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Are Savannah Cats Illegal In California? [Without A Permit?]

Do you have your eye on a Savannah cat but are not sure whether it will even be legal to do so? Besides, if you live in, or are soon moving to California, it’s a fair consideration. And one you definitely need to consider. With this in mind, I spent some time researching the laws and regulations to find out for good.

So, are Savannah cats illegal in California? It is legal to own a Savannah cat in California, even without a permit. This includes Savannah cats of all Filial (F) generations and is true of any hybrid cat that has not been bred or mixed with a big, or serval (wild) cat.

Great news, I imagine.

A Savannah cat is still an option for you; along with a number of other ‘mixed’ breeds like the Bengal, for instance.

And this may come as quite a surprise.

Besides, many animals are in fact restricted under Californian Law.

And there’s a particularly striking quote in that official California code of regulations. It reads:

“b. Domestic cats and hybrids of domestic cats are not restricted.”

And that’s under the section: § 671. Importation, Transportation, and Possession of Live Restricted Animals.

So we are in the clear.

Nevertheless, there are some things to be aware of when owning this particular cat, or any pet for that matter, in the state of California.

So let us now take a closer look at what is involved in keeping one.

It’s important information should you pursue ownership.

Do You Need A Permit To Own A Savannah Cat In California?

You do not need a permit to own a Savannah cat, or another hybrid, as a pet in California. However, you do need to purchase from a reputable breeder and comply with a number of regulations throughout the purchasing and even during ownership.

Permits are actually important documentation for certain animals in the state of California.

And the truth is, for many of the restricted animals (including the likes of Axolotls and even Gerbils), the chances of getting a permit are actually quite unlikely.

Typically, you need to provide serious justification for ownership; such as that you are an authorized institution.

Essentially, they are not available to the regular layperson for pet ownership.

Thankfully, this is not the case with a Savannah cat.

There is no law that requires you to fill out a permit stating ownership of this cat.

This is not the case in all states, by the way.

But, just because you can own a Savannah cat does not mean the legality issue stops there.

You need to be particularly mindful and responsible as an owner, or you could come into trouble with the law.

As we shall now look at in the next section below.

Laws To Consider When Owning A Savannah Cat In California

If we review the California statuses, there are a number to be aware of when owning a Savannah cat.

Just consider, that most of these laws apply to owning any breed of cat, dog, or other pet for that matter.

But you need to be aware of them from the outset:

California Status SummaryPotential Penalty
West’s Ann. Cal. Penal Code § 597f States that every owner of any animal, who permits the animal to be without proper care and attention, shall, on conviction, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. An animal can be pounded, confiscated, or even humanely killed in certain contexts.
West’s Ann. Cal. Penal Code § 597s
This statute makes it a misdemeanor to willfully abandon an animal.Misdemeanor sentence; can include a fine, community service and extreme cases – jail.
West’s Ann. Cal. Penal Code § 398 – 399.5If an owner of an animal knows that the animal bit another person, s/he shall provide the other person with his or her contact information and information about the animalA violation is an infraction punishable by a fine.
West’s Ann. Cal. Food & Agric. Code § 31750 – 31766; West’s Ann. Cal. Fish & G. Code § 4150 – 4151
These statutes comprise California consolidated cat laws. Among the provisions include possession requirements for non-domestic cats, vaccination and impound procedures for domestic cats, and legislative policy statements about feral cats.
West’s Ann. Cal. Penal Code § 597.4
This California statute makes is unlawful (with exceptions) to sell or give away, as part of a commercial transaction, a live animal on any street, highway, public right-of-way, parking lot, carnival, or boardwalk.

These are the ones I pulled out specifically, but I would personally check the statuses yourself and become familiar with all the animal laws in the state.

There are four pages to get through so it’s not light reading.

But they are the main ones to consider, outside of a few on the unlawful killing of your cat (but I’d like to think they are not going to be something you need to read, anyway).

Essentially, it is an offense to abandon any pet, and you have specific responsibilities the moment you take one on.

Nevertheless, I am not here to provide legal advice nor recommendations for Savannah cat ownership in the state of California or otherwise.

I just want to alert you to the fact that there are things to consider.

And that goes with breeding too.

Just be aware and mindful and do your research ahead of time.

Where Can I Buy A Savannah Cat In California?

Savannah cats can be purchased from registered, authorized, and legitimate breeders that specialize in this hybrid breed.

Perhaps the best place to start is with a simple google search.

Something like “Savannah Cat California” or even this is a search query: ” Where Can I Buy A Savannah Cat In California?”

You will be presented with a range of options, ranging from breeder websites to Facebook pages of such organizations.

That being said, there will likely be breeders in California without an online presence.

Talking with local animal organizations is a good way to become aware of them.

Either way, be sure to do your research and your due diligence.

Just because you can find them on Google does not necessarily mean you should purchase through them.

Besides, these cats are not cheap!

And you need to be particularly mindful about getting a fair price, especially in accordance with their filial number (generation).

The Savannah cat Wikipedia explains the generations particularly well.

But essentially, with the filial number all you need to really know is this.

F1 and F2 generations are typically the largest, as they are more like their wild ancestors.

But they tend to be more expensive.

Nevertheless, regardless of the Savannah, you choose to buy, be sure to only do so through a reputable breeder.

One with an honest and fair reputation.

Besides, you need to ensure your Savannah is bred humanely, ethically, and appropriately to ensure they are in good health and not liable to issues and illnesses later in life.

What States Is It Legal To Own A Savannah Cat?

It is legal to own a Savannah cat in most US states (45 out of 50), however, some states have their own specific laws and regulations on what generations can be kept and some require a permit.

Below, you can see the full list:

StateGeneration Requirements
AlabamaAllows all generations
AlaskaF4 and later allowed
ArizonaAllows all generations
Arkansas Allows all generations
California  Allows all generations
ColoradoF4 and later allowed, ownership illegal in the city limits of Denver
ConnecticutAllows all generations
Delaware Not allowed without a permit, fine for ownership
DCAllows all generations
FloridaAllows all generations
IdahoNot allowed without a permit
IllinoisAllows all generations
IndianaAllows all generations; some counties require permits
IowaF4 and later allowed
KansasAllows all generations
Kentucky Allows all generations
LouisianaAllows all generations
Maine                 Allows all generations
Maryland    Allows all generations if the Savannah is under 30 pounds in weight
MassachusettsF4 and later allowed
Michigan Allows all generations
MinnesotaAllows all generations
Mississippi  Allows all generations
MissouriAllows all generations
MontanaAllows all generations
NevadaAllows all generations
New HampshireF4 and later allowed
New JerseyAllows all generations
New MexicoAllows all generations; some cities require permits
New YorkF5 and later allowed; No generations allowed in NY City proper
North CarolinaAllows all generations
North DakotaAllows all generations
OhioAllows all generations
OklahomaAllows all generations
Oregon Allows all generations; some cities or counties may have restrictions
PennsylvaniaAllows all generations
South CarolinaAllows all generations
South Dakota Allows all generations
TennesseeAllows all generations
TexasAllowed in the following counties with strict permitting: Aransas, Bell, Coryell, Ector, Guadalupe, Harris, Kaufman, Lubbock, Mason, Ward. Montgomery must permit 1st through 3rd generation Savannahs; 4th and subsequent are allowed.
UtahAllows all generations
VermontF4 and later allowed
VirginiaAllows all generations
WashingtonAllows all generations; Seattle ownership is banned
West VirginiaAllows all generations
WisconsinAllows all generations
WyomingAllows all generations
Source: Savannah Cat Association

Now, do check your local laws at the time of potential adoption to ensure you have the latest information to hand.

What States Is It Illegal To Own A Savannah Cat?

Georgia, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Rhode Island are the states where you cannot legally own a Savannah cat, even without a permit.

In Texas, Savannah cats are illegal in most counties. Even in those that they are allowed, strict permits must be obtained for their ownership.


Savannah cats are legal to own in California, like most states.

And thankfully, every generation of Savannah is legal too.

And here is why.

Despite being hybrids, they are domestic cats and they are even registered on the TICA (The International Cat Association) domestic cat registry.

That being said, you do need to be especially mindful of where you buy your Savannah and how you keep and raise them.

There are many laws in place that could result in legal action down the line.

Or worse, confiscation.

And these cats are not particularly easy to care for. Consider they are big, can be aggressive, and cost quite a bit too.

So, just because they are legal, don’t make the decision to get one too lightly!

Related Questions

Are Savannah Cats Legal In LA?

All generations of Savannah cats are legal to own in LA, including the rest of the state of California.