The Savannah is a cross between the Serval, an African wild cat and a domestic cat, typically the Egyptian Mau or another spotted breed. The Savannah, being one of the largest domestic breeds of cat, may weigh 10 to 40 pounds but are typically not much larger than 25 pounds. The coat of the Savannah depends on what breed is used for the domestic cross. Its coat can be tan with black or brownish spots, silver with dark spots, marble, or several other patterns.
The wild look of the Savannah is due to many of the Serval characteristics. The head of a Savannah is taller than it is wide, and it has a long, thin neck. The back of each tall ear has a light band bordered by black stripes or ocelli. The eyes typically change from blue to green as the cat matures, and black “tear streak” markings can be found running from the cats eyes to the whiskers. The body of the Savannah is long, as are its legs; its back legs are significantly longer than the front as well.
A breeder named Judee Frank managed to crossbreed a Serval and domestic cat, producing the first Savannah (named Savannah) on April 7, 1986. A man named Patrick Kelley became interested in the breeding of such a cat and helped to write the breed standard ten years later.
Some states, such as New York have laws against owning wild/domesticated hybrid crosses.
The Savannah has been described as very intelligent, friendly, and assertive. They are loyal pets who can easily be trained, and need to be trained in sociability. Some Savannahs greet people with head-butts or pounces; others might run away hissing from a stranger. Exposure to other people and pets needs to occur in order for the Savannah to be socialized properly. The Savannah has an extreme jumping ability as well as the ability to get into things such as cupboards, so precautions need to be taken accordingly.
When the Savannah makes noise it is usually a chirping sound, a meow or a combination of both. They also occasionally hiss, but this can be stopped with socialization, and should be, as it is a frightening, snake-like sound that can easily frighten people.