How intimidating it must be for a first time savannah buyer trying to find out about kittens for sale, evaluate prices, sizes and appearances of these intriguing savannah cats.
They all look so different ! Why is that ? Why are some so expensive ?
Well.. it is all about the F's
F stands for Filial generation.
When breeding hybrid animals (or plants) the F notation designates how far removed a particular specimen is from the original crossing or hybridization. In the case of Savannah cats we are referring to the crossing of African Servals with Domestic cats.
This produces our lovely Savannah cats which are also called hybrid cats because they result from the breeding of two different species of cats (ie Lion cross Tiger).. not just two different breeds of cats! (ie Siamese cross Burmese)
The first time you do a cross of the different species it is called an F1 Generation. This means that the resulting kittens are ONE generation removed from the serval. (ie the serval is the dad) These F1 kittens would be 50% serval and 50% domestic cat
If you take that F1 kitten and then breed it to a domestic cat (of any breed) you are now going to have F2 kittens. Which means that the kittens are TWO generations removed from the serval (ie the serval is a grandparent) These F2 kittens would be 25% serval and 75% Domestic cat.
So then you can take that F2 kitten and breed it to a domestic and get F3 kittens (ie with a serval great granddad) and these kittens will be 12.5% Serval and 87.5% Domestic cat. Every generation you move away from the Serval the kittens have less and less serval blood in them.
... and on it goes.... I think you get the idea??
This is a very simple explanation but it will give you an idea why the price range of Savannahs will vary so much.. and why the appearance and size of Savannah cats will also vary.
A Savannah cat with 50% Serval background (F1) is going to be larger and more exotic looking then her Savannah grandchildren that might only have 12.5% Serval in them (F3)..... usually.
Generally speaking (and there are lots of exceptions !!) but generally.. the higher percentage of Serval in the kitten.. the more Serval looking it will be.
Most breeders (myself included) refer to the F1,F2 and even F3 kittens as "higher" generation Savannahs
meaning that they have a "higher" percentage of serval blood.
This is a little confusing at first because they have a "lower" F number yet we call them "higher" ??
Don't give up. It is all about the F's and it will make more sense the more you read about them and get familiar with the jargon.
BUT>>>>>>>>>> Let's complicate things a bit.
What happens if you breed an F1 savannah kitten to another savannah kitten ... say an f5 ?? instead of just breeding it to a regular Domestic cat ?
The F1 is 50% serval and is now being bred to an F5 cat with approx. 3% Serval, instead of a regular domestic cat that is 0% Serval
The kittens will still be F2 kittens, because they still have a Serval Grandparent.. but now the percentage of serval in these F2 kittens will be higher then the standard 25% Serval blood for F2 kittens.
They will now be 26.5% Serval F2 kittens. Confused? Well the kittens get half their genetics from each parent. (again this is very general and simplified) So the mom gives half her serval traits (approx 25%) and the dad gives half his serval traits (approx 1.5%)
So added together the kittens will have 26.5% serval traits. But this is in theory only. Studying genetic inheritance is not that simple and is more about probability. You can see some kittens that inherit more of the mom's serval traits then other kittens who have more traits from her domestic side.
But don't get hung up on these little things.
It is the basic understanding that you are after so that you know where to start, and what to ask, when looking for a kitten !
Now these F2 kittens that are higher than the 'usual' 25% are often referred to as "high percentage" kittens. High Percentage kittens can be seen in any generation of Savannahs,.. not just F2 kittens.
Any kitten, at any generation can be a higher percentage then the normal, due to selective breeding.
So the F's are not the only things you need to look at when looking for a kitten. You also need to consider that a kitten with a "low" F, but with a higher then normal percentage of Serval blood, might be quite a striking kitten that resembles a kitten of a higher generation due to the influence of the 'extra' serval blood in her pedigree.
The A,B,C,s ... So now that you understand the F's lets complicate it by learning about the ABC's of breeding hybrid cats.
A means that a savannah has been bred to another breed of cat, ie serval, egyptian mau, or domestic. (all F1 kittens are A kittens because of the Serval parent)
Illustrations on this page are courtesy of our Serval "Prince"