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???
No more fresh air for this kittons ever. Since five AM it's been a non-stop Savannah rampage. Everything that could be knocked over or knocked off has fallen victim to the herd. I have been pounced, attacked, abs even my blanket for was breeches by Siada, who was leading the raid in person.
I gave up on sleep when I heard a rumble and saw Malik perched on top of the bedroom door. I give up as they can apparently fly...
(ETA - As I was posting this Malik decided he did not like the smell of my coffee and serval smacked the liquid in the cup and now I am cleaning up the table, the stack of mail and my laptop...)
Siada has no fear. I think it might be genetic, or magic, or something. Nothing scares her. Layla, on the other hand, is a bit jumpy. She isn't skittish and she definitely is not one of those cats that disappears whenever company comes over, but she far is more cautious than her cousin. Malik is a bit somewhere in between the two. He doesn't charge in the way Siada does, and once confronted he will display his full kitton prowess to his enemy, but he does have reservations about certain situations.
Or about a presumed enemy, which in this case is The Snake.
The Snake originiates with Nimar, who used to go through toys at an alarming rate. We had to start buying large Tuffy toys meant for pitbulls and other big dogs. They were the strongest things we could find and he still went through an average of one a week. Days before we lost him, we found a snake made of fire hose and bought him that. He was feeling less playful at that point and only nipped at it once, but he seemed to like having it on his bed in the computer room and it has been laying there ever since. Siada wrestled it once or twice as a baby, but Layla and the big girls never gave it a second glance. Malik smacked it a few times when we first got him (see video below), but mostly it just sat there biding its time, just waiting to terrorize F1 kittons.
It is interesting to note that Malik's more recent reactions to The Snake entirely depend on its position. If the snake is flipped over onto its back, Malik pays it no heed. But it is looking at him, all bets are off. It gets the very best of serval smacks, as well as a few spits, hisses and growls. For the most part, The Snake just lays forlorn on its back on the floor and everyone walks past it and goes about their lives.
Well, recently Papa made the mistake of moving The Snake from the floor to the table and all hell broke loose. Apparently it looked at him funny and he went completely nuts. The fuzzy little guy saw it and sprang from his seat to my arm, to my leg and then he and his adversary hit the floor and the spitting and smacking began in earnest.
MALIK: It's looking at me!
SIADA: It's a toy, you derp.
MALIK: It's eyes, they are trying to steal my soul. I have never seen anything so horrible!
SIADA: You are 60% serval, act it.
MALIK: But it is LOOKING AT ME.
(Furious bout of serval smacks, followed by growls and Malik flees the room to sit at the far end of the next room staring, in horror, in the direction of the computer room.)
LAYLA: BEST DAY EVER, MALIK LEAVED ME ALONE!
(Papa hides the snake.)
MALIK: Not going back there. Ever.
SIADA: Your food is back there.
MALIK: Don't care.
LAYLA: BEST DAY EVER, MORE FOOD FOR ME!
SIADA: Your litter box is back there.
MALIK: Don't care. I will poop in the sink. I can NEVER go back.
Two days. It took TWO DAYS for me to reintroduce him to the back of the house. Heck, he didn't even want to leave the second floor for a day and would not even go in the computer room for one more beyond my coaxing him down the stairs. And when he finally made his way to the back of the house, he looked diligently under every piece of furniture for The Snake. Finally though, he was convinced the vile beast was eradicated and he could return to his normal evenings of perching on Papa as he plays computer games.
SIADA: This is why I am in charge...
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!
Crazy busy here trying to get things prepped for more kitton camping trips. So much work to be done, but I wanted to to share some pics of the silly critters as they wait for their next big travel adventure!
Often people will talk about a feline singing the song of her people in the wee hours of the night. I believe that only cat owners can really understand what this is, and from personal experience, I can say that Isis might be the champion Singer of them all. MAWOW-WOOOOOW! Late at night, from a floor away, you can here the song swelling, rising, the volume, the crescendo!
What I have only learned just recently thought (despite more than a decade of Isis serenades) is that she is often bellowing her tale WITH A TOY IN HER MOUTH! Yes, she roams the darkened halls, moving toys from one spot to the next, all the while chanting the ancient refrain of her people. (For nearly a decade we were blaming the continued migration of toys from one floor to the next on Nimar, but his passing has revealed that he actually had a partner in this serious feline matter.)
Isis is a beauty, who, unfortunately, is a black hole when it comes to photography, so you really must witness her glory in person to appreciate her. She came from Rude Ranch Animal Rescue in 2003. I attended a cat show with the BigMan and the last thing he said was "I am not getting another cat, I am just here to look at the fancy cats". (BTW, "I am not getting another cat" seems to be code for "GETTING A CAT!" because every time he says that, he ends up with another furry companion in short order.) Well, we looked at fancy cats, and then, as we toured the rescue groups around the perimeter of the room, a black furry paw full of razor blades reached through the cage and nabbed the edge of my coat.
That of course meant we had to cuddle her, or, well, try to, as she was struggling to climb my head to reach the birds that were six stories up in the ceiling of the armory that was housing the show. This 6 month old black kitton was a total hellion, and they warned that she was a shredder. But we were going to move on and go look at cat trees when a family of small children stopped to look at her. You could tell this family was not ready for a scratchy, shredding, hellfire kitton like Isis, and so the BigMan turned back and declared he was going to take her.
But I digress. Isis is our bard, but she is also our nursemaid. Whenever anyone is sick, she is the one there providing support and comfort. She is the one that will sit with you as you hang over the toilet all night, or if you are soaked with fever on the sofa.
If I had to be honest, I would also say that for many years she also hated spotty cats. She was never impressed with Nimar (she was about 4 when we got him). She would hiss and pop when he came near, and growl if he got too close. (Ironically, this is how the previous cats had treated her, lol.) I really cant blame her though, as he ran her ragged the first few years. She dropped from a very fluffy 20lbs to a healthy 16 (she is a very big cat) on the Savannah Diet (i.e. being chased by a bat-crap crazy Nimar Kitton). When he got sick, she would finally start sleeping with him, cleaning his ears and letting him cuddle her. In his last few days, she was his constant companion. I think that had to mean something to him.
And then we go Siada and Isis was reminded that she hates spotty cats. Hissing, spitting and popping started all over again. Until Layla came along. Like every other living being, Isis seemed captivated by those big innocent eyes and she not only accepted Layla, but suddently Siada was ok as well (the jury is still out on Malik, lol).
I was going to post earlier this week, on Memorial Day, about the one year anniversary marking the passing of my beloved Nimar. I mentioned it on Facebook, but my heart was too heavy to compose something more formal. Instead, I opted to wait till today to post about Siada, who flew in to live with us on this day last year. I love this girl so very much, even if she rules her kingdom with an iron paw. She filled my heart with joy after the greatest of losses.
Kittens grow quickly. Savannah kittons grow very, very quickly, especially early generation ones. We joke that you can actually watch them grow. Malik is no exception. He has put on over 2lbs in the 5 weeks we have had him. (He is 5.36lbs at 14 weeks old.)
Savannahs, like some other large breeds such as Maine Coons, can also often grow for three years. Just when you think they are done, they might have another growth spurt. I actually think that Siada, at almost 15 months, is probably pretty close to being done though. Her weight has stalled out at just under 9lbs. She will likely continue to fill out a bit, but I think she will continue to be the very leggy, yet petite princess that we have today. Layla is still growing a bit and at 8lbs is almost Siada's weight. She is so muscular though, and doesn't have the lean Savannah build that Siada shows off so well, but she is a powerhouse when it comes to leaping.
Malik, well, I am pretty sure Malik will surpass Nimar's size. At 18 weeks when we got Nimar, he weighted 4.5lbs. In less than two weeks, he was 5.5lbs and continued to grow for three years hitting his peak at 21lbs (he was up to 23lbs at one point, but was a bit, um, fluffy at that weight). People actually thought he weighted a lot more than he actually did, because he was so tall (something not uncommon with perception of size in Savannahs). Malik though, he is getting big. In about two more days he will outweigh Reeses...
I sometimes wonder if Nimar did not have the best diet as a baby. He, in theory, should have weighed more when we got him, though he did not seem too thin nor malnourished. Malik was raised on raw food with a good supplement, and he continues that as well as quality cat food (I will talk at length about diet in another post). He can shovel in the food like crazy and it is hard to keep up with him! You can see below that he is almost the size of Layla (who is well over 8lbs), even though he does not yet have her muscle mass. He is very nearly her height as well.
Someone unfamiliar with Savannahs recently asked me if I was sure Malik was really a first generation (because I keep posting pics of him cuddling with me). One look at him and you can see the serval traits like crazy. Those ears, the coat, the size! Yup, my little mostly-serval is absolutely what he is (and that is mostly a huge pain in my rump, lol).
I have a chart at home with weights for the cats over the last few months, mostly because I am tracking the weight of our older girls as they start to have old-cat problems. I might need to make a graph of Malik's growth just for fun ;-)
Of course this whole post reminds me of the meme that people love to share to my wall (and that is ok, as I laugh every time I see it).
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).
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.)
Savannah Caretaker who is honored to do the job.