A Savannah cat is a cross between a domestic cat and the Serval, a medium-sized, large-eared wild African cat. The unusual cross became popular among breeders at the end of the '90s, and in 2001 the International Cat Association accepted it as a new registered breed. In May 2012, TICA accepted it as a championship breed. Savannahs are much more social than typical domestic cats, and they are often compared to dogs in their loyalty. They can be trained to walk on a leash and even taught to play fetch.
The Savannah is the largest hybrid cat available today. Smaller and more manageable than a Serval, males range from 15 to 30 pounds depending on generation, females from 9 to 17 pounds. However, because of their tall, lanky, attenuated body type, even the lightest weight Savannah appears much larger and heavier than it actually is. The F1 and F2 generations are usually the largest, due to the stronger genetic influence of the African serval ancestor. Because of the random factors in Savannah hybrid genetics, size can vary significantly, even in one litter.
The coat of a Savannah depends on the breed of cat used for the domestic cross. The International Cat Association (TICA) breed standard calls for brown-spotted tabby (cool to warm brown, tan or gold with black or dark brown spots), silver-spotted tabby (silver coat with black or dark grey spots), black (black with black spots), and black smoke (black-tipped silver with black spots) only. In addition, the Savannah can come in nonstandard variations such as the classic or marble patterns, snow coloration (point), and blue or other diluted colors derived from domestic sources of cat coat genetics.
The overall look of an individual Savannah depends greatly on generation, with higher-percentage Savannah cats often having a more "wild" look. A Savannah's wild look is often due to the presence of many distinguishing serval characteristics. Most prominent of these include the various color markings; tall, deeply cupped, wide, rounded, erect ears; very long legs; fat, puffy noses, and hooded eyes. The bodies of Savannahs are long and leggy. Their eyes have a "boomerang" shape, with a hooded brow to protect them from harsh sunlight. Ideally, black or dark "tear-streak" or "cheetah tear" markings run from the corner of the eyes down the sides of the nose to the whiskers, much like that of a cheetah. Most F1 generation Savannahs will possess many or all of these traits, while their presence often diminishes in later generations.