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What Is A Snow Savannah Cat?

Savannah cats can come in all different types of patterns and colors, some of which are considered to be standard while others are not. While there are the standard colors like brown and black, there are also some different non-standard colors, including the snow Savannah cat.

A snow Savannah cat is a rare color variation and is not accepted by TICA as a show Savannah. However, snows are extremely popular among pet owners. Their coats are composed of layers of cream or beige and pale brown. These Savannahs are also known for their captivating blue or aqua eyes. 

Snow Savannahs can have various patterns that are the result of selective breeding for specific genes. Below, we’ll discuss in more detail what a snow Savannah looks like, and we’ll touch on the ways breeders can arrive at these beautiful versions of the already beautiful Savannah cat.

What Is A Snow Savannah?

The snow Savannah color does not exist in the genetic make-up of their serval relatives and is the result of early development of the breed using domestic cats. Domestic cats containing the recessive snow gene used in breeding Savannahs passed these genes onto their offspring. This gene often lay dormant until another Savannah containing the gene was bred to a Savannah with the same gene.

Recessive forms of genes are a type that can only be passed on to offspring if both parents possess that form of the gene. The other form is a dominant gene, and this will always show through over a recessive gene. If both parents pass on the recessive form, that gene’s characteristics show. If one passes recessive and one passes dominant, the dominant form will always show.

How It All Works

For a snow Savannah to be born, both parents must carry the recessive snow gene. However, if one or both parents also possess a dominant gene and those are the genes they pass on, their offspring will not produce the snow color. The offspring can still carry the recessive gene if received from one of its parents and potentially pass it onto future generations.

Ideally, as a breeder, you want to end up with two snow Savannah parents that possess only the recessive gene ensuring that they will pass it onto their offspring. This kind of dedication can take several generations, but some breeders will spend the extra money to have their Savannahs DNA tested. Even through DNA testing it’s still rare to have a Savannah that possesses only the recessive genes.

The Wrong Way To Do It

Other not so reputable breeders may breed within the same family generation and gene pool just to reproduce the desired color and pattern they are looking to achieve. This type of breeding, however, is seen as unprofessional as well as dangerous for the Savannahs. Overbreeding, especially through incest, can cause severe genetic mutations and birth defects.

The good news is that any breeders that have these unsavory practices will have a very hard time getting recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA). If you find a breeder and they are unable to guarantee you that your Savannah is TICA registered or can’t provide the parents’ TICA papers, you should look elsewhere.

Snow vs Silver Savannahs

Snow Savannahs are often confused with silver Savannahs, but they are very different. Silver Savannahs possess a gene that suppresses color production in their base coat, giving them a white or silver appearance. On the other hand, snows have a base color of cream or beige, with layers of a pale tan color. This is the result of a gene that dilutes the “red” color gene.

Finally, snow Savannahs will also often have blue eyes, which is the result of another set of recessive genes specific to eye color. Sometimes the blue can also appear more aqua in color, but they are still linked to the same gene. This addition makes the snow Savannah even more sought-after and beautiful, despite not being a breed standard. 

What Patterns Can A Snow Savannah Cat Have?

While the snow Savannah’s colors are not considered standard by TICA, they can still possess the genes to produce standard patterns. Snows often have the traditional Savannah pattern of dark colored and often black spots that follow a distinctive path along the body. This is also accompanied by the four longer black stripes that come down from the head and over the shoulders.

Spotted Tabby

This standard pattern in Savannahs is also referred to as the spotted tabby pattern, and is reflective of their serval relatives. Essentially, patterns and colors that closely resemble their serval roots are what TICA are looking for in the breed standard. However, there are several other types of patterns that can turn up in Savannah cats, including snow Savannahs.

Classic Tabby

Another common pattern that can be found is called the classic tabby with thicker, more blotched patterns of dark brown or black. Sometimes this pattern has the appearance of swirling and can be quite beautiful and eye catching. Another similar pattern is the marbled pattern which looks very much like marble tiles and is fairly popular among Savannah owners.

Mackerel And Ticked

Other patterns that can be produced include mackerel and ticked patterns. Mackerel is very similar to that of tiger stripes and while not standard to the Savannah breed it does give them a very exotic and wild look. Ticked patterns feature classic tabby patterns at the points of the Savannah, meaning the legs, tail, and head. The body is typically covered in a spotted freckle pattern.

Many of these patterns are the result of different domestic cat breeds being used in early Savannah development. Some breeds used included Siamese, Bengals, Egyptian Maus, and Oriental Shorthairs. All of these were specially selected for their different patterns and colors that breeders wanted to represent in the Savannah.

More Genetics At Play

Just like the different colors of Savannahs, each pattern is determined by specific genes. For example, the desired tabby coat of the Savannah is made up of a combination of dominant and recessive gene traits. They will possess the dominant Agouti gene that, when paired with the recessive version of the tabby gene, produces the spotted tabby pattern.

Basically, snow Savannahs can be bred to possess a wide range of pattern types if the breeder is experienced and has a sound understanding of cat genetics. This is a topic that can be quite complex and could be expanded on, but for our purposes the basics will suffice in explaining what patterns snow Savannahs can produce.

Final Thoughts

A snow Savannah is a non-standard color Savannah cat. While snow Savannahs are popular among owners, they are not recognized by TICA as a show Savannah. With coats made of cream or beige and pale brown, and often with blue eyes, these are some of the most sought-after Savannah cats.