Customers are going wild over cats bred in Ponca City

BY JENNIFER PALMER Published: April 7, 2010

PONCA CITY — Savannahs, a unique breed of cat with a wild look and domestic personality, are attracting people from all over the world to a farm near this northern Oklahoma city.

Visitors to A1 Savannahs have included movie stars and famous athletes, as well as regular folks, searching for a furry companion that might raise an eyebrow or two. The cats, which are bred from wild African servals, can be as big as a toddler, pounce 7-feet in the air and run alongside their owner.

On a recent afternoon at the rural farm, owned by Martin and Kathrin Stucki, dozens of cats sauntered back and forth in their cages. They feasted on raw chicken legs and, when taunted, playfully batted at a feather dangling from a stick.

As she held an 8-month-old Savannah for a photo, stretching out the female cat to show how long she is, Kathrin Stucki marveled: "I love her face. She has that wild face.”

Where it began
The former owner of the facility, Joyce Sroufe, is known as the original founder of the Savannah breed for crossing an African serval with a domestic cat. She registered the first litter in 1994.

Now, the Stuckis breed servals with Savannahs, as well as Savannahs with each other, and rate the kittens by how much wild blood they contain.

An F1, for example, is 50 to 75 percent wild and the largest in the breed. An F2 is more domesticated — about 25 percent wild and a little smaller.

An F5 is about the size of a domestic cat but retains enough wild genes to give it the desired look, said Kathrin Stucki.

"I think they are breathtakingly beautiful. They are unlike any cat out there,” she said.

Those ratings also determine their price. A rare F1 costs $15,000 to $20,000; an F2 costs $8,000 to $9,000. Even an F5 costs $1,000.

Potential size attracts many people to the Savannahs. Scarlett’s Magic, a female F1 Savannah, was recently included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "tallest domestic cat” for measuring 17.1 inches from floor to shoulder.

Kathrin Stucki said servals are known as the most docile of the wild cats, and Savannahs lose much of their wild traits during breeding. The cats are high-energy and can walk on a leash; they also can be litterbox trained and eat regular cat food (but they enjoy treats like raw meat).

Norman resident Trevor Hamman has two cats from A1 Savannahs: Hank, an F2, and his playmate, Loki, an F4.