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Genetics in Savannah's

Many people are confused about the genetics how to know what colors can be expect when breeding Savannah's. I will try to explain it on this page to all who want to learn and understand more. Many pages using the difficult wording what is more confusing, but this page will be simpler to understand.

INBREEDING = Very close related cats, like mom to son, daughter to dad, sibling to sibling, 1/2 sibling to 1/2 sibling.
(This can fix certain traits genetically and increases homozygous traits. However it can also bring out more the traits we don't want to see, long tail, small ears etc.)
LINE BREEDING = Still in the same bloodline from either parents but skips one or more generations to breed with each other, like uncle, nice, grand parent with grand child.
(Breeders like to do this to "lock in" the better traits in that offspring)
OUTCROSS = Breeding two cats who are complete not related with each other or even with other breed.

When you want to breed Savannah's you have to understand the codes, to know what you're breeding for.
Main rule is when you breed two parents with the same generation, the kittens will one generation later then parents. Sample: F5 X F5 = F6 kittens. You always calculate from the highest generation to know what the offspring will be.
F1 X F5 = F2 kittens.
F2 X F6= F3 kittens.
F3 X F4= F4 kittens.
F4 X F4= F5 kittens, F4 X F8= F5 kittens.
F5 x F5= F6 kittens, F5 X F6=
F6 kittens.
F6 X F4 = F5 kittens, F6 X F6= F7 kittens etc.

To understand the A, B, and C codes. Parent bred with different codes:
A X A= B kittens, A X B= B kittens, A X C= B kittens.
B X A= B kittens, B X B= C kittens B X C= C kittens.
C X A= B kittens, C X B= C kittens, C X C =SBT kittens.
SBT X A = B kittens, SBT X B= C kittens, SBT X SBT = SBT kittens.

BASIC Genetics
Cats have 19 pairs of chromosomes. Chromosomes are located in the nucleus of each cell, chromosomes make up the blueprint of animals. The chromosomes are made up of genes. Genes come in pairs, one from each parent.  Each gene is responsible for a single feature, or a group of features. One pair of chromosomes determines the cat's sex. A female has two X chromosomes (XX), and a male will have one X & one Y chromosome (XY).

When you start with a breeding pair, very first rule is to learn how to read a pedigree. This is the foundation in your cats to know what to expect. You have to understand some difficult words what is important in our Savannah breed:
Homozygous = 2 pairs of the same genes. Means a dominant gene.
Hetrozygous = pairs of genes are not the same. Means a recessive gene.
Inhibitor gene = silver gene, what gives the cat white hairs with colored tips. Dominant gene.
Agouti = Tabby gene what create the tabby and ticked pattern. Dominant gene.
Non-Agouti = solid color on the cat. Recessive gene.
Dilute colors come from the dominant solid colors. The recessive Dilute gene produces paler colors.


Silver tabbies have black spots on a white ground color and have white hair roots. Silver is genetically a brown tabby wearing an invisibility cloak, we call the inhibitor gene. This cloak is selective, only able to cover the yellow pigment (phaomelanin) in the hair shaft while the black pigment (melanin) remains visible. Inhibitor gene is dominant and CANNOT be carried, means the cat has to be a silver to produce silver, or black smoke. Only one of the parents has to be silver to get silver offspring, or black smoke. Silver has a agouti gene. Smoke has a non-agouti gene.

Agouti is a gene what controls the pattern of the coat, banded hairs liked ticked and tabby pattern. Dominant gene

A black smoke is a solid black cat with white roots (silver undercoat) Smokes are the solid version of a silver tabby. Smoke is a non-agouti, (recessive gene) what means the hairs have a solid color.



Black silver spotted tabby

Black smoke

Important to know when you want to breed for silvers (or black smoke) to know what your silver is, Homozygous = dominant or double silver.
Heterozygous = recessive or single silver.
Homozygous gene means 2 pairs of the same genes, means both parents were silver.
Heterozygous gene means 1 pair of genes, means 1 parent was silver, the other parent has another color.
(All depends also what the parents carry for what will be explained more on this page.)
This means when one silver parent is double silver (Homozygous) bred with another color, you will have 100% silver offspring.
When one silver parent is single silver (Heterozygous) you will have silver and brown spotted tabby offspring.
Important to know if the offspring will be double silver or single silver. Two silvers paired together, one parent is single silver, other parent double silver, 1/2 of litter is double silver and other 1/2 of litter will be single silver. All kittens will be silver tabbies. Only way to know which ones from the kittens is double or single silver, is to breed them with another color.
Silver parent paired with other color parent, kittens will be always single silvers.

To breed for black smoke, one parent has to be a black smoke, and the other parent has to carry for black, or both parents have to carry for the black and atleast one parent is a silver.
Brown spotted parent,carries for black, paired with other parent who is a black smoke (Heterozygous), you will have silver and black smoke and brown spotted tabby offspring.
A black parent, paired with Homozygous Black smoke, you will only get silver and black smoke kittens.
Smoke to silver will have silver spotted and black smoke kittens when one parent is a double silver, and carries for the black.
Smoke to silver will have silver, brown spotted and black smokes when both parents are single silvers and carry for the black.
Smoke to smoke parent will give many times only smoke kittens, but all depends again if they are Homozygous or Heterozygous.

Black smoke color is dominant over the black color.


Dilute colors (= Savannah non-standard colors)
Dilute colors come from the dominant solid colors. A Homozygous (dominant) color means full-pigmented. The Heterozygous (recessive) Dilute gene produces paler colors like Chocolate, Cinnamon, blue. These are the most common non-standard colors we see in our Savannah's.
Dilute colors can be tricky and can be carried in the genes from a faraway generation back in the pedigree.
Important to know, to get dilute colors in the offspring, you need two parents who carry for the same dilute to get that color. If one parent carries for a dilute the other parent not, you will never have a dilute color in the offspring, but the offspring will carry this dilute from the one parent who has the dilute.
Marble pattern and the snow (Lynx point tabby) pattern, is also a dilute, but a pattern what can be carried in cats. Same as above, you need two parents who carry for this dilute pattern to get this in the offspring. Two marbled parents cannot produce a spotted tabby. Two recessive color patterns in parents cannot produce an offspring in dominant colors.

All standard colored Savannahs, Browns and Silvers should have a black tail tip.  If the tail tip is NOT black, the kitten is a dilute color.
The first gene controls the amount of a black-colored pigment, and comes in three different varieties or alleles (is one member of a pair or series of different forms of a gene.)
The first creates black fur, the second produces a brown color known as chocolate, and the third creates a lighter reddish-brown color called cinnamon.
To summarize, these are the eight basic feline coat colors
Blue (dilute of black)
Lilac (dilute of chocolate)
Fawn (dilute of cinnamaon)
Red/Orange (converts all black-based colors to red/orange)
Cream (dilute of red/orange)


Brown spotted tabby
The brown tabby corresponds to the black solid: sufficient undercoat color shows in the agouti (tabby) areas to provide a brownish cast. The tabbies are formed by adding the agouti gene, to the solids.
Two brown spotted tabby parents bred together will have brown spotted tabbies and more colors if both parents carry for other colors or dilutes.
Two brown parents can NEVER produce a silver or black smoke kitten.


Black (Melanistic)
To breed for Black Savannah's you need parents who are black smoke or black or carry for the black to produce black offspring. If one parent doesn't carry for the black and one does, you will NEVER get black offspring. Keep in mind if you breed a black, or a black carrier to a black smoke, the chance is higher to get only black smokes. Smoke color (genetically silver) is Homozygous (dominant) over the black color.


The tabby pattern is dominant; you only need one tabby parent to have tabby offspring. There are different patterns in cats. We breed for the spotted tabbies in our Savannah's but sometimes we get a marble (classic) pattern what is a non-standard pattern. Some breeders breed also for the Servaline pattern, what is a non-standard pattern. Servaline come from the Abyssinian, but Servals do have this pattern also in the wild, even really rare to find. Many refer to this Servaline coat as ticked.
All tabbies have thin pencil lines on the face, expressive markings around the eyes, and a tabby "M" on the forehead.

  • A "mackerel tabby" has narrow stripes that run in parallel down its sides. This is what some people refer to as a "tiger."
  • A "classic tabby" cat has bold, swirling patterns on its sides like marble cake. This color is called "blotched tabby" in the UK.
  • A "spotted tabby" has spots all over its sides. Sometimes these are large spots, sometimes small spots, and sometimes they appear to be broken mackerel stripes.
  • A "ticked tabby" (sometimes called "Abyssinian tabby" or "agouti tabby") does not have stripes or spots on its body. However, like all tabbies, it has tabby markings on the face and agouti hairs on the body. This is the color of the Abyssinian cat, but it also appears in non-purebreds and does not mean the cat is Abyssinian.
    If your cat has dark "points" (face, paws, and tail) shading to a much lighter color on the body, it is a "pointed" cat. In the Savannah breed we call this a Lynx pointed tabby (also known as a snow)
    The servaline cat has very fine or almost indistinct spots, and is smaller than the larger spotted forms.This pattern has small freckle spots, giving a speckled appearance instead of the big spots from the Serval.

    The classic tabby pattern is recessive to the mackerel tabby pattern. The Abyssinian pattern (ticked) is dominant to the mackerel tabby pattern

Spotted tabby cats bred together will have all spotted kittens. If the parents carry for the Marble pattern, high chance to get several marbles in the litter. Marble pattern has to be carried by both parents (or one has to be marble) to get marbles. Two marbles bred together will NEVER produce a spotted litter.
Lynx point tabbies (snows); both parent have to carry this, or one has to be a snow to get Lynx pointed tabbies in the litter. When one parent doesn't carry for it, you will never get a snow.
One Servaline parent will pass on the Servaline pattern to the offspring.


These pictures below from several Savannah litters of mine will show you what I got with parents who carry for dilutes and are recessive silver and dominant silvers.

A Brown female bred with a Heterozygous (single silver) silver male. Kittens 1 dark silver tabby and 1 brown spotted tabby. Genetically the silver kittens are Heterozygous = single silver
Same female as above paired with the same Heterozygous (single) silver male, kittens 2 brown spotted, 1 silver spotted. Genetically the silver kittens are Heterozygous = single silver
Mom is a Heterozygous (single) silver bred to a brown spotted male, kittens, 6 brown spotted, 1 silver. Genetically the silver kittens are Heterozygous = single silver
Brown mom, bred with Heterozygous (single) silver male, kittens 3 brown spotted, 1 silver. Genetically the silver kittens are Heterozygous = single silver
Same brown mom as above, paired with sameHeterozygous Sinle) silver dad, kittens 2 brown, 3 silvers. Genetically the silver kittens are Heterozygous = single silver
Brown mom bred with brown dad, 6 brown kittens
Homozygous (double) silver mom bred with brown spotted male, but both carried for the marble pattern. kittens all silvers, 2 marbles, 3 spotted tabbies.Heterozygous = single silver
Same mom as above,Homozygous (double) silver, paired with different brown dad, parents both carry for the marble pattern. 4 spotted kittens, 1 marble. Genetically kittens are Heterozygous = single silver
Same mom as above, Homozygous (double) silver, paired with a Heterozygous (single) silver male, kittens all silver tabbies. Genetically the silver kittens can be Heterozygous = single silver and/or Homozygous = double silver
Homozygous Black smoke mom bred with brown dad, kittens are all silver spotted. Genetically the silver kittens are Heterozygous = single silver
Kittens from same black smoke mom as above, paired with a Heterozygous (single) silver male. kittens 2 black smoke, 1 silver spotted. the dad carries for the black to get the black smokes. Genetically the silver kittens can be Heterozygous = single silver and/or Homozygous = double silver
These kittens were born out a brown mom, paired with a Heterozygous (single) silver dad. Both parents carry for the black. Kittens, 1 brown spotted, 1 black, 1 smoke. Genetically black smoke kitten is Heterozygous = single silver
Mom is Hetrozygous (single) silver paired with a Heterozygous (single) silver dad. Kittens 4 silver spotted, 1 brown spotted. Genetically the silver kittens can be Heterozygous = single silver and/or Homozygous = double silver
Same mom as above, Heterozygous silver mom paired with brown spotted male, kittens 3 silver spotted, 2 brown spotted. Genetically the silver kittens Heterozygous = single silver
Brown mom, who carries for black and snow pattern, paired with Heterozygous black smoke male, who also carried for snow pattern. kittens 1 silver spotted, 1 brown spotted, 2 black smokes and 2 snows.
Same kittens from the mom above, just little older to show them better. Genetically the silver kittens are Heterozygous = single silver




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