Local woman breeds rare exotic cats

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. —  So you’ve heard of mother-in-law quarters, a garage apartment, a guest house; one Olathe woman is adding something pretty unique to her property.

Melissa Morris describes Savannah cats as, “bred from an African Serval, bred back to a domestic cat, so they look like miniature cheetahs and they behave like a dog. You take them for walks on leashes, they play catch, they go swimming. They truly are a more interactive animal.”

“I didn’t want to just own one. I wanted to breed one. My husband was like, ‘no, you’re nuts!,'” said Morris. The mother of four fell in love with the breed after she was finished having kids. She said she wanted some other kind of baby in her life.

Morris said, “I knew that this was my dream, and I wasn’t going to let other people stop me, so I just kept pushing forward.”

After moving out of a neighborhood and into this home south of the metro, she was able to breed the Savannahs at home.

Morris has a dozen of the cats. She said, “Since they are breeding cats, you want to make sure that they are together with a set a certain time so you can keep track of when pregnancies are due and things like that.”

With that many of them, she said she needed a place close by that felt like home, but still gave her family its space.

“I wanted them to have a fun home like they would have in our home and to have some separate place versus our living quarters,” Morris said.

Some might scoff at 2,200-square feet of air-conditioned comfort for cats, but Morris said she’s worked hard, it’s a business investment, and a thank you.

She said, “I feel like they’ve provided some good money for my family, so I want to give back to them and have them have a comfortable, happy life.”

So how will a pretty kitty like this set you back? They don’t come cheap. Some cost more than $10,000.

Morris said Savannahs are the Ferraris of pets.

“Some people would rather spend several grand on a cat than put it into a home or a car because that’s their hobby and that’s their passion,” said Morris.

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