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).
I have mentioned previously that we purchased two strollers for Siada's surgery recovery. One is at the house and the other at the Cabin and goes camping with us. I figure it is about time for a side-by-side comparison of the two items given that we have now had them for 6 months.
And this is take two for this post because I just lost every bit of the lengthy piece I already typed up. Needless to say, this will now be much shorter and far less eloquent.
Siada blew her knee out (the one that had surgery) Sunday night. Not even sure how she did it. She was in her stroller, jumped about something and then was all wonked out after that. We gave her time to sort it out (prior to surgery she could stretch her leg and reseat it), but come Monday it was no better so off to the ER we went.
There was a steady stream of critical cases right after us that had priority (which is fine as I know Nimar was that critical case more than once and others got bumped down the list in his favor). After several hours of waiting, Siada was sitting on her Papa and leapt off. She landed wrong, which ended up "fixing" her knee. She proudly paraded (with a slight limp) around the facility after that. I guess not many people are used to seeing a princess kitton on a leash, based on the stares she got. We opted to return home rather that continue to wait at that point.
The next morning Papa called the surgeon and they said that if she was walking and the kneecap was in its proper spot that we could just wait till our appointment Friday to take her in. Yes, the girl made it almost the whole 8 weeks with zero issues and had to blow it at the very last moment!
As it was, Friday was a very exciting day for all of the kittons as they got to go visit the dentist. Not their dentist, but ours. We have seen the same dentist since before Nimar, and he knew someone at one time who had a pet serval so was always asking about Nimar and then his successors. He wanted to meet them and even blocked off time on the schedule for the kittons to visit him and staff (and his wife who came over as well to meet them). They had a wonderful time climbing all over the waiting room, eating the Christmas decor and making new friends. It was a bit of a shock though, I think, to the elderly client who arrived just as we were about to leave. I don't think he was expecting to see a giant Malik sitting there!
After that we went to the appointment with Siada's surgeon. Her x-rays were great and her luxation is reduced from a Grade 4 to Grade 1 and that might further improve once she uses the leg more and regains strength.
She gets lots of free time now, but is still heavily watched and is not allowed to do anything drastic for the next month. I don't think she was listening to any of that part because she tried to lead the Savannah 500 Friday night at the cabin. I wanted to get really cute photos of them all playing together this weekend, but, alas, they were all too excited to sit still for it and all I got was the blurry one I used with this post.
Now for the less pleasant news. The old gals, Isis and Reeses, had their senior appointment this past Wednesday. For having Stage 3 kidney failure, Reeses is still doing pretty good. Her numbers are up a little and she had a UTI (which has since been treated) but for a 16 year old lady, she is doing alright. She still has a great appetite and can still jump on the counters with no issues.
Isis, on the other hand, has been losing weight. She also still eats really well, and is happy to see us come home from work, and joins the Savannah parade that follows me from room to room, but her white cell count is up and she clearly has digestive issues. We have some special food for her and now have an appointment with Nimar's specialist. I have been worried about this girl a lot, lately, and am reminded that old cats will break your heart at some point. I am hoping that this appointment will give us some good forward direction for her continued care. Please keep the beautiful lady in your thoughts.
Several people have asked me how Siada is doing, so I thought I would give the lengthy answer here.
She is doing well. The 2 week follow-up went great. We had some concerns about a small bump about a centimeter from the incision, and the surgeon said that it was tissue over one of the pins. He said she is exactly where she should be in her recovery process. She walks with a heavy limp, but is finally putting a little weight on that limb. It is pretty crazy, actually, how quick she can still scoot around the room.
So the good thing is that she is going very well, but the bad is that we still have 6 more weeks of crating. She is allowed out twice a day for 5-10 minutes to walk around but otherwise, it's in the crate. We are doing our best to make sure that she doesn't left out, bored, lonely or sad over this. We have the stroller I mentioned previously at our house and use it to take her from room to room with us in the evenings. This allows her to sit with us while we play computer games or when I do the dishes or other work. She seems to enjoy it. The stroller is perfectly serviceable for our needs, but Papa decided that it was not sturdy enough for outside walks and for use while camping, so he ordered a more heavy duty one to take camping.
I bought the travel kit on a total whim and am so very glad I did. The crate is essentially a pop-up tent. It weighs nothing and folds completely flat. It is not super sturdy, but has so far survived a couple of wrestling matches between Malik and Layla (both on, or in, it). All of the accessories were a bonus (it has a tarp lined litter pan, a mat that has a vinyl side and an absorbent side, a collapsible water dish, toys and a carrying bag for the accessories. This would also be fantastic for a long road trip with a cat.
And because the world needs more cat pics, here are two of Malik and Layla playing in the camper and one of Siada getting some quality time sitting on Papa (which I am sure is helping with her recovery). Also, please note that yesterday was the Reeses-aversary! On October 24, 2004, she was adopted from Rude Ranch at the local Pet Smart. Alas, she preferred to nap on her holiday so the image at the far left below was the best I could get of her scrumpy little self.
Finally someone is calling out the injustice in the auto industry. Now we just need to address the lack of cat amenities elsewhere (it will go easier on all of us once the cats manage to finally take over the world): jalopnik.com/its-about-time-we-make-some-optional-car-packages-for-c-1828583230.
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!
It is really amazing how relatively easy it is to travel with these Savannahs. They absolutely love the new crates ( https://themerryrosette.weebly.com/blog/camping-crates ), and often settle right in for the ride with little fuss. I am able to take each of them out to clip their claws, give them some cuddle time, or toss one at the litter box if they start doing the potty dance in the crate, but for the most part, they travel fantastically.
That is a good thing, as they have many adventures ahead of them! This weekend, we took a very long detour home from the Cabin so that friends' could meet them all (and get some serious kitton-fever as a result). Malik especially loved running through a new-to-him house, playing with all the cat toys that belong to the older resident Bengals. He was a terrible guest though, as he did manage to gobble up all of their food!
Layla took a few more minutes to adjust but also came out of her crate to play, explore, dash upstairs and turn off one of the kid's consoles in mid-battle in a video game (we heard the shouts and wails from one kid and giggles from the other and found out that Layla was just being Layla).
Siada waited till the other two opted to nap before strolling our and really looking around. It was hard to explain to her that, no, other people's kitchen counters are NOT the place for her princessness, so I had to keep her leashed. But she walked around, met people and gave her Siada kisses to those she found worthy.
We plan well for long trips in the car, after our experiences with Nimar. Cats do not want to mess their environment, so we have a litter box handy in the car if both of us are there to manage getting an impatient cat to it. We keep Siada and Layla on leashes inside the crates that way I can just open the door and let them stroll out to the potty as needed. For travel, I prefer to use Feline pine that is just in a short, but heavy metal lasagna pan, that has a liner in it, and is seated in a cardboard box. I keep a bag of supplies handy to quickly deal with messes. The bag contains a clean-up kit with things like paper towels, trash bags, 2 gallon ziploc bags, additional litter liners, a ziploc of extra litter, and some baby friendly handy wipes. I am a pro at removing old litter and immediately replacing it in the event someone has a back-end explosion on the road (which Layla did given the length of this trip). Unfortunately, as I was dealing with her mess, I missed the signs of Malik pacing and the poor little guy did his business on the cushion in his crate. No big deal, as I have extra bags and was able to seal off that toxic waste before he could step in it (and the cushions are totally washable).
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.
Do your cats have favorite songs or artists? I have found that my Savannahs tend to have strong preferences in that department. Nimar did not like to travel, he did not like being in the crate or the car. Unfortunately for him, he had to get over it when he became diabetic because his survival was dependent on him being with us at all times. So we got him the biggest crate ever (a large dog crate on wheels), and added a litterbox to it and did the made chase with a blanket to catch him to cram him in the box.
Once we got in the car, he was usually good for an hour of or so of travel (naptime for him, while his people did the hard work of dealing with the idiots on the road). After that time, he would start to throw a tantrum. Sometimes it lasted minutes, sometimes it involved much cage rattling and gnashing of teeth.
That was the case once when I was doing the 2.25hour trek to WV. There was a full-on feline tantrum in the back of the car. I was making me crazy so I turned on the radio. He upped his volume. I upped mine. Then the song finished and the next in queue was Led Zeppelin. Much to my wonderment, he stopped mid-wail and listened.
And continued to listen, to the whole song. He laid down, but was still alert listening. When the song changed again, he started fussing. I grabbed the handy iPhone and loaded up my own Zeppelin collection and he completely chilled out the minute the vocals started. After a few songs he was sleeping peacefully.
This continued to work, without fail, for the next year or so until we lost him. We tried other things and the only thing we found that appeased the beast was the dude on the satellite radio that taught banjo lessons. Go figure. (I also want to note that turning on K-pop would send him into a mad rage, which was fine because I have similar feelings about it.)
I have not yet figured out Princess Siada's music preferences, but I know that Layla loves John Cougar Mellencamp the way Nimar loved Robert Plant. She was throwing an epic tantrum a few weeks ago while being forced to ride in the kitton basket in the car. Bellowing her little lungs out over the awful injustice of it, when on the radio came some of that heartland rock and she became very silent and went from caterwauling-let-me-out-of-this-prison kitty to a BEST DAY EVER little angel. Go figure.
Of course, at this point, I cannot help but get a little wistful, a little sad, when I hear Led Zeppelin. I still miss arguing with my boy about traveling, even though it was complete drama from all ends, because I meant he was still with us. And one particular song will likely still always bring tears to my eyes.
Savannah Caretaker who is honored to do the job.