I have learned that there are several types of cat breeders. One would be those who raise the cats in-home and under-foot. These are usually breeders that have a small number of litters each year and who often breed for certain traits. These kittens can benefit from full-time contact with humans. There are also larger breeders, with elaborate catteries and full-time staff. Select Exotics (where my girls came from), are the latter (and if you go to their site, you can see that they have an impressive facility and a number of people who work to make sure the cats are healthy and socialized). There are also "backyard breeders", a slang term for uneducated or unethical breeders.
For the moment I want to congratulate all of those in that first group, the in-home breeders, because I seriously do not know how they manage to get anything done with a house full of Savannah kittens. You must have nerves of steel and epic levels of patience.
Dinner last night was pretty epic. On coming in the house Siada attacked the bags of groceries, puncturing a container of yogurt and trying (but failing) to swipe her papa's steak. The groceries went into the kitchen (with that one lime Chobani making a detour to the trash) and I started to cook. Normally, Siada sits on a cooler next to the counter where she can watch me. Last night she opted to jump onto the counter about once every two minutes. After me putting her down and telling her "No" for the 93rd time, she decided that she needed to teach Layla how to accomplish this feat as well.
Why would she do this, I wondered? Oh yes, she wanted a diversion so that I would not see her tipping over the colander of peas in the sink. Fortunately, half were still in the sieve and I could use them in the pasta dish (as soon as I removed Layla from the counter yet again). I oped to piled dishes in the sink over the abandoned peas so that I could (hopefully) eat my dinner while it was still warm. As we sat at our food (in the living room) I hear clanging and banging in the kitchen and rush in to find Siada at the sink with one paw reaching around below the piles of dishes. She was up to her armpit in ceramics jostling and stretching. Occasionally she would pull out a paw and look at it and YES! There was indeed a delicious pea in the middle of her pad or impaled upon a nail. She would eat it and begin her pea hunt anew.
Of course, they were exhausted after dinner and slept for several hours before the antics started again. And me? I was exhausted as well. I think Savannah kittons should come with a wine subscription. Maybe all of those in-home breeders have one, and that is how they survive the daily Savandalism in their homes.
(Note, I would not change any of this for the world, with exception, of course, being to remedy the lack of wine!)
It did not take long at all for Siada and Layla to become inseparable. Layla trots after Siada, imitating her actions. They are now co-conspirators for destruction of the domicile, which, fortunately, amuses us to no end.
Watch where you sit though, they have no qualms in blazing a trail right over you in pursuit of each other. When Nimar was young he would run right over you on the sofa, or even jump the entire sofa with you on it. As soon as you heard the thunder of his paws, you inwardly flinched because you never knew where he would land or what part of you might provide a runway for feline antics. All those feelings are coming back now when I hear the two girls pounding through the house.
There are even some quiet moments (that are just so gooey, sweet and 'awwwwww' inducing that you cannot stand it). I can definitely say at this time that BK#2 (lovely little muppet Layla) was a very, very good idea.
It has been a very, very long time since I have had more than one kitten in the house at a time. Siada, at 8 months, is still a kitten herself. And, well, Layla is just a baby. The chaos right now is supreme.
To take a step back, we did the usual quarantine, though not as long as we might normally have done it. Siada was turning herself inside out beating on the quarantine door trying to see what was inside. Isis was wailing the song of her people outside the door as a slept on the far side on a cot with the baby. It just wasn't working.
The decision was made to start introducing Siada and Layla first, and then work on Isis and Reeses (an ill-tempered velociraptor on a good day) later. This was especially important because we needed to travel to the Cabin, but did not want to leave Siada (who goes everywhere with us) at home.
Siada, she who fears nothing, chose to run from, and growl at, the baby. The little Kitton, like all of its kind, decided the best way to react to this hostility was to bounce up in its face, over and over.
Can someone explain that too me please? You are the tiniest creature on the block. You have baby teeth and claws. Yet, your strategy is to go AFTER the animal making very vehement death threats at you from across the room? Brilliant plan, kitton. (But they all do it! Siada did it to the big girls, Nimar did it to them, Isis did it to the previous reign....)
A couple of days of this (and with Siada stealing all of Layla's toys at every given chance), and we had to make the first trip to the Cabin.
Siada is a champion traveler. But with the new kitton in the car she was lunging at the cage and growling. This resulted in stopping along the road so that I could move myself and the spotted banshee to the front seat, leaving the baby in a crate in the back to bellow her discontent all the way to West Virginia. No amount of Feliway was helping this.
But a mere 2 hours later a miracle happened.
We got to the Cabin. I put up a baby gate in the bedroom and showed the baby where the potty and food were. The baby gate would not stop Siada at all, but she wasn't the aggressive terror. Realistically, the baby can climb the gate, but it would give me a chance to catch her before hell broke loose. Or so I thought...
Not five minutes later, Layla was streaking free through the Cabin. On Princess Siada's turf. Siada went after her and stopped short. They sniffed noses. Siada suddenly decided that it was play time and they spent the rest of the night chasing each other through the house.
Little Layla is a pig when it comes to her food, so we already had to make a trip to the Pet Valu to get more kitten food. We, of course, took Siada with us for her social hour and so that she could make many new friends (who would, of course, be members of her fan club).
Our girl is fearless, and she also knows exactly where the cat toys and cat food aisle are. She also loves to explore the dog section and is always curious about things like antlers and large chew bones. I think it is the adorable apex predator in her that is telling her she could totally have made that kill.
She does not flinch when she sees dogs there, and will walk right up to pretty much anyone and make introductions and ask for petting. I think at this point that dozens of new people know about the Savannah breed now because of her (and I have to say that they are all quite enchanted).
I hope that Layla can someday make these trips as well. She did fantastic at the vet's office, but that is a smaller facility, with much less bustle. She is a jumpy little thing, so might not do as well as Siada. We are, however, harness training her already (as it makes for better car travel if nothing else).
So little time to type while splitting my attention between two rambunctious Savannah kittens!
We picked up BK#2 - now Layla al-Hedima on Friday. She is adorable, and FAT! Total porker of a little kitten. though little might be the wrong term. She is 9 weeks old and 2.8lbs, which has her being a half pound heavier than Siada was at 10.5 weeks. Hedima means handmaiden (since Siada is the Princess), but with her little tank body, she might make a better body guard.
She is very friendly, but also jumpy. She poofs her tail when at everything, including when she is happy (something our F1 did regularly). She bounces rather than runs, and actually has a pretty stocky little bullddog body, rather than her cousin's sleek build. I think that once quarantine is over, they should love to race and romp (this baby seems to do nothing but hop around).
Actually, there is a good bit about her that reminds me of Nimar. She is hard as heck to catch (but still social, and is a purrmonster). Siada is all about stealth and opportune strikes, while this little bruiser just slams into everything.
I think we are in for a wild ride!
I previously mentioned that Siada's first harness was meant for a ferret, and that she eventually upgraded to a snazzy bit crafted by Hyendry. We have had a great deal more experience since then with walking her, and have learned a few things that I want to share.
With Nimar, we never got him to keep a harness on long enough to work with him. Heck, most of the time we could not even get near him with one. We tried with Isis, but if you even tied a bit of sewing thread, loosely, around her middle, she would fall down and, laying prone, would wail and moan about all of the injustices of her feline life. I did get a strap style small dog harness on Reeses once and took her in the front yard, but the first car that passed had her dancing in mid-air on the end of the leash like a forlorn kite in a storm. When she hit the ground, she bolted backwards and nearly out of the harness.
I thought at first that the difference here was just in Siada's very fearless personality, but I think now that that initial ferret harness had a great deal to do with it.
The ferret vest, a Kaytee Comfort Harness, is very light weight, being only a thin layer of nylon with very light weight strapping on it. The small sizes are cut high enough near the arms that a cat can still climb and jump in it (something that does not always happen with dog harnesses). Most cats react badly to a harness because they feel as if something is pushing down on them (or as if they were crawling through a tight spot). It freaks them out. I don't think this added enough weight to bother her. One note about this harness is that the D ring is a week spot. It is not solid metal (it has a seam on the flat side) and it opened up on us. We replaced it with a key ring to attach the leash and have had no issues with the harness at all after that.
The large size would fit Siada now, but does not really have the arms cut high enough to allow her full range of motion. I also feel much, much more secure with the Hyendry harnesses, which have heavier, wider and much longer velcro strips.
And now we are back to Hyendry. We LOVE the first one we had for her (a size small). So ordered the "tween" size for her (and it fits perfectly now). I also just ordered a Medium! I do want to note that when you purchase a Hyendry harness, that these are custom made. Look carefully at the site to see how long it will be before your item is ready, but it is very likely to take that long. You might need to order a size larger if you have a kitten and the lead time for production is four weeks.
These are solidly constructed, and I choose the additional options of a second ring and the additional straps (again, to soothe my paranoid). Siada struts around the house in her "clothes" as if she knows how amazing she really looks.
And the new skull patterned one we got for her? I was delighted to see the adorable pink crystal rivets that were used to accent it! We already had a pink cheetah-print lease so she is ready to go on social calls in style.
This new kitten cannot get here soon enough! Last night, was possibly the saddest moment ever in the history of Princess Siada and one can only hope that her new "sibling" will be a cure for this greatest of sorrows.
The background of this story is that Isis is a crotchety old gal. She does not at all care for spotted kitties, especially small ones that bounce all over her and bite her ankles Kenya-style (see bottom of the page, at the 30 second mark). She most definitely does not want to cuddle them, even though she regularly relents and lets Reeses cuddle her.
The fact remains that Isis simply does not really want the spotted ones near her. Sometimes they can sneak up on her as she sleeps... maybe even even get close enough to touch her (Nimar was pretty famous in our house for reaching out his paw and just barely touching her on her as she slept). But cuddles? Nope.
None of this, however, stops Siada for wanting her fair share of Isis time. The little girl tries so hard, but the moment that she gets close there is hissing and popping and growling and some other noise of discontent that can only be described as the enraged bleating of a very large sheep. And then Siada leaves, head hung down with great big kitton tears rolling down that long Savannah nose.
But relate the tale from last night, Isis was sleeping on my pillow, as she does every night. Actually, I have to have two pillows because Isis herself is a pillow-sized cat. So I arrange two pillows next to each other, one for me and one for her, and she curls up next to my head and purrs through the night.
At about 6am I was awakened, abruptly, by very loud growling and bleating, right next to my ear. I sat up, eyes full of sleep, trying to peer through the darkness to see what the issue could be.
Eventually it became clear. While Isis was blissfully snoozing on my pillow, Siada had crept in and curled up against her, much like Reeses in the photos above. Apparently Isis woke up to discover the infraction and, instead of moving away from the offender, chose to bellow instead. Siada only stared at me with wide open sorrowful eyes.
Big. Kitton. Tears.
So, I moved the little princess so that she could snuggle my arms, and quieted the mass of attitude on my pillow and tried to go back to sleep.
At least, I thought, it was not yet another Kenya incident. And oh yes, I hope that this new kitton can be a great cuddle pal for Siada.
This post is to announce Bitty Kitton #2! Yes, Siada is getting a sibling (well, technically it is a cousin...). Siada is active and LOVES to play and cuddle, and she is very sad that the big cats at home want less than nothing to do with her antics. We have chosen a little marbled F3 Savannah, also from Select Exotics, that shares the same Serval Great-Grandfather with Siada. I so very much look forward to welcoming the new little girl next weekend!
She told me she wants to grow up to be a cheetah, not a lion, but this is the closet costume that I had ;-)