When bringing home a hybrid like a Savannah cat it is important to know what is safe and what is not. Savannahs can look like and act like a wild cat, which can present some unfortunate challenges. One particular challenge involves letting your Savannah cat go outside.
It is safe to let a Savannah outside as long as you are following a particular set of guidelines to keep them safe. This includes not leaving them unsupervised in an open yard, but using an enclosure instead. You can also take your Savannah for leashed walks for healthy outdoor trips.
Savannahs naturally want to get outside in the fresh air where they can run around and stimulate their senses. It is up to you to learn the proper ways to ensure your Savannah’s safety while outdoors. Below are some helpful tips to provide them with fun and safe outdoor play.
Should You Let Your Savannah Cat Go Outdoors?
Savannahs are a high-energy breed that are constantly on the move and need lots of different stimuli to keep them occupied. Allowing your Savannah access to the outdoors is a great way to help them release some of that extra energy. Getting outside also serves as enrichment for their brains, exposing them to different sights, smells, and textures.
Letting your Savannah outdoors does come with some responsibility in order to keep them safe. For example, you should never leave your Savannah out in the yard unattended. They are very smart and excellent jumpers, making them the perfect escape artist. Some Savannahs can jump over 6 feet, making it easy to climb over fences, trees, or even concrete walls.
If your Savannah is able to escape, it can be dangerous for them as well as other pets or people. As loyal as they are to you and your immediate housemates and pets, Savannahs can become scared and unpredictable when exposed to others. A scared cat of any kind may try and lash out at whoever comes across them, resulting in injuries to one or both parties.
If They Were To Escape
Savannahs are also natural predators and could potentially kill other wildlife or even someone’s small pet, such as a rabbit, if presented with the chance. If you live in a rural area there is the potential for livestock such as chickens to be attacked, which would be disastrous.
Many livestock owners will shoot whatever attacks their livestock and, in some states, if caught alive your Savannah could be confiscated. Additionally, you would be charged a fine for the loss of livestock. This is one of the many reasons to ensure your Savannah cannot escape their enclosure.
There have also been cases where Savannahs have escaped, and locals have mistaken them for wild animals. In some of these cases these cats have been shot and killed or seized by animal control. Always be prepared to show proof that you have the rights to own your Savannah and proof of its generation. In some states there are strict regulations on Savannah ownership.
However, with theproper steps, outdoor time can be very rewarding for your Savannah and can even promote a longer, healthier life. There are a few options depending on where you live to help get your Savannah outside more often. Not everyone is able to have a large enclosure in their garden, but there are options even for those with Savannah cats living in small apartments with no backyard at all.
Build A Cat Garden For Your Savannah Cat
If you have access to an outdoor area, even just a patio or balcony, it is possible to design some form of cat garden or “catio” for outdoor exposure. Some setups will cost more than others but there are loads of DIY projects out there using cheap but durable materials.
If you have a balcony or patio that has not been screened in, one option is to create a caged area. You can have the whole area enclosed using chicken wire or a similar material, depending on your budget and how you want things to look. This creates a barrier between your Savannah and the dangers of the surrounding neighborhood or cityscape.
This closed-in area can be designed just for your Savannah or to be an area you can both enjoy. The most important part is to have plenty of activities for your cat similar to what you would have inside your house. Create lots of high lounging spaces such as cat trees or shelves with some lower resting spots down below.
Some owners will even provide a small “kitty pool” or pond to satisfy their Savannah’s desire to play in water. You can also add toys like rubber ducks or balls that will float, enticing your Savannah to pounce and chase them in the water.
Smaller enclosures are ideal because they are often attached to your living quarters and can make for easy access.This way, your Savannah is able to come and go without supervision but still remain safely within their enclosure. They can enjoy a nice run around or just relax in their favorite sun spot.
If you have access to a yard, you can build a larger “catio” style enclosure made just for your Savannah. These enclosures usually have a wooden frame, chicken wire or fencing, and latching doors. These provide safe outdoor areas where your Savannah can play without the worry of them escaping.
Go All Out!
These enclosures can be very basic or elaborate habitats similar to what you may see in a zoo. You could provide several branches and perches for your Savannah to access as well as rocky outcrops, ponds, etc. The more stimulation your Savannah has access to the less bored they will be, allowing them to get plenty of exercise.
It is also important to remember to provide shelters or small overhangs within any enclosure so that your Savannah can seek out shade or shelter from the rain. Some will even build their enclosure right up against the house, allowing access back inside through a window or custom cat door.
Most enclosures can be supervision-free, but it’s important to note that you should never leave the house while your Savannah is in their enclosure. There are still risks to your Savannah, such as getting stolen if you do not have the proper security precautions in place. It is also possible that larger predators could dig under or break through the wire.
Keeping Things Secure
Heavier, more secure enclosures can allow you to leave your Savannah unattended, safely. Some have invested in heavy metal frames and linked fencing, and even gone as far as having cameras installed for their cat’s safety. Different enclosures come with different levels of risk and security requirements, leaving it up to you to take the proper precautions.
Whatever cat garden enclosure you decide on, your Savannah will love you for it and greatly benefit from going outdoors. Outdoor enclosures can offer great bonding opportunities between you and your Savannah as well. Outside play time can be a lot of fun and exciting for your Savannah.
Walk Your Savannah Cat
Another great way to get your Savannah outdoors, especially if you don’t have the ability to build an enclosure, is to take your cat for walks. Most Savannahs of all generations have the ability to learn how to walk on a harness and leash. This gives them the opportunity to still spend time outdoors and get good exercise, without the need for a purpose-built enclosure.
With a little patience your Savannah can be leash trained in as little as a couple of weeks, sometimes less. Most owners will start when their Savannah is just a kitten, making them a little easier to train, but it is also possible to train adult Savannahs. Using positive reinforcement with treats, strokes, and play will make your cat associate leash time with something rewarding.
Many Savannah owners love taking their cats for walks not just for the cat but also themselves. It’s a great opportunity for you and your Savannah to get some fresh air and exercise. With their high energy personality, getting outside on the leash gives them a way to burn off some of that energy.
Keeping Them Active
Even if you do have an enclosure, taking your Savannah for walks is still a great idea to keep them moving and exposing them to new stimuli. Sometimes, if left to their own devices, your Savannah may opt to just lounge around and sleep in their enclosure rather than play. Taking them for a walk helps break that habit of becoming bored and less active.
Walks can take place out in your yard where you can be less worried about other variables that could potentially be a threat, such as someone else’s dog. It also allows you to still give your Savannah some slack and leash length to explore. As with dogs, you can even take this opportunity to play fetch with your Savannah.
You can also take your Savannah for a walk down the sidewalk just like a dog, but you want to remain vigilant for any surrounding dangers. Keep your Savannah within a safe distance to prevent them from running into the street or up a tree you can’t access.
Local parks are also a great option for outdoor walks and even a great place to meet up with other Savannah cat owners near you. Sometimes owners like to arrange play groups to help socialize their Savannahs and give them something different to experience. While they may have fun playing with their human, having a playmate can sometimes be helpful too.
Savannahs love to be outside, and you can make it a safe and fun experience for them. No matter where you live there is always an option to expose your Savannah to the outdoors. Building even small “catio” enclosures or just taking them out on walks can offer lots of benefits to your Savannah, helping to keep them occupied and in good physical shape. Savannah cats don’t have to be kept indoors!