Savannahs are an intriguing breed of cats, with exotic looks and a dog-like temperament. But do they actually get along with dogs?
If you are a dog lover and would like to own a cat that can be cuddled and trained like a canine, then you might find the Savannah cat a wonderful companion. However, there are several things you need to know before bringing this exotic feline into a household with dogs.
Savannah cat personality
A Savannah cat is a cross between a wild African serval and a domestic Siamese, creating an exotic wild cat appearance that resembles a cheetah. These hybrid cats are loved for their beautiful, spotted coat, long legs, and massive, erect ears, all of which give them a unique, majestic appearance compared with other cat breeds.
These cats are fiercely loyal and protective over their human companions, and this manifests as wariness toward other animals and strangers. Since they come from a wild serval lineage, Savannahs can be slightly more aggressive than an average cat. Furthermore, their strong hunting instinct is a threat to any smaller pets in the house.
Aside from their exotic physical traits, Savannahs are also popular for their dog-like demeanor. They are extremely energetic, playful, and athletic. Unlike most domestic felines, these unique cats can be trained to walk on a leash and enjoy swimming in water. No wonder they are touted as the ideal pet for dog lovers seeking a feline companion!
Despite their dog-like behavior, however, you might be wondering whether Savannahs can actually get along with dogs.
While they are highly athletic and enjoy lots of interaction, their dog-like personalities do not guarantee that they can live in harmony with your dogs.
That said, it is possible to have a Savannah and a dog under one roof without any issues. If you would like to have a cat that can be cuddled and can also play fetch with your dogs, there are several things you need to consider before taking the leap.
Let us take a look at the details in the sections below:
Savannah cat generations
Savannah cats can differ quite widely in terms of their traits. Some bear a close resemblance to their wild ancestors while the others are less wild and exotic. But how do we identify these traits?
Savannahs are generally categorized according to their filial generation numbers – a reference used to determine the dominant trait of cats from their parental generation. For Savannahs, these numbers range from F1 to F8.
The F1 generation of cats is much closer to their wild genes, while the F2 generation has slightly reduced wild traits. These hard-to-tame wild temperaments include an independent streak, stubbornness, and unpredictable behavior. Pet lovers with some experience in raising wild animals are the only people who should be qualified to own cats of these generations.
As new generations are born, the wilder temperaments are becoming less prominent. This means that Savannahs categorized as F3 to F5 are less wild, while the F5 to F8 generations are more domesticated cats with some of the exotic appearance retained.
So, if you are planning to introduce a Savannah cat to your household and your dogs, then choosing a cat from the F5 to F8 generations would be a better option. Aside from being the friendliest compared with other generations, these cats are easier to tame and can get along well with other household pets.
Can Savannah cats get along with dogs?
The Savannah’s adaptability in a typical household with other pets can be greatly influenced by the level of his wildness.
Cats belonging to the F1 to F3 generations have most of their wild traits intact. These cats are highly energetic, playful, and a bit more aggressive than the other generation groups. They also possess strong hunting instincts and will likely chase and hurt smaller animals in close proximity. If you have a large breed of dog at home with almost the same temperament, then there is a higher chance that the two pets will get along.
F3 to F5 generations can also make friends with large, aggressive dogs, since the cat will likely back off for safety. Smaller dog breeds, however, can be perceived as prey and will likely be bullied into a corner.
As mentioned above, Savannah cats of the F5 to F8 generations are the friendliest and easiest to tame. They can adapt to a home with other pets much like most other cat breeds. With a proper introduction and socialization, it should not take too long for your Savannah and your dog to become best buddies.
Introducing the Savannah to your dog
We are quite aware of how certain cats and dogs share a mutually hateful relationship. However, this does not always mean that they can never be friends. Often, the issue is related to their predatory instincts. Your dog might view the cat as prey, while your cat just hates being chased by a larger animal.
Since Savannah cats are typically larger and more dog-like than other cat breeds, it is possible for them to get along well with large-breed dogs.
With your intervention and proper training, they can make peace and live in harmony under the same roof. Here are some tips for introducing a Savannah cat to your dog:
1. Choose a room for your pets to meet and interact
The initial meeting is always the most challenging part of introducing new pets for the first time. Our furry companions can be unpredictable: while they might be friendly and calm when alone with their owners, they could suddenly turn aggressive in the presence of other unfamiliar animals. The best way to avoid possible fights between your Savannah and your dog is to start the introduction gradually.
In the beginning, make sure that the new pet is placed safely inside a cage. Slowly bring the existing household pet a little closer to the new one. This way, the older pet can familiarize himself with the scent of the new one. Make sure to choose a common room for your pets’ first meeting.
2. Keep a watchful eye on their behavior
The first meeting can have different outcomes, depending on both pets’ temperaments. It is possible that both animals will be curious toward one another; another possible scenario is that either or both pets might show aggression. Be mindful of their reactions, and if you notice any signs of aggression, stop the meeting right away.
If you think the first meeting did not go well, do not force it. Maybe your furry companions need more time to adjust to each other’s presence.
3. Begin with short meeting sessions
A slow introduction is the best way for your pets to get to know each other, especially if either or both of them show aggression. Schedule a five-minute meeting every day, to allow a guarded interaction between your pets so that they can become familiar with each other. Once they start to tolerate each other’s presence, gradually increase the meeting time.
4. Provide a private space for each pet
The meeting place should be different from the pets’ private spaces. Allow each pet to have their own space where they can freely roam and be comfortable. Since both the dog and the cat are territorial animals, you must ensure that they do not feel invaded or threatened by the other pet.
5. Do not punish either of your pets
Patience is very important when introducing two animals: you can never predict how each will react. In case one of the animals starts showing undesirable behavior, never punish them. Dogs and cats do not respond well to punishment. Instead of correcting their behavior, your pets will likely avoid you if you hit, yell, or act roughly toward them.
The best way is to use positive reinforcement every time they behave correctly. For example, give your Savannah and your dog some delicious treats after each meeting. This will give your pets something to look forward to every time they meet.
6. Supervise your pets until they are calm
Never leave your pets alone unattended unless you are very confident that they have become tolerant of one another. Also train both pets not to invade each other’s private spaces.
How to keep both pets happy
Seeing your Savannah cat and dog living happily under the same roof can be an amazing experience. Here are several ways to ensure that both of your pets enjoy each other’s company:
1. Have daily play sessions
Savannah cats enjoy bonding and playing with their human companions. So why not allow your pup to join the fun? Play sessions are a great way to keep your pets active while giving them an opportunity to get to know each other better. Keep in mind that this unique cat breed can also be trained to play ball games like a dog does. If you play fetch, your feline is sure to love chasing after the ball as it triggers his hunting instinct.
You can also use other interactive games that are fun for both cat and dog. Through these play sessions, your Savannah cat and dog will eventually discover in each other a fun playmate.
2. Go on walks together
Just like dogs, Savannahs enjoy exploring the outdoors. These curious cats can be successfully leash-trained with enough practice and patience. And, once you have your cat comfortable on his harness and leash, going on walks together with your pup can become a fun experience for both pets.
3. Give them their own safe spot
Savannahs and dogs can develop a deep friendship, especially if they were raised together. However, it is still important to have a safe spot for both pets. Sometimes, one pet can be too playful while the other just wants to escape the chaos and be alone. The safe spot could be a dedicated room, a cat tree, or under the bed. Almost any area is possible, as long as they can have a private space to go when they need to. This will help keep both pets happy and relaxed.
4. Give love and quality time to both pets
Give lots of love and quality time to both pets equally. Spending more time with one pet might make the other feel jealous and threatened. You can even do activities where both pets can bond with each other.
Curious to know more about the Savannah cat breed? Here are some common questions asked about these unique felines:
Are Savannah cats safe as pets?
In general, Savannah cats are not dangerous pets. However, it takes a knowledgeable, experienced and responsible pet owner to raise this amazing breed successfully, especially if the cat belongs to one of the earlier generations.
F1 to F3 cats are much closer to their wild ancestors and retain much of their predatory instincts, making them dangerous to smaller pets. On the other hand, those that belong to the F5 generation are more domesticated and friendly while still retaining much of their exotic look.
Can Savannah cats be trained like dogs?
Although Savannahs have a dog-like demeanor, they are still felines. These intelligent cats can be trained to follow several commands and do tricks that most dog breeds can do, but the training method might be a little different. You need to have a lot of patience as well, to figure out what motivates your cat to follow your commands.
Wrapping it up
Savannah cats, despite their close resemblance to their wild serval ancestors, are very friendly and playful animals. Unlike other cat breeds, these hybrid cats are very energetic and tend to behave more like dogs. Due to their unique traits and temperaments, Savannahs are not for everyone, and are more suited to adventurous, experienced pet owners.
On top of their amazing traits, Savannah cats can also get along with dogs, especially if the dog has a similar temperament. However, it needs a lot of time and patience to successfully introduce your Savannah to your pup. With proper socialization, a gradual introduction, and lots of playtime, it should not take too long for a Savannah and a dog to develop a happy relationship.
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