There is one major difference between Savannah and Bengal cats which dictates all the other differences: the wild cat genes of the Savannah cat are those of a serval while the wild genes of the Bengal are those of an Asiatic leopard cat.
| Difference between Savannah and Bengal cats? Photos |
(left: Jim Child - right: Kathryn Stucki)
They are both wild cat hybrids. Therefore they both have some wildcat in them. The amount depends on whether the cat concerned is a kitten from a mating between a serval and a domestic cat (first filial or first generation) or if the cat concerned is several generations from that offspring (fifth filial for instance). But they all have some serval in them.
The same basic rule applies to the Bengal cat only the wild cat element is a much smaller wild cat: the Asiatic leopard cat aka leopard cat. The serval is quite a large wild cat and much larger than the leopard cat.
And the serval has a different character to the leopard cat. So taking the first filial (F1) Savannah and Bengal cats the former is larger than the latter and the legs are longer. The character of the former may be a little more amenable to human company than the latter because the leopard cat is vehemently independent while the serval is more pliable I'd say. But that is a fine point.
The big difference is the appearance. Also the coat of the Savannah cat reflects that of the serval: plain dark spots on a yellowish background. The Bengal has rosettes and a more intricate pattern usually. Some of the differences are due to years of selective breeding which has separated their respective appearances more such as spotted Bengals and blotched tabby Bengals. There are arrowhead spots and donuts and so on.
The F1 Savannah cat is better known than the F1 Bengal. Quite a lot of people live with the exotic F1 Savannah because they are so glamorous and large. Also some say that they are slightly hypoallergenic (unproven). Very few people live with F1 Bengals. They are rarer. They are hard to live with. So are F1 Savannahs but probably a bit easier than living with an F1 Bengal.
The most common version of each breed is the fifth filial. These behave like classic domestic cats but they may be a bit more challenging on occasions.