When it comes to choosing a feline companion, two distinctive, unique breeds are the Savannah Cat and the Maine Coon. At first glance, it’s easy to see the differences in appearance, but there is so much more to them than meets the eye.
The Savannah Cat, with its wild African ancestry, is a relatively new breed but popular for its exotic look and nature. The Maine Coon, a hardy cat beloved for its amiable personality, has long been a favorite and is one of the most popular cat breeds today.
While the Savannah Cat brings an element of excitement and adventure to the home, it isn’t necessarily the best choice for first-time cat owners. On the other hand, the Maine Coon is perfect for new pet owners and families.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about these two beautiful breeds and see what makes them special.
At a Glance
Savannah Cat Overview
A hybrid of the Siamese cat and the wild serval, Savannah Cats have only been around since the late 20th century.
Their wild heritage is evident in their large ears, long legs, and signature spotted coat that comes from their African ancestors. The Savannah Cat can grow to a formidable size of up to 25 pounds and 17 inches tall, depending on what generation they are.
First-generation crosses (F1) tend to be larger than later ones (F2, F3) because they are not as far removed from their original wild ancestors. Later generations also tend to be more docile, which is something to consider if you are looking for a furry buddy.
Their striking fur coat is short, dense, and comes in colors that range from black to brown spotted tabby to silver spotted tabby. Their distinctive, almond-shaped eyes have a piercing, intelligent look.
Savannah Cats are very athletic, energetic, and love to play and hunt. They like a lot of attention and interaction and are unhappy if left alone for long periods.
Although they have many appealing qualities, the Savannah Cat is not recommended for first-time cat owners due to their wild nature. When looking for one, it’s important to check what generation it is as that can greatly affect its temperament.
Personality & Character
Intelligence, loyalty, and an exceptional hunting instinct are key qualities in Savannah Cats. They can be highly territorial and once they bond with their owners, they will stick close by. They can be very vocal and express themselves with a wide range of sounds. You may find yourself having a conversation with them as you go about your day!
If you want a cat that is content to stay in your lap all day, you’d better look elsewhere. Savannah Cats are extremely energetic with a high prey instinct that will keep them prowling and pouncing all day long.
Your Savannah Cat may want to join you for a bath or a romp in the kiddie pool since they love water. In some ways, they are more like a dog than a typical cat.
With their active and adventurous nature, Savannah Cats love to jump up on top of high perches and explore. They have an impressive 8-foot vertical leap, so be aware of that when it comes to finding a safe place for any delicate items or plants.
To make your home a Savannah Cat haven, make sure there are a variety of toys, a good cat tree, and plenty of space to play.
Savannah Cats are easy to train, and due to their high activity level, many owners train them to be on a leash to enjoy the outdoors. This is best done at a young age.
Mental stimulation is very important since they are highly intelligent. Clicker training and interactive toys are very helpful and will keep your kitty’s wild side satisfied. Videos of birds and squirrels will also be a favorite.
Health and Care
Savannah Cats are generally very healthy with no breed-specific diseases known. Spaying and neutering are always recommended, even though male cats in the first three generations are usually sterile.
The most important thing for your Savannah Cat to be healthy and happy is to provide a mentally stimulating environment with plenty of exercise and interaction.
Their short fur coat requires very little maintenance beyond the occasional brushing. Make grooming time a fun time for your cat by offering toys during their session. A Savannah Cat will also need its nails trimmed regularly along with good dental care. It’s important to start these habits at a young age, so you’re not in a wrestling match with a formidable, full-grown Savannah Cat when it comes time for a manicure!
Savannah Cats came into existence in 1986 when a male wild African serval cat was crossed with a domestic Siamese cat. The resulting offspring sported the exotic appearance of a wild animal with the more friendly temperament of the domestic mother.
Since the temperaments can vary greatly between generations, it’s important to know that the early generations can be larger and much more wild in nature than later generations.
Savannah Cats are best suited for families and active owners who can spend a lot of time with them. Stimulating environments are essential to their health and happiness. Kids, other pets, and plenty of interactive toys will help keep Savannah Cats busy.
With their natural prey instinct and high energy levels, they would rather be pouncing on toys and leaping up on a cat tree than spending the day in your lap. It’s important to always remember that Savannah Cats have a wild side that needs to be considered and understood.
Maine Coon Overview
As the name suggests, the Maine Coon cat originated in the state of Maine and dates back to the late 1800s. They may have descended from long-haired European cats that were brought over with settlers. When the European cats were bred with the native, short-haired breeds, the Maine Coon cat was born and became the United States’ only native long-haired cat.
No one knows how the Maine Coon came by its name, but some people speculate that its bushy tail, which is similar to a raccoon’s tail, was the inspiration.
The Maine Coon is the largest domestic cat breed, reaching up to 40 inches in length. Its long, fluffy fur protects it in the harsh New England weather and makes it look even bigger.
The Maine Coon has a sturdy build with a wide chest and muscular body. Their long coats are silky and smooth and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. You can find solid-colored cats that are black, white, or red, as well as tabby, bi-color, and calico. They have long, full tails and big ears with wisps of hair on top. Their oval eyes are warm and expressive.
Although they may be considered giants among cats, the Maine Coons have a gentle nature that has endeared them to families. They enjoy socializing and being nearby, and they are always up for some playtime. You also don’t have to worry about a mouse invasion because Maine Coons are exceptional hunters.
Personality and Character
With their affectionate nature and intelligence, Maine Coons do best with families and people who can spend time with them. They are highly social and love to follow you from room to room. They aren’t typically lap cats, which is probably a good thing considering their massive size. Maine Coons would rather hang out next to you as a companion.
If you’re looking for a cat that is good with children, Maine Coons are very tolerant and patient with them. Cuddling, petting, and holding are all welcome. Don’t worry if you have other pets in the home either—Maine Coons can get along well with both cats and dogs.
Besides accompanying you in your daily activities, they love to play! Attention and interaction keep them happy, so whether you get them a new toy or invite them to join you in your bath, they will have just as much fun.
Maine Coons are very intelligent and easily trained, especially if you start when they’re young. Housetraining is a simple matter, but make sure that you have a sizable litter box to accommodate them.
Some owners have compared Maine Coons to dogs in their trainability—from walking on a leash to even playing fetch, they seemingly do it all.
Socialization is important in the beginning. If you get a kitten, let each member of the family gently handle it every day. Any other pets should be introduced early as well. This early practice lays the foundation for a Maine Coon to be comfortable in their environment.
Health and Care
Because Maine Coons were allowed to naturally develop for about two hundred years, they are an overall healthy breed that can live up to 13 years. However, due to their size, some issues can occur such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. They are also susceptible to dental disease and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Regular screenings and checkups throughout your cat’s life will catch any health problems early on.
With its long, fluffy coat, the Maine Coon needs some dedicated grooming time and weekly to monthly baths. Fortunately, baths typically won’t be a problem since they love water! Regular brushing will keep their fur from getting tangled and pull out any loose hair that may otherwise end up all over your furniture.
Grooming doesn’t have to be a chore though—Maine Coons love the attention, so it’s just another way to spend some quality time together.
Maine Coons are ideal for families with children and people who can be home with them the majority of the time. Playful interaction and companionship make them happy. Once socialized, they get along well with other pets.
Which Breed Is Right For You?
Both the Savannah Cat and the Maine Coon have attractive qualities, but they are very different breeds that are suited to different environments.
If you are active and want a sense of excitement in the home without stressing over something getting broken, then the Savannah Cat could be the one for you. They need an experienced cat owner who can handle the demands of a breed that is just one or two steps away from the jungle.
For first-time cat owners and families with young children, the Maine Coon is a perfect fit. They have plenty of energy to play and the intelligence to be easily trained. They will also enjoy the time you spend brushing their luxurious coat. In essence, the Maine Coon is happy to be a part of your life. With their patience and friendly nature, they quickly and easily become a beloved companion in the home.
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Featured Image Credit: Top: Savannah Cat: Jarry, Shutterstock | Maine Coon Cat: Aleksei Verhovski, Shutterstock