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    Bengals vs Savannahs

    Bengals vs. Savannahs… Which cat should you add to your family?

    You’re looking for your exotic furrever friend, but there are a few things you need to learn first. Namely, the difference between Bengals vs Savannahs. These mini wild cat look-a-likes are often confused with each other.


    Today at Buckaroo Bengals, we’ll go over the similarities and differences between Bengal and Savannah Cats. Hopefully, this will help you make up your mind on your next furry companion.


    Let’s start with where they came from.

    The Origin of Bengal and Savannah Cats

    Let’s start with the Bengal…

    Bengal cats are a hybrid breed.

    Bengals are the result of crossing an Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) with a Domestic Shorthair (DSH).


    Originally bred in the 1970s as part of a research project, Jean Mills was instrumental in getting them recognized by TICA and CFA.


    Now let’s talk about the Savannah cat.

    Savannahs are also a hybrid breed.

    The first recorded Savannah was a cross between a Serval and a Siamese cat.1


    They are a newer breed, started in the late 1980’s. Patrick Kelley began the process to get them recognized by the Cat Associations in the late 1990’s.

    ALC crossed with a DSH

    ALC and a DSH

    Serval crossed with a Siamese

    Savannah with a Siamese

    Despite both being the product of outcrosses, Bengals and Savannah cats have many physical differences.


    Size and Appearance



    Bengal Cat

    Savannah Cat

    Head Shape

    Broad wedge shape, small in comparison to the body

    Equilateral triangle shape, small in comparison to the body


    Medium to small, wide base and rounded tops, possible lynx tufts

    Extra large, wide base, rounded tops, and ocelli are desirable


    Large, oval to round, no bugging, rich color, eyeliner desirable, color dependent on coat color

    Small to medium, slightly hooded brow, dark tear markings desirable, all colors allowed.


    Pronounced whisker pads

    Unpronounced whisker pads


    Wide nose with puffy nose leather

    Wide nose


    6-15 lbs and very muscled

    9-22 lbs and very tall


    Longer back legs, shorter front legs

    Longer back legs, shorter front legs


    Very musculature. It should be noticeable.

    Firm and well-developed but smooth


    Medium and thick, tapered at the end and rounded

    Medium length. Fairly thick. Slight taper with a blunt end


    Short to medium, only one layer (making them hypoallergenic), very soft

    Short to medium, slightly coarse


    Brown, snow, silver, and nonstandard colors

    Brown and silver plus nonstandard  colors


    Rosetted, spotted, marbled, Charcoal (pattern modifier)


    Bengal Cat

    brown spotted bengal

    Savannah Cat

    savannah cat

    As you can see, Bengals and Savannahs have several physical differences. Let’s talk about their temperaments now.


    Bengal and Savannah Temperament and Activity Level.


    Both Bengals and Savannahs have wild cat in their backgrounds. Typically, their temperaments will be a bit more wild in the earlier generations. But once you get to the later generations they are less affected by this.


    However, both breeds are considered highly intelligent and active.


    Some words used to describe both:

    • Confident
    • Outgoing
    • Curious
    • Active
    • Playful
    • Intelligent

    Of course, their upbringing and environment will have a huge impact on their overall temperaments. It’s important to find a reputable breeder to ensure they are well-socialized from the start.


    You will find that both breeds require consistent play and exercise to excel in your home.

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    Grooming a Bengal or a Savannah


    Both Bengals and Savannah cats have short to medium coats. So neither require extensive grooming or bathing.


    If you chose a Bengal for its hypoallergenic coat, you’ll want to keep allergens down in your home. It’s a good idea to brush them once a week, especially in the warmer months.


    Savannahs are also low-shedding cats, requiring minimum brushing or maintenance.


    Bengal Health and Savannah Health


    Both Bengals and Savannahs are predisposed to certain genetic health issues. Including HCM, PRA-b, and PK-def. All of these can be screened for by breeders.


    PRA-b and PK-def are completely avoidable with the proper screening. HCM often shows up later in a cat’s life but it’s still important to choose a breeder who screens their breeding cats at least bi-annually with a licensed cardiologist.


    Savannahs are also known for Patellar Luxation – dislocation of the knee.


    To maintain their health, it’s also important to feed an appropriate diet.


    An Obligate Carnivore Diet


    Both breeds are obligate carnivores – as are all cats. This means they can only absorb animal proteins. It’s important to check the labels on your cat’s food to make sure they are getting the appropriate nutrients.


    Mostly protein and water content. Feeding a species-appropriate diet will go a long way toward increasing their life expectancy.

    Bengal cat in Colorado

    Life Expectancy of Bengals and Savannahs


    Savannah cats have a life expectancy of 12-15 years. Meanwhile, Bengals have a life expectancy of 12-20 years.


    Many things can affect how long Bengal and Savannah cats live:

    • Diet
    • Exercise
    • Genetic health testing
    • Vet care (including dental)
    • Environment (indoor vs outdoor)

    How you care for your cat matters. And where you get your cat also matters.


    The Right Bengal Cat Breeder


    Finding a Bengal cat breeder who provides the proper care and genetic testing for their cats isn’t always easy on the spammy cat’s Facebook pages.


    That’s why we’re completely forthcoming and transparent about our cattery practices on our website.


    Take a look at our Available Bengal Kitten Page to see if one could be your next furry friend.


    Did you decide that a Savannah cat is right for you? Find a registered Savannah breeder on the TICA website.2

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      1 Savannah Cat Origins – Savannah Cat Association

      Registered Savannah Breeders – TICA

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