A Feral Thoughts reader has disputed my contention that breeding Savannah cats is a cruel practice. He says:
I came across one of your articles by accident (see post):
and could not help notice the factual error that could have been remedied if you had read my previous correspondence on this issue. You claim a 10 day difference between Serval and domestic gestation periods
- without checking carefully enough to realize that the outcross is an Egytpian Mau - gestation period typically up to 73 days (vs Serval up to 77 ) - so there is only a 4 day difference at most. This of course casts doubt onto any further assertions about cruelty.
I'm disappointed that neither you or your team of experts checked your facts here - especially given I had provided a pointer for you in previous email (Oct 2008). It seems to me that if you going to do Savannah bashing you should at least know something about them - up until now everything I have seen from you organization about these cats has been very poorly researched.
Finally this seems to contrast dramatically with your articles on other subjects (e.g feral cats, dogs, cane toads) that seem well researched in general.
Thanks Mark, I'm kind of chuffed that you think there is a team of experts behind Feral Thoughts, rather than just me sneaking in posts between what I'm meant to be doing. I'm equally shocked that the vast research resources of Wikipedia could be called into question! I had read Mark's previous correspondence and in fact replied - I just disagree.
According to the website of the originators of the Savannah "breed", the first Savannahs were Serval x Siamese crosses (after "years" of unsuccessful attempts), and they don't mention the Egyption Mau. This was the source of the proposed imports to Australia and I can only go off what they themselves have put on the public record. It looks like many of the Savannah breeders began with another hybrid breed, the Bengal and moved on because the Savannah came more into fashion (i.e. they could flog the kittens for more money to the overpaid and/or gullible), so I can't see that the Egyptian Mau is necessarily, or even mostly, the cross breed. At best, you might be able to claim it is sometimes the cross, so I'm sticking by my earlier post for now.
After just visiting Mogo Zoo during the break, I was again astounded that anyone, anytime, ever, would have thought it was a reasonable thing to mate a Serval to a domestic cat. A Serval is absolutely huge compared with a domestic cat and is a wild animal - when the keeper talks about the Savannah issue to visitors looking at Servals the almost-universal reaction is astonishment that anyone would do such a thing. I have absolutely no doubt that anyone that tried such a mating in this country would be charged with animal abuse - the RSPCA and the Australian Veterinary Association as well as many others were just as much against the importation of Savannahs into Australia as was our Cooperative Research Centre.
Of course, during the debate, the Savannah importers kept arguing that Savannahs were not an exceptionally large breed. I note the source of the proposed imports is proudly pointing to one of their cats entry into the Guinness Book of Records as the world's tallest cat. Exactly the genes we would want supplementing the gene pool of Australia's feral cat population!
It was a good decision by Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett to ban the import of Savannah cats.
Posted by Tony Peacock, founder of 'Feral Thoughts'