Savannah Cat vs Dog: 5 Vital Differences Between Exotic Pets


Savannah Cat vs Dog: 5 Vital Differences Between Exotic Pets

Exotic cats like savannahs are becoming increasingly popular pets, even giving traditional favorites like dogs a run for their money. But is a wild-looking savannah cat or a lovable dog the right fit for you?

On the surface, savannah cats and dogs make equally intriguing and affectionate companion pets. However, there are some major differences between feline and canine companions. From care needs to costs to personality traits, prospective owners must weigh up whether a savannah or a dog better suits their lifestyle and home.

This article will dive into a full side-by-side comparison, contrasting everything from exercise requirements to vet bills. We’ll explore the origins of the savannah breed, their appearance, and temperament. We’ll also analyze how savannah cats and dogs stack up in family-friendly traits. Finally, we’ll provide a clear summary of which type of owner each animal is better suited for. Let’s settle the debate of cats versus dogs!

Background on the Savannah Cat

Savannah cats have only recently appeared on the scene, with the exotic breed first created by crossing a domestic cat with an African Serval in the 1980s. Since then, savannahs have grown in popularity thanks to their wild appearance paired with domestic traits.

In terms of looks, savannah cats are tall, slim felines that can weigh 15-30 pounds when fully grown. Their most distinctive feature is their short, spotted coat pattern that resembles the African Serval. Savannah kittens are born with darker spots that may fade as they mature. Ears are tall and erect. Leggy body proportions give them a graceful, powerful build.

Despite their imposing presence, savannahs typically have an even-tempered, inquisitive personality when bred responsibly. They are extremely energetic cats that require a great deal of exercise and environmental enrichment to stay happy and well-behaved. Savannahs bond deeply with their owners and do not like to be ignored! Their high drive to run, jump, and explore means they thrive best in active homes able to meet their needs.

Here is the section comparing care and ownership requirements:

Savannah Cat vs Dog 5 Vital Differences Between Exotic Pets

Care and Ownership Requirements

When it comes to caring for and owning a savannah cat versus a dog, there are some notable differences in their needs.

Housing is one key area. Savannah cats require large indoor living spaces to accommodate their energetic nature. They need tall cat trees, shelves mounted on walls, and cubby holes to climb and perch up high. Under supervision, access to a catio or outdoor enclosure can provide extra space to roam. Dogs, on the other hand, can be comfortably housed in appropriately-sized apartments or homes based on their size.

In terms of exercise, savannah cats need daily active play and will create havoc if bored. Multiple interactive play sessions per day with owners are ideal to satisfy their high prey drive. Dogs require exercise as well, but a leash walk or two a day is often sufficient. Savannahs also need more intensive environmental enrichment with puzzle toys and changing play items to prevent boredom.

While dogs are highly trainable overall, savannah cats can be leash trained but have a more independent spirit. Their training takes patience and needs to focus on positive reinforcement.

When it comes to nutrition, savannah cats fare better on a high protein raw or wet food diet. Dry kibble alone is not ideal for them. Dogs, on the other hand, generally thrive on convenient dry kibble formulated to meet all their nutritional requirements.

Finally, savannah cats have higher veterinary costs for routine wellness and medical care compared to dogs due to being an exotic hybrid breed.

Comparing Savannah Cat and Dog Personalities

Savannah cats share some personality traits with dogs, but also have distinctly different natures in other areas.

In terms of energy, savannahs are extremely active cats that require lots of exercise and play. In this way they are similar to energetic dog breeds like Australian Shepherds or Border Collies. Yet savannahs have an even higher drive to run, leap and climb compared to most dogs.

Both savannah cats and dogs are intensely curious animals that love to explore their surroundings and engage with their owners. However, savannahs can become bored and destructive more quickly from lack of changing stimuli. Their inquisitive nature has a higher gear.

Savannah cats form close bonds with their owners in similar fashion to dogs. They often follow owners from room to room. But unlike dogs, they are not as obedient when called or ordered to do something. Savannahs are also more aloof in seeking human interaction strictly on their own terms.

While dogs aim to please, savannahs have more independence. They show their owners affection, but do not crave it constantly. Savannahs will assert their needs, whereas dogs are more compliant to fit in with family schedules.

Family Friendliness Comparison

When it comes to suitability for families, dogs tend to be better adapted than savannah cats.

Savannah cats are usually not recommended for homes with young children, as their energetic roughhousing can overwhelm kids. Plus they do not tolerate unwanted attention or tails being pulled! Many dog breeds, on the other hand, are bred specifically to be gentle, patient and protective around children.

In terms of other pets, savannahs can potentially live with cat-friendly dogs if properly introduced and socialized. But their strong hunting instincts make them a risk to small animals like rabbits or guinea pigs. Most dogs can be trained to get along with cats, other dogs, and a variety of household pets.

Personality-wise, savannahs tend to be quite wary around strangers and unfamiliar guests. They take time to warm up to new people. Dogs are often just the opposite – happily greeting anyone at the door with a wagging tail.

One area savannahs are lower maintenance than dogs is grooming. Their short coat does not require frequent brushing or bathing. Long or thick-coated dogs need much more routine coat upkeep.

Overall, a well-socialized dog is a better bet than a savannah cat when it comes to many family situations. But for the right owner, a savannah can be a delightful exotic companion.

Savannah Cat vs Dog 5 Vital Differences Between Exotic Pets-2

Costs of Savannah Cat vs Dog Ownership

One major difference between savannah cats and dogs is the significantly higher upfront and ongoing costs associated with owning a savannah.

The initial purchase price of a savannah kitten ranges from $1,000 for later generation kittens up to $20,000 for F1 kittens who are 50% serval. Dogs have a huge price range too, but generally fall more in the $500 to $2,000 range even for purebred puppies.

In terms of medical care, savannahs require more specialized veterinary care compared to dogs. Wellness exams, vaccines, tests and any medical treatments are more expensive for an exotic hybrid breed. Pet health insurance costs more for savannahs as well.

Food and supplements are pricier for savannah cats too. A premium wet food diet combined with raw meat and supplements adds up quicker than buying dog kibble.

Toys and cat trees to properly enrich and exercise a savannah also require greater investment to prevent boredom and destruction. Replacing belongings they damage can add up.

Overall lifetime costs of food, medical care, insurance, supplies and damages make owning a savannah cat a far more expensive prospect compared to a dog.

Which is the Better Fit for You?

Determining whether a savannah cat or a dog is better suited for your home depends on several factors:

For singles or couples who lead an active lifestyle and can devote ample attention to an energetic companion, a savannah can make the ideal exotic pet. Their dynamic personalities and curious nature can be a good fit for athletic owners.

Families with young children or people who work long hours away from home tend to do better with a well-trained, socialized dog. Dogs interact gently with kids and can be left alone more easily.

Those seeking a truly unique looking animal will appreciate the wild beauty of a spotted savannah cat that appears like a mini-leopard in the home. For owners who want a pet eager to please and obey commands, dogs are the clear winner.

People looking for cuddly unconditional affection may prefer a lovable dog who craves constant companionship and physical contact. Savannahs bond intensely in their own way, but are less needy for lap time.

There’s no universally “better” option between a savannah and dog. But thinking about your household, lifestyle and personality will steer you towards identifying the more ideal exotic pet for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can savannah cats be left alone for 8 hours like dogs?

No, savannah cats require much more frequent interaction and activity than dogs. They can develop destructive behaviors if left alone for long periods. A dog walker or pet sitter is advisable for savannah owners who work.

Are savannah cats dangerous like their wild serval ancestors?

Savannahs should not be considered dangerous when bred properly for 5+ generations from serval crosses. Early generation savannahs do retain more wild instincts. All savannahs need handling from kittenhood to be well socialized.

Is a savannah cat or dog better for apartment living?

Dogs can thrive in apartments with enough daily walks. But savannahs need more space to express their energetic nature safely. Easy access to an outdoor enclosure is also ideal.

Do savannah cats get along with dogs?

Savannahs can potentially get along well with dog companions. But early exposure and supervised interactions are key to ensuring they accept each other.

How long do savannah cats live compared to dogs?

Savannah cats have an average lifespan of 15-20 years. Dogs’ longevity varies more by breed, but is typically 10-15 years on average. So savannahs often outlive dogs.

Here is the conclusion:


To summarize, while savannah cats and dogs can both make captivating companion pets, they have very different care requirements, personalities, and overall suitability for various owners.

Key differences lie in the savannah’s need for larger living spaces, more intensive exercise and enrichment, wariness around strangers, inadvisability for homes with small children, and significantly higher ownership costs. Dogs better fit many family situations and are overall easier to care for.

However, for the right athletic single or couple able to provide a savannah cat with proper attention, exercise and training, they can be a delightful exotic pet! Their wild beauty, energetic spirit, curiosity and affection make savannahs appealing to exotic animal lovers.

Ultimately there is no universal answer between choosing dogs or cats. But by understanding their diverging needs and traits, prospective owners can determine which companion animal better fits their home and lifestyle. For some, a savannah cat will be the perfect exotic addition!

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