As a Savannah cat owner, or a prospective one, you will know just how much energy these cats can have. It can make you wonder whether or not you should let your furry friend expend that energy outdoors, or if you need to keep Savannah cats indoors.
Savannah cats, unlike other domestic cats, should be kept indoors at all times unless you can supervise them and ensure their safety outside. Otherwise, they risk getting lost, harming other animals, or being harmed themselves.
While there may be benefits to letting your Savannah cat out to enjoy some fresh air, they should not be given unrestricted outdoor access since they can scale or jump most garden fences and run away. Below, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of letting Savannah cats go outdoors.
Differences Between Savannahs And Other Cats
Savannah cats are different from other domestic cats for several reasons. They are a relatively new hybrid breed, created in the 1980s by crossing a Siamese with a Serval (a type of African wild cat).
This makes their wild instincts stronger than those of normal domestic cats, making them a potential danger to other animals and themselves. Their hunting instincts can drive them to pursue prey far beyond their known territory, putting them at risk of getting lost and not finding their way home.
Savannahs are also larger than other cats, taking their size from their Serval ancestors. Their extra-long legs allow them to run faster and jump higher than a regular domestic cat — they can scale an eight-foot fence in the blink of an eye, which makes containing them difficult. Even under supervision, they can easily outrun you and escape.
Savannah cats face the same outdoor dangers as other cats — including traffic, predators, people, and extreme temperatures. However, their large size and exotic appearance put them at even greater risk. Some people may mistake them for a wild animal and try to kill them, while others may recognize their value and steal them.
But, while it’s best to keep your Savannah cat safe inside, it’s also essential to create a stimulating environment for them within your home. With their boundless energy, large ears, long legs, and acute hunting instincts, Savannahs need to be challenged to avoid getting bored.
Their behavior tends to become destructive if left alone for long periods of time, so it’s best for them to have another cat or someone at home during the day. Supply your Savannah with a range of toys that appeal to its predator instinct. Cats are social animals, and your Savannah will want to play with you — aim for at least 15 minutes of interactive playtime twice per day.
Keeping Them Occupied
Make sure your cat has other toys to play with when you’re busy and enrich its environment with cat trees and perches that allow it to display its instinctive behaviors, such as hunting and climbing.
Letting Savannah Cats Go Outside
Being outdoors can offer benefits for your Savannah cat, as long as you ensure they can’t escape. Servals in the wild have a territory size ranging from 11-20 square kilometers (four to eight square miles), so the more space you can provide for your Savannah, the better. An enclosed garden can offer an exciting environment for your Savannah to run, jump, and play.
Before taking your Savannah cat outside, it’s essential to consider the potential hazards and dangers they may face. The first thing to consider is keeping your Savannah cat contained. A fence is not enough to stop a Savannah cat, as they can jump eight feet high from a seated position or climb over it in a matter of seconds.
Agile And Fast
If your cat has been an indoor cat since it was a kitten, it will most likely run away as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Savannahs can run at up to 35 miles per hour, so your chances of catching them are slim.
If your Savannah escapes, it will almost certainly get lost. Indoor cats are not used to the sounds, sights, and smells of the outside world, and if it gets startled, or follows the scent of prey, it may not be able to find its way home.
Roads and traffic pose a potentially lethal threat to any cat, but especially to indoor cats who are not used to cars. Nighttime is particularly dangerous, so make sure you keep your Savannah inside at night.
Savannah cats also stand out from regular cats thanks to their long legs, large ears, and stunning spotted coats. Unfortunately, their beauty makes them a target. Some people may mistake them for a wild animal and shoot or poison them, while others may steal them. Depending on where you live, predators such as coyotes, wolves, or bobcats may also be a threat to your Savannah cat.
How To Let Your Savannah Cat Out Safely
If you do choose to let your Savannah cat out, there are some tips you can follow to ensure it’s a safe, fun, and enriching experience for them. Firstly, spaying or neutering your cat will subdue its reproductive instincts, making it calmer and less likely to roam if it does manage to escape.
Savannahs, like all cats, must have up-to-date vaccinations before going outside as well. This prevents them from picking up viruses and diseases from wild or unvaccinated animals. All outdoor cats must be regularly treated for fleas, ticks, and other parasites before going outside, as they can spread diseases and cause a lot of discomfort for your Savannah.
Parasite treatments can be administered regularly in the form of drops, a pill, or a collar. Speak to your veterinarian to find the best option for your cat. Any cat should also be microchipped before going outside, and Savannahs are no exception. Microchipping your Savannah cat makes it much easier to find if it ever runs away.
Going For Walks
If you want your Savannah to learn to walk with a harness and leash, it’s essential to start harness training when it’s still a kitten. Although adults can be trained to wear a harness, they are much more likely to object since it restricts their natural movements. If your Savannah resists the harness, it’s best not to force it since it will cause your cat stress.
Make sure you choose a harness that is comfortable and that your Savannah cat can’t slip out of it. Start by putting it on them at home for a few minutes at a time — this will help them get used to moving while wearing the harness.
Once they’re comfortable with the harness, start attaching the leash (it should be strong and sturdy) and taking short walks around your home. Let your cat lead and observe its behavior closely. Stop and remove the leash if your cat shows any sign of distress.
Let Them Lead The Way
When they’re ready to walk with you outside, choose a quiet place where your Savannah will feel safe and can explore without being disturbed. Ideally, look for somewhere with no dogs and few people. Allow your Savannah to explore at its own pace and never pull or force it in any direction — instead, let it lead the way.
If you have a large enough garden with a fence, you can create an enclosure by installing a mesh roof (at least eight feet high to provide enough space for both you and your cat). Another option is to buy a large catio (or cat patio), but this must be big enough for your Savannah not to feel closed in.
Plenty Of Space
Whichever option you choose, it’s essential to ensure that your Savannah’s outdoor enclosure has plenty of shade and places for climbing, sleeping, eating, and going to the toilet. Never leave your Savannah outside unsupervised, even when in the enclosure, and always bring them in at night.
How To Create A Stimulating Environment For Your Savannah At Home
Let Them Go Everywhere
If you decide to play it safe and keep your Savannah indoors at all times, there are several ways to create a fun and challenging environment to ensure they have the best possible quality of life. Most importantly, give your Savannah the full run of the house. This will give it a sense of freedom and help prevent it from becoming frustrated.
It is also recommended that you have several cat trees. A large cat needs a large cat tree, so get the biggest one possible for your Savannah. Even better — get more than one! Also, make sure your Savannah has a wide range of toys to play with and keep busy. They don’t have to be expensive — you could even make them yourself.
They Love To Play
Savannahs are social cats, and they love interactive play. Aim to play with your Savannah at least twice per day and avoid leaving them alone for long periods. If you’re out most of the time, your Savannah will be happier with another cat to keep them company.
Exploring the great outdoors can be an enriching experience for your Savannah, but it does involve its fair share of risks. If you do decide to let your Savannah cat go outdoors, supervise them at all times, both on the leash and in the enclosure, and keep them inside at night. Alternatively, create a fun and stimulating environment inside your home that caters to all their needs.