Background Information and Pricing
Deer Fern Farms Acacia
We at Deer Fern Farms Savannahs and Clouded Leopards Bengals are a very small, specialist breeder who breed first and foremost for temperament. That's not to say we don't have exceptionally patterned cats with excellent confirmations. But producing cats that excel in the show ring is not our primary goal. There is no shortage of cats in this world. One only has to go to the nearest animal shelter to see there are many that fail to endear themselves into their owners hearts and end up in need of homes. So in our opinion, the only justification for breeding even more cats is too try to increase the qualities within cats that make them desirable companions. Not only will this allow cat lovers to end up with even more rewarding relationships with their cats but hopefully this will eventually result in fewer ending up unloved and abandoned. Domestic cats are first and foremost companion animals meant to enrich our lives. It's great if they do well in the show ring, but only if they can then come home and be true friends - with both them and us enjoying the relationship. Otherwise what's the point?
We do select for outstanding, gorgeous coats and patterns, but preferentially in those individuals which otherwise meet our standards for temperament first. We want them to be self-confident - to want our company but not to be so dependent on it that they stress out without our constant intervention. We also wish our cats to be self-confident enough to come say hi and be part of the family when company comes over. Now, all that said, we also really do like a flashy looking cat and no cats can out do the Savannahs and Bengals for making your jaw drop when you first see a truly nice one!
We chose to work with Bengals and Savannahs precisely because we felt they had the best potential to be both extremely good looking cats but with what we consider a better personality than the average domestic cat. Being as I work professionally with wildlife anyway, I really like the idea of having a more "natural" or "wild" if you will, looking cat than many of the common, "dolled-up" breeds commonly available. About half of both Savannahs and Bengals can be taught to fetch and many can be leash trained. They both like water (many will join you in the shower if you're not careful), and in general they are much more outgoing and self-confident than the average domestic cat with which you may be accustomed to.
I also have a strong personal believe that breeding animals into such degenerate "tweaked" "pets" that they can no longer take care of their own basic needs without human or Veterinary intervention just to survive is morally wrong. I really value the natural health and vigor of the wild cat that these two breeds bring back into domestic cats. In particular, both these breeds have strong, healthy body structures free of the respiratory and heat issues caused by selecting for large heads / flattened faces (and the restricted breathing and heat exchange capacity they bring) or skin and general heath problems resulting from selecting for overly long hair (or no hair at all), wrinkled or folded skin/ears, and tail defects that hinder normal bodily functions. Working with Bengals and Savanahs is a way to bring back common sense in selecting our companion animals.
Bengal kittens (background) with a 6 month old Savannah
(Where Do These Breeds Come From?)
As a Wildlife Toxicologist, I've been privileged to work with a wide range of uncommon species over the years. One group in particular for which I've always had a great fascination are the exotic species of cats (Servals, Caracals, Cheetahs, Forest Cats) all of which were domesticated during the early days of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations. Unfortunately, they were lost to domestication during the repeated conquests of southern Asia and the Middle East by the Romans, Turks and the European Crusaders. It's unlikely anyone will again put the effort into re-domesticating these species from scratch as the pure species, but several people have initiated efforts from a different angle.
At this point I should backup to discuss how the current domestic cat breeds came into existence. The cat family as a whole is an extremely closely related group. This relatedness allows many of the species to interbreed and successfully produce healthy kittens. This interbreeding between species is generally regarded as the means by which many of the current common "domestic" cat breeds came to exist (from regional crossing of several European forest-type cats and smaller desert and Savannah-dwelling species from Asia and north Africa). Careful selection of and re-crossing of the resulting offspring for desired temperament and physical traits led to the various "breeds" of domestic cat we see today. Knowing these crosses were possible, a scientific effort was undertaken during the last century to better understand certain cat illnesses through crossing the common domestic cat (considered fully susceptible to feline viral leukemia) with the Asian leopard cat (generally assumed to be resistant to it). The resulting female kittens from these crosses proved to be fertile, allowing the project to proceed through several generations to study disease susceptibility inheritance. While the pure Asian leopard cat has a notoriously bad temperament, it was noticed that the offspring from repeated back crossings to domestics tended to inherit the domestic cat's temperament. Others outside the research project (notably Jean Mills) noticed this work and decided to try to develop a domestic version of the Asian leopard cat through this method. Thus the Bengal cat breed was born. The breed has progressed steadily over the last few decades, becoming more and more similar to the Asian Leopard cat in looks while becoming equal to the best domestic breeds in temperament. The best examples not only look like leopard cats (the paw print spotted morph) or clouded leopards (the donut spotted and the marbled morphs) but have phenomenal temperaments - being exceptionally affectionate towards their owners while still retaining a unique temperament refreshingly different from most other domestic breeds.
This is still a young breed and there is a large degree of variability in both looks and temperament. Some individuals look little different than domestic Mau or Occicats or faintly spotted versions of the American Shorthair cat. Others, especially those only a few generations removed from pure Asian Leopard cat, can be shy or aloof cats typical of some of the more temperamental domestic breeds. It's important when you decide you're ready for a Bengal cat in your home, to look over the parents as well as the kittens to make sure they both meet your expectations. Both good and bad traits are inheritable and the parents are the best means of judging how the kittens are most likely to turn out. A well-bred Bengal is truly an amazing cat second to none!
Solomon (Pure Serval)
The Savannah cat is basically the domestic version of the African Serval. It's creation as a breed is following the same pathway as that of the Bengal, but it's in a much earlier stage of development. Like the Bengal cat, the first few generations of crosses have fertile females but infertile males. On the plus side, unlike the early generation Bengals, early generation Savannahs tend to have nice temperaments. This is likely due to the fact that unlike Asian Leopard cats, Servals naturally have reasonable temperaments even as pure Servals. On the down side however, that first cross between the domestic and the Serval is much more difficult to make. First and foremost is finding a Serval male which is interested in breeding domestic females. Most have no interest at all and can not be safely paired with domestic cats. Secondly, of the Servals that will breed domestics, many will only breed a few specific females, being much more selective in their mating behavior. Lastly, many domestic females seem to fail to metabolically fully recognize these pregnancies and either reabsorb the embryos or abort the litter prior to the expected delivery date. These factors all conspire to greatly limit the availability of first generation Savannah kittens. This coupled with their high desirability as companion animals and/or breeders is what's responsible for the exceptionally high price for early generation kittens.
During several occasions in the early 1990's, I was asked to bottle raise newborn Serval kittens. I really had no interest in holding any back when I took on this project and the early kittens were all returned to the breeder once weaned. However during one such project, one of the kittens proved to be exceptionally friendly and I talked myself into keeping him (Solomon) as a companion. Since he had such an exceptional temperament, it seemed justifiable to go ahead and try to imprint Solomon on domestics and try to produce kittens through him - following the same logic as was used to create the Bengals. He readily accepted our girls and proved to be a very gentle if infrequent breeder. We eventually produced several litters from him before eventually loosing him to age related health issues. We kept back one of his last F1 daughters and are maintaining a very small Savannah project.
Note: Savannahs as a breed are a work in progress and most F1 and F2's are NOT suitable for the average home. They think differently than a domestic cat or even a Bengal and most people have a hard time adjusting to this. Most of what your read or hear online or on TV shows is BS. The early generations are nothing like a dog in temperament!!!! Yes, they like water and most can be leash trained - but only by those who are VERY patient and understanding. The F1's and F2's do NOT take commands. They are your roommate - NOT your pet and expect to be treated accordingly. You CAN NOT physically punish them. They do not understand it and consider it a breach of trust and react accordingly. You can spray them with a water bottle but you must understand that they do not readily accept the word "No". As far as they are concerned, the house they live in is theirs. You have no right to tell them what they can and can not do in their home. Again - you are their roommate, not their master. This is an extremely important concept that you must accept if you wish to own an F1 or most F2's. I love my F1 - she is a great cat but is not one I would consider a great companion/pet. She is very independent. I accept that in her and treat her accordingly and we have a good relationship. Most children want to pick up and carry around their pet cat and/or otherwise treat it like a typical pet. Most F1's and F2's and even some F3's do not tolerate this well. Therefore we do not sell F1 and F2 Savannahs to homes with small children. Early generation Savannahs bond with the original owners and most do not re-home well (they usually do not make the same bonds with people they meet as adults). So you must consider the purchase of one of these cats as a life-long commitment. Don't get caught up in the hype and buy one because it seems cool. If you want a wild -looking cat but with a truly better than typical cat personality, for now you want a Bengal. Savannahs will get there - but they need more time as a breed to select for the better traits. I suspect they will end up as good if not better than the average Bengal but we are not there yet. If you like the idea of a pet wolf, then an early generation Savannah is a much better bet. If you want a "cat" dog, or a wild looking but attentive and affectionate companion then go with a Bengal for now.
Our Breeding Program/ Pricing
Originally, all our kittens were registered under the "Deer Fern Farms" TICA registered cattery. However we decided in 2010 to better distinguish our programs by giving each their own registry name. As of 2011, all our Savannahs will continue under the Deer Fern Farms name while our Bengals will be registered under "Clouded Leopards" TICA registry name.
Bengals: We primarily work with late generation (SBT) Bengals (>F5) in order to insure the best temperaments in our kittens. While we've long been noted for producing some of the best tempered kittens around (even non-cat lovers like our cats!), we have been steadily incorporating specific coat genetics into our Bengal program. The goal is to retain the excellent temperament traits we've already established while producing a very specific look to our cats. I've always had a great fondness for the Clouded Leopard and we now have the traits needed to produce a domestic cat with the look of a Clouded Leopard - much fewer but dramatically larger spots each with solid black outlines surrounding a deep golden or silver center on a overall clean background. Known as "donut" rosetting, clean examples of this trait are much harder to find in most Bengal breeding programs than the more common arrow head, paw print, or broken-edged rosette patterns. We are beginning to produce excellent examples of this in most of our litters now and hope you'll agree these are some of the most spectacular looking cats you've ever seen. We also hope to have a couple F1 queens by late 2013 to try to get the wild head/ conformation of the Asian Leopard cat in our kittens. We've chosen to use a male Asian Leopard cat stud ("Rumor") noted for producing good tempered kittens, so we have high hopes for this project.
Pricing: We base our pricing primarily on the confirmation and coat of each kitten. We then adjust the price based on weather the kitten will be a "Pet-only" companion (to be neutered/spayed) or added to a breeding program. This leaves a lot of room for variation in pricing so we can only give averages.
Breeder Quality SBT with Breeding Rites: $1,000 to $3,000, If neutered before leaving our home, $500 to $1,500. Pricing of F1's and F2's will reflect the current price charged by others producing these rare kittens (currently between $3,000 and $5,000 as of 2013)
Pet-Only: $350 to $1,000. Registration papers for these kittens may be available after we receive proof of the spay/neutering and micro-chipping from your Vet, depending on weather other kittens in the litter were registered before being sold.
Please see our Kitten Contract / Policies for details of our kitten contracts.
Savannahs: We work with all generations of Savannahs from pure Servals to F1 though F7 and SBT's. We do not produce nor sell pure Serval kittens and do not recommend them for in-house pets. Even the F1's and F2's are only suitable for special homes and we will be very selective where we let our early F's go to insure both the buyer and the kitten are both well served. F3's onward progressively have more of the domestic cat temperament and are much better suited for the typical home. PLEASE NOTE these early generation Savannahs generally only bond strongly during their first year. So re-homing them is not a good option for most of them. Thus we will only sell them to those who firmly believe a cat adoption is for life. These are not "toys" to be passed around if you get bored with them. You must consider them to be family members. Moving into a "no-pets-allowed" apartment etc is not an excuse. Would you leave your kids behind to move into a "no-children-allowed" apartment? No - you'd pick a different apartment. The same has to be your priority with one of these cats. They make very unique companions but in return they require a permanent home. Do not consider one for a pet unless you are firmly committed to having it as a permanent family member.
We don't expect to be producing any F1's again until we rear a suitable Serval stud. We hope to purchase a suitable male Serval kitten in 2014 to begin the long process of imprinting and breeding F1's again. Our current F7 male has finally gotten our F1 girl to successfully breed so we hope to have a few F2's and F2's from now on. Please watch our Savannah kittens page to see when litters are expected. The final price will be determined by how well each kitten reflects the Serval in coat and confirmation and the domestic in temperament.
F1 None expected at this time.
F2 Females: $3,000 to $6,000 Males: $3,000
F3 Females: $1,000 to $4,000 Males: $ 1,000 to $2,000
F7+ Females: $500 to $750 Males: $500 to $2,000
Please see our Kitten Contract / Policies page for details of our kitten contracts.
Shipping out of state is by United airport to airport delivery. This runs about $275 plus associated Veterinary Certificate costs (it constantly varies so we'll get an exact quote once we have your shipping data). You're welcome and encouraged to come here to pick up your kitten. This saves the shipping fees but we still need the State Health Certificate ($75) so you can cross state lines with you new kitten. We can even meet you at the airport (Seattle, SeaTac) with your kitten ready to go so you won't need to rent a car etc.
To place an order with us, please e-mail or call us (360) 435- 2679 Pacific Standard Time. We must access the suitability of any potential new homes before allowing any of our kittens to leave our home. We also need you to sign a kitten contract so there are no misunderstandings concerning breeding rights, etc. Once you're satisfied with one of our kittens and we're satisfied it is the right fit for you as well as the kitten, we accept payment by either U.S. Postal money orders or we can accept Visa, Master Card, Discover, or PayPal / Paypal e-check (click on the PayPal banner link below and you'll end up in our PayPal link). Please mail Postal money orders to:
We are a TICA Registered Cattery.
Copyright © 1992-2013 by Douglas Dix. All rights reserved for all photos and text.