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Savannah kitten behavior

Discussion in 'Savannah Cat - General Discussion' started by NikkiA, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. NikkiA

    NikkiA Site Supporter

    Messages:
    1,370
    We have two savanna kittens at home right now, D, our 13 month old F5 boy, and Jarvis, our 7 month old F3 boy.
    D is a total love bug, he can't get enough of being petted, having his belly rubbed, and head butting us. If you pick him up, he almost always starts purring. He is outgoing and friendly, he has never yet met a person he doesn't consider his new friend.

    Jarvis on the other hand will follow us around the house, and he wants to be in the same room with us, but he really does not want me to touch him anywhere but on his head, and for short periods of time. Cuddling is on his terms only (if you walk up to D and don't offer to cuddle, whining from the kitty will ensue) and primarily with Michael (my husband). He will tolerate being picked up, but is not interested in being petted by me. He has no qualms about playing with either of us, he is very happy to play with whichever one of us has the feather stick or ball in our hands. He will come cuddle next to us, on the couch, and sleep with Michael, he loves Michael. I don't really feel like he is bonded to me very much. He is happy to see me when I walk in the door, and comes over to say hi, but he very rarely purrs for me. Any suggestions on what I can do to help him bond with me more? He is always going to be Michael's boy, but I would love to be able to pet him more.

    He seems scared when new people come into our house; we usually give him a few minutes to calm down (ie stop hiding under the table), Michael picks him up, and he gets intoduced to the new person and gets a treat. I figured treats when new people come into the house would be positive reinforcement that new people are fun.
    Any suggestions on what we can do to help him be more confident when new people come into the house?

    We have never had kitties before, so all suggestions and thoughts are appreciated.
     
  2. Patti

    Patti Admin Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,133
    Kittens, just like humans, have different personalities. It sounds like Jarvis is naturally a shyer and more cautious cat. I'm not sure that you will change his behavior in regards to strangers. Inundating him with new people may cause just the opposite reaction and make him even more reclusive.

    As for bonding with you, if you really want to do this then the best way is to separate him from everyone (humans and furs) except you for at least a couple of weeks. You need to be the sole supplier of food, play, and love. That will help your bond with him, but there's really no guarantee that he won't gravitate right back to your husband once he's out with the family again, since he has already established a strong bond with him.
     
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  3. Brigitte Cowell

    Brigitte Cowell Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    5,445
    I think that the idea of you being the provider of all treats and meals for a bit will help... it will take some patience too and you concentrating on not trying too hard. Think of it like humans, if a person is really cloying and "tries too hard" we tend to be put off and avoid that person...they seem too needy. With cats, a person that stares too much at them is off-putting, staring is a sign of aggression for a cat...so be sure not to be always looking at Jarvis and kinda pleading with him to let you pet him. Make it more casual and you might find it goes better.

    But accept that not all cats are the same and they do have preferences in their humans... you can maximize your relationship by the food route, and maybe by finding the special play toy to interact with him.
     
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  4. NikkiA

    NikkiA Site Supporter

    Messages:
    1,370
    Thanks Brigitte and Patti for your thoughtful advice.
    Patti, I don't feel like separating him from Mike and D is really fair to him. I feel like I would be penalizing him for not paying as much attention to me as I might like by isolating him from the rest of his family. While I would love for him to love me, I feel like that would be very selfish of me to do to him. He is happy now; me messing with that to make myself happy seems wrong.

    Brigitte, I have been the supplier of 90+ of his meals and treats since he arrived, it just seems that he is Michael's boy. We do have "treat time" every day, and we have play time every day, but when play time and treat time are over, he is pretty much done with me unless i have food or a toy in my hands. That said, I think my best course of action is just to accept him for who he is, do my best not to intimidate him by unintentionally staring him down, and enjoy him when he wants to spend time with me.
     
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  5. Patti

    Patti Admin Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,133
    I'm glad you've decided to accept him as he is - I believe as you do that there's no reason to mess with something that's not broken.
     
  6. Brigitte Cowell

    Brigitte Cowell Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    5,445
    Sometimes if you just relax and stop trying, it all falls into place...
     
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  7. NikkiA

    NikkiA Site Supporter

    Messages:
    1,370
    On that note, I woke up this morning (after snoozing the alarm) to him cuddled up next to me, rubbing his face against my hand!
    He has cuddled with me before, but he has never rubbed his face against me before.
    It was a good way to wake up :)
     
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  8. NikkiA

    NikkiA Site Supporter

    Messages:
    1,370
    More than a month has passed since I posted here, so it is time for an update.
    As I type this, i am sitting in front of the fire place, with D at my right and Jarvis at my feet. For the past month, I have been trying to back off, and give Jarvis his space. I have been trying to pay more attention to his body language, and only pet him for a few seconds at a time (or until his ears go from forwards to sideways) when he comes within touching distance. I am still picking him up briefly every day, but this is no longer upsetting him, as he gets a treat right after i put him down, and I only hold him for a few seconds at a time. He is still running up to say hello to me when I get home, but he is now giving me a head butt, which is really nice, and while I can't report that he is cuddling on my lap, the distance between Jarvis and me on the couch and floor is decreasing. He is more frequently coming I am still learning to read his body language, but he seems less nervous and as a result, more interested in spending time together. I have taken the advice offered here, and when visitors come over, we are letting Jarvis approach them at his pace (or not) and that seems to be working better. There are times when he never comes out of his room when guests are here, but there are also times when he comes running down the steps to say hello to our guests. over all, he seems more relaxed and more confident, which makes me happy, so thank you to all who offered advice.
     
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  9. SV Dad

    SV Dad Site Supporter

    Messages:
    2,414
    NikkiA, my two F3 boys are not lap cats and don't want to be held. They will give head butts when it suits them, they will play, they will be in your face, they will always greet, but they do not want to be held or sit on your lap.
    It's their style. The only time that they will spend sitting near me (awake) is to watch Big Cat Diaries in the morning. And they ignore me for the most part as they are more interested in the cats on TV.
     
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  10. WitchyWoman

    WitchyWoman Admin Staff Member

    Messages:
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    The only thing we can say for certainty about SV behavior is that it is never predictable and subject to change. My F2 Juba sat on my lap maybe 3 times as a kitten. Always cuddled next to me though. Now that he's 4 yrs old, he is a lap cat. Just decided one day that he liked laps. Who knows if it'll last. My F6 is the opposite -- from kitten lap cat to sporadic lap cat at 4 yrs old. Life with them is pretty much on their terms.
     
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