The Savannah Breed
Savannahs are a breed based on the hybridization of an African Serval and a domestic cat. The first crossing is the most difficult to produce since the two species are not always compatible, have different gestation periods and are often born premature. Many breeders invest in servals and domestics and attempt breeding them for years with no success. Every F-1 savannah born alive and healthy is a little miracle and as a result are rare and can be very expensive. These are the extreme end of pricing. Since all future generations depend on the subsequent breeding of the F-1 females these cats carry the highest price tags as breeders. Male F-1 savannahs are sterile so are priced as pets only. Female F-1 savannahs are frequently larger than the males at this generation which is also a draw for the high end pet market.
Appearance of Savannah Cats
Many pet buyers are more concerned with appearance and/or size than with the purebred status of the cats. The earlier generation cats usually have the most extreme appearance and the F-2 males are generally the largest of the savannahs. F-2s are the product of breeding an F-1 female to a domestic, usually savannah cat of a later generation where fertility is restored in the breed (F-5 OR f-6). Since F-1 queens are extremely expensive and fertility is limited in many cases F-2 cats generally carry a very high price tag as well. With every generation away from the original hybridization the price tag generally goes down. F-4 is the first generation that can be considered purebred being 4 generations of savannah to savannah breedings. That said very few F-4 cats are actually 4 generations of savannah to savannah breeding since many other breeds are out-crossed to the early generation cats in order to improve the appearance, size or disposition of the subsequent generations. The result of this requires additional identification being the letters often seen in the description of a kitten. “A” cats have an out-cross as a parent, “B” cats have one or more grandparents as an out-cross. “C” cats have one or more great grand parents. The final designation is “SBT” (Stud Book Traditional) All A, B and C cats are considered “Foundation Savannahs” and are registered with TICA. Because breeders are often trying to improve the breed these later out-crosses make wonderful pets, can be exotic in appearance, have most of the attributes of “SBT” cats but carry a lower price tag as they are not eligible for Show.
What Effects the Pricing of Savannah Kittens
Beyond just the simple difficulty in producing a quality healthy pet other factors affect pricing. There are many “Johnny Come Lately ” breeders that see the huge price tags of the Early Generation cats and think they will jump in and make a fortune breeding these very special cats. There are the “Backyard Breeders” that have good intentions but very limited knowledge. There are those who would cheat the legitimate breeders by failing to have cats sold as pets, spayed and neutered and can only offer kitten with “NO PAPERS” since they did not buy the breeding rights to the cats they breed. If a breeder offers a cat with no papers you have no proof you are getting what you are paying for! All of these are fringe operations destined to fail and potentially offer kittens from cats of lesser quality.
Price is not an indication of quality. It is, like all things, market driven. If a breeder can convince a buyer that their kittens are better than another’s they will ask a higher price even though the kittens offered may not be of better quality or even be lesser than those offered at lower prices by others. Price often reflects a breeders overhead costs like Veterinary care, housing, travel etc. Just like any business a breeder must make a profit to stay in business. If their overhead is high then they must charge more for their kittens. Buyers often end up paying more for the location of a breeders operation and cost of labor.
Finding a Quality Savannah Cat Breeder
At Belle Hollow our cats share our home and farm. We are able to keep our costs down by caring for our cats personally, in addition to very reasonable labor rates. We built our facility over a long period of time in a rural setting. Our daughter is a Veterinarian, as is one of my best friends, so we are able to keep our veterinary expenses low and quality high by comparison to other breeders. We charge a fair price for our kittens. We focus on Health and Disposition before any other attributes and as a result we have good fertility levels and happy cats. We cater to the pet market so we do not expend resources on travel to cat shows. All of these combine to allow us to offer kittens at reasonable prices as opposed to some of our competitors. Check out our pricing page on the web site for an indication of what our pricing is like. You may be surprised at how reasonably priced our cats can be. If you are in the market for a savannah of any generation check out our available kittens page, give us a call and see if we can’t help you acquire your new best friend.