Bengal Cat vs. Savannah Cat Size: Revealing The Differences

Stepping into the fascinating realm of domestic felines, Bengal and Savannah cats emerge as extraordinary breeds that transcend the ordinary.

These cats are not just pets but a seamless blend of domestic charm and wild allure. With their exotic appearance and lineage closely linked to their wild ancestors, they stand apart in the diverse world of domestic cats.

Their striking looks and vibrant personalities make them a visual spectacle and a testament to the incredible diversity of feline breeds.

In this exploration, we delve into the captivating world of Bengal and Savannah cats, uncovering the allure and uniqueness that make them truly remarkable.

Bengal Cat vs. Savannah Cat Size

Bengal Cat Breed

Bengal Cat standing on all fours
Bengal Cat

The Bengal cat, a stunning example of human ingenuity in breeding, traces its roots to the crossbreeding of domestic cats with the wild Asian leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).

This deliberate hybridization aimed to capture the exotic appearance of a wild cat while maintaining the temperament of a domestic cat.

Historical Development

Early Experiments

The history of Bengal cats intertwines with various early attempts at crossbreeding, but Jean Mill (née Sugden), an American breeder, played a pivotal role in their development.

Jean Mill’s Contribution

In the 1960s, Mill crossed an Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat. She aimed to create a breed with the wild leopard cat’s distinctive coat and the domestic cat’s friendly nature.


  • Coat Patterns: One of the most striking features of Bengal cats is their coat. It often mimics the rosettes or spots of the leopard cat, coming in colors like brown, silver, and snow.
  • Athletic Build: Bengals are known for their muscular, athletic build, which reflects their wild ancestry. They are agile, active, and often enjoy climbing and interactive play.

Savannah Cat Breed

A cute Savannah cat on a couch
Savannah Cat

The Savannah cat breed is a newer hybrid cat, resulting from a cross between a domestic cat and an African serval cat.

Origin Story

  • First Savannah Cat: The first known Savannah was born in 1986, resulting from a breeding program initiated by Judee Frank. This kitten, named Savannah, was the first recognized cat of this breed.
  • Role of Breeders: After Judee Frank’s initial success, other breeders, including Jean Mill, contributed to the breed’s development, refining its characteristics and promoting its popularity.

Breed Traits

  • Size and Appearance: Savannahs are notable for their large size, tall and slender build, and large ears. They are among the largest domesticated cat breeds.
  • High Energy and Intelligence: Known for their high energy levels, Savannahs are very active and playful. They are also intelligent, often demonstrating a keen interest in their surroundings and the ability to learn tricks.

Bengal and Savannah cats represent remarkable achievements in feline breeding.

Their wild ancestors give them a unique appearance, fascinating behaviors, and traits that set them apart from other domestic cat breeds.

These breeds offer a glimpse into the wild while providing the companionship and affection expected of domesticated pets.

Size and Build

Savannah Cats

Savannah Cat in the desert
Savannah Cat
  • Overall Size: Savannah cats are known for their impressive size, significantly larger than the average domestic cat. This size variation is most pronounced in the early generations, such as the F1 and F2 generations.
  • Generational Differences: The F1 generation (first generation from a serval parent) tends to be the largest, with each subsequent generation typically getting smaller as they are further removed from their serval ancestry.
  • Physical Build: Savannahs have a lean, graceful build that gives them an elegant and wild appearance. Their body structure is elongated, contributing to their tall stature.

Bengal Cats

Bengal Cat Walking on a Ledge
Bengal Cat
  • Comparative Size: Bengals are generally closer in size to the average domestic cat, but they distinguish themselves with their notably muscular and athletic build.
  • Muscular Structure: Their physique is robust and strong, a characteristic derived from their wild ancestry. This build contributes to their agility and strength, making them active and playful.

Coat and Appearance

Bengal Cats

  • Coat Patterns: Bengals are celebrated for their striking coat patterns. Their fur often exhibits large spots or marbles that resemble the Asian leopard cat. These patterns are vivid and distinct, making each Bengal cat unique.
  • Coat Colors: Common coat colors include brown, snow, and silver. The texture of their coat is also noteworthy, often soft and pelt-like.

Savannah Cats

  • Coat Features: Like Bengals, Savannah cats have a distinctive coat, usually marked with bold black spots against a golden, cream, or silver background. This spotting is a hallmark of their serval ancestry.
  • Body Structure: What sets Savannah cats apart is their overall body structure. They have long legs, large ears, and long necks, strikingly resembling their wild serval ancestors. This unique body structure contributes to their distinctive appearance and graceful movement.

The physical characteristics of Bengal and Savannah cats reflect their exotic heritage and contribute to their appeal and distinctiveness among domesticated cat breeds.

While Bengals captivate with their muscular form and distinctive coats, Savannah cats impress with their size, elegant build, and striking spots.

Energy Levels and Stimulation Needs

Common Traits

  • High-Energy: Both Bengal and Savannah cats are characterized by their high energy levels. This trait makes them exceptionally playful and active throughout their lives.
  • Need for Stimulation: These breeds require significant mental and physical stimulation due to their intelligence and active nature. Without adequate stimulation, they may become bored, leading to destructive behavior.

Specific Needs

  • Bengals: Bengal cats enjoy interactive play. Their agile bodies allow them to make high jumps and quick movements. They often appreciate toys that challenge their hunting instincts, like feather wands or laser pointers.
  • Savannahs: Savannah cats have long legs and athletic build and are natural climbers. They often seek high places and may benefit from tall cat trees and shelves. Interactive play that mimics hunting behaviors is also highly beneficial for them.

Personality Differences

Bengal Cats

  • Manageability: while active and intelligent, Bengals are often considered more manageable as pets than Savannahs. This is partly due to their smaller size and the fact that they have been domesticated longer.
  • Social and Affectionate: Bengals are known for being particularly social and affectionate with their human families. They often form strong bonds and can be pretty interactive and communicative.

Savannah Cats

  • Experience Required: Savannah cats, especially the early generations closer to their serval ancestors, may require more experienced handling. Their size and stronger wild instincts can present unique challenges.
  • Wilder Instincts: The higher proportion of wild genes in Savannahs, especially early generations, can lead to more unpredictable behaviors. They may exhibit stronger hunting instincts and a more independent nature.

Bengal and Savannah cats are high-energy, intelligent breeds that thrive with active engagement and interactive play. While Bengals are often more manageable and friendly, making them suitable for a broader range of cat owners.

With their larger size and stronger wild instincts, Savannahs may be better suited for experienced cat owners who can provide the necessary environment and attention.

Understanding these traits is crucial for anyone considering these breeds, ensuring a harmonious and fulfilling relationship between the cat and its owner.

Common Health Issues

Both Breeds

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): This heart condition, characterized by the thickening of the heart muscle, is a concern in many cat breeds, including Bengals and Savannahs. Regular veterinary check-ups can help in early detection and management.
  • Genetic Diseases: Due to their hybrid nature, both breeds can inherit certain genetic conditions from their wild ancestors or domestic cat lineage.

Savannah Cats

  • Periodontal Disease: Savannah cats may be more prone to dental issues, including periodontal disease. This makes regular dental care and veterinary check-ups essential.
  • Size-Related Issues: The larger size of Savannahs, especially in early generations, may also lead to other health concerns, such as joint problems.

Bengal Cats

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): Bengals can be prone to this genetic eye condition, leading to retina deterioration and potential vision loss. Responsible breeding practices can help reduce the risk of PRA.

Hybrid Breed Considerations

Health Benefits

  • Hybrid Vigor: One advantage of hybrid breeds like Bengals and Savannahs is the potential for hybrid vigor. This refers to the phenomenon where crossbred animals can have improved overall health, vitality, and disease resistance compared to purebred animals.

Responsible Breeding

  • Reducing Health Risks: Responsible breeding is crucial for minimizing health issues in these cats. Ethical breeders conduct health screenings and genetic testing to reduce the likelihood of inherited diseases.
  • Wild Ancestry Considerations: These breeds’ wild ancestry brings unique health considerations. Breeders need to be aware of the specific health challenges associated with the wild species involved.

Lifespan and Care

  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of Bengals and Savannahs is similar to other domestic cats, generally around 12 to 15 years, but can extend beyond this with proper care.
  • Preventative Care: Regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive care are vital for the health and longevity of these cats. A balanced diet, exercise, and mental stimulation also contribute to their well-being.

While Bengals and Savannahs share common health issues like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, each breed has unique health considerations.

Regular veterinary care, responsible breeding practices, and understanding their specific needs are crucial to ensuring a healthy life for these extraordinary cats.

Their hybrid nature presents challenges and advantages in health and longevity, making informed care and attention from their owners all the more important.

Breed Standards and Recognition

International Cat Association (TICA)

  • Bengal Cats: The Bengal cat was recognized by TICA in the late 1980s and was granted championship status in 1991. This recognition allowed Bengals to participate in TICA cat shows and competitions, marking a significant milestone in the breed’s acceptance.
  • Savannah Cats: Savannah cats were recognized by TICA in 2001 but were granted championship status later, in 2012. This later recognition reflects the breed’s recent development and the time to establish and refine the breed standard.

Breed Standards

  • Bengals: The breed standard for Bengals emphasizes their wild appearance, muscular build, and distinctive coat patterns. The standard assesses traits like coat color, pattern, and overall conformation to the wild look.
  • Savannahs: For Savannahs, the breed standard includes criteria such as size, leg length, ear size, and coat pattern. The resemblance to their serval ancestors is a crucial aspect of their standard.

Popularity and Legal Status


  • Bengals: Due to their earlier recognition and unique appearance, Bengals have become one of the most popular exotic cat breeds. Their striking looks and interactive nature have contributed to their widespread appeal.
  • Savannahs: Although Savannahs gained championship status later, their exotic appearance and size have also made them popular among cat enthusiasts who seek a more “wild” pet experience.

Legal Status and Restrictions

  • United States: In the U.S., the legal status of owning a Bengal or Savannah cat can vary significantly from state to state. Some states have restrictions or bans, particularly on the early generations of these breeds, due to their closer genetic ties to wild cats.
  • International Regulations: The legal status of Bengals and Savannahs also varies in other countries. Concerns about potential environmental impact, animal welfare, and public safety may influence regulations.

Factors Influencing Legal Status

  • Wild Ancestry Concerns: Including wild cat genes, particularly in the earlier generations of these breeds, raises concerns about behavior, predatory instincts, and environmental impact.
  • Hybrid Cat Regulations: Some regions have specific regulations about hybrid animals, which can affect the ownership of Bengal and Savannah cats..

Thanks to their unique characteristics and exotic appeal, Bengal and Savannah cats enjoy recognition and popularity.

However, their ownership is subject to varying legal restrictions, reflecting concerns over their wild ancestry and potential impact.

Understanding these regulations and breed standards is essential for prospective owners and breeders to ensure responsible and legal ownership of these distinctive and captivating cat breeds.

Exercise and Engagement

Importance of Physical Activity

  • High Energy Levels: Both Bengals and Savannahs are exceptionally energetic and active. They require ample physical exercise to stay healthy and content.
  • Preventing Boredom: Lack of sufficient physical activity and mental stimulation can lead to boredom, which might result in destructive behavior or depression in these intelligent breeds.

Activities and Toys

  • Interactive Toys: Toys that simulate hunting, such as feather wands, laser pointers, and puzzle feeders, are excellent for stimulating their minds and bodies.
  • Cat Trees and Climbing Structures: Given their love for climbing and exploring, cat trees, shelves, and other climbing structures can provide much-needed vertical space for exercise.
  • Regular Playtime: Consistent, daily play sessions are essential. Engaging with them in play fulfills their exercise needs and strengthens the bond between the cat and its owner.


Coat Characteristics

  • Bengals and Savannahs: Both breeds typically have short, dense coats that are relatively easy to maintain. They are known to shed less than many other domestic cat breeds.

Grooming Practices

  • Regular Brushing: Although they don’t require extensive grooming, regular brushing (about once a week) can help to remove loose hair and distribute skin oils, maintaining a healthy coat.
  • Bathing: These cats generally keep themselves relatively clean, so frequent bathing isn’t necessary. However, occasional baths can be given, especially since Bengals and Savannahs tend to be more tolerant of water than other breeds.
  • Nail Trimming and Dental Care: Regular nail trimming and dental care are important. Dental issues, especially in Savannah, can be mitigated with routine brushing and dental treats.

Health Maintenance

Veterinary Care

  • Regular Check-ups: Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to monitor their health, including heart health, given their susceptibility to conditions like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
  • Vaccinations and Preventive Medicines: Keeping up with vaccinations and preventive treatments for parasites is vital for maintaining their health.

Diet and Nutrition

  • Balanced Diet: A balanced diet tailored to their high energy levels is essential. High-quality cat food that meets their nutritional needs should be provided.
  • Hydration: Ensuring they have access to fresh water is crucial, especially for Bengal cats prone to kidney issues.

Caring for Bengal and Savannah Cats: Understanding Their Needs

Caring for Bengal and Savannah cats involves more than just meeting their basic needs. It requires an understanding of their unique physical and mental characteristics.

Adequate exercise, mental stimulation, grooming, regular veterinary care, and proper nutrition ensure these active, intelligent cats live healthy, fulfilled lives.

The Rising Popularity of Bengal Cats

“In recent years, the Bengal cat has emerged as the best choice for those seeking pets with exotic looks and active personalities.

Originating from the crossbreeding of domestic shorthair cats, notably the domestic black tomcat, with wild felines,

Bengals have captivated many with their distinct markings and high cheekbones reminiscent of their wild ancestors.

These cats have even been noted in the Guinness Book of World Records for their unique characteristics.

Characteristics of Bengal Kittens

Bengal kittens are particularly appealing with their small heads and playful nature. They are great family pets, known for their blue eyes and affectionate demeanor.

When choosing a Bengal, consider your preferences regarding appearance and temperament, as individual cats can vary greatly.

The Importance of Reputable Breeders

Reputable breeders take great care to ensure the health and well-being of their cats, which is a key reason why sourcing from them is the easiest way to guarantee a healthy pet.

Being very active cats, Bengals require much attention and time, making them a perfect choice for those willing to invest in their care.

Commitment to Owning a Bengal Cat

It’s essential to recognize that owning a Bengal, or any pet, is a commitment. These cats thrive on interaction and can become a central part of any family, adapting well to various home environments.

Their need for stimulation and play means dedicating much time to engagement, something potential owners should be prepared for.

Choosing a Bengal: A Lifestyle Decision

Whether you’re drawn to Bengals for their striking looks or their dynamic personalities, it’s essential to understand the commitment they require.

The decision to bring one into your home should align with your lifestyle and ability to provide the care they need.

With the right environment and attention, a Bengal cat can be an excellent addition to your family, offering companionship and joy for many years.”

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