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The Exotic Serengeti – A Hybrid that Looks Wild But Acts Tame

Serengeti

Both elegant and exotic, intelligent and full of energy, the Serengeti cat is a designer hybrid cat breed developed by crossing Bengal cats with Oriental Shorthairs. Recognized and registered by The International Cat Association (TICA), the Serengeti cat is a gift to the cat world by Karen Sausman, a professional conservation biologist who has spent an entire lifetime devoted to protecting endangered species. Her goal in creating the Serengeti cat was to produce a domestic breed of cat that closely resembled the exotically beautiful wild African Serval cat without resorting to the use of any wild genes. Serengeti cats have no genetic ties to the Serval cat, unlike the Savannah cat breed, which does. Begun slowly in 1995, the Serengeti breeding project is now being carried forth by individuals throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, and Russia.

While Karen’s intention was to provide cat lovers with an ideal choice of domestic cat that has the coveted look of a wildcat without actually being one, this breed is still in the early stages of development. What has been achieved so far is the birth of a cat resembling the beautiful Serval, with its stunning markings and exotic physique. Granted, one cat breed which has contributed to the Serengeti’s existence, the Bengal, has wildcat blood in its background, that of the Asian Leopard Cat. However, many generations of litters have separated the Bengal cats used in Serengeti breeding programs from the ancestry of the Asian Leopard. Whatever genetic encoding remains only influences the appearance of the coat.

The current gene pool for Bengals is quite diversified, consisting of both domestic and wild genes from members of at least eight different breeds: the Asian Leopard Cat, the British Shorthair, unregistered domestic shorthair, the "Indian Mau", the Ocicat, the Egyptian Mau, the Abyssinian, and the Burmese (from Bombay). Some even carry some Persian blood, so today’s Bengal is a true “melting pot” of breeds. The other half of the Serengeti formula, the Oriental Shorthair, was created by breeding domestic shorthairs with Siamese, which means it is completely devoid of a wildcat lineage.

With a proud, majestic presence, this slender feline carries itself with the elegance of an aristocrat. Power exudes from every muscle, including its long, lithe legs, its strong, thick neck and its gracefully tapered tail. Males can weigh between ten and fifteen pounds, with females a bit smaller.

Besides its beautiful coat, the Serengeti’s most prominent feature is its very large ears. Also large are its round eyes which may be gold, yellow, hazel, or green for the show ring. Blue eyes are ineligible for competition. Presently, TICA recognizes a range of coat variations including tabby, ebony silver, ebony smoke, and solid black but other variations are in consideration at this time. A highly attractive selection of spotted versions are available with some glamorized by “stardust” which adds glitter to the cat’s already stunning look, thanks to some of its best traits from the beautiful Bengal.

However, the overall countenance of the Serengeti is more typical of the Oriental Shorthair than it is of the Bengal. Yet, major differences in the outcome of this breed matchup include larger bones, longer legs and more prominent ears. In addition, the Serengeti’s posture is much more stately than either of its parent breeds, with its head held high on its long, imposing neck.

Despite the Serengeti’s wildcat look, its temperament is one of a docile domestic cat: confident, affectionate and extroverted. However, true to its wild look, its activity level can be extremely impressive, from an effortless agility to climb to great heights to its unexpected motivation to tear through the house at top speed. Probably an inheritance from its Oriental lineage, the Serengeti is a talker, glib on most any topic, a characteristic intriguing to older children, pet dogs and house guests alike.

Able to contend with short periods of abandonment while you attend to outside chores, this cat would much prefer to have another feline companion if you must leave it alone for a long time. It is highly recommended that you restrict its life to your indoor environment to ensure its long-term safety and your lifelong enjoyment. This is a special cat who delights in your doting appreciation and the warmth of your lap. Perhaps a little trepidatious about strange situations at first, the Serengeti will adapt quickly once it gets its “sea legs,” rebounding with unrestrained exuberance about everything in its life.

The Serengeti is generally a very healthy breed of cat with no breed-specific medical issues detected so far, and should live well into its mid-teens, given the proper care and feeding.

Allow your cat the pleasure of an “adventure zone” filled with kitty toys, cat gyms and scratching devices to keep it entertained and out of trouble. Only release your precious Serengeti outdoors if you have an enclosed cat run to keep it from harm. This is a low maintenance cat that only needs to be groomed once a week, and will respond to your efforts with great love, devotion and gratitude.

References
www.catbreedsjunction.com
www.tica.org
www.wikipedia.org
cat-breeds.findthebest.com