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Rehome or No? What's best for Nala?

#1
I have a 2 year old sweetest girl ever, beautiful loving Savannah and I am so torn. I love her so much but I want to do what is right for her and her to be happy. She started this nipping, biting at the rugs, biting at the bedspreads, the couch, etc... she had TONS of toys, interactive ones, non-interactive ones, a cat wheel, her own room, a special fencing for her to go outside as she wanted, a special collar so she wouldn't get lost should she run out the front door, etc. I've been home with her, spend a lot of time with her, give her attention when she demands, etc. But ... the nipping, etc led me to think she just wasn't happy. The vet said she really needed a playmate. I can't get another cat. I have 2 mini poodles, one is 15 and one is 5. We originally got her to grow up with our 5 year old poodle knowing the older one has had health issues and every day shared with him is a blessing. The last 6 months have definitely gotten worse. My husband and I are empty-nester's, he will be retiring in March and we just purchased our travel trailer so we can travel the US when we feel the desire. Yes, we planned on taking the extra members (poodles and Savannah). But ... once the nipping started with her and got worse, the vet stated she needed a playmate, I decided to re-home her and it killed me and broke my heart but wanted what was best for her to be happy. Well, the family who took her had 2 other cats, one a Siamese and one a Sphynx, and a dog too. She took to them fine. They had a 3 story house, played like you wouldn't believe, was doing fine but ... I had in the contract when they took her that I was to be in touch if I chose (which I did maybe every 6 - 8 weeks) but I guess that was too much as they told me it was recently and I also stated they needed to let me know if they were to move or if the situation were to ever change, I got the first opportunity to get her back. So, after I told them I wouldn't contact them anymore if they would send me pictures of her when she turned 2 on Oct. 12th so they did. Then, out of the blue, they contacted me this past Friday and said they were moving and wanted me to take her back if I wanted her. They didn't give much notice as they were physically moving that day and the next! So, needless to say, I took her back! She came back into my home after 8 months, and acted like she hadn't been gone a day! She was happy as a lark to be here, rubbed up against me, my husband, the boys (poodles), went to her old room (of course it had changed a bit ...) but it was unreal! Just like she had never left! I have bawled and bawled these past 5-6 days having her back because I am so thrilled yet still torn! She is STILL doing the nipping and biting. I kept in touch with another lady who originally wanted to re-home her who is home quite a bit but does substitute teach frequently, has 3 other cats, one of which is a 2 1/2 yr NM Savannah, a SF Siamese (that is 20 yrs old), and a 4yr NM domestic longhair. She came to visit the other day and warmed up to her in a heartbeat, head rubbed her, licked her arm, etc. But, my girl is very social and just loves people. We (my husband and I) went to visit the ladies house and cats and all is okay. Main reservations are that she will have 5 days to introduce Nala to her 3 before she has to leave for a week for Thanksgiving. She plans to keep Nala in a room alone and slowly introduce them day by day - hoping to acclimate them within the 5 days before she leaves. Nala will then be there for a week with 3 other cats she has only known for 5 days that have their claws and Nala doesn't have her's. Nala is used to human contact everyday. She will then have none for 5 days. The lady is ready to take her tonight possibly or tomorrow and will let me visit whenever I want, will obey all of my demands in the contract, will give her back should something happen to her or whatever.
**** I do NOT know what to do! I am so torn! I want to keep her and take her with us traveling like I had planned but .... I want her happy, and NOT biting or nipping - especially once in the new camper! I also have no idea what is involved in traveling with her but didn't realize she would require so much from me - which I know is my fault in being naive and gullible but I am prepared to do what it takes to make HER happy. Trust me, I have tried everything like the bitter stuff spray, cayan pepper, etc... give her tons of attention even when she doesn't want it. I simply don't know what to do!
***Do I go with the re-homing again and try it one more time since I have someone lined up, or is there something I am missing and I can control this one bad/negative behavior to keep her OR DO I HAVE SOME OTHER OPTION I AM NOT THINKING OF? PLEASE HELP ME! I AM SO TORN AND BROKEN HEARTED!!!
 
#2
I don’t know enough about cat behaviour to have any advice, but hopefully someone here with more experience can be more help.

But just to clarify, is the main problem that her biting is hurting you or someone in your family - or that you are guessing she is doing this because she is unhappy and you think this would be solved if she was in a home with other cats?

When she bites, does she break skin?

What is going on around her in the environment, and what is her behaviour and body language right before she starts biting? And what part of humans does she bite?

Both of my kitties will bite as a way of communicating. One will do it if I ignore his signals that he is not in the mood to be touched. Then he gently and briefly bites my hand and gives a little toss of his head, as if to say, “Your hands are bugging me.“ The other will not so gently bite and bunny kick if I have neglected to discharge his Savannah batteries and he is starting to over amp. When happens he goes for my feet and makes a serious effort to disembowel the cushions I am sitting on. Neither of them ever breaks my skin with their teeth, though I do get accidentally scratched on a regular basis.
 

Rafiki

Site Supporter
#3
Rafiki is definitely a biter. She nips my calves and shoulder blades to get attention. She loves to chew and suck on my fingers. She also love bites when over stimulated. She has never scratched furniture but instead gnaws on the sofa to get attention.

Saying NO is utterly useless. We yelp loudly when she bites too hard and walk away from her when she chews too hard on my fingers . That teaches her that she is biting too hard. She still gnaws but more gently.

She nips my shoulder to get me to roll over in bed and cuddle her - she now has me well trained and I usually roll over the moment I feel her jump on the bed.

In general, I redirect her. When she bites, it is ALWAYS that she wants attention. I give her toys to chew on instead of my body parts. I grab her, hoist her in the air and give her hugs and cuddles and set her back down. I don't have to spend much time overall but I definitely have to stop and give her attention or it gets worse. And I always have to pay attention that she is not overly stimulated or she will love bite my nose.

When they say that Savannahs are high maintenance cats, this is what they are really talking about - SVs are NEEDY little monsters!
 
#4
Re-reading the description of the problem I notice the specific examples mention it is bedspreads, rugs and couches that are the victims of the biting, and not human body parts... ?

Only 1 of my SVs is occaisionally hard on household items, and the damage done doesn't compare to what a freinds temporarily fostered domestic short hair did to one of my living room chairs.

My one cat that seems to have a need to rip, tear chew and bite with his mouth mostly gets it out of his system chewing up cardboard boxes, westling with me holding larger kick toys, and he loves destroying the last 1/4 of rolls of paper towels I let him have. Also having a couple dried duck feet to chew on seems to help. If you could try adding some substainailly sized chewy whole prey to their diet, that might also help. If I had belongings I cared enough about to protect, and this was getting chewed, I would try to figure out how to make some sort of cover that could be harmelessly chewed. But from what I have read, it is usually possible to redirect them to less valuable stuff.

However, even if the unwanted biting is solvable, I am wondering how well your cat would fit into a traveling lifestyle in an RV? I know some people do manage this, but it would depend on the cat and whether you are sure you can prevent any accidental escapes. Some cats would find the constant changes extremely stressfull.
 

Ninja-n-Bear

Site Supporter
#5
You could try contacting a cat behaviorist, if you haven’t tried already. It’s worth a shot before rehoming her again, you obviously love her, and she you.

Many SV’s have fabric obsessions - have you tried giving her a blanket of her own and redirecting her to it when she nips other things? I had to surrender one to our f2, and redirect her from destroying (literally) our bed every day. It took a couple of months to get there, but she now makes out with her blanket after playtime instead of our bed.

Here is a link to one that’s helped people here before: Marilyn Krieger
http://m.thecatcoach.com/#2603

I have two very demanding, needy boys who attach themselves to my legs several times a day. If it’s playtime or food time or cuddle time and I dare to have my own agenda - look out. Luckily our big girl has not caught that habit, lol, she just steals my stuff as I’m trying to use it. I had to teach all three tricks so they wouldn’t savage me when passing out treats, and I have to show them my empty hands afterward.:roflmao:
 

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
#6
I second the suggestion to contact an animal behaviorist. To stop or decrease the behavior, you have to find the cause. You make the assumption that she is unhappy but that may not be true. Did she nip while living at the first rehome?

You said Nala is declawed. Declawed cats have a tendency to bite when they lose their claws which are their primary defense mechanisms. Declawed cats may also undergo fast or gradual personality changes after declawing. She may be redirecting frustration about something. Rehoming her again, especially with inadequate time to acclimate to the new environment, is cruel, imo.
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
#7
I am unclear what your concern is with her nipping, which I suspect is a result of her being declawed... but if she isn't nipping or hurting anyone or anything, what is it you are worried about? Is she actually eating the fabric? Do you suspect pica? I also agree with talking with a cat behaviorist such as Marilyn Kreiger, the Cat Coach, who can work one on one with you to get to the bottom of Nala's issues:
thecatcoach.com
 
#8
OMG! You guys are all amazing! I thank you all so much for the advice. I wish I could afford a behaviorist - trust me. That would be my next solution. Unfortunately, they are just so expensive and we don't have very many actually in our area who don't want to charge an arm and a leg to come out. My main concern is basically yes, the nipping etc ... she seems to do it even after a play session as if to make one last 'huff' if you will, like maybe she didn't feel she 'got the best of me' and that's how she's going to do it. Other times, it will be after a relief of potty and she's wired and running through the house and she lands on the rug and just needs to 'get her last bit of juice out' so she nips at the edges for a second.
My second main concern really is more of how would she be as a traveling companion. Going traveling for a few months out of the year and having to remain in the camper for the most part except when I would be able to walk her on a leash or us having a 'cattery' if you will on the side of the camper so she can enjoy the outdoors a bit. I wonder how much would she / could she become a 'lazy house cat' as she ages. She is just 2 and still has a lot of kitten like personality. I ultimately want what is best for her.
 

Ninja-n-Bear

Site Supporter
#9
I missed the part about Nala being declawed. We had one declawed (not by us) Siamese when I was young, and he definitely had some strange habits. It may be that her nipping is a replacement for scratching. All three of mine go nuts on the scratch posts during and after play, and after the litterbox, and when when they want food and and and...

As long as she is not hurting herself, or her humans... maybe you could just treat it like a quirk?
 

Super_Nova1

Savannah Super Cat
#10
I wish Nova only nipped!

When I walk in the room, he will either latch onto my leg with his claws or give a long howl and give his head butts and kisses... always right on mouth of course.

When he feels it’s play time (from 5 am until midnight) , I get dive bombed, pounced on, tripped, ran up and over. Picture a SV running full speed
down two flight of stairs, leaping into the air, clawing up and over my shoulder and used as a spring board so he can soar through the air... sometimes right into the curtains.

When Were sleeping, I wake up to Nova attempting to pull my earrings out of my ears.
Sometimes He will jump up from work any appears to be a deep sleep, run to his litter box, take a pee and come bolting back to me... with pee-pee paws.(yes I know, very yuck)
There’s pee-pee paw prints all over his room every morning- still trying to find a completely dust free litter.
Needless to say, we should buy stock in swiffer pads and Clorox wipes.

Being an F3, Nova has many, many quirks to him compared to our 2 DSH.
He is a very needy, attention seeking cat.
But we love him very much and would never consider re-homing.