We are trying to train our kittons to be Camping Kittons. Siada made three trips last year and was not in the slightest bit phased by her outings in the RV. She loved to climb around in it, and enjoyed her campground walks. We got Layla after camping season was over, so she has not been out yet, but we did use this past weekend as an opportunity to take out Malik. The three of them are still separated at night, so tossing them all in an enclosed space and expecting them to totally behave was likely not in our best interest in terms of sleep. We also used this as an opportunity to further bond with Malik.
I think it is save to say that he loved it. He also climbed all over the RV, tossed his toys around and had his first experiences walking on a leash. I wish I could say that I have some wonderful magical advice about how we acclimated our cats to the camping experience, but the fact is, they just came to us as fearless, adventurous critters. Malik also had his first opportunity to socialize with other people, and he had no issues just hopping up on laps or bouncing around people to play with them.
While folks were checking out the camper and our new baby kitton, several remarked on the new crate that we had for traveling with Malik. I initially got one for Siada, who has long since outgrown the very small hard-side kitton crate in which she was delivered to us. But after seeing these in person, I ordered two more in the other available colors. They are sturdy canvas and have the top and three sides in mesh (with doors that cover the mesh as well). We got the medium-large size with should be all Siada and Layla ever need, and even when Malik is full grown it should be comfortable for short rides.
Each crate also has a plush pillow/bed in it, as well as straps for carrying and clips that can be used to secure the crate in a car by using the seat belt. There is even the option of getting a folding stroller that holds the crate! (We did not yet get one of those, but I bet at some point we will!) One of the best features is that the crates very easily collapse (they use a spring bar technology for the top rails). This is perfect for traveling with all three of them, because once we get to our destination we can just pop the top rails and fold the crates flat. There is also a pocket on one end where we can store the harnesses and leashes when not in use.
There was no whining and bellowing when the cats were placed in these crates. I am not sure if this is due to them being roomier, or that they have enough visibility that they don't feel crated, or if they are just are coming to terms with the fact that yes, at some point during each trip, they will, in fact, be shoved in a crate.
Layla was a bargain kitton. Her mama nipped off the tip of her tail during birth, so she was cheap. We needed a playmate for Siada and there was this adorable little marbley baby at a bargain price, so we got her. Neither of us expected her to be such a good, wonderful, loving girl. Of all our cats, she has the absolute best temperament. Every day is THE BEST DAY EVER to her. She bounces through life gleefully loving pretty much everything she encounters.
Yes, she is still bat-crap crazy, she is, after all, a Savannah. She is a cuddler (even with strangers) and if you rub her belly while she sleeps, she starts purring. She is also, hands down, the most adorable animal I have ever met.
She is also a little thief. Nothing is safe from her. She stole the stoppers from the bathroom sinks. She stole so many toothbrushes that we had to get new ones and keep them on lock-down. Same goes for the toothpaste.
The other night I woke to clanging and banging in the kitchen, went into see what was going on. She was stealing the silverware out of the sink, and taking them and dropping them into the cats' ceramic waterbowl across the room. There were 3 spoons and a butter knife there already and I got her as she was preparing to leave the sink with a slotted serving spoon.
Bandaids? She loves those. She will go dumpster diving for used ones. She will even try to peel them off of your flesh. That is a royal prize in Layla Land.
And food, oh dear, the food. Our cats have food available 24 hours out of the day. She can eat whenever she wants. However, she is always convinced that someone has something better. Last week she was right in that assessment, because she managed to teleport across the room and snag a very large pork chop off Papa's plate before either of us even knew what happened. I only managed to catch her with it because she had to stop to adjust it in her face.
I really think that if every Savannah had such a perfect blend of happy and wild as she exhibits, that there would be no keeping up with the demand for Laylaesque Kittons.
Awhile ago I talked about the pet playpen (i.e. Kitton Prison) that I bought for taking my girls to work with me. I thought it would be good to use for integrating Malik into the herd, but I really had no idea then exactly HOW perfect it would be. (https://themerryrosette.weebly.com/blog/a-day-in-the-office-travel-tips )
For the first several days we kept Malik in total quarantine in the back of the house. We had his vet check during that time and made sure that he was settled in ok in his new home (which, thankfully, took no time at all with a fearless little Savannah). After that, we set up the Kitton Prison in the living room. This allowed us to spend time with the big cats after work, while also letting him see that we were there and allowing the older cats to inspect him in a very safe fashion. (And allows us to maintain separate litter boxes for a few more days.)
He spent the first couple of nights alternating between playing with his toys and trying to catch the tails of the cats as they circled the playpen sniffing (or occasionally growling) at him. By the end of the second night, Layla and he were hopping at the screens trying to pounce each other (she is so very laid back, and so playful, that this was exactly how we thought that would play out).
This weekend was the real test. We took all three Savannah's to the Cabin in WV.
When we were integrating Siada and Layla, we did not have a prison, so we set up a baby gate in the back of the house. The big cats could come and go over it, but Layla was stuck in the back (this let the older girls investigate, run away, then investigate again as they so desired). When we took both girls to WV for the first time together (Siada had been there many times before, of course), we set up the gate again, and had Layla in the bedroom. In a mere two minutes though, Layla was over the gate and confronting a growling Siada (which is exactly what would happen at home). Then the magic of the Cabin kicked in and Siada stopped growling and darted to the side. Layla hopped after her. The chase ensued and they ran back and forth for an hour until they both passed out and have been fast friends ever since.
This time my BF set up the playpen before I got there with the girls and Malik was in it with his litterbox and toys. I let the girls out of their crates, and they sniffed around the Kitton Prison. Cabin Magic happened and there were no growls. We opened the gate and out he came. A few minutes later, Layla and Malik were playing chase and play attacking each other in the cat tree.
We would leave the prison open while they were playing. This allowed Malik to use his own bathroom, and allowed Layla to go in and eat his food (which is, of course, exactly the same food she had, but apparently prison food tastes better). When Malik got too amped up (FeralKittonMode), we could put him in there and cover it with a sheet and he would take a good nap. I think the three of them had a glorious time playing chase all over the Cabin. The playpen allowed me to get some sleep with my girls (who missed me) without him feeling all alone at night, because he knew we were all near by. We put it in the bedroom at home last night, and this allowed him to sleep near us (and he was so tired out from exploring the house that he slept almost the entire night). We are planning to go camping this weekend and I might take the Prison with us so that little Malik can get some outside time as well.
The Kitton Prison that I bought can be found, in two sizes, below. I have the larger one as I originally got it for two cats plus bed, litterbox and all else they need for a day in the office. The smaller one might actually be better for camping or other travel. This was a sort of silly purchase that I made that actually really paid off. I see us getting much use out of the Kitton Prison in the future!
Last night we traveled to the Cabin, with Malik in Pap's car and the girls in mine. It is the best method until Siada is used to him, because she gets very fussy if there is kitton-stress in the car with her.
Here is the actual conversation we had on the way here:
Actual conversation in the car tonight:
Siada: REFUSIN'!!!! Dont wanna do it!!!!!
Me: Too bad, we are going to the cabin.
Siada: I want to sit on your lap.
Me: For just a minute, then you have to go in the basket.
Siada: Nooooooo! I want to sit on your lap!!!!
Layla (in the basket): BEST DAY EVER, GONNA SLEEP WITH SIADA
Siada: MOM, she is looking at me funny!
Me: Siada, you have to ride in the basket with Layla.
Layla: BEST DAY EVER
Siada: Not gonna comply!!! (Siada punches Layla in the head and brawl ensues)
Layla: NOPE, NOT BEST DAY EVER
Me: Don't make me turn this car around, and DONT make me call your papa and tell him how you are acting.
We have managed to get him into his harness twice now. This brings me great joy. He is so curious that he never even notices it much and just goes about his normal, pouncing business. I wasn't entirely sure about how he would fare with the vet, it being a strange place and all, but he did as well as our fearless Siada did on her first trip. He wanted to explore everything, let the tech weight him, played with her, let the vet examine him (no temp was taken though, his majesty over-ruled that idea), and stole papers from the staff.
After the exam, we were in the lobby waiting to pay and people wanted to see him so we opened the crate and he strutted right out and let every one pet him. Each new person that came by would get his attention and he would walk over to greet them. Hopefully he continues to be as social as he gets older!
Nimar was our beautiful overlord, the Emperor. This weekend, a new King has joined the household. I am absolutely delighted to have an F1 in my life again, and, honestly, I am still trying to process that whole concept. I do, however, want to talk about the differences in our first few days with Nimar vs. the first few with Malik.
We picked up both Nimar and Malik from the breeders' homes in Ohio. Nimar was more than twice the age of Malik when we got him. And he was a bit wild-shy around strangers (perhaps even the breeder). She had to chase him all over the house to catch him when we got there, and she tried to trim his nails before we took him and he was having absolutely none of that. He rode in the crate the whole way home expressing his indignance of the situation.
When we arrived at Malik's breeder's house, he was bouncing around the living room. He would not immediately come to us, but within mere minutes his curiosity got the better of him and he investigated the new people. We even got to pick him up! We all watched him play while Teresa, the owner of the cattery, filled us in on his diet and habits and talked about his siblings (who also had just gone to their new homes). Then we packed up his little spotted self and headed for the car.
He did fight like a little demon in the crate for the first ten minutes. Loud chirps, alligator rolls, thrashing about. And then he was so kitten-tired (that is an extreme form of tired that just makes you fall over asleep) that he curled up with his new wooly mammoth and fell asleep for a few hours.
After that, I let him out of the crate, put the harness on him (the small Hyendry harness we had left from Siada and Layla) and offered him food and water and a potty (none of which interested him). He was, however, excited to explore the vehicle and was very content to sleep on my lap for the duration of the ride.
At home, he readily explored his new space. He would be jumpy with a sudden move or noise, but also readily accepted us as his people. He would rub on our legs, chirp to be put on our laps (where he would climb up to perch on shoulders). If he did not want to be held he was, of course, a ball of wriggling claws and fierce noises, but when he is ready to cuddle, he enjoys being close to us.
By contrast, my beloved Nimar spent most of day one behind the toilet. We had to coax him out with toys, and lure him to us with feather wands. You could not pick him up at all, and it was a couple days of very hard work to get him to let us really pet him. Once he decided we were ok, he eventually stopped being skittish and gave up the headbutts at every opportunity. I understand this is not at all uncommon behavior with early generation cats, but brining Malik into our lives is much like bringing in Siada and Layla who clearly wanted to be close to people, to cuddle, and to be annoyingly right-in-your-face from the start.
I think that perhaps this is due to a mix of really good personality and good socialization on behalf of the breeders we worked with this time around. The experience they have working with hybrid (and wild) cats really shows.
I have mentioned before that ten years with my beloved Nimar taught us a lot of things. That time also taught us what things we need to enforce from the start if we ever want to make them work long term. One of these things was nail trimming.
In a decade, I managed to trim exactly ONE nail on that cat. One solitary talon-of-doom. During his illness an entire team of vet techs could manage it, especially during that last year when he just quit caring, but prior to that, it really only happened when they had him sedated for something.
Understand that he was never bad about clawing on the furniture (though there is that one part of one wooden door frame that he took serious issue with and regularly mauled, but given that that it was just one spot, we choose our battles wisely and let him have it), but you could get accidentally nailed (see what I did there?) while playing, or if he ran over your face or something on one of his mad rampages. But yeah, one nail trimmed in that whole time.
We should have been prepared for that really, as the breeder was trying to trim them when we went to pick him up (after she spent five minutes running around the house trying to catch the little bugger), and even then she could not get them all because he was spitting mad and fighting her.
We decided this time would be different. I learned very quickly that Siada sleeps HARD in the car. After about five minutes of looking out the window, she curls up on my lap in the back seat (with papa driving) and I can trim all the reachable feet (sometimes one is under her and she wont let me have it, but it is still pretty effective and definitely better than my track record with Nimar). Layla tends to follow Siada's lead and so now often sleeps well in the car too, which means I can get some Layla feet then as well. This process happens almost every week as we travel back and forth to the Cabin.
This week I saw a chart about pet nails being passed around one of the Savannah forums. I cannot, sadly, trace it to the original source, but I found it on a number of sites online and have included it and one of the sources below.
How did I NOT know about this? How did I not know that the quick could recede, thereby allowing you to trim even shorter after a few days. This is game changing information!
So last night I got brave. I decided, while in the house, that I would test this out and try to trim the nails shorter (even though I just did them last Friday).
This is a real thing! I could trim them again, shorter. But even more important, I was able to just walk up to Siada as she was sleeping on the sofa and pet and kiss her and then pick up her dainty princess feet and trim all of the nails. She barely woke up.
And to make the miracle even more impactful, I was able to do the same with a sleeping Layla. They are so used to the process, and so over their fear, curiosity, or need to bite the clippers that it was not even the most mild of annoyances as they slumbered.
I guess we will see if we can continue our training (and good luck) with our new little F1 boy whom we will be picking up in just a few days!
A friend of mine is chronicling her journey with diabetes on Facebook, but the ups and downs, as she learns to work with her new diagnosis. On a post today where she lamented higher than expected blood sugar, I replied, "I am a total pro at diabetes care after 3 years of dealing with Nimar ills. If you ever need me to give you a mad chase through the house (complete with epic swearing) culminating in my sitting on you and stabbing your ear (and myself) to get blood, know that I would totally do that for you."
Because seriously, sometimes you just need to find a (morbid) bit of humor in these things to make it through.
Nimar had very set routines. He would butt heads with you strongly if you tried to deviate. This was actually very beneficial once he became ill, as we could readily determine when something was more wrong than usual, because he would alter his routine. Even with our reliance on his stubborn plans, it was easy to build new routines for him if he found it rewarding enough.
When we started traveling with him all of the time, we did our best to make trips, especially those to the Cabin "special" in an attempt to make him less riotous when it came time to transport him. (So, yeah, that did not much work, but he did love the new traditions we built for him at the Cabin.) Among these, was giving him an egg every weekend morning. In fact, he would hear an egg crack and come running to sit at my feet and wait for his special meal. Once it was plated and cooled off, I would tell him to go to the living room so his papa could watch him enjoy it and he knew right where to go and wait for me to bring it.
When I was cooking breakfast this morning, I saw Nimar's little egg pan sitting next to the sink. I only ever used it to cook his single egg in the mornings or his three wild-caught jumbo shrimp every Saturday evening (because you eventually get to a point with a terminally ill animal that you allow them to have pretty much whatever they want).
I decided that since it was Easter, that the little girls could also enjoy an egg for breakfast. I told them that the pan was special as I was fixing it and I told them why. Then took them out to the living room so that their papa could watch them make an epic mess out of it. Will this be a new tradition? I don't know, as they seemed more interested in flipping yellow yolky shards all over the rug than they did eating it. But they were cute doing it and I enjoy the rather bittersweet memories of my little guy.
Savannah Caretaker who is honored to do the job.