Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

F5 Savannah Cat: Facts, History & Origin (With Pictures)

Written by: Genevieve Dugal

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Savannah F5 kitten on the wooden table

F5 Savannah Cat: Facts, History & Origin (With Pictures)

The F5 Savannah cat is a gorgeous cross between the domestic cat and the African feline wildcat, the Serval. F5 refers to their being fifth-generation hybrid offspring, and these majestic animals have an unusual look and characteristics unique to the breed. Whether you’re thinking about adding a new member to your family or simply want to expand your knowledge about this specific breed, this article is for you.

Read on as we answer common questions about F5 Savannahs, including their origins and history, why they’re called that, what they’re like, and whether they make good pets.

3 cat face divider

The Earliest Records of Savannah Cats in History

Savannah cats haven’t been around for long; this hybrid breed appeared in 1986 when a Bengal cat breeder, Judee Frank, crossed her Siamese cat with a Serval.

This cross between an exotic felid and a domestic cat was a kitten that the breeder named “Savannah,” hence the name of the breed. This kitten became the first F1 (first-generation hybrid cross), and they were then bred with a Turkish Angora in April 1989, resulting in three F2 kittens. Over the following years, the breed continued to be developed by Patrick Kelly and other breeders fascinated by the magnetism and elegance of these cats. Therefore, it is not possible to know exactly when the very first Savannah F5 cat was born.

Savannah F5 SBT cat on a black background
Image by: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

What Does the “F5” Stand For?

All Savannah cats are assigned a filial designation, F1–F7, which describes how close a Savannah cat is to their exotic ancestor.

For example, an F2 Savannah cat is between 25% and 37.5% Serval, while an F1 can be between 50% and 75% Serval.

For the F5, their percentage of wild blood can vary between 3% and 12%, depending on their lineage. The higher the percentage, the more the kitten will have characteristic traits of their Serval ancestor, including their appearance, size, and behavior. That said, fifth-generation Savannah cats are often closer to domestic cats in terms of temperament and physical appearance.

How F5 Savannah Cats Gained Popularity

Savannah F5 cats have grown in popularity in recent years due to their exotic appearance and less “wild” temperament than cats of previous generations.

The F1 and F2 cats are closer to the Serval and tend to be shyer, especially toward children and strangers. They also have a strong hunting instinct, which can pose a danger to small pets. Conversely, Savannahs of later generations have an easier time trusting people, including the young ones, whom they consider playmates. They can also get along well with other animals in the household as long as they are well-socialized.

However, note that the temperament of Savannah cats is also conditioned by the quality of their socialization (especially with children and other pets) and not just the generation to which they belong.

Savannah F5 cat on a black background
Image by: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

Formal Recognition of Savannah Cats

In 1996, Patrick Kelly and another breeder, Joyce Sroufe, wrote the Savannah breed standard, which was accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2001. In May 2012, the first Savannah was accepted for championship status by that same organization.

Savannah cats can exhibit many different colors and patterns, but TICA breed standards only accept spotted patterns with the following colors and combinations: brown (black) spotted tabby, silver spotted tabby, black, and black smoke. Non-standard colors include seal, seal lynx, cinnamon, chocolate, and blue.

You can find the TICA Savannah Breed Standard here.

3 cat face divider

Top 4 Unique Facts About F5 Savannah Cats

  • Savannah cats have characteristic traits similar to most dogs, including their love of water and playing fetch.
  • It is illegal to own the F5 Savannah cat in at least six U.S. states.
  • A Savannah F5 kitten can cost between $1,500 and $3,000, while the price of an F1 kitten can reach $23,000!
  • With his 19.05 inches, a Savannah cat named Arcturus Aldebaran Powers was declared in 2017 to be the “tallest cat in the world” by the Guinness World Records.
Savannah F5 kitten on the table
Image Credit: Yana Vydrenkova, Shutterstock

Does an F5 Savannah Cat Make a Good Pet?

F5 Savannahs tend to be more outgoing, affectionate, and family-friendly than previous generations. They are usually less tall yet lively, bold, and intelligent.

Among the most notable traits of Savannah cats is their highly energetic and adventurous temperament. They are also curious, outgoing, and independent but also friendly and loyal. In fact, most of these exotic cats develop strong bonds with their families. That said, while they enjoy being around their human, they are not lap cats.

Indeed, these active cats tend to get bored easily, which can lead to destructive behaviors if they are not sufficiently stimulated mentally and physically. They love bouncing on high perches, learning tricks, and entertaining themselves with interactive toys.

As a result, F5 Savannah cats are more suitable for families with older children who have plenty of time to devote to their training and socialization. Be careful if you already have other small pets in the house, as the Savannahs are likely to chase them. That said, doggies can be wonderful playmates for these cat-dogs!

cat paw divider


F5 Savannah cats are among the most visually appealing hybrid cat breeds out there. They are large, friendly, loyal, and extremely intelligent animals that make great companions for families with older children. But if you’re interested in adopting an F5 kitten, you should know that they are fairly expensive animals to acquire. These striking felines also require plenty of mental and physical stimulation, so you must be prepared to provide this unique breed with the care and attention that they need to thrive.

Featured Image Credit: Yana Vydrenkova, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.