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How to Train a Savannah Cat

Because they have both wild serval and domesticated cat parents or ancestors, Savannah cats are incredibly unique. In some ways, they are just like regular house cats. In other areas, they have an almost dog-like personality, leading owners to wonder how to train their Savannah cat.

Savannah cats can be trained to do a variety of different things, just as a dog would be. For example, Savannahs can be trained to walk on a leash in a harness, something they love to do. If you have the time and patience, you can also toilet train your Savannah.

Savannahs are naturally smart cats, which makes them slightly easier to train than other breeds. Below, we’ll go into more detail about everything you need to know about how to train a Savannah cat.

Before You Begin Training Your Savannah Cat

Before you begin training your Savannah cat, there are a few things worth noting. First of all, it’s always easier to train kittens, rather than adult cats. This isn’t to say that adult cats can’t learn new things — they can! But if you’re ever going to train your Savannah, try to start training them when they’re younger, as it’s just always a bit easier.

Savannah cats are extremely smart cats. They can be trained to do a variety of things, and thanks to their dog-like personalities, they can also be trained to do fun things like play fetch! Regardless of what you’re training your Savannah cat to do, however, it’s always vital to remember that they are stillcats. They’re not dogs, however much they may act like it.

And, as all cat owners know, cats are fickle creatures. Savannahs may have some wild serval in them, but they can still be just like regular house cats at times. With this said, always remember that you’re trying to train a cat. Sometimes, it may feel like it’s impossible to train them to do anything! But with time and a whole lot of patience, you’ll eventually successfully train your Savannah!

Have Patience

Above all else, you need patience when you begin to train your Savannah cat. Many people believe that cats don’t respond to anything their owner says or does, but this isn’t true! Just as if you would train a dog, only use positive reinforcement when you train your Savannah.

Some days, your training may not go very well. This is normal. But instead of lashing out verbally against your Savannah, only give them positive reinforcement. If it’s a bad training day, you can’t really do anything about it other than try again tomorrow.

Even the smartest cat won’t learn something immediately or overnight. So, if you’re looking to train your Savannah, keep in mind that this may take weeks or even months until your Savannah is fully trained to do whatever it is you’ve trained them to do!

Use Positive Reinforcement And Treats

As we’ve mentioned above, positive reinforcement is the way to go when training your Savannah cat. This means verbally praising your cat when they do something that you want them to do during their training session. Positivity during training has shown to really help train both dogs and cats alike!

Giving your Savannah treats every time they do something good during their training is also a great way to help them learn. This will help your Savannah associate only positive factors with their actions when they do whatever it is you’re training them to do. These positive emotions your Savannah will feel are needed during training.

Use A Clicker

Some owners prefer using a clicker when training their pets, and Savannahs can respond well when a clicker is used during training. To begin, it’s important that you associate the clicking noise with a treat, toy, or something valuable that your Savannah wants before you start training them.

Then, when the clicker comes out when training begins, your Savannah knows that the noise is associated with them getting something they want! It also helps to give your Savannah something they only get when you use the clicker. This means keeping their favorite treats or special toy away and only giving it to them when you use the clicker.

Eventually, your Savannah will respond to the clicking noise and understand what it means. It might take a few clicks to get them to respond but stick with it! Remember, all training methods take a lot of patience.

Keep A Training Schedule

Cats are creatures of habit. They like schedules and they hate change. So, if you’re going to train your Savannah, it’s essential that you keep a constant training schedule every day for however long you’re training your cat. If you can, try to train your Savannah around the same time every day as well.

It’s also quite beneficial to keep these training sessions short. Cats may not have as short of an attention span as some dogs do, but that doesn’t mean a highly energetic Savannah is going to sit still for long. Once your Savannah’s interest in their training is gone, it’s hard to win their attention back. So, try to keep your training sessions to a few minutes a day.

Harness Training Your Savannah Cat

Savannah cats can be trained to wear a harness, but they probably won’t like it at first. Savannahs naturally don’t like to be restrained, and this can mean they hate wearing collars, clothes, and harnesses. However, you can train your Savannah to like wearing their harness eventually!

First, start by slowly introducing your Savannah to the harness. Don’t even try to put the harness on your cat in the beginning. Instead, let them sniff the harness and reward them with a treat afterwards. Each time they interact positively with the harness, give them positive reinforcement or a treat.

Within a few days, the harness will be nothing new to them. Then, you can slowly start trying to put it on your cat. Don’t be surprised if your cat acts like they can’t move when they have the harness on, as this is normal. Again, Savannahs don’t like being restrained, so they may be a little dramatic when the harness is first put on them.

How To Get Your Savannah Used To A Harness

Once you’ve begun to put the harness on your Savannah cat, let them wear it for a short amount of time each day. Start with maybe thirty seconds the first day. The second, up it to a minute. On the third day, let them wear it for 90 seconds to two minutes. Gradually increase the time they wear their harness each day and always give them a treat when they wear it.

Sometimes, it might help to play around with your Savannah cat while they wear their harness, especially if they continue to act as if they can’t move while wearing it. Savannahs love to play, so bring out their favorite toys and try to get them to interact with them. Eventually, they’ll forget they’re wearing their harness and play and move around like normal.

It also might be helpful to associate the harness with going outside (on a leash). While it’s always important to leash train your Savannah slowly, some owners have found that showing your cat that wearing the harness means going outside has great positive effects on their cat. So, if your cat is particularly hateful of their harness, try this!

Always Use A Harness

You should alwaysput your Savannah cat in a harness when taking them outside on leashed walks. So, if you want to take your Savannah outside, the harness training detailed above is essential. Savannah cats, while they may have many dog-like personality traits, still aren’tdogs. They don’t do well when just attaching a leash to their collar.

Just like all cats, Savannahs can quickly move around in different ways when they are outside, especially if they are scared or trying to get to something they want. This could make their neck and body move at odd angles, and a leash attached straight to their collar could end up harming them, or coming off completely, letting them run away.

To keep your Savannah 100% safe while outside, they needto wear a harness, no matter what. You never know how your Savannah cat will act, so you always want to keep them safe from potentially harming themselves. Therefore, a harness is always the way to go.

Leash Training Your Savannah Cat

Once you have your Savannah cat used to wearing their harness, it’s time to leash train them. Obviously, when you take your Savannah out for a walk, it’ll help to have them understand how to walk on a leash. Savannahs are incredibly curious pets. They’re going to want to walk around and see the world, rather than just sit in place outside like some other cat breeds do.

So, start by introducing the leash to your Savannah cat, just like you did with the harness. Allow them to sniff it and get used to it, rewarding each positive action with verbal praise, petting, or a treat. Then, after a few days have passed and your cat is used to the leash, it’s time to put them in their harness and attach the leash to it.

To begin with, your Savannah probably won’t understand what’s going on. Start with training a few minutes a day by walking around your house and getting your Savannah used to walking while wearing a leash. Gently get them used to slight directional pulling to allow them to understand where you want them to walk. Eventually, they’ll get used to it.

Trial Walks Outside

You may find that it’s harder to train your Savannah cat to get used to the leash than you thought it would be, but this is normal. Just as we mentioned above with harness training, sometimes cats need a little push to understand why owners want them to wear a harness and walk while attached to a leash.

Therefore, if your Savannah isn’t responding to anything, it might help them to associate their harness and leash with going outside. If you live in a house and have a backyard, safely get your Savannah accustomed to walking outside in your yard with you while attached to their harness and leash. These trial walks are a great way to help speed your cat’s training along.

If you don’t have a backyard, try taking your cat to a safe place outside where you know there won’t be any other animals to interrupt your training. This might be easier said than done, so it might be more beneficial to really stick with training your Savannah indoors until you find a safe space to take them out for walks.

Taking Your Savannah On Walks

Leashed walks (with a harness) are great ways to allow your Savannah to see the world safely by your side. Most Savannahs love to go on walks and will want to do this as often as possible. So, training your cat to wear a harness and walk on a leash is a great benefit to their life!

When it comes to leashed walks, Savannahs learn faster the more you do it. So, while your first walk outside with your Savannah cat may be shaky, don’t give up. The more your Savannah walks outside with you, the more they’ll understand what they’re supposed to do — and what they’re not supposed to do.

Before you know it, you’ll be walking with your Savannah cat daily as if they were a dog, with absolutely no issues whatsoever!

Toilet Training Your Savannah Cat

Recently, toilet training has become quite popular for cat owners, both those who own Savannahs and those who have regular house cat breeds. Nobody really likes cleaning litter boxes, so who wouldn’t want to train their cat to use the toilet?

Well, cats themselves may have a say! While they are fickle creatures, some cats can easily be trained to use a toilet and have no problem saying goodbye to their litter boxes. Other cats will refuse completely and only want to use their litter boxes. Really, it just depends on your cat and what their personality is like.

Savannah cats are relatively easy to train when compared to other cat breeds, and there are many Savannah owners who have been successful when training their cats. However, there are a few things to note when attempting to toilet train your Savannahs.

Toilet Training Notes

While training kittens is often easier than training adult Savannahs, you don’t want to take that approach with toilet training. Savannahs love water, and there have been instances of Savannah kittens getting into toilets and unfortunately drowning themselves. Therefore, training your Savannah to use a toilet should happen once they’re older than six months and big enough to not drown.

Secondly, it’s also essential to realize the upsides of cats using litter boxes. Yes, it’s not fun to have to clean litter boxes every day. However, giving your Savannah the option to dig and cover their waste is actually very beneficial to a cat’s natural instinct and mental health. Taking these options away could negatively affect their well-being and actually stress them out.

Toilet training your cat also limits what you, as their owner, can do to keep an eye on their health. Daily litter box cleaning helps you understand what your cat is or isn’t doing when it comes to their digestive system. When you toilet train them, you don’t really have the ability to keep an eye on your cat’s health in this way.

How To Toilet Train Your Cat

If you want to train your Savannah cat to use the toilet, rather than their litter box, start by slowly moving their litter boxes to the bathroom and as close to the toilet as possible. If the boxes started far away from the bathroom, this might take a bit of time, as you should never move a cat’s litter box to a completely separate room.

Once the litter boxes are right next to the toilet, open the toilet lid and leave the seat down, allowing them to climb up onto the seat when they want to. Slowly move the litter pan on top of the toilet. There are many different cat toilet training kits that you can buy online that make this much easier for you and your cat, as well as more comfortable for your cat to squat on the toilet.

Eventually, your Savannah will grow used to using the toilet instead of their litter box! However, toilet training your Savannah will probably take weeks. A lot of patience goes a long way! 

Helpful Training Resources For Savannah Cats

Training any animal is hard, especially if that animal has both wild serval and domesticated cat genes! While it might feel like you’re all alone in this, there are so many other Savannah owners who are right there struggling to train their own cat too. Whenever you need help, try talking to your breeder or other Savannah owners for tips and tricks.

If you personally don’t know any other Savannah owners, joining groups on social media platforms specifically dedicated to owners of Savannah cats is a great place to start. There are also many Savannah cat forums and message boards online where owners can chat and learn from each other, which is a great way to learn more about training your Savannah cat.

Final Thoughts

Because of their hybrid status and incredibly smart nature, Savannah cats are actually relatively easy to train. Whether you want to train them to play fetch, use the toilet, or go on a leashed walk with you, your Savannah can learn it all. Just remember to always be patient and realize that training your Savannah cat will take some time!