As a hybrid breed Savannah may leave those unfamiliar with them with some puzzling questions. One key question many owners ask is what the habitat of a Savannah cat looks like, given they have quite a wild side from their serval ancestors.
A Savannah cat’s habitat is whatever you make of it as long as certain criteria are filled. Your design should include structures and toys with your Savannah’s need to jump, climb, stalk, and pounce in mind. It is essential they can express their natural behavior.
Creating the perfect habitat for your Savannah can be a fun and fulfilling project. Below, we’ll go through some tips and ideas on how to create a stimulating and safe habitat that will benefit the overall mental and physical health of your Savannah cat.
A Savannah Cat’s Habitat Is What You Make It
While your Savannah still has natural instinctive needs that must be met, you are still the mastermind behind creating your cat’s habitat. You may choose to go the simple route providing only the essentials, or you can go all out creating a zoo-worthy enclosure. While most would love the latter, it’s not always possible, but don’t worry as even on a tight budget there are many possibilities.
Before diving in it’s important to do a little research on Savannah behavior and their basic needs. While they do share a lot in common with their domestic relatives, they do still require a bit more commitment because of their wild roots. They tend to be much more active, jump higher, be much larger, and have elevated hunting instincts when compared to domesticated cats.
Leaving Your Savannah Alone
When Savannahs are left alone for long periods of time without any stimulation, they can get very creative. For you this could be problematic,as Savannahs are very smart and can get into cabinets, jump onto counters, high shelves, etc. This can result in broken valuables, injuries, or them accidentally consuming something toxic. To avoid this, provide plenty of stimulation to prevent boredom.
To prevent your Savannah from getting into off-limits areas or climbing the curtains, try providing lots of access to high spaces just for them. Cats of all species have the natural urge to jump and climb, allowing them to have a bird’s eye view of their surroundings. Having the ability to survey their surroundings allows cats to feel safer and more relaxed.
Heights are also a part of a cat’s natural hunting practice, allowing them to spot prey and plan the perfect moment to drop down and pounce. While your Savannah may not be hunting prey in the traditional sense, they may stalk their fellow Savannah housemate or that favorite mouse toy. You can even use a laser pointer or wand toy while they are on their perch to encourage play.
Other key installations can include lounging areas made just for your kitty. Cat hammocks are a great option and can even be attached to a large glass window or door with suction cups, letting your Savannah enjoy a nice sunbath. While they are high energy cats, Savannahs still sleep for over 10 hours a day and it’s helpful to provide them with plenty of napping locations.
Depending on your resources you could also consider giving your cat access to a small swimming pool or pond. Savannahs absolutely love the water and are excellent swimmers, and so providing them with water features could provide lots of opportunity for fun exercise.
Plenty Of Toys
Another great way to prevent boredom is to provide your Savannah with lots of different cat toys. Wand toys with feathers and small mice attached to them can provide lots of play and bonding time with your cat. However, you also want to provide toys your cat can entertain themselves with when you can’t.
Remember to provide larger sized toys that don’t have any small parts your Savannah could choke on. These can be as simple as a tennis ball or as advanced as an electronic toy that moves on its own. Electronic toys such as a rechargeable flopping fish can simulate actual prey, providing lots of healthy stimulation for your Savannah.
Should You Let Your Savannah Cat Go Outdoors?
Savannah cats enjoy both the indoors and outdoors and should have the opportunity to be exposed to both. This could mean having your Savannah’s main source of enrichment in your home but also taking them for walks outside. Or it could mean you have both indoor and outdoor habitats that your Savannah has access to.
Neither indoor nor outdoor habitats are necessarily better than the other, but rather it is more about satisfying your Savannah’s natural behavior. In many cases having an outdoor enclosure is just not feasible depending on where you live and what kind of yard you may or may not have access to.
Your home should be designed with your furry friend in mind, providing them with their own spaces as well as shared spaces. Overall your Savannah will be well adjusted to being kept indoors despite its wild blood lines.
A Bit Of Both
While being indoors is perfectly healthy for your Savannah, it’s still a good idea to mix in some outdoor exposure too. Being outside provides your Savannah with lots of fresh air, new smells and textures, the occasional butterfly to chase, or low climbing terrain.
The most common way people take their Savannah outdoors is to train them to walk on a leash and harness. Savannahs are remarkably intelligent, and the majority can be trained to go on walks quite easily. This option is available to anyone regardless of if they have a yard or not. Taking your Savannah to the local park or just walking down the street can provide valuable enrichment.
However, if you do have access to a yard or outdoor space such as a small patio, it can be very beneficial to your Savannah to have access to this. Even a small patio (or “catio”) can be enclosed to prevent your cat from escaping but also able to enjoy all the sights, smells, and sounds of the outdoors, all while you enjoy each other’s company.
Building a “catio” enclosure can provide hours of quality outdoor time for your Savannah. These enclosures can be standalone or attached to your home for easy access. Outdoor enclosures can have lots of perches, branches, small ponds, large stones to lounge on, and small houses for shelter.
Things You Should Provide For Your Savannah Cat
No matter what habitat you choose for your Savannah you will still need to provide for their basic needs. When thinking about how to provide your Savannah with the best possible care keep in mind the Five Freedoms, a known standard for the humane treatment of animals within our care. The Five Freedoms (according to the AHS) are:
- Freedom from hunger or thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury, or disease
- Freedom to express normal behavior
- Freedom from fear and distress
When considering what to provide for your Savannah within their habitat, you want to consider freedoms 2, 4 and 5. These are the most relevant, as you should always be providing them with enough food and water anyway, and keeping them free of pain at all times.
Providing lots of cat trees, perches, or hammocks can provide lots of high spaces,satisfying your cat’s natural need to climb. This is an example of expressing normal behavior which in turn also reduces stress. Be sure to add multiple structures around the house in different styles to help keep your cat entertained and stimulated.
Stimulation Is Key
Providing your Savannah with puzzle toys or feeders can satisfy the first freedom while also providing enrichment which stimulates your Savannah mentally. These feeders make your Savannah have to work for their treats or food a little more, just like they would in the wild. Giving out a raw chicken leg can also satisfy their natural behavior versus gobbling up ground meat or kibble.
Be sure to not confine your Savannah to small spaces, but instead allow them to have access to several spaces or take them for daily walks. Being confined can actually cause stress or even lead to depression.
While you want to provide plenty of things to encourage natural behavior, you also want to think about “cat proofing” your home to prevent any possible injuries or accidents. Make sure you keep anything toxic to your Savannah locked away, sometimes even using child safety locks if your cat can open cabinets.
You never want your cat to be able to escape and face the possibility of getting lost or injured. Be sure to install heavy screens for when windows are open, and have a secondary screen door to prevent your cat from dashing out the door when someone leaves or comes home. Check your outdoor enclosures frequently for any signs of damage or holes that could provide an easy escape route.
Half the fun of owning a Savannah is being able to spend time creating new and fun ways to keep them occupied and happy. Providing a customized habitat with plenty of climbing space, areas to hide, and lots of fun toys will ensure your Savannah is happy and healthy.