We very recently said farewell to our adorable little deaf gal, Reeses deBuggg.
She was adopted almost 15 years ago from Rude Ranch. She was taken in by a rescuer with several other ferals, but her personality, along with her super soft bunny fur, meant the BigMan would cave in to her grumpy little self and bring her home (even when he was supposedly NOT looking for another cat).
Even at a petite 6lbs, she was the one none of the other cats would mess with. Even Nimar swung a wide path around her if she leveled her tortietude stare in his direction.
She was also my sweet little lap cat when I played video games, and was Isis’s dearest companion.
For about 2 years now, kidney disease has been becoming more a problem for her, but she still kept on doing her thing in her own cute way. This summer a host of other issues crept up, including Horner's Syndrome and then earlier this month she lost most of the function in her hind legs. Eventually, she was just ready to go.
I hugged her right before I left town to visit my dad in the hospital, because I knew there was a chance she would not be home when I came back. I am broken hearted now, especially for the BigMan and the Isis who has need her constant companion for nearly 15 years.
There is never, ever enough time with our beloved furry companions.
Cats "cleaning house" can be absolutely hysterical at times (especially when they are on the edge of the sofa and just fall off the side while grooming). But never in my life have I seen the Two Feet Up Technique that is regularly displayed by the Savannah girls in our house.
Typically, I see the Feline Yoga Pose, with one back foot pointed to the ceiling, and the other stretched delicately out to the side. Such a mundane approach is not for the likes of Princess Siada and the Layla Beans. They are quite skilled at the Two Feet Up pose, that I have never before in my life seen. Right about now I think this must be how they were taught to tend to their business at Select Exotics School of Kittons, but wherever it comes from, it certainly is a conversation starter. On the surface, it seems pretty simple, but I think that pointing your feet towards the sky and folding yourself completely in half definitely involves some skills I clearly do not have.
Of course, this also now leads me to wonder if this is a documented medieval technique as well and these girls are just honoring their ancestors.
From which school does your feline friend hail, Cat Yoga or the more specialized Two Feet Up?
This past weekend was the first trip out for this year in our still mostly-new Grand Design Imagine 2800BH travel trailer (prior travel posts can be found Here ). They don't love being in the truck as much as they do the Jeep, but Siada and Malik still have the same routine of sleeping after a few minutes of fussing. Layla likes to bellow in your ear, and also is the one who most prefers to be out of the crate in the car, so keeping her on a harness to let her explore cuts down on the fussing somewhat. (I was asked for general some tips on traveling with the felines, so will include those at the bottom of this post.)
They DO love the camper though. The panoramic windows are their favorite part, because they can lounge in the sun and watch the neighbors' tiny chihuahua dogs (and day dream of snacking on them). There is plenty of room in the Imagine for them to run, climb and play, so I still think that it was definitely the best decision for us to switch from a Super C to a tag trailer.
We did, however, have a new experience this weekend. Saturday evening when we were all chilling by the fire, the snack-dog owner came over to us to warn us not to be surprised if we saw faces pressed to the windows of our camper when we went inside it. Apparently the kitton clowder make for a spectacular sight in the evening when it is dark out but the lights were on inside the camper. He said that they were watching "Wild Kingdom" while relaxing at their own fire. lol
We did have one terrifying moment when we got home where a third of our Wild Kingdom almost made an escape. We had just backed up the trailer, and I was walking back to the truck and I see the BigMan furiously rolling up the windows while yelling something about ESCAPED CAT! I then saw Malik quite proudly strolling along the backs of the truck seats checking out the view. My stomach dropped.
I then had to get IN the truck without letting him out (as the BigMan could not reach him) and once I did I discovered that he had blown through the top zipper on his crate. I took Layla (still in a harness) out of her box, handed her to her papa, and wrestled the beast into Layla's crate and then dashed in the house with him. NOT the stress that any of us needed! (And I still stand by these particular crates for the girls but for a much bigger, stronger cat, they just simply do not work.)
For training for travel, I have some information included in the post HERE. For our current travel process, see below.
When we go back and forth between the house and the cabin, the ride tends to be 2.5 hours. As long as we time the travel right (during their normal afternoon napping hours), these champion felines can easily make a 2-3 hour trek without potty stops and because it is bedtime to them, they are not even particularly interested in eating. When the trip is longer, I keep a small litterbox, with a liner in it, in a heavy lasagna pan (which sits inside a shallow cardboard box). I do not use a regular litterbox because we have one percher, who will flip over a small plastic litter pan if she stands on the lip. Cats do not want to mess in their own bed, so usually will start fussing when they need to go. At that point I extract them from their crate and let them go do their thing.
One of the keys to easy travel is to be prepared for anything. To do this I keep a travel kit (essentially a diaper bag) full of necessities in the car. In it are:
Traveling in the truck with three cats (with one of them being massive) is a little more difficult. We only have a crew (not king) cab, so there is just enough space behind us for the crates. If it were two cats, I would just stack the crates (maybe with a bit of museum putty between them to prevent sliding), and use the remainder of the floor space to put a litter box and a small set of un-tippable water and food dishes. As it is, we have two on the bottom level, and the third (Layla, since she is the one who wants to roam in the car), on top of them. If we were making a very long trip, we would need to stop and let them out in the camper for a bit along the way to do their thing.
Once we get to our camping space, I take them out of the truck, and sit the crates in the camper while we adjust things. As soon as possible, I get the slide-out out, and let them out of the confinement. As I mentioned in earlier posts about our Imagine trailer, we deliberately got a model with 2 doors. This allows us to close off the bedroom so that we can enter and exit from that door, while the cats have the run of the main portion of the trailer. Because we do have a couple of door-darters, we would have to lock them in the bedroom, if we only had one door (normal cats might not care about that at all, but three active Savannahs could tear up the house that way)! I do have friends who are full-timing with a Bengal cat who is very well behaved and who does not try to dash out, so they have no worries about coming and going with her inside. It really is about knowing your cat's personality and working for solutions to that best cater to it (because we all know that cats are not going to change for us, lol).
On April 14, Mr. Malik has been with us a whole year. I still cannot believe how fast time has gone by, just as much as I cannot believe that I am honored to have another loving F1 boy in my life. He is the most social, loving, handsome little dude.
He is also a bit bonkers, but we knew that when we signed on for all of this! How many Savannahs, and for how man years, does it take to make you officially an experienced Savannah owner? I am pretty sure that at some point we definitely cross that threshold! LOL
What else is going on? Well, someone exploded the favorite banana in the bathtub, causing it to leak catnip all over the place (which caused the BigMan to worry about having to shower in catnip tea). They still play with the deflated banana husk though, and I could not find a new one at the pet store so I procured a hot pepper instead.
All I can say is that that is one wacky pepper, getting Layla so hopped up on the 'nip that she totally thumped Malik and drove him up into the cat tree afeared to come down!
They eventually made up though, which was pretty adorable, and he learned that he definitely needs to share the 'nip with Layla.
Siada, of course, just watched their shenanigans in mild amusement. She cannot be bothered with such frivolous games as she is better off spending her time judging the rest of us or just generally being perfect.
Friday was the big day. It marked Siada's total release from her probation. She was cleared in early March to slowly resume "normal activity" (though I am not really sure the vet understood exactly HOW much activity is normal for a Savannah). The Princess was still on lock-down while we were at work (in a bedroom though, not her prison cell). We allowed her more and more "run free" time every week. This Friday was the last day of any sort of containment.
And that meant this weekend she got to take a short walk outside again, the first one since October. I put her little vest on her, and the minute the leash was clipped on she went and say by the front door and waited. I was so surprised she remembered! Walkies is really the only time we use that door at all and it has been months, but she is the smart one of the clowder so she knew what was up.
We told her we will be camping later this month and I think she is already getting excited.
In other news, Siada is not the only smart one. Malik figured out doors and helped himself to a whole bag of cat treats. When I mentioned this, someone asked about Layla being smart, and, well, I said that our darling little BESTDAYEVER Layla finally learned her name. ;-)
For Siada's second birthday we celebrated with an Under the Sea them. The kittons feasted on shrimp and played with new feeshie toys and even dressed the part for the occasion. I am rather amused that the kitton of honor enjoyed the little 'cake topper' more than the toys or the jellyfish that I had made specifically for them to destroy. (And Layla makes the cutest little lobster!)
The month started off with the Isisaversary! Yes, 16 years ago, a black kitton that looked a bit like a cartoon bat, followed the BigMan home from a cat show. This event was celebrated with an extra helping of her special food and an adorable little Kong rhino, that she now puts neatly on her plate after each meal.
This past weekend heralded Reeses deBuggg's 17th Birthday! Funny thing is that this girl looks exactly as she did the day she was was adopted. Very little has changed about her grumpy petite self. Her celebration was a trio of wicker balls with bells in them (she still loves to bat balls around), and an extra helping of her kidney food.
And as for what is coming next? Ms. Siada's birthday is tomorrow! We will be celebrating in style this weekend (pics will definitely happen). And as for how she is doing? Well, she was cleared by the doctor to start running and playing again. Now I just need to convince her that that still means no leaps off the fridge for awhile!
Because I talked up Malik's first birthday on Facebook, I totally forgot to share it here!
On February 13, our baby kitton turned a year old. Of course, I had to dig up his baby pics and ooo and ahhh over them all over again. I remembered his breeder posting the pics of the new litter on one of the many FB groups, and even though were technically not looking for another kitten just yet (and were never planning to get another F1), I went to her site and absolutely fell in love with his squeezy-sad face and that FAT tail. (Baby photos credit all goes to OICSPots Hybrid Cats.)
It wasn't even long after he was born that the deposit was made and I was waiting (with a little trepidation) on our new family member. F1s are a lot of work. I was hoping he would be half as good as Nimar was, and hoping he would be social, and hoping he would get along with the girls, and hoping he would not beat up the old cats, and even though I was super excited, the uncertainty was stressful.
And even after we got him, it took a little while for him to develop enough of his adorable personality that I didn't think of Nimar every time I saw Malik. And I really do not know when exactly it happened, but the little guy totally stole my heart. I could not have ever imagined such a social, cuddly, loving dude, but here he is!
Since we had a Princess Party for Siada last year, and a Pirate Party for Layla, we decided to do something slightly different and have a ball pit for the kittons! It was really simple in that I just ordered a big bag of ballpit balls from Amazon and poured them in a bin and let all the kittons play. They absolutely love their new toy and we can hear them batting balls around at all hours. I eventually will have to order more, as Malik likes to select one and then totally crush it (and then bat the squashed, fang-pierced ball around), but the entertainment they get out of it is totally worth it.
When we got Malik pretty much everyone around us thought that it was because we intended to breed Siada and Layla with him and have the cutest babies ever. Most folks don't know that Malik couldn't produce kittens even if we wanted him to (as early generation boys are infertile). Despite that, I won't say that the thought never crossed my mind, but I will say, the fleeting whim was never serious. There is too much that goes into it, to many life-altering considerations. We will love our kittons to pieces, but when and if we want another, we will seek out another ethical breeder and choose a baby.
This poignant post by Trish Savannahs, of AllEarz Savannahs & Nevada Lykoi, made a post tonight on one of the forums in which I participate that just needs to be shared. If you have ever considered breeding any sort of animal, I highly recommend reading this before making further plans. With her permission, here it is:
Why YOU Should Be a Breeder, by Trish Savannahs
Let’s flip the script a bit and talk about why you should become a breeder. You’ve found the breed of your dreams, you love it (dog or cat) and you simply want to produce adorable squishy faced babies to sell.
Alright. We all begin somewhere, so instead of discussing why you shouldn’t become a breeder—let’s talk about all of the perks about being one.
First, we are going to cover money. Because everyone loves money—and money makes the world go round!
Now, I’m not going to say there’s no ability to make a profit with breeding and doing it responsibly. Instead let’s walk through a good year… You produce four litters this year of five babies each. You sell these kittens or puppies for $2000. What a great year-- you just netted $40,000!
But wait… Out of that $40,000—you spent $300 a month on quality food. You spent $200 a month on various routine vet visits (vaccines, checkups, etc.). You spent $1000 on health testing because both the mom and dad needed various health checks before breeding. You spent $5000 on emergency vet appointments because trust me—babies like to keep you on your toes! You are out $1500 on basic supplies (new kennels, enclosures, litter, etc) and $1000 on toys because you can’t have babies running around with nothing to play with! If you practice early spay and neuter (most dog breeders don’t, but a lot of cat breeders do)—we can estimate $100 per baby for alter surgeries so that is $2000 out of pocket.
Well, that’s not too bad, right? Now your $40,000 is $23,500. Oh wait—you also went to a few cat or dog shows because a reputable breeder likes to ensure they are on the top of their game. That’s about $2000 more out the door, but we will stop there. Let’s say in the end—you net $20,000 because you had an amazing year breeding and produced 4 litters.
Now take that $20,000 and divide it by 365 days a year--- you’re still doing great! You are making $54 a day! However that $54 a day is 24/7 work. It’s clean up, it’s midwife duty, it’s midnight vet runs and trips to the pet store. It’s talking to other breeders to maintain breed education, it’s skipping vacations because your pregnant dog or cat is due right on that day. It’s missing school performances because a newborn is sick and it’s staying up all night for weeks on end hand feeding an infant that cannot get the hang of nursing. So $54 a day divided by 24 hours is $2.25 an hour.
I mean—not chump change, right? It’s at least some kind of profit for your passion and who doesn’t want to profit from something they love?
Just remember—this is a hypothetical good year. A lot of breeders never see this hypothetical good year. They see a lot of vet bills, they see a lot of struggle, they see a lot of debt—but what they don’t see is this profitable good year and the one time they might see it—it passes quickly into another year filled with high vet bills and loss.
Okay, okay, but I am trying to convince you to breed—not to run away from the thought screaming. So how about all of the happiness involved in raising newborns? How about holding babies when they are just born and getting to kiss puppies and kittens all day long? That has to be a positive aspect of breeding every breeder gets to experience!
Not so fast, not so fast. There are people who have invested into breeding—good reputable want-to-be breeders who have paired up their animals, done the health testing and never seen a single litter. There are breeders who have done the same and held premature dead or dying babies in their hands as tears stream down their face. So breeding—as silly as it might seem—does not guarantee kittens or puppies.
But let’s go with another good year. Let’s say that yes, you have babies and they are born healthy. Now it’s ensuring mom is nursing them, it’s weighing them daily, it’s trying to give mom a nice quiet place that mom likes to raise her family, it’s keeping the house pristine to ensure no random virus enters the household (have you ever tried to keep a house medically sterile while still going to the vet and going to cat or dog shows and I mean going shopping or to school?)
If you are lucky—you have a healthy litter that encounters no bumps or bruises along the way. Meanwhile, you are committed to maintaining a clean environment (this means sweeping/mopping/cleaning 24-7 whether it’s puppies or kittens because babies love stepping in poop and then just keep going!). It means you are committed to being there even when your family may need you elsewhere. It means devoting yourself to this litter for at least ten weeks for puppies to 12-16 weeks for kittens.
But hey, at least you get the joy of cuddling a kitten or puppy when you aren’t busy cleaning up after them!
Again—this is a good year. Because guess what? Oh yes—the bad years are going to come too. And those bad years involve a lot of loss. They involve a lot of second guessing. Midnight vet runs. Constant discussion with your vet, other breeders, woulda/shoulda/couldas… There will be years where nothing goes right.
Hmmm… Okay, okay—this all seems rather discouraging. So why not talk about potential pet homes and the joy of finding new homes? That can be rather uplifting—when things go right.
Of course, you are going to deal with dozens of tire kickers, the occasional crazy person, and drama long the way, but eventually, you will find amazing buyers for your babies. At least—you hope they are amazing.
For the most part, if you are diligent, they will be the best of homes, but when you misjudge… When you misjudge a home, it can turn into a nightmare situation, but let’s just not talk about that.
Sigh… Apparently I’m not doing the best at convincing you that breeding is worth it. How about owning unaltered pets? Isn’t that a joy?
Um- yeah, that one I simply can’t put a single positive spin on. Unaltered cats pee everywhere. They pee on their beds, their hammocks, their cat wheels, the walls and in their water and food bowls. They caterwaul in heat, out of heat, when they feel like it—why? Hormones. That’s why. Unaltered dogs lift their legs, get possessive, fight, can be moodier than your average spayed/neutered pet. Again-- hormones.
Do we love them? Of course, we do, but you know what? I would love them more if I wasn’t spending my days scrubbing pee from every surface.
So why do we breed? Because we are passionate about the breeds we work with. Because we believe someone has to do this responsibly and because we are good at animal husbandry.
For myself, I cut my teeth working with rescues for over a decade before choosing to have a litter of my own. I also worked as a vet tech. I educated myself for years and continue to educate myself. I use my mentors even a decade later for advice and talk to newer breeders for a fresh point of view.
Breeding simply isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t for people who cannot take loss, criticism or advice from others. Breeding can break you. It can take the toughest person out there and simply snap their heart in two—and it will do it time and time again. I’m not talking from a lofty pedestal—I am just as capable of breaking as the next person and have found myself literally on my knees with tears streaming down my face more than once in this business/hobby/passion.
If you want to do this—go into it with your eyes wide open. Accept criticism. Accept harsh advice because guess what? In the middle of the night when you are trying to hold death back, that person giving you that advice may also be the person willing to stay up with you and hold your hand throughout the long dark hours.
And know—it’s not rainbows and unicorns. It’s fucking hard. Harder than you will ever imagine from the outside and some days, it’s totally worth it. But realize there will be dark days where it’s not… And we have lost more amazing respectable breeders to those dark days than I can count.
Recent article with tips from the FBI on avoiding adoption scams. Is worth a read. For more Savannah specific information on scams, please see my Savannah Scams page as well.
Savannah Caretaker who is honored to do the job.