Friday, January 31, 2014

Savannah Temperament

 There are three basic factors that affect the nature of the Savannah cat behavior, lineage, generation and socialization. These three factors follow the nature vs nurture argument with nature being breed lines combined with generation and nurture being social up bringing. The Savannah breed development is still at it's infancy (2014) and most Savannah cats have a very broad range of behaviors. 

If a breed line has a tendency for a specific behavior over other behaviors it is likely to be passed to the breed lines offspring. As outside lines are used there is a merging affect of the base behaviors. 

When breeding lines starting from early generations such as first filial and second filial generations (F1 and F2 savannahs), behavior stemming from the wild out cross, the Serval, is more apparent.  Behaviors like jumping, fight or flight instincts, dominance, nurturing behaviors are more noticeable in early generations. Since fertile males that are F5 and F6 are used in most breeding programs later generation Savannah cats behaviors tend to act more like traditional domestic cats. Over lying behavior traits for all generations are high activity and high curiosity.

Probably the most influential factor is early socialization. Kittens socialized with human contact from birth and human interaction each day reinforces kitten and cat human interaction behavior that lasts through out the cats life span. Kittens within litters will tend to have varied social skills with some that like human interaction and others that fear it. If kittens that fear humans never grow past that fear they will tend to exhibit a more shy behavior and are likely to hide went strangers are present. Kittens that look forward to their human visits and like to engage in play with their humans tend to grow to cats that are more welcoming of strangers and less frightened of new environments. These cats tend to be more the life of the party versus a cat that will find a hiding place until the party is over. Human cat socialization should be practiced each day with positive reinforcement for kitten to grow into a well rounded social Savannah cat. Kittens that go for long periods of time without human interaction and only interact with their mothers or siblings many times do not develop a strong bond with humans and tend to be less trusting of their humans. These kittens tend to be more shy and are likely to hide when humans that they don't know are present.

Leonard D. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Kitten Love


This really is a follow up to "window to the soul" blog. It always a mazes me when a kitten is born and it first starts to open its eyes, by this time I have been handling the kitten for a few days, maybe a week or so. I will typically let it smell me and explore this strange large beast that is not it's mother. Once it opens it's eyes it sees you in a different light. Many times it's scared of you and will cry out for mom, until it realizes it's you again. You can see the change in the kittens development through it's eyes and you can see the development of the kittens self awareness and it's awareness of it's environment. I new kitten is being made.

At first the kitten can't see anything but light and dark. It it first sees you, you are this large blob that is moving and scary to the kitten. After a while it's eyes develop, it learns to walk, learns to eat, learns to poop, learns to pee. I'm usually there for all of that. I interact with them and will help mom out, but really help the kitten to realize this person that was once a big scary blob is it's 2nd mom. I like to give a bottle to the kitten from time to time. Which will make the bonding process stronger. Sometimes the kitten will not accept the substitue for the real tit or real mothers milk.

Once the kitten makes the connection of a 2nd mom it really starts looking forward to seeing you and what it means. Many times it means freedom for the kitten or it sees a new playmate in you and a way out of the room. Many times the kitten will look in aw or amazement at you and I can't but wonder what is that kitten thinking. A kitten look can pierce into your very soul and surely make your heart melt. As you continue to interact with the kitten and it gets more and more daring it wants out and about. At first it will not leave your side or moms side. Many times mom will be to nervous to let it go out, but the kitten wants what the kitten wants and many times nothing can stand in it's path. It goes out, out into the great unknown. Finally out of the bedroom and into the hall where many scary things lie. The kitten runs back into your arms and has the look that look of "it's scary out there". That probably happens once, after a day then they say let me out I want to explore. 

Weeks pass and after a while the kitten knows your schedule and expect to be fed or let out at the appointed times. Should you be a second late then you will be welcomed by a screaming kitten. "Let me out and why are you so late".... but my kitten I'm just a minute late how could you tell. ...well my atomic clock says so and you are more than 60 seconds late, do not let this happen again!

After the kitten has been let out, fed and is read for your attention it will look at you with the "kitten look" and then you know why you do it.

Leonard D.
spotted love savannahs: www.spottedlove.com
lifeatthesharpend productions

- on Facebook: "Spotted Love Savannahs"
- YouTube Videos: www.youtube.com/lifeatthesharpend
- internet radio show: www.blogtalkradio.com/cattalkradio

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Windows to the soul



It is said that the eyes are windows to the soul. This is especially true with cats. Yes your garden variety house hold cat. Before I had savannahs I had 2 black cats, both of them females from the same litter. I spent many a friday night with nothing better to do than drink some beer, eat corn chips and gaze into Annabelle's eyes. 

When I got Seyah, one thing I did was get a good camera and learned to use it. That boy has more photos of him than any other cat that I know. I suppose at the time I was compensating with quantity vs true skill. At least I can say that I was able to capture for all time "his" window to his soul. As the he lives on in the photos and in my memory. There is one thing that still life does not capture is his mannerisms. They only capture a moment in time, and when you look back on that moment it is hard to tell exactly what you were thinking or what he was thinking. All you can do is imagine. You have a spot in time (or spotted love in time) and your imagination. I took many such photos of many such windows. The one thing I tell people about Savannahs and especially the early generations is that they have a FULL range of emotions.  Seyah was the main study for my hypothesis. As far as emotions go, he had them all. Some may not know this but in the first six months that I had him, Seyah bit me 6 times. 

When looking into Seyahs eyes you could pretty much tell what he was thinking. The best time where spent on the couch watching TV, listening to music, on the computer or just reading with him at my side all the while purring like a cat that has never been more satisfied. He would turn his head and gaze at me with those wonderful aqua green eyes and the gaze would pierce right though me. When he turned to look at me it wold be with this over accentuated turn of the head. Everything he did was larger than life and that is how I will remember the boy.




Leonard D.
spotted love savannahs (www.spottedlove.com)

- on Facebook: "Spotted Love Savannahs"

- YouTube Videos: www.youtube.com/lifeatthesharpend

- internet radio show: www.blogtalkradio.com/cattalkradio

Saturday, November 10, 2012

It's a mixer or... lets mix it up!

It's a mixer or... lets mix it up!

Have you ever been to a party then something happens that just aggravates you to the point that you see red? When you have as many cats as I do it's a common occurrence. I'm not talking about me or my guests, I'm talking about my cats.

To get to know them is to get to love them. For the most part they are all well behaved and social but just like oil and water some of them just don't mix. I currently have F1 through F6 Savannahs and even a Maine Coon boy and boy can the fur fly. The matriarch, Moja has been with me the longest now that Seyah has passed. She is a F1 with very strong mothering instincts and is very protective with anything she considers "hers" as in her kittens. She is spayed now but still likes to mother the others. When I got Ruby , she adopted her as "hers" Ruby, my other F1, even though she is a monster of a cat compared to Moja. Ruby will still get down on the floor and put her head down for Moja to groom her when she enters a room that Moja is in. Raising a kitten as yours has strong life long influences on the behavior of the cat. Ruby is 3 years old now and has had a couple of litters of her own. One female that she had in her last litter I kept. Her name is Rose. She is a large big eared rosetted girl, a tad shy but a good cat. Well Moja has adopted Rose as her own. Moja has been spayed for 3 months now and Rose and Alice , my F4 , both about 8 months old are still nursing on Moja. Did I mention that Moja has a very strong motherly instinct? In any case my home living arrangement is such that most of the cats are kept in their own rooms and I have 2 "pets" that have free range of the house. Those are Velcro and Rambo (aka fluff, fluff meister, fluffy and "Aye Caramba" or just Caramba). They are wonderful very well behaved animals. Fluff is only about 8 months old and was raised with Rose and Alice. He is actually here side of my lap as I type. He's a real purr monster and a love to have around. Velcro is a bit shy at first but once he gets to know you , well he's like... wait for it... "velcro". He loves attention and when he wants it it's hard to get him off of you. He also likes to think he's the real man of the house but in reality he's a big chicken. Velcro is known for his butt toss. He likes to come up to you and then roll and flip his butt so it lands on you and therefore you can proceed to give him his butt scratches. He does not like his rump bit though, which is what Moja likes to do.

OK enough getting to know the parties involved. Now for the Rumble part. Some time ago Moja for some reason decided she did not like Rambo (the fluff), and went after him, keeping in mind that this cat grew up with the other two. Rambo was pretty young, about 6 or 7 months old and his sweet self could not come to grips why Moja would do such a thing. I figured she did not want her babies to get knocked up either. I figured it was best to keep him somewhat separated from the other two or any other female that was intact. I was not exactly ready for the fluff to father a litter of teenaged mutant ninja turtles, oops I mean SavannaCoons, or CoonSVAs, (Coonvanas for short). He could practice his mating skills on Velcro if so desired. I think Velcro is a switch hitter anyway, or as Mike would put it, he's a metro-sexual. Not sure what that means.
So Rambo is not in the master bedroom with Rose, Alice and Moja anymore. He's out with Velcro in the rest of the house, and loving the extra room but does miss the others. His other siblings or at least adopted siblings. They all grew up together and loved playing together. Fluff really liked Alice and probably a little too much. I dont let her come out to play very much unless I can keep a hawk eye on the two of them, or else I would be getting those CoonVanas. After a while I let Moja out but the instant she saw the Coon she went after him with the intent of ending his life. Poor Rambo never knew what happened and was screaming for help like I never heard before, I never knew he could make such noises.
Now comes the ven diagram of who can be with who in which rooms. Moja can be with only a select few in pretty much any room. The boys would need to be locked away in a room or cat run while Moja has her romp through the house as she is used to doing. This went on for a while.

I then had an idea relating to something one of my mentors told me a few of years back. I morphed this idea into one of my own. One thing that I was able to do was put a harness on Moja and walk her around in the house while the boys where out. At first she did try to give chase but was denied by the leash. I then proceeded to put an Elizabethan collar on her then set her free. She was very clunky and had limited hearing and sight. She still gave chase but the boys could easily out run her and the collar would stop her when she was navigating furniture. I then added a harness with a six food cord tied to it as a leash. This pretty much did the trick but putting on the E-collar was a pain.

I figured if there was a muzzle for a cat, one with eye holes that may do the trick especially if her nails where well trimmed. I have a leather muzzle for the vets office but I could not use that unless I wanted an angry F1 running around blind. I then took a sock and cut holes for ears and eyes and then there was a "masked F1 avenger". It was very cute. Moja still went after the boys once or twice but soon realized that it was no use and concentrated her efforts on removing her mask. I did let her out with this mask a few times and she was pretty much over chasing the boys. The next step in this social experiment was only have the harness on her. I put the harness with the 6 foot cord on it. The cord was tied in a knot with frayed ends similar to what you would see on a cat toy. While this did not slow her down as much as the E-collar or the mask it did kind of embarrass her. When Ruby and the F4 kittens (3 of them from Paprika) where out they thought Moja was some kind of play toy. Ruby being at 20+ pound cat would bite on the end and try to drag or take Moja around for a walk. Those of you that have played with a Savannah with a string attached toy know what I'm talking about. In any case Moja did not give chase and the boys where also interested in this new "toy". One of the problems of Moja chasing them was that each time they saw her they would automatically run for the hills. What happens when a Cat sees its pray run? It is natural for it to give chase. Moja also likes cardboard boxes, to be in them and also to shred them. Her only hope at this time was to find a box, which I normally leave out just for her, and to take refuge in it. So far so good, she seems to be OK with the boys around her and has resisted the will to give chase. The next step will be a big one, removing the cord on the harness, then removing the harness.

The central point to this formulation is that if you can distract the aggressor enough and add some play time with the others the aggressor will learn that play time is a good thing even if she did not like them to begin with.

Leonard D.
spotted love savannahs (www.spottedlove.com)
lifeatthesharpend productions

- on Facebook: "Spotted Love Savannahs"
- YouTube Videos: www.youtube.com/lifeatthesharpend
- internet radio show: www.blogtalkradio.com/cattalkradio

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tips for Socializing Your New Savannah

First, you should always quarantine a new pet for two weeks. Even if said pet is 100% healthy when they leave the breeder, you shouldn't take chances that they haven't picked something up during shipping, at the vet's, etc. For all of us, this is difficult, probably the worst part of bringing a new SV home. It is a very important precaution that you should strictly adhere to.

Secondly, if you have other pets they will know what's up before they actually meet face to face. She will smell and hear the new girl right away. If the new girl is quarantined in a bedroom, the other cats will meet her under the door. That is going to segue into a proper introduction later, when quarantine is up. This doesn't mean that your new cat will get along right away with your other cats. They may hate each other at first, there may be a lot of hissing going on, and power struggles also. Or you could have what I had happen to me, which was that my SVs all loved to play "chase the fat tabby", not out of malice, but because she was so predictable and always ran. She ended up under the bed and they just sat and waited for her to bolt again. When they got tired of waiting, they left her alone. None of them ever tried to do anything aggressive to her; on the contrary, they thought she was a lot of fun to just chase. This is pretty common.

I know other SV owners who have never had any problems with bringing a SV into their home. This is usually because their domestic doesn't run so consequently isn't much fun to chase. They usually end up buddies in this case. You just can't tell ahead of time how it will go. My domestic now spends a lot of time in my son's bedroom out of self preservation. She is happier that way.

As for how to introduce them and initially try to get them used to each other, I did what some of the experienced breeders told me to do: I put the SV in a large kennel in the same room with the DSH, and later swapped them out, letting the new girl be on the outside and letting the DSH be in the kennel. I did this for short periods of time at first, and didn't actually let them meet out of the kennel till a few days later. This of course, drags the quarantine period out, as they have already been in separate rooms for two weeks. But it is a good way to do it. Susan Martin
-
Links:
-
About the photo:
Cahabacats Nyala, F3 B (15%); Owner Susan Martin (Sandalwood Savannahs). Queen Nyala is who she feels she is. Regal, intense and elegant all sum up this silver girl. She does not walk away from a running faucet, and is likely to catch the feather toy first, but she is somehow able to pull off being aloof at the same time. Susan Martin, www.sandalwoodsavannahs.com

A Place I Can Call Home


So your new addition to your home is on his way, but are you ready for this new bundle of joy? Your level of readiness will vary depending on your new pets housing arrangement. I normally will break this down into two categories: 1) do you have other animals at home. 2) will he be your only pet.

Step one of what I affectionately call “The Protocol” is the same in either case. I will normally prepare a small room (a bathroom with an adjoining master bedroom) where he can rest and recover from his long journey. It is important to remember that he has just been taken away from his beloved family.
To prepare his temporary living area first and possibly the most important is to Savannah kitten proof the room. Remove anyhing that can be eaten from the room, put away the soaps and any sharp objects. Place a fresh litter box (using the SAME brand of litter he has been using) in the room. Have sleeping arrangements ready for him but more on that later. Prepare clean food bowls and place them far enough away from the litter box. Do not change his diet. Make sure you feed him the SAME brand of food that he is used to eating. A sudden change of home and food will guarantee that he will get diarrhea.

If you are receiving a kitten that has been flying all day he will probably be scared when you pick him up from the airport. Its best that you keep him in his carrier until you get home. Once home place the carrier in his new room and remove the door from the carrier. Let him come out to explore his new surrounding on his own time. Make sure there are not any loud noises during this time. Keep him in the master bathroom for at least 1 to 2 days. If he wants to come out to investigate let him but only supervised and only into the master bedroom. If your new kitten feels confident to explore and stay in the master bedroom let him after the 2nd day. He should be confident and not scared. Have a nice pet bet set up for him in his new room. A nice cushion inside his carrier makes a safe comfy hiding place for him in the new room. Make sure he still has access to the litter box and kitten food.

Step two is introducing him to the rest of the house. If you have other pets this could take several weeks depending on the age of the your other pets. Make sure you take it slow. First introduction should be done in your arms. Just carry him around to the other rooms and let others in the house hold know that they have a new house mate. If your new kitten gets scared take him back to his safe place and let him have some quiet time before attempting again. A large carrier or dog crate can sometimes act as a barrier from the other animals in the household. This is helpful in preventing fights. Remember to have fun and also make sure that your new Savannah has plenty of play time. Playing with toys always helps with introducing your new kitty to the others. Leonard D.
About the Photo:
BarikaSavannahs Apollo of Gattobello, Apollo is 6 months in this photo and is a B F5 male, owned by Jody McClelland and Leonard D. Apollo has beautiful golden warm tones, nice larger ears that are high on his head. He is extremely social, he gets along with all the other cats and humans in the household. Apollo loves to sleep under the covers with you. He also loves to hike on local trails. Photo by Leonard D. (lifeatthesharpend)


What is all this Leash Stuff?


Training Your Cat to Walk on a Leash


Your new Savannah Kitten is interested in what is the “great outdoors”, what should you do? Under no circumstances should you ever let you kitty wonder outside unsupervised. I would even go a step further that he should not go outside without a leash and harness.
Savannahs can easily be trained to walk on a leash. What are your expectations of the cat on a leash? More than anything it takes time and patience. If the cat is more persistent than you are then the cat wins. A cat on a leash is more like the cat walking you, and if the cat does not want to walk you don’t walk, especially at first.

Training your cat to walk is really something you can do and develop that relationship between you and your cat. Sometimes it is about the cats trust in you.

Start buy having your cat wear the walking jacket to get used to it. With a leash attached then go to the back/front yard let them lead or go where they want. They will probably just sniff around some flowers or munch on grass. Try not to constantly pull on the leash. This needs to be a pleasurable experience. If your cat does not like the time on the leash then the cat will probably not want to be on it. If this is the case then what you have is a cat that wants to be outside without a leash.

Cats in general do not want to be out in the open if they are in new places. Many times they want to be near or in shrubs bushes or weeds. Getting them to walk on the side walks sometimes is hard because of this. If you have a very confident cat then it is not so much a problem. After the cat is trained and is used to the "sidewalk" they will normally walk on it without complaining.

You can see this in some of my videos on at: www.youtube.com/lifeatthesharpend. Leonard D. (lifeatthesharpend)
-
Links:
-
About the photo:

Demdar Savannahs Fifth Wheel; Owner: Kristin Filseth
Demdar Fith Wheel has very nice leg length, hard muscular long body, he has good tuckup, nice thick tail that is not too long, good stance, upright ears, good contrasting spotting pattern. His color is warm. When Fifth Wheel goes out for his walks he is confident and has a tall stride. He is curious, enthusiastic, outgoing. (http://personal.rockbridge.net/kfilseth/index.html)