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Guide to Savannah Cat Generations
What Do All the Numbers and Letters Mean?
F: Filial generation
This refers to how many generations removed a cat is from its African Serval ancestry. An F1 Savannah Cat is a first generation offspring and has a Serval parent (usually a Serval father and a domestic mom). An F2 is a second generation offspring with a Serval grandparent, an F3 is a third generation offspring with a Serval great grandparent, and so on.
Savannah generation filial numbers also have a letter showing the generations of Savannah to Savannah breeding(s)...
A: one parent is a Savannah, the other parent is an outcross (for example, the Serval).
B: both parents are Savannahs; at least one parent is an A, and at least one grandparent on either side is an outcross.
C: both parents are B or better; at least one parent is a B, and at least one grandparent is an A.
SBT: Stud Book Tradition. The kitten has Savannah parents for at least three generations, and is considered a pure-bred Savannah Cat.
When breeding, the next generation of kittens will always follow the earlier generation parent. The letter designator will also follow the earliest letter. So, an A registered cat bred to a B registered cat will produce B registered kittens. Or an F1 bred to an F5 will produce F2 kittens. Thus, an F1A queen bred to F5B stud will produce F2B kittens. As another example, an F7C queen bred to the same F5B stud will produce F6C kittens. These letters may mean a lot to us breeders, but generally is of little importance when the kitten/cat is going to a pet home. The felial (F) numbers can, however, make a difference in the overall traits and personality of their kittens.
Savannahs are in the Championship class with TICA (The International Cat Association) starting Spring 2012, and with the CCA-AFC (Canadian Cat Association) starting Fall 2012, so only SBT level cats may be entered in shows. SBT starts at the F4 generation and usually ends at F8.
What Generation or Kitten is Right for You?
Generally speaking, all Savannahs are known to be high energy, intelligent, and very outgoing, social cats. They are affectionate and want to be doing whatever activity their person or family is doing. They are lap cats only on their own terms, but will be near their chosen person all day long. They are not a cat that sleeps on ones' couch all day!
F2 B and F6 SBT Savannah Kittens
Savannahs of all generations are meant to be tall and lean cats with beautiful spotted markings and overall exotic-looking features. While earlier generation (F1-F3) Savannah Cats are more likely to become larger then average cats, this is not always the case and ALL generations (F1-F8) can grow to be small, average, or larger cats - even within the same litter! They can be as little as 10lbs to as great as 25+lbs. Males are sometimes heavier than females, but even this cannot be guaranteed when choosing a young kitten. Savannahs are meant to be taller than heavier, thus even a lighter-weighing Savannah will look larger due to it’s tall ears, long body, neck and legs, and general overall stature.
When looking into what Savannah Kitten to choose, one will want to consider the disposition or temperament that would fit their household and lifestyle, the overall “look” they would like to have, and the price they are willing to spend. Much of a kitten's traits can often be inherited by their parents... So seeing what they look like, along with past kittens, can be incredibly helpful when choosing a kitten. Certain pairings of Queens and Studs will produce particular traits (both physical and in temperament), which can be completely different from other pairings, even within the same generation of Savannah!
Early Generation Savannah Cats
The closer a Savannah Cat is to their African Serval ancestry the more energetic the cat will often be. The bond an F1 and F2 (and sometimes F3) create with their people is incredibly strong - which can be both very rewarding and also challenging. They often do not take well to change, and thus vet visits, guests, and vacations are not always a pleasant time for them. The sounds and overall movements an early generation Savannah makes are unique to any other breed out there. They can chirp like a bird, make various meows like a cat, and their hiss is as fearsome as a snakes'! Overall, they can make a wonderful pet for those that are prepared and committed to them. Earlier generation Savannahs will also be priced higher due to the challenges breeders face with trying to produce them (as explained above).
Later Generation Savannah Cats
Savannahs at mid (F4 and F5) and later generations (F6, F7, and F8) are not only easier to fit into the average lifestyle, but are also more reasonably priced due to them being easier for breeders to produce. We often refer to these generations as being 'dog-like' in temperament. The average Savannah at these generations are very outgoing, and many of them enjoy meeting various people, or getting involved in their families' events. They take to change easier, and in fact, some look at it as an adventure! Later generation Savannahs are more easily trained as well, and many enjoy going out on walks with a harness.
Savannah Cat breeders are working hard to keep the unique looks and traits of the African Serval in the 'later generation' or further removed cats. This goal is to allow more families to be able to enjoy an exotic-looking cat at a generation more suitable to them, while also being a more average-cat-breed price.
Please note that while many Savannah Cats do adhere to these general descriptions, Savannah Kittens are individuals, and many can vary in personality and various physical traits. Just like with people, Savannah Kittens will inherit a mix of traits from both their mother (AKA Queen) and father (AKA Stud), and certain features may have even been passed down from a grandmother/grandfather, or even a great grandmother/grandfather!
The lifestyle a Savannah Kitten continues in their new home will also play a huge roll in the development of their personality. For example, kittens introduced to various people growing up will be more welcoming of guests later on. Just like with a dog, any habit or trait a person would like their kitten to have, or not have, should be trained and positively reinforced as the kitten is growing up.
It is important for a person to form a good relationship with their chosen Savannah Cat breeder and thoroughly discuss what their family is hoping for in their future Savannah Kitten. An ethical breeder will try their best to help guide the potential new family pick the most suitable kitten, and also be honest about the kitten's traits as they grow. The breeder should also be willing to be available for the entirety of their kittens' lives to help with any questions that may arise weeks, months, or even years down the line.