Serengeti Cat: A Wild-Looking Domestic Cat

close-up image of a serengeti_cat and a kitten
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

Many of us admire cats with wild looks. Aware of such a trend, over the years professional cat breeders have been attempting to fulfill the increasing demand by breeding wild cats such as the African Serval with domestic cats. The resulting cats are officially recorded as domestic, but they actually retain many of the wild qualities of their Serval parent. If you’re uncomfortable about living in close proximity to “wild animals” yet you’re still interested in their looks, try adopting a Serengeti cat.

Elegant and athletically built, the Serengeti cat is a fairly rare and recently-developed breed. This breed was created to resemble the wild African Serval, yet isn’t actually related to them. The Serengeti cat is the perfect choice for people who want an exotic-looking cat with a friendly personality.

Studio Picture of Serengeti Kitten

In this article, you will find all the necessary information about this exotic breed. From their activity level, needs, to Serengeti cat personality and grooming requirements, enjoy all that this wonderful cat has to offer before you make a decision on whether this breed is the right one for you or not.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Good; tends to be shy and reserved at first

  • Grooming: Moderate

  • Health: Good; it’s still unknown whether they have hereditary problems or not

  • All Around Friendliness: Very Good; can be quite clingy

  • Exercise Needs: High; very active and needs daily stimulation

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Crossbreed
Weight8-15 pounds
Lifespan10-15 years

The Serengeti breed was developed by crossing a Bengal cat with an Oriental Shorthair. The procedure was carried out in California in 1994 by Karen Sausman. Karen, who was the owner of Kingsmark Cattery in California and a professional conservation biologist, wanted to create an exotic-looking domestic breed without using any wildcats.

The Serengeti is a medium-sized cat with a long and athletic body that is graceful and comes with an upright posture. The main feature that gives this breed its exotic look is the color of the cat’s coat. The color of the coat is in most cases golden or yellow with widely-spaced black spots, but can also be black, gray, or silver white. The short and glossy coat is close to the body and sheds moderately—which makes it easy to maintain.

Close-up of a Serengeti Cat

For the first couple of days, this breed can appear shy, but after they get used to their new environment, the Serengeti cat’s true personality shines through. These are very friendly, self-assured, and devoted cats that will follow you around all day long. And although they enjoy spending time with their owners, this cat is not overbearing and can easily entertain themselves when left alone.

The Serengeti cat is one of the chattiest cat breeds. They are not as vocal as the Siamese, but your cat will always have something to tell you. This is also a very high energy and active breed that requires you to play with them routinely to keep them exercised and their body toned.

Serengeti Cat in house

It is recommended that you keep this breed as an indoors-only cat, to protect them from feline diseases and injuries. But keep in mind that Serengeti needs a fair amount of space to move around, so if you live in a small apartment, you should think about getting an outdoor enclosed space for your cat. If you decide to keep your Serengeti as an indoors-outdoors cat, they have excellent hunting skills so don’t be surprised if your cat’s prey ends up on your front porch.

Since this is fairly rare and recently developed breed, hereditary conditions aren’t documented, and the Serengeti is currently considered to be a very healthy breed. They can be affected by feline-transmitted diseases, however, so it is best to keep your cat vaccinated and indoors. The average lifespan of a Serengeti cat is 10-15 years, but with proper care, they can live up to their 20s.

Main Highlights

  • The Serengeti cat was created in 1994 by Karen Sausman as a cross between the Bengal cat and the Oriental Shorthair.

  • This is a medium-sized breed with graceful boning and an athletic body.

  • The Serengeti has long legs, and they can jump over 7 feet high.

  • This breed has a wedge-shaped head, a strong chin, round golden or amber eyes, and highly-set large ears with rounded tips.

  • Their body-hugging coat is short and glossy and sheds moderately.

  • Their exotic-looking coat is usually yellow or gold with widely-spaced black spots. But it can also be solid black, gray with black spots, or silver-white with black spots.

  • During the first couple of days, the Serengeti cat can seem shy, but once it gets to know you, this breed is anything but timid.

  • Serengeti cat personality is friendly, playful, loving, and self-assured.

  • This is a highly vocal breed that likes to be involved in its owner’s activities and offer useful advice.

  • The Serengeti is an energetic and very active cat that needs daily play sessions in order to prevent boredom and maintain their body in its perfect shape.

  • If they are kept as indoor-only cats, they need plenty of space to run, jump, and play around in. If your living space is small, you may have to invest in an outdoor enclosed area.

  • This is a healthy breed, with yet-undocumented hereditary health problems and overall good health.

  • The average lifespan of a Serengeti cat is 10-15 years, but some cats have lived for up to 20 years.

Breed History

Karen Sausman was the owner of Kingsmark Cattery in California, and she was also a conservation biologist. She’s the creator of the Serengeti cat breed. She didn’t like how many breeders used wild cats to create exotic-looking domestic breeds and decided to produce a breed that resembled an African wild Serval cat without using wildcats as foundation stock. After careful research, in 1994 she managed to produce Serval-looking cats after she bred some Bengal with some Oriental Shorthair cats.

A Serengeti Cat sitting on a bed near a window

The Serengeti cat is still considered to be a fairly new breed that is in its developing stages. They are now bred in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, and Australia. The Serengeti breed is recognized by The International Cat Association and was awarded the Preliminary New Breed Status.


The Serengeti cat is a medium-sized breed with graceful boning and an athletic but slender body. Male cats are larger than females and usually weigh from 12 to 15 pounds. Females are smaller and weigh from 8 to 12 pounds. This breed has very long legs, and they allow the Serengeti to jump over 7 feet high. Their head comes in a modified wedge shape—which means that it’s longer than wider than what is usually found in cats. The Serengeti have a strong chin, large round eyes, and highly-set large ears with rounded tips.

Personality and Character

At first, a Serengeti cat’s personality can seem restrained or shy. But when that initial period passes, you will get to know a friendly, confident, playful, loving, and devoted cat. This is a very friendly breed that gets along well with all family members—including older children and other pets. They form deep bonds with their owners and will have a few favorite family members.

This is a very vocal breed that likes to “talk” and will always have something to say. Also, be prepared for a dog-like behavior. A Serengeti cat will follow you wherever you go. No matter what are you doing, they will be there to offer advice and assistance.

A Serengeti kitten sitting on a table looking at her owner

This is a very playful breed that likes to hide behind and under furniture and then surprise its owners with an unsuspected jump or sprint. So if you are easily startled, think about this before deciding to go with this breed, or always be prepared for an ambush. This is a high energy breed that is easily entertained. They generally don’t have any problem with being left alone for reasonable amounts of time. Take a look at this article to get a better idea of how much time is considered reasonable.

Health and Potential Problems

The Serengeti cat is considered to be a healthy breed, but it is still unknown if this breed has any hereditary health problems. But like all other cats, they can be affected by common feline diseases and should be vaccinated against them. To keep your cat healthy for many years to come you should take them to regular vet appointments, get them vaccinated, dewormed, spayed/neutered, and take proper care of their dental hygiene. Some common problems you might encounter with a Serengeti cat include:

Potential Problem #1: Vomiting

Vomiting can be caused by various reasons. Usually, it is caused by something minor, like eating too quickly or playing right after a meal, but it can also be a sign of a serious medical condition. Examples include bacterial infection, intestinal parasites, the ingestion of toys, and pancreatitis.

Serengeti Cat sitting on a street

If your cat vomits once and later proceeds to eat and act normally, there is no need to worry. But if your cat’s vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea, lethargy, and weight loss, you should contact the vet and allow your cat to be fully examined.

Potential Problem #2: Diarrhea

Diarrhea can also be caused by various things. A single bout of diarrhea generally isn’t a cause for worry, but if it persists more than a day or two, it can be a sign of a more serious disease. Some of the things that can cause diarrhea are: changes in food, the ingestion of spoiled food, internal parasites, kidney or liver diseases, colitis, and cancer.

Loose stool is the most common symptom of diarrhea, but it can also be followed by a fever, dehydration, lethargy, vomiting, and decreased appetite. If diarrhea is accompanied by black or bloody stools, you should take your cat to the vet immediately since this can be a sign of internal bleeding.

A Serengeti Cat lying down and playing with something

The best thing to do if your cat experiences diarrhea is to avoid giving them food for 12-24 hours and provide plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration. If diarrhea isn’t caused by something serious, all the symptoms should disappear within one day. If they don’t, take your cat to the vet for a full exam.

Potential Problem #3: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is a condition that usually leads to inappropriate urination outside of the litter box. Some of the causes of this condition are bladder stones, bladder infection, an inflammation of the bladder, and urethral obstruction. Urethral obstruction is the most serious of these conditions, and it affects male cats more often than females.

Close-up image of a Serengeti Cat

The cause of the obstruction is bladder stones. They block the urethra—making the cat unable to urinate. If not noticed in time, affected cats can get poisoned from toxic produces found in urine. It is very important to take your cat immediately to the vet. Treatment options consist of the placement of a caterer, surgery, and antibiotics. An affected cat should drink more water and eat a special kind of food that will help in the prevention of bladder stones.

Care Features

Since the Serengeti is a very active and high energy cat, they need two 15 minutes play sessions every day. You should invest in lots of interactive toys and puzzle games to keep this cat occupied and happy. Also, invest in a scratching post and a cat tree, since they love to climb and practice their jumps.

If you decide to keep your Serengeti cat indoors only, and you don’t have a lot of space in your house or apartment, it is a good idea to invest in an outdoor enclosed area. This is a great way for Serengeti cats to burn off all extra energy by running and jumping around.

A Serengeti Cat in a cat tree

You should trim your cat’s nails once every two weeks, and if you are unable to do it, take your cat to the groomer. Their large ears can get dirty in no time, so check them weekly and use a mixture of half warm water half cider vinegar with a cotton ball to keep them clean.

Also, you should take proper care of your cat’s teeth. It is best to start while your cat is young and to brush her teeth daily to prevent the development of periodontal disease. If you have an adult cat who can’t get used to a toothbrush, there is a variety of dental rinses and wipes to help you keep your cat’s teeth clean.

Feeding Schedule

Like all other breeds, the Serengeti cat should also have a balanced diet that contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals. For this breed, it is best to use premium-quality food and to give them treats a few times a week to maintain their body shape.

Serengeti Cat in a studio

You can go with kibble or canned food—it all depends on your cat’s preferences—or you can cook some homemade cat food. Just make sure that you don’t feed a Serengeti cat with dairy produces since they can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Divide your cat’s meal into two or three smaller ones, and make sure that they always have access to fresh and clean water.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The Serengeti cat has a thick, short, body-hugging coat that is silky to the touch. This breed sheds moderately and needs to be brushed once a week. You can use a wet cloth or a special cat brush to remove any debris, dead hairs, and skin cells. Brushing their coat routinely will also help distribute skin oils through the length of the fur.

Serengeti Cat sitting at the window

The color and pattern of their coat are the main features of this breed and the one that makes them resemble African wild Serval cats so much without being directly related. The color of their coat is gold or yellow with a pattern of widely-spaced black spots. Some Serengeti cats can be solid black, gray with black spots, or silver-white with black spots.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The Serengeti cat is very friendly and gets along well with children of all ages. Because they are very active and energetic, you may need to supervise the interactions between your Serengeti and smaller children, since their fast movements and surprise ambushes can scare a small child. On the other hand, older children will find this very entertaining, and your Serengeti cat will be their favorite play buddy.

A Serengeti kitten sitting on the kitchen's floor

After overcoming their initial shyness, a Serengeti cat will assert their position amongst other family pets, and they will get along just fine. Just make sure that your dog is cat-friendly and always make sure to do first introductions while your dog is safely secured on a leash.

Wrap Up

The Serengeti breed is still in the beginning stages of its development, but we can already be certain that soon there will be more of these exotic-looking cats. If you are searching for an active, friendly, loving, devoted cat with a dog-like personality, search no more because the Serengeti cat is just that and much more. This highly-energetic breed with fit well into an active family with children and other pets, and will have no trouble staying alone and entertaining itself while you’re at work.

A Serengeti Cat in a studio sitting on a pillow

Do you live with a Serengeti cat? If so, please share some of your cat’s traits and habits with us in the comments section below. If you’re still not quite sure about adopting a Serengeti cat because you prefer cats that look like tigers instead of the African Serval, check this amazing breed out.

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.