This weekend we finally got to take a real trip with the kittons in the new camper. The trip up there was interesting as Layla and Malik were a little unsettled for the ride. Siada has ridden in the truck before (and she was born fearless), so she was fine, but I had to take turns holding everyone for a bit until they calmed down for the rest of the journey.
The new Grand Designs Imagine camper proved to be as perfect for camping with feline companions as we had hoped. There was loads of room for them to romp and chase and even enough space for playing with feather wands with them.
We opted for this product over other available options as we always travel without own mobile internet source that stays in the RV at all times, that made this device ideal over those which typically cost more and require a monthly service contract.
It took only a few minutes and my iPhone to set up the Temp Stick. I now have an app that I can use to monitor the temperature and it is set to send me alerts if either the temperature reaches a certain point, or if the power goes out to our internet source. I checked the temp many times throughout today and am exceptionally pleased with my purchase. (The other item that I read great reviews for that I considered is the RV Pet Safe monitor. Had we not already had a hotspot, I would have purchased that model and their cellular plan.)
There was one thing I did not plan on, that was somewhat bizarre in close quarters, and that was Siada launching into Feral Kitton Mode at 4am. Her papa had gotten up for something briefly and it woke myself and her Princessness up as well. I saw it in her gaze and knew what was coming as she scanned around the room looking for a target.
ME: Siada, baby, no, not right now.
SIADA: Engage Feral Kitton Mode!
ME: No girl, you will wake everyone up.
SIADA: Must.... go.... feral..... (locks eyes with Malik)
MALIK: Oh crap (jumps onto the counters, followed by a wild-eyed Princess, off the counter again, over the dinette, behind the recliners where a WWE match ensued, leaping out onto the chairs, the top bunk, the bedroom)
ME: <sigh> (heaving my tired carcass out of bed to stop the rampage) Siada, you need to leave him alone, someday he will be bigger than you.
SIADA: I will go feral on your ankles!! (and she did)
ME: Come here little Malik, that girl is picking on you (rescues him from the blankets draping off the edge of the bed and then shove him under the blankets and give him a fuzzy blanket, he suckles on the, as a pacifier)
SIADA: (says nothing because she is already curled up asleep on the recliner)
LAYLA: BEST DAY EVER (as she jumps on and off the top bunk repeatedly for no apparent reason, shaking the entire trailer with each landing)
ME: And this was a good idea why???
Why has it been so quiet here? Well, we had to take delivery of Siada's new Princess Palace! The RV that we had was tight on space for active Savannah kittens, and given that the kitties enjoy camping it was prudent that we got a camper better suited to their antics.
After much research we opted for a 2019 Grand Design Imagine 2800BH. Thanks to a large slide-out, there is a great play area. The bunks, bed, and (sheesh, Siada, that is where the waffle iron goes) shelves, give them places to go rest or hide (not that this crew is prone to hiding). The storage area under the bunks is also pretty massive, and can easily house two litter boxes. There are also large windows that allow them ample view of wildlife (or, in our case, of the driveway because the campground we were taking a test trip at was flooded and we ended up testing out the camper at home instead).
And don't their fur coats match the camper interior exceedingly well? (No, that wasn't planned, but it is perfect!)
What I discovered as I was researching campers is that people love to make modifications to their mobile homes. I really did not think this is something that would appeal to me, but the idea of making a more cat friendly environment actually makes sense if we are going to travel more with our herd. (The camper did come with one fantastic built-in pet mod, with that being a drawer under the fridge that opens up and has in it trays for food and water for critters.)
Savannahs love to go high, and our cats all have claws (as they should), so we did need a scratching option for them inside the palace. I found a door mounted cat tree that is perfect. It is built for a regular house door, so we had to take the top piece, remove molding and the door hanger (they simply unscrew) and chop about 5 inches off the top, and then replace the molding and hanger. It took longer to work out the math (and triple check it) than it actually took to cut down the piece to make it work. I will need to take it back apart in the future and flip it so that the platforms face the other direction, as the second from the top bumps into the bunk a bit more than I would like, but even as is, the bathroom door is still functional and people can come and go easily.
Now I am very much looking forward to our next trip, and hope that the weather will not prevent us from taking the camping kittons out on new adventures!
This weekend had much excitement as we took all three Savannah's camping with us. It was just a one-night trip to see if we actually could survive being locked up with them all in the RV. We did survive, though Siada and Malik were literally climbing the walls in there. It was Layla's first trip out camping, and she is our cautious kitty, so it took her a little longer to get settled, but then she seemed to be quite happy doing her thing in the camper.
There were certainly times when we were tripping over kittons, but the RV we have currently does have space for a couple of litter boxes and with the top bunk they can go vertical if they want. There is a hallway for playing fetch and they all absolutely love to look out the many windows. They also loved that so many people came in to meet them. I really am just overjoyed at how social this whole crew is. None of them are people-shy at all.
And that is actually one of the things that has me so overjoyed right now. When we got Nimar, he spent quite some time hiding. We would have to lure him out with toys and food. He eventually became our constant companion, always following us through the house and monitoring our activities. I believe I have mentioned before though that he was never one to cuddle. Malik, on the other hand, never hid from us, and will purr and give headbutts, and this weekend I got the best late-birthday-present of all. He cuddled me. He actually chose to curl up on me and nap. Not once, but twice!!! He even calmed down enough in the RV for Layla to cuddle him! (The girls love to play chase and other games with him, but he keeps trying to jump on them and ride them around like horses, and they don't much love that so there have not been many opportunities for him to get loving from these very affectional gals.)
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.
I am very thankful to have a Savannah who is quite delighted to go camping with us. Nimar was the original camping cat in the house, but his journeys with us were a product of necessity, due to the rigid medication schedule we had to adhere to for him. In his younger, healthy, years, I do not think it would have worked. He was too hard-headed and big enough (and smart enough) to figure out how to get out of the RV... or possibly even swipe the keys and just drive off with everything. The last few years though, he was more mellow, and loved his trips in the camper. We decided to install a partition similar to that in a police car, separating the cab of the RV from the coach. This allowed us to use the truck doors as an entry point, so that we could get in, close the door and then enter the coach itself. This prevented any attempted cat escapes. It also allowed Nimar, and now Siada, to watch us as we drive.
We made sure that Siada was acclimated early to camping, with her first trip being to a friend's farm for a July 4th gathering. As usual, she had absolutely no fear, nor trepidation, over the adventure. She eagerly explored the camper, monitored folks on their outside activities, and made loads of new friends.
She went on another trip later this summer and we had our final outing this past weekend, to Charlottesville, VA. Here she got to take several walks in the campground to explore and she saw her first campfire.
I will note that Feral Kitten Mode is really something to behold in a tight space! You just need to get out of her way when she is dashing back and forth, and leaping from the floor to the dinette, to the bunk, to the floor again. She also discovered that she can get stuck inside the jack sofa (ugh).
Most amusing was our attempts to prep our dishes for our groups' 18th Century themed dinner one night during the trip. She has to be next to the sink if you are doing anything in it, and doesn't like being told she cannot watch you cut vegetables. And meat? Well, she thinks that is all hers. The most comical though, was my attempt to cut French bread on the dinette table. She bounced into the room, jumped to the back of the seat, grabbed the bread with both clawed paws and took a massive bite before I could wrestle the loaf from her.
And the newest trick learned on this outing? Well, as we were packing out Sunday, her papa was outside working and she needed to see what he was doing (as always). So I provided a box for her to stand on so that she could see out the window (as I hoped to prevent her from learning that you could climb the upholstered window frames). Well, she was adorable watching from the box, but also learned that climbing is a fun way to get a good vantage point too.
Savannah Caretaker who is honored to do the job.