After the Hampstead Garden Suburb story of an escaped F1 Savannah or serval from the home of one of Britains mega-rich the Savannah cat is in the news. It has come to the attention of the media that the super-rich want to possess these exotic cats as status symbols and are prepared to pay £11,000 for an F1 kitten. “F1” stands for first filial which means the first generation from the wild i.e. the father is a captive wild serval and the mother is a nice looking domestic tabby coat. They are hard to breed because the serval is many times larger than a domestic cat. Hence the high cost.
F1 Savannahs are the new Rolex or Bentley. Mr Ojars Bluzma, 42, who owns and runs Kent Savannahs charges £11,000 for the top quality kittens. The F1s require a license in Britain if you fancy owning one. You apply to your local council. Bluzma breeds about ten kittens a year in an outdoor enclosure. Breeders use breeding cats in a pretty commercial way. They are in enclosures open to the elements. It is only when the kittens are socialised that they are brought inside to mix with people and other pets.
It is believed that in the UK these exotic cats are becoming more popular. There are other wild cat hybrids such as the F1 Bengal (Asiatic leopard cat crossed with domestic) and the F1 Chausie (Jungle cat crossed with a domestic cat). But these are discussed rarely although the F5 Bengal is very popular and quite common.
In 2017, according to council records, there were 225 wild or wild cat hybrids in the UK. I am not sure which filial is being referred to. 2020 stats on ownership strongly indicates a growing trend in owning these cats which should be considered carefully as the F1s behave differently to standard domestic cats. More input is required and some can’t cope. They are half wild cats. Few people are able to do justice to caring for them adequately and few realise it before adopting.
They are unpredictable, quick to react and not necessarily calm animals. It’s concerning that people think they can keep them as pets…Chris Draper, head of animal welfare and captivity at Born Free