A Serengeti cat is a domestic cat breed.
They are medium sized, with long legs, spots, and large upright ears which make them resemble wild servals.
But unlike the better-known Savannah cat, they don’t include any serval heritage.
What’s In This Guide
This guide is packed full with information about the Serengeti cat breed, including:
- An in depth breed review
- Information about care and feeding
- The pros and cons of getting a Serengeti cat
Serengeti Cat FAQs
We’re going to answer all the questions you might have if you’ve just discovered this breed for the first time.
And those you might have if you’ve admired them from afar for years, but finally think you might be ready to own one!
Frequently asked questions about Serengeti cats include:
- Are Serengeti good pets?
- How big do Serengeti cats get?
- Can Serengeti cats go outside?
- Are Serengeti cats hypoallergenic?
- How long do Serengeti cats live?
Serengeti Cat Breed Review: Contents
- Where do Serengeti cats come from?
- Serengeti cat facts
- What do Serengeti cats look like?
- Coat colors
- Serengeti cat personality
- Health and life expectancy
- Serengeti cat care
- Feeding your Serengeti cat
- Serengeti cat breeders
- Raising a Serengeti cat kitten
- Rescuing a Serengeti cat
Serengeti Cat History
Despite borrowing their name from the beautiful region of Tanzania famous for its wildlife reserves and game parks, the Serengeti cat has never set a paw in Africa.
In fact, Serengetis were created by Californian conservation biologist Karen Sausman in the 1990s.
Her goal was to create a pet cat which looks like a wild serval.
But unlike the creators of the Savannah cat, which is also meant to give the impression of a domestic serval, Sausman resolved against using actual servals in her breeding program.
Serengeti Cat Facts
- Although Sausman didn’t use any wild cats in her own breeding program, the Bengal cat was originally the result of crosses between wild Asian leopard cats and domestic shorthairs.
- However, the amount of “wild” DNA left in the Serengeti cat is vanishingly small.
- The Serengeti cat shares its name with a successful thoroughbred racing horse called Serengeti Cat – but we don’t know if they have a deeper connection beyond their names!
Serengeti Cat Appearance
Serengetis are intended to remind their owners of a wild serval curled up on their couch!
They have large, upright ears with rounded tips, and large round eyes.
Everything about them looks longer than the average domestic cat – Serengetis have long necks, long legs, and a very upright posture.
The most desirable Serengetis have a pattern of high contrast spots, but a solid black coat is also accepted on the breed standard.
Some Serengetis still have rosettes rather than spots, which is a throwback to their Bengal ancestry.
Serengeti cat weight
Serengetis are medium sized cats.
They are very lithe and graceful, but also heavily muscled, which means they are frequently heavier than they look!
Males Serengetis usually weigh between 10 and 15lbs.
Serengeti cat colors
Wild servals have a pattern of black spots on a gold background.
This is a popular color for Serengeti cats as well. And like servals, they should have lighter fur on their belly, and eye spots on the backs of their ears.
Serengeti cats can also have black spots on a pale silver background, which isn’t found in wild servals.
Serengeti Cat Personality
TICA’s Serengeti breed standard calls for these cats to be gentle, confident, outgoing, alert and unchallenging.
Like the Bengals they’re descended from, they’re likely to enjoy exploring, playing games, and climbing up to high perches.
Some owners report that they can be rather vocal and chatty, which is a common trait in Oriental Shorthairs.
TICA says that the Serengeti is something of a velcro cat – they love to be with their people, and follow them around at every opportunity.
Serengeti Cat Health
The Serengeti cat hasn’t been established long enough to reveal a detailed picture of their overall health, or whether they’re prone to any hereditary genetic disorders.
However, since they’re descended from Bengal and Oriental Shorthair lines, it’s reasonable to prepare for them suffering any of the health problems commonly seen in these breeds too.
Bengal cats are prone to:
- Hereditary heart disease
- The degenerative eye disease Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- A form of anemia called Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
- And joint disorders such as hip dysplasia and patella luxation
Oriental Shorthair cats are vulnerable to:
- Heart disease
- Skeletal abnormalities
- And a type of cancer called mediastinal lymphoma.
Some of these conditions can be screened for in breeding cats, so individuals with a family history of those conditions should be tested before mating.
Serengeti Cat Lifespan
The average lifespan of all pet cats is in the region of 14 years.
Only a very small proportion of pet cats belong to a registered pedigree, but among those that do, the average life expectancy drops to 12.5 years.
This is because breeding exclusively within a pedigree population promotes the spread of hereditary diseases, reduces genetic diversity, and reduces overall fitness.
In fact Bengal cats in the UK are one of the shortest lived pedigree cats – achieving just 7.5 years old on average.
The Serengeti cat hasn’t existed long enough to gather much data on their average lifespan.
Caring For Your Serengeti Cat
What care will they need from you in that time?
Can Serengeti cats go outside?
Whether or not to keep your cat indoors is a personal choice.
A lot of us tend to fall in line with whatever is “normal” for our country.
In America, where there are more predator species capable of hunting domestic cats, and declawing domestic cats is common, it’s quite usual to keep pet cats indoors at all times.
On the other hand, in the UK where houses rarely have air conditioning, keeping a cat shut inside is often impractical, because people need to open their windows.
Outdoor cats have easy access to enrichment and exercise, which is great for the athletic and playful Serengeti.
However, they are also more at risk of injury.
Serengeti cat shedding
Serengeti cats have short, tight coats.
They do shed, but the volume of shed hair is unlikely to be overwhelming, or make a huge impact on your home.
Grooming your Serengeti cat
Although they are fastidious about washing themselves, all cats benefit from some grooming.
Brushing their coat regularly from kittenhood gets them used to being handled. Which in turn reduces their stress and discomfort if they ever need to be examined by a vet.
Grooming is also a great way to bond with a friendly, people-centric Serengeti. And if they do get injured or sick, it gives you an opportunity to spot the problem quickly.
A simple slicker brush or silicon grooming glove will be all you need.
Are Serengeti cats hypoallergenic?
Lots of cat lovers are thwarted from owning one by dreaded allergies.
Serengetis don’t shed profuse amounts of hair, but unfortunately this isn’t the same as being hypoallergenic!
Allergies are triggered by proteins in cats’ saliva, urine and dander.
These can get scattered around the home when they cling to shed hair, but they’re not completely absent if a cat doesn’t shed.
If you experience allergies, then the only way to find out whether a Seregenti cat will trigger them is to spend some time with the exact cat you’re going to live with, before you bring them home.
Understanding breeders may be willing to facilitate this, if you explain your situation.
Serengeti Cat Food
Like all cats, Serengetis are obligate carnivores.
Which means their digestive system is only adapted to handle meat.
A wide range of wet, dry, and raw cat diets are available these days, and as a rule, you get what you pay for in terms of quality and nutritional value.
We’ve reviewed some of our favorite cat foods in these articles:
- Best High Protein Dry Cat Food
- Best Cat Food For Indoor Cats
- Homemade Cat Food – Is It The Right Choice For You?
Are Serengeti Cats Good Pets?
In the right setting Serengetis can be great pets. But in the wrong setting or at the wrong time, it’s likely you’ll both be miserable.
Serengeti cats combine two of the most affectionate, people-seeking modern cat breeds.
They’ve also likely to be playful and quite high energy cats.
This makes them great for households who can give them lots of human attention. Households with older children, or one or more adults who spend most of the day at home are perfect.
However if they’re left alone for most of the day, they’re likely to vent their loneliness, frustration and boredom by engaging in destructive behaviors like scratching.
Serengeti Cat Breeders
One of the biggest drawbacks of new and unusual cat breeds is that they can be very hard to find.
From their beginnings in California, Serengeti breeders now operate across the U.S., and in the UK, Europe, and Australia.
When you approach a breeder, take care to make sure you’re happy with the welfare conditions their cats and kittens are kept in, and that they make their litters’ health top priority.
Raising A Serengeti Cat Kitten
Sweet fluffy kittens look adorable in photographs, but require a lot of time and attention in between snapshots.
Set aside plenty of time to settle your new kitten in and channel their youthful energy into safe and acceptable activities.
Elsewhere on this site, these guides will help you find your feet:
And if you prefer an old fashioned book to consult, do invest in a copy of the Happy Cat Handbook!
Rescuing a Serengeti Cat
Millions of stray cats enter rescue shelters every year in the U.S. alone.
Adopting an older cats is a great way to give them a second chance in life, and you’ll also get a clearer idea of their adult personality and whether it complements yours.
Since Serengetis are rare, they’re unlikely to come up for adoption often. Try searching for shelters which specialize in rehoming pedigree cats.
You might have to decide how long you’re willing to wait for a Serengeti to come up.
Pros And Cons of Getting A Serengeti Cat
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, so here are some distilled pros and cons of the Serengeti cat breed.
- May be hard to find.
- Small population size and short history mean we don’t have a detailed picture of their health yet.
- May not live very long, compared to other cats.
- Could struggle to be left alone.
- Strikingly beautiful wild cat look.
- Friendly and confident.
- Low maintenance coat.
Should I Get A Serengeti Cat?
The Serengeti is an exciting new breed which offers a stunning wild serval look without the complications of using actual servals in the breeding programme.
If you have the patience and resources to find one and care for one, we think they could be a fun and affectionate feline companion.
Take care to choose the healthiest kitten possible, to secure the most years with them.
Do you already have a Serengeti cat?
Please tell us about them in the comments box down below!
References And Resources
- Kingsmark Cattery
- Serengeti Breed Standard, The International Cat Association, 2013.
- Gough et al, Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats, Wiley Blackwell, 2018.
- O’Neill et al. Longevity and mortality of cats attending primary care veterinary practices in England, Journal of Feline Medical Surgery, 2015.
- Foreman-Worsely & Farnworth, A systematic review of social and environmental factors and their implications for indoor cat welfare, Applied Animal Behavior Science, 2019.
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