Before the Savannah was registered as a breed by the ICA (International Cats Association), the terms F1, F2, and so on were used as slang to refer to different generations of Savannah Cats. Although the breed has been officially recognized, these abbreviations are still in use today, which can lead to confusion among people interested in owning a Savannah Cat.
Many don’t know what “F” means when referring to a Savannah Cat. It represents the cat’s “filial” rating, which is how many generations away a Savannah is from an African Serval. For example, an F3 Savannah would have a serval great-grandparent, while an F1 would be the direct offspring of a serval and a domestic cat.
In addition, the Savannah Cat’s physical traits will become different as the generations progress. An F1 will be much larger than an F4, and they will look more like a serval than a later generation.
The Savannah Cat is a large, exotic crossbreed between an African serval and a domestic cat. The first kitten from this pairing was bred in April 1986 and named “Savannah .” As Savannah became older, she grew to be nearly as large as the serval but possessed the docile temperament of a domestic cat. When she was old enough, she was bred to a domestic male and produced a litter of kittens with her same striking pattern.
Once more of these cats were bred, they were accepted as an official breed by the ICA and named Savannah Cat.
The abbreviation “F1” refers to the first generation of the Savannah Cat. For example, an F1 Savannah would be the son or daughter of a domestic cat and an African Serval (the serval is usually the father and the domestic cat the mother). This generation is the largest since they have about 50% serval in their DNA. A few F1 traits are:
- Long legs in proportion to the body.
- Large ears in proportion to the head.
- Broad, flattened nose.
- An average height of 16-17 inches at the shoulder.
- An average weight of 23 pounds.
Due to their direct wild heritage, an F1 Savannah is the most expensive of all generations, with prices ranging from $12,000 to $20,000.
As well as their price and physical traits, F1 Savannah Cats bond strongly with their adult owners. They have a somewhat doglike personality and are very loyal, dedicated cats. However, an unsocialized F1 will become withdrawn and anxious around strangers, so ensuring they are adequately socialized before introducing one into your home is essential.
F2 is the second filial generation of Savannahs, with a serval grandparent. An F2 Savannah cat would result from an F1 breeding with a domestic cat or a later generation of Savannahs (for example, an F4). Usually, these cats have more defined cheekbones and wider-spread ears than F1s. They also have more angular eyes and a longer muzzle. Some other F2 traits are:
- An average height of 14-15 inches at the shoulder.
- An average weight of 15 pounds.
Savannah Cats of this filial generation are less expensive than F1s and can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $9,000.
F2 Savannahs are as loyal as the F1, but they have more of a domestic and social personality. Proper socialization is still essential to avoid them becoming attached to only one person instead of the whole family. These cats are sweet companions and will likely play with children and other household pets.
Following the previous pattern, an F3 is a Savannah cat with a serval great-grandparent. They have more of a domestic cat face shape, but their legs are still longer than average. In addition, F3s have larger eyes, smaller ears, and shorter necks than earlier generations. A few other F3 traits are:
- An average shoulder height of 13-14 inches.
- An average weight of 13-14 pounds.
Due to their smaller size, F3 Savannah cats are considerably cheaper than F1s or F2s, with prices ranging from $2,000 to $4,000.
This generation is suitable for new Savannah cat owners, as they are small and have a very docile temperament. They tolerate strangers, small children, and other pets and enjoy being lap cats. You can find one that looks like an F1 or an F2 but with a much more friendly personality.
F4 Savannah Cats are close in stature to an average domestic cat. Their bodies are considerably less lean than those of F1s, F2s, and F3s, and their face shapes can vary. Some F4 Savannahs have a more angular face, while others appear more like domestic cats. In addition, their eyes are large and round and come in various colors. More F4 traits are:
- An average shoulder height of 11 inches.
- An average weight of 10 pounds.
This generation is one of the cheapest and can be adopted for $1,000 to $3,000.
F4s look similar to F3s but are much more social and outgoing. They will happily curl up on your lap and are friendly towards strangers.
After this generation, it isn’t easy to generalize the appearance of Savannah Cats. For example, an F6 Savannah may exhibit some of the same traits as an F5 or look different. Some may be larger or smaller than others, with different proportions. In addition, face and body shapes vary significantly with generations F5 and up. However, a few general traits of an F5 Savannah are:
- An average weight of 12 pounds.
- An average shoulder height of 11 inches or less.
Because of their small size, F5s and all generations after them (F6, F7, etc.) are the most reasonably priced. Depending on the breeder, you can bring one of these kitties into your home for $1,000 to $2,500 or less.
These cats are sweet, outgoing, and loyal. They enjoy socializing with other cats, dogs, people, and children and are ideal for a family.
When discussing Savannah Cat generations, you may come across percentages referring to how much serval a cat has in them. For example, an F1 is 50% serval, an F2 is 25% serval, etc. These percentages are more complex than they seem, though, and a Savannah can range from having 5% to 65% serval in their DNA. However, these are the basic amounts of serval that generations F1-F5 have.
- F1 has about 50% serval.
- F2 has close to 30%.
- F3 has around 19% serval.
- F4 has 15% serval.
- F5 has the least amount at nearly 11%.
This number will get smaller as the generations go on, but so long as the cat is a purebred Savannah, it will never reach zero.
The Savannah cat is a beautiful and diverse breed, and having so many generations available gives new owners different options. For example, an F1 is better for people without children, while an F4 is the perfect addition to a family. However, every generation has their unique benefits, and each cat will behave differently. Based on personality and physical appearance, you can choose the Savannah Cat that’s right for you. You might also consider a mixed breed Savanah cat like a Maine Coon Mix or Bengal Mix. You can also learn more about if Savannah cats are hypoallergenic or not.