have a small separate enclosure for these meetings or conduct them in your house. Having a barrier such as a door or fence will help with them have a slow introduction based on smell rather than a physical interaction.
If these meetings go well, you can start to allow the two to interact under supervision. Hopefully introductions are successful and will pave the way for a mating session in the future. Unfortunately, you should also be prepared for one or both of your cats to reject the other, resulting in an unsuccessful mating pair.
This may be more common when breeding a serval male to a female domestic or female Savannah. It’s also important to note there has never been a successful mating between a female serval and a domestic or Savannah male. Males are generally less picky which is why they are chosen for the breeding of F1s.
If all goes well in the initial introductions you can prepare to add your male to the female’s enclosure when she goes into heat. Mating sessions should always be monitored as felines can be rather rough with one another. Close monitoring is necessary to prevent any injuries to the cats.
In the best-case scenarios, a few sessions of mating in a 24-hour period will result in a successful pregnancy. However, in some cases you may have to continue mating sessions until your female has gone out of heat. Hopefully, once she has gone out of heat you will begin to see the results of a successful pregnancy. If not, you will have to start again at the beginning of the next cycle.
After about 65-75 days you will be the proud breeder of your first successful batch of Savannah kittens. However, you should be prepared for complications in earlier generations such as stillborn and premature kittens. In order to minimize the chances of either of these happening, ensure you provide your Savannah with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Breeding Savannahs is about the preservation and health of the breed and not for financial gain. While weighing your options when becoming a breeder, it’s very important that you talk to the Savannah cat community and learn from others’ experiences. Visit the TICA website for more information on their registered breeders, and to find out more about Savannah cat breeding in general.