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Home > Cats > Savannah Cat Health Problems: 7 Common Concerns

Savannah Cat Health Problems: 7 Common Concerns

Savannah F1 cat sitting on the stairs

The Savannah Cat is a gorgeous hybrid cat breed that is the result of crossbreeding the exotic Serval with domesticated house cats. Savannah cats come in several different types, depending on the ratio of serval to house cat in the bloodline. These cats are playful, loyal, and full of adventure and their popularity just keeps growing.

The good news for potential Savannah Cat owners is that this is an extremely healthy and hardy cat breed that has no known genetic health conditions. But, just because they don’t have any inherited conditions, doesn’t mean they can’t experience health issues. Since we’ve come up empty with genetic predispositions to cover, we have made a list of 7 of the most common health concerns that can affect any cat, including the Savannah.


The 7 Most Common Savannah Cat Health Problems:

1. Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)

Like the common cold that plagues humans, upper respiratory infections are quite common in cats. Those that are more frequently exposed to other cats are much more likely to come down with the condition. Upper respiratory infections are typically caused by viral infections, though sometimes bacteria can be to blame. They are typically not fatal and can even resolve on their own within 1 to 3 weeks.

It’s always best to contact a veterinarian if your cat is exhibiting any of the signs of an upper respiratory infection. In more extreme cases, a URI could lead to pneumonia, so it’s ideal to get early veterinary intervention. If the infection is bacterial, they may prescribe antibiotics for treatment but if it is viral, supportive care is the usual treatment.

Signs to look for:
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Gagging, drooling
  • Fever
  • Loss of or decreased appetite
  • Nasal and oral ulcers
  • Squinting or rubbing eyes
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Hoarseness
adult F1 Savannah cat
Image By: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

2. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD covers a variety of disorders that affect the bladder and urethra. These disorders can range from mild to severe. It is one of the most common reasons owners present their cats to the veterinarian for evaluation.

The disease of the lower urinary tract can be caused by a variety of issues like inflammation, infection, urinary obstruction, diet, and even behavioral issues. The prognosis for feline lower urinary tract disease varies depending on the condition that is the root cause of the issue. Regardless of severity, cats do need veterinary intervention for the treatment of FLUTD.

Signs to look for:
  • Straining to urinate
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Frequent and/or prolonged urination
  • Crying or bellowing while urinating
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Blood in the urine

3. Dental Disease

Dental disease is very common in cats and can affect both the teeth and gums. Studies have shown that anywhere between 50 and 90 percent of cats 4 years of age or older will suffer from some type of dental disease. Dental disease can vary in severity. The good news is that dental disease is highly preventable and treatable if caught early on.

The most common types of dental disease observed in cats include gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption. Any type of dental disease can be painful and uncomfortable for a cat. In some cases, it will even cause issues with chewing, swallowing, and eating.

You must speak to your cat’s veterinarian for tips on how to prevent dental disease since cats are so highly susceptible. Prevention will not only prevent your cat from experiencing the pain and discomfort associated with the condition, but it will also help prevent hefty veterinary bills and other conditions that can result from severe dental disease.

Signs to look for:
  • Head shaking
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Dropping food from the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
F2 savannah cat lying
Image By: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

4. Heart Disease

Heart disease is any condition where there is an abnormality in the heart and its functionality. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA, heart disease affects every 1 in 10 cats across the world.  Heart disease is a very serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can be broken down into two categories: congenital and acquired.

  • Congenital- Congenital heart disease can be the result of developmental issues with the heart during fetal development. This type of heart disease can affect only one kitten in the litter but does have the potential to be caused by inherited health disorders that can show up in multiple members of the litter.
  • Acquired- Acquired heart disease is the onset of heart disease as the result of some form of damage to the heart. Acquired heart disease can be the result of a hereditary health condition that developed in a cat’s older age. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of acquired heart disease observed in cats.
Signs to look for:
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness or lack of activity
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sudden paralysis of the hindquarters
  • Fast breathing while resting
  • Fainting and/or collapse
  • Chronic coughing
  • Regularly elevated heart rate

5. Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine disease where blood sugar cannot be effectively regulated by the body. The condition is much more common in adults and senior cats and is typically observed more in males than females. Diabetes is on the rise in cats and other companion animals, as it is a health condition that can occur due to obesity.

Diabetes must be managed by a veterinarian. The disease can have a severe impact on your cat’s lifespan and overall quality of life. There are two different types of diabetes:

  • Type I – Type I diabetics are fully insulin-dependent. This means the body can no longer produce or release enough insulin into the body. This form is much rarer in cats than in type II.
  • Type II – Type II diabetics are not insulin-dependent. In this case, the cat’s body can produce insulin, but the organs and other tissues have become resistant to the insulin and do not respond the way they should.  This type of diabetes is common in overweight, older cats that eat diets high in carbohydrates.
Signs to look for:
  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
Image Credit: Lindasj22, Shutterstock

6. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is another disease of the endocrine system and is also more common in middle-aged to older cats. This disease is the result of increased production of thyroid hormones. Because thyroid hormones play a vital role in the rest of the body, this condition can also lead to secondary conditions.

A veterinarian is needed to properly diagnose and treat hyperthyroidism. Treatment will be dependent on the specific patient and can consist of medication, radioactive iodine therapy, surgery, and even dietary therapy. Generally, the prognosis of hyperthyroidism is good with proper treatment, though complications can occur if other organs have been affected.

Signs to look for:
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased urination
  • Restlessness
  • Crankiness or aggressive behavior
  • Unkempt coat
  • Increase in vocalization

7. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease, or CKD, is a condition that arises due to damage to the kidneys. The kidney’s main purpose is to remove waste from the bloodstream, help to regulate certain minerals, conserve water for the body and produce urine to excrete the gathered waste. The condition is very common in older cats, as the kidneys tend to show damage over time.

A veterinarian will need to perform a urinalysis and blood tests to evaluate and properly diagnose possible kidney issues. While there is no cure for CKD, there are treatment options that can help with longevity and quality of life. Prognosis is dependent on the individual cat and how well they respond to treatment options.

Signs to look for:
  • Weight loss
  • Brittle coat
  • Bad breath
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Changes in appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
savannah on the couch
Image Credit: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

divider-catIn Conclusion

Savannah Cats are an incredibly healthy cat breed with no known genetic health conditions that they are predisposed to. Even the healthiest of breeds can suffer from health conditions that are common for all domesticated cats. They need to be fed a well-balanced, nutritious diet, receive regular veterinary care, and get an adequate amount of physical and mental stimulation for the sake of their overall health and well-being.


Featured Image Credit: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

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