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Customers are going wild over cats bred in Ponca City

BY JENNIFER PALMER Published: April 7, 2010

/articleid/3451988/1/pictures/905255">Photo - Martin Stucki, owner of A1 Savannahs in Ponca City, feeds a serval. Photo by David McDaniel, The Oklahoman
Martin Stucki, owner of A1 Savannahs in Ponca City, feeds a serval. Photo by David McDaniel, The Oklahoman
Hank loves water and actually will join him in the shower if he doesn’t close the door. He can open cabinets and has a 7-foot vertical jump.

Hank weighs 27 pounds and, stretched out, measures about 4

feet long, Hamman said. He resembles a small bobcat.

"He does look a little wild. But that’s part of what makes them so beautiful,” he said.

No permit needed
States differ on what animals they allow residents to have as pets. In Oklahoma, only wildlife native to the state require a permit if they are kept as a pet, so Savannah owners have no licensing requirements beyond those for a domestic cat.

A1 Savannahs is licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture. Random inspections of the facility have turned up no violations, according to the agency.

Kathrin Stucki said some people may question whether the animals are dangerous or criticize them as a "designer breed.” The cross does occur in nature, although rarely, she said.

The Stuckis don’t use artificial insemination or hormones to facilitate breeding between the cats. Instead, they pair two they think will make a good match in a cage and see what happens.

The servals are especially picky, and sometimes it takes a few tries to find them a suitable mate, Kathrin Stucki said.

Though visitors to the farm are warned of the dangers of the animals, and asked to sign a waiver, Martin Stucki said he hasn’t been scratched.

The Stuckis, who emigrated from Switzerland six years ago to run the cattery, pride themselves on their animals.

"People think ‘Oh my God, a kitty mill.’ But we’re different,” said Kathrin Stucki.

Though there are other Savannah breeders, including at least one other in Oklahoma, the Stuckis’ facility boasts the widest gene pool in the world, she said. And they guarantee socialization with other animals as well as children.

"We don’t have another job. We spend all day with the cats,” Kathrin Stucki said. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Stucki, who obtained a visa for extraordinary ability for her knowledge of animal breeding and is working on a veterinary medicine degree, recalled laughing when her husband recently bought a lottery ticket.

"What would we do if we won?” she asked him. "I wouldn’t do anything differently.”


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