When it comes to Savannahs, there are no known breed-specific health problems. However, veterinarians have noted that Servals have smaller livers (relative to their body size) than domestic cats, and Savannahs can inherit this. For this reason, care is advised in prescribing some medications – lower doses per weight of the cat may be necessary.
There is some evidence that Savannahs and other domestic hybrids (e.g. Bengals) don’t respond well to anesthesia containing Ketamine. Because it’s uncertain what effects may arise, it is not recommended to use anesthesia containing Ketamine for any surgeries done to a Savannah. Isoflurane gas is recommended
It is highly recommended that in most cases Savannah cats receive killed virus vaccines, however, Merial manufactures a great brand of Modified Live Vaccines that produce very few reactions. Savannahs should NEVER be vaccinated against FELV (Feline Leukemia Virus) or FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitus) as it has been reported these vaccines can have very bad side effects or may even predispose cats to contract the very diseases they are supposed to prevent. The most commonly occurring reactions are injection-site sarcomas or “tumors” that grow at the site of injection as a reaction to the vaccine. Other auto-immune related diseases have also been reported.
A healthy diet is the key to a healthy pet! It helps them grow, maintain a good weight (when fed properly), and keeps your pet’s immune system running smoothly. Poor diet leads to problems like obesity, diabetes, and even kidney or heart failure. Higher quality food may cost a little more, but you will save on vet bills in the long run and live a longer, more fulfilled life with your furry friend.
We recommend a very high quality diet with no grains or by-products. Some Savannah owners even recommend a partial or complete raw feeding/raw food diet with at least 32% protein and no by-products. Corn should never be on the ingredients list in your cat or kitten’s food. It is a filler that gives very little in nutrients and is the leading cause of food allergies, early kidney disease, UTI’s (Urinary Tract Infections) and diabetes in cats. Giving a cat a food filled with corn is the equivalent of a person eating fast food or junk food for every meal, every day, for the rest of their lives!
At Exotic Tails we feed our cats a combination of raw meat (bones and guts included), grain-free kibble, and canned wet food. We understand that not everyone has the time or stomach to prepare raw diets so we recommend at least some canned food in the diet. African Servals (along with most cats in the wild) get most of their fluids from their kill and some from a running source of water. Most Savannahs still have this ingrained in their DNA and will not drink enough from a stale source. This can lead to dehydration as well as urinary and kidney problems. Running cat fountains are also recommended.
Why NOT to Declaw
The most common way for vets to perform a declaw procedure is to remove the first joint of each toe. Savannahs are known to like to climb, and landing from a high jump will be painful after declawing – for the rest of their lives!
The next most common practice for declaws is to do a tendonectomy. This is where the tendons in the cat’s toes are severed to prevent them from extending their claws. This is dangerous because if the cat’s nails are not kept well-trimmed, there’s a huge risk for a claw to get caught on something and be ripped out.
Cats that have been declawed often have permanent behavioral changes. They may be moody, aggressive towards other pets, or may randomly be incontinent (reluctant to use the litter box). Since they do not have their claws to protect them they will bite when provoked. A bite wound is definitely more serious and likely to become infected then a tiny scratch!
Scratching is a healthy behavior in cats. It is part of their grooming regiment and helps them to shed old claw sheaths. There are also scent glands in a cat’s paw pads, so they are also leaving their scent to identify an area or object as theirs. Some cats also scratch as a stress reliever.
There are many ways to own a cat and also have nice furniture. Most cats would prefer to use a scratching post. Cardboard-type scratching pads are also picking up in popularity. If there’s a particular spot your cat is fond of scratching that you are not in agreement with, there are citrus based sprays that are made to deter cats and be safe on most furniture. Also, placing a scratching post or pad in front of the troublesome area will help redirect the scratching.
Savannahs and the Outdoors
Savannahs should not be allowed to roam freely outdoors for a few important reasons. First of all, they cannot be vaccinated against FeLV and FIV and would be at risk to catch these diseases. Savannahs are very inquisitive cats and will go investigate that raccoon hole if they get the chance. This can also lead them to bring back parasites, fleas, or mites. Secondly, African Servals also have a 10 square kilometer home range. Savannahs are thus known to wander dangerously far and often can’t find their way back.
We recommend training your Savannah to go out on a harness or walking jacket (do not use a standard collar with a leash because they can strangle themselves or even get loose). This way you can monitor how far they go and what they interact with.
Early Spay & Neuter
More info on why this is beneficial coming soon!