Breeds

Maine Coon vs. Savannah Cat: What’s The Difference?

Maine Coon cats and Savannah cats are both impressive large feline breeds. How are these two breeds the same? What are their major differences? We look at both breeds in this quick comparison.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: November 3, 2022 | 14 min read

Maine Coon Vs. Savannah Cat

Some feline owners prefer larger breeds. There are a few to choose from, and though they all share a heftier body size, they are not all the same. Two very prevalent larger breeds often considered are the Maine Coon and Savannah cats. It is important to note that while there are some similarities between these two breeds, they are two distinctly different kitties.

What is the difference between the Maine Coon and the Savannah cat? There are many differences between these two, from history to pedigree, physical appearance, and temperament. Both breeds have unique histories. Maine Coons are common as pets and extremely popular due to their larger size, gentle demeanor, and playful nature. Savannah cats are not necessarily known for being as friendly, though they do have an incredibly unique appearance.

Maine Coons are far more common than Savannahs, but there is a lot to learn about both these remarkable feline breeds. We look into the similarities and differences between the Maine Coon and the Savannah. Get to know both of these unique feline breeds. Learn about their different personalities and needs to help decide which one of these big kitties will be the best fit for your family.

Breed History

In order to discuss the similarities and differences between these two felines, it is important to get to know the history of both breeds. Where they came from and how they developed into the breeds that we love today are important. These two breeds have hugely different histories.

Maine Coon

Main Coon sitting in grass
There is a lot of lore and legend that surrounds the origin of these large, rugged kitties.

The Maine Coon is a relatively old cat breed native to New England. They are the state cat of Maine. One immensely popular story is that they are a hybrid resulting from a natural crossbreeding between wild raccoons and domestic felines. As intriguing as that tale may be, it is not based on truth. Realistically those two species are too biologically different to ever create a successful hybrid.

Maine Coons are the result of natural breeding. Many different breeds of felines found their way around the world, often serving as ship companions to control the rodent population. These breeds naturally mixed and developed to survive the harsh New England cold winters. They have also been called the Maine cat, American Coon cat, American Longhair, and American Forest cat.

Due to this natural crossbreeding, Maine Coons developed shaggy, thick coats, athletic bodies, and stellar hunting skills. Their breeding came about completely naturally, with no human intervention. The rugged kitties we know today as Maine Coons likely have a variety of genetics from different breeds mixed in their DNA. Some are bread from specific bloodlines for certain physical characteristics, but many Maine Coons are an eclectic mix of genetics.

These big shaggy purr babies are the first feline breed native to the United States to be competitive show cats. A Maine Coon by the name of Cosey was the first winner of America’s very first cat show. That event was held in Madison Square Garden in 1895. The breed was named the Maine cat in the Cat Fanciers’ Association’s (CFA) first-ever breed registry and stud book, which was printed in 1908. They are considered a foundation breed and are recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) as the only long-haired breed native to America. Maine Coons are incredibly popular and, according to the CFA, are the second most popular feline breed worldwide.

Savannah Cat

Savannah Cat sitting

The Savannah is a fairly young breed. They were first bred in 1986. These are incredibly unique kitties, and they are true hybrids. They are crossbreeds of wild African servals and domestic felines. The first of these kittens were born on April 7th, 1986, to a breeder in Pennsylvania. That cat was named Savannah and is the namesake of the breed. That first hybrid kitten was bred with other domestic kitties and gave birth to several kittens. In the 1990s, another breeder continued developing the breed using the offspring of that very first hybrid kitten. The Savannah was recognized as a breed by The International Cat Association in 2012.

The breed is relatively new but is incredibly popular. These kitties have long, lean bodies with long legs and necks. There are several generations of these kitties, and F1 is a cat that has one parent domestic cat and one parent wild serval. And F2 has one serval for a grandparent, and F3 has a serval for a great-grandparent. These earlier generations are generally not the ones found in homes as pets. F1 generations are banned in many states. States that do allow ownership stick to F4 generations and beyond.

Savannahs are pretty rare and very pricey. They can be hard to find, and purebreds will be very expensive. They make fascinating pets and are not for inexperienced cat owners. The Savannah requires a lot of attention and needs very patient owners who have a lot of time to give them. These kitties need a lot of attention and have a remarkably high prey drive, so they may not be good in homes with smaller pets.

Comparing Maine Coon Vs. Savannah Cats

Breed Comparison

Maine Coon

  • Weight 15-25 pounds
  • Height 10-16 Inches
  • Temperament Gentle, smart, playful, loving, loyal
  • Energy Moderate
  • Grooming 2 to 4 x a week
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 12 to 15 years
  • Friendliness Very friendly
  • Kitten Price $500-$2,500 +
  • Nicknames Gentle Giant, Maine Cat

Savannah Cat

  • Weight 12-25 pounds
  • Height 17 Inches
  • Temperament Smart, frinedly, loyal, hunter
  • Energy Very high
  • Grooming 1 x a week
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 12 to 20 years
  • Friendliness Moderately friendly
  • Kitten Price $1,000-$20,000 +
  • Nicknames Velcro Cat

Maine Coons and Savannahs do not look terribly similar and are not likely to be confused with each other. They come from vastly different backgrounds, though both breeds are very Intriguing. Maine Coons are more common than Savannahs and do not cost nearly as much to own or adopt. They can be found at many breeders and in plenty of shelters and rescues. Savannahs may be harder to track down.

Main Differences

We have discussed how these felines have different backgrounds. The Maine Coon is a much older breed than the Savannah and far more common. Beyond that, there are many more differences that these two felines have. Each breed has its own unique physical characteristics as well as personality traits. Let’s learn a little bit more about the differences between the Maine Coon and the Savannah cat.

Size

Both these breeds are on the larger side for cats. Savannah cats will weigh between 12 and 25 pounds. They reach between 20 and 22 inches long, excluding the tail. These hefty kitties have long legs, slender athletic bodies, and can stand up to 17 inches tall. Savannahs have been named the world’s tallest cat in the Guinness Book of world records. Males will be larger and can reach 25 pounds. Females are smaller and weigh anywhere from 12 to 18 pounds. Earlier generations of Savannah cats will be larger than those generations that are typically kept as pets.

Maine Coons are larger than Savannahs. In fact, these hefty kiddos are the biggest breed of domestic cat. They can weigh between 15 to 25 pounds or more. Gentle giants are extraordinarily long and can reach between 30 to 40 inches, not including their tails. They will stand 10 to 16 inches tall. Their tails are extremely long, between 11 and 16 inches or more. These kitties have large, stocky builds with long bushy tails.

Appearance

These two breeds would never be confused with each other because they have noticeably different appearances. Maine Coons have incredibly muscular bodies with powerful legs. They have large heads, with square faces and high slender cheekbones. Gentle giants have large oval eyes that are very expressive. Eye color and coat color will complement each other. They will have stocky, medium-length legs with long rectangular bodies. Paws will be rounded and large with tufts of hair. These kitties also have a ruff of fur around their necks, similar to a lion’s mane. They also have large, pointed, tufted ears. Though not every gentle giant will have this trait, polydactylism is prevalent in this breed.

Maine Coons are well known for their long, bushy, ringed tails. They have long, shaggy coats. They have double coats with a softer undercoat and longer outer layer and come in many different colors and patterns. These kitties are big and tough looking but inside our true sweethearts.

Savannahs are big, slender, and muscular. Their back legs are noticeably longer than their front legs. Savannahs have spotted coats and resemble small, domesticated cheetahs. They have almond-shaped, hooded eyes. This hooded look is unique and not common among domestic felines. This contributes to their piercing gaze. Savannahs have tall, round ears that stand tall upon their heads. Their heads are small and sit atop long slender necks. Tails are short, ringed, with black tips.

While gentle giants have thick, muscular bodies, the Savannah can often appear larger than they truly are. Their long legs give the illusion of them being much bigger. Their bodies are long and muscular. They have long, slender necks and small triangular heads.

Eye Color

Maine Coons from purebred bloodlines often have green or gold eyes. They can also have orange, copper, and even brown tones. In some cases, these sweet kitties can have blue eyes or eyes of two distinctly different colors called heterochromia. This often happens in felines with solid white coats. Their eyes are large, wide-set, and slightly slanted.

Savannahs have unusually hooded eyes with an overhang of skin that creates a flat appearance. Eye colors can include different tones of brown, gold, orange, copper, yellow, auburn, hazel, green, and different shades of blue. The hooded brow serves to block sunlight and contributes to their unique and very direct gaze.

Temperament

Gentle giants get their sweet nickname for a good reason. They are highly intelligent, agreeable, affectionate animals. They are very playful and do have a good amount of energy. These purr babies love being around people and other animals, which is why they are so popular as pets. They are easy to train and love to play games. Though these kitties are big and often clumsy, they are incredibly gentle. They love human company and enjoy playing but are not considered clingy. These purr babies do well in busy homes with lots of other pets and activities. Gentle giants make wonderful pets because they are highly adaptable and tolerant. They can get along with many different animals and people.

Savannahs are much higher maintenance than Maine Coons. They are incredibly high-energy and have a highly active prey drive. They can be affectionate and enjoy being around people, but they do not always do well with other pets. These purr babies are highly intelligent and very bold. These are not pets that like to lay around and sleep. They are continually active and are always looking for something new to do. They can be trained to walk on leashes and play games and are highly curious about everything going on around them. Though they will not always be super cuddly, the Savannah loves to follow their humans around and investigate everything they are doing. They can sometimes be called “Velcro cats” because they are often very clingy to their owners.

One thing these two felines have in common is a love of water. Despite the common perception that felines do not like water, both these kitties are enchanted by it. They will both enjoy splashing around in puddles, playing in water bowls, and even swimming in pools. Both of these breeds will enjoy playing in the water while getting bathed.

Exercise

Maine Coons have a good amount of energy and are muscular, athletic kitties. They do not have any special physical activity needs but should have ample time to play and get exercise throughout their day. At least two sessions of high-activity play a day will keep them in good physical shape. They love to climb, so structures like cat steps and tools like treadmill wheels can be excellent and interactive choices for them. They also like to explore outside and can be trained to walk on leashes. These purr babies are not known to be higher energy than any other breed, though they do enjoy the occasional chase of a bird or mouse outside.

Savannahs are an extremely high-energy breed. Because of their instincts to hunt and high energy, they need a lot of physical activity. A cat that is not getting enough physical stimulation and is bored can become destructive and act out toward its owners and other animals. These kitties need a very high protein diet, so they will always have a lot of energy to burn. Owners often train them to walk outside on leashes, as well as employ tools like cat towers, cat steps, treadmill wheels, and even outdoor enclosed spaces where they can roam freely.

Training

Both these breeds are highly intelligent and can be trained easily. They can learn to do many different things, and both have been compared to dogs for their ability to learn new games and tricks quickly. Both breeds have a stubborn streak, as is common with highly intelligent animals. This can sometimes make training challenging, so owners need to start training early and set firm boundaries. Savannahs may tend to push boundaries more, so owners must constantly reinforce training expectations.

Health

Maine Coons can grow until they are three to five years old. They also take longer to mature than some other breeds. These fur babies are pretty rugged and relatively healthy though they can be susceptible to some hereditary health concerns. Heart disease, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, is a big concern. A genetic test can be conducted to screen for this condition before kitties are used for breeding. Even though this condition can be screened for, there is no way to prevent it from developing.

Gentle giants can also be susceptible to hip dysplasia which can impact their mobility. Additionally, they may develop spinal muscular atrophy, leading to muscle weakness and degeneration. This breed lives, on average, 12 to 15 years, though some have reached even older.

Most Savannah cats come from highly pedigreed bloodlines and are very healthy overall. That being said, there are some health problems that can affect this breed. Some of the earlier generations tend to have male sterility. Along with that, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be a concern with this breed. These felines are known for a long lifespan and can live up to 20 years.

Nutrition

Both these feline breeds need high-quality, well-balanced diets made from healthy animal proteins. Felines are obligate carnivores, so they need meat-based diets to survive and develop properly. Neither breed needs a specialized diet. Some owners may choose to feed them raw food, fresh food, or even freeze-dried diets. High-quality protein is vital because it supports growth and provides kitties with energy. This is particularly important for a high-energy breed like the Savannah. Because of this, some owners may choose to pick a high-protein food formula. Owners should avoid foods that use many artificial ingredients and added fillers.

Coat Colors & Grooming

Gentle giants come in a wide variety of colors. They can be solid colored as well as patterned. Colors include white, cream, black, red, blue, shades of brown, bi-color, multi-color, tortoiseshell, tabby, and calico. Some can even have silver and gold tones in their coats. They can have a wide variety of patterns and markings due to the mixed genetics in the breed. These hairy babies require a significant amount of combing and grooming as they have long, shaggy double coats. They will need brushing at least two times a week, and owners will need to be careful to make sure they stay free of tangles and debris.

Savannahs can come in several colors. However, breed standards for competition-grade kitties include silver, black, smoke, and brown. These kitties can also come in snow, white, blue, gray, and silver. They will have much darker, noticeable markings that can be spotted, striped, or both. They can also come in a marbled pattern. Savannah coats are short and silky and can benefit from brushing at least once a week. This will help clear coats of debris, dander, and excess hair. It is also an excellent time to inspect a cat’s nails, teeth, and skin for any injuries or irritants.

Care

Maine Coons will not require any exceptional level of care or consideration. These cats are very personable and love people but also do just fine when left home alone. These furry kiddos are happy to run around and play or take several hours-long naps in the sun. They need homes with plenty of room to run around and jump and owners who do not mind that their big bodies will often knock things over.

Savannahs are much higher maintenance than gentle giants and have remarkably high energy. They will need ample room to run around. They do not do very well, left alone for a long time. Because this breed is so high-energy, they can be very needy and may get into trouble if left unsupervised. These kitties are very smart and will look for new things to entertain themselves and might even find a way to escape outside. This is a breed that needs a highly attentive owner.

Prices

Maine Coon prices will vary depending on bloodline, age, and pedigree. Purebred kittens can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,500 or more. This will depend on the breeder, the specific bloodline, the time of year, and the location. These kitties are often mixed with other breeds and can show up in shelters and pet rescues. Rescue animals will not cost as much and can be adopted for anywhere from $25 to $100 or more.

Savannahs are much higher in price than the gentle giant. They typically start at around $1,000 and can even cost as much as $20,000 or more. The earlier generations will cost more. These kitties are hard to find and will cost quite a bit at the initial investment. Savannahs are also pricey to care for. This is a breed that owners may want to look into cat insurance for.

Things To Remember

Please keep in mind that the information we have presented is intended to be used as a general guideline and introduction to these two amazing felines. Every animal is different, and mixed breeds will have characteristics of both their parents. It is hard to know exactly what a cat will be like, especially if one does not know that animal’s specific bloodline and history.

Both felines are exquisite animals who need love, attention, and care. These are both larger, active kitties who need owners that are understanding of their physical needs and size. It is especially important with larger breeds to understand that these kitties are not clumsy or making a mess on purpose. Owners need to ensure that the spaces they provide are comfortable and prevent cats from getting injured or stuck.

No matter the breed, every feline is both a joy and a responsibility for a purr parent. Owners need to understand that along with getting an excellent companion. They also take on the responsibility of providing this animal with the best home, care, nutrition, and medical attention they can provide. Kitties will require a lot of TLC from their very first kitten days to their senior years. However, owning either of these fantastic breeds will be a very fulfilling and rewarding experience for any lucky cat lover.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Savannah cats half-wild?

Only the earlier generations of Savannahs are considered half-wild. The generations permitted for companionship and pet ownership are not considered half-wild or even fully hybrid animals. They have been bred through several generations to be more like domestic cats than their wild cousins.

Are Maine Coon cats mean?

No, to the contrary. These kitties are one of the friendliest around. Gentle giants are sweet and docile, and their friendly demeanor has earned them the nickname of gentle giants. They may be large, and their size can be intimidating, but these purr babies are not mean. These purr babies are big, giant, cuddly sweethearts.

Do Savannah cats like people?

Savannahs like people and can be very affectionate toward the humans they know. Because this breed is high energy and can sometimes be unpredictable, they may not be the best breed in homes where there is a lot of activity or intrusion from other pets. As with all breeds, these two kitties can be finicky and will have moments of both pure adoration and times when they need to have some extra space.

Are these two breeds related?

These breeds are both felines and share genetics in that way. The breeds are not directly connected to each other, although it is possible that a Maine Coon cat could be used to create a Savannah. Gentle giants contain a blend of genetic information from many different breeds, and both will share genetics in some way. However, there is no direct line connecting these two breeds to each other.

Final Thoughts

Both the Maine Coon and the Savannah cat are regal, highly desirable breeds. The gentle giant tends to be a more personable, highly affectionate cat that does well in busy families. They tolerate children, noise, other pets, and being left alone well. On the other hand, the Savannah cat is a bit more high-maintenance and needs more attention due to elevated energy levels. Both breeds make wonderful pets for the right people. Savannahs have an exotic history. These kitties are true hybrids, while Maine Coons are only rumored to be. Both breeds are amazing animals, and we hope you have enjoyed getting to know the similarities and differences between the two.

Disclaimer: Information regarding insurance company offerings, pricing, availability, and other contract details are subject to change by the insurance company at any time and are not under the control of this website. Information published on this website is intended for reference use only. Please review your policy carefully before signing up for a new insurance contract or any other contract as your unique circumstances will differ from those of others who may be used for example purposes in this article.

Leave a Comment