Saturday, 9 March 2013

Training my Devon Rexes to Walk on a Harness

Bowie smelling the spring flowers for the first time ever
As I mentioned before, my Devon Rex twins are indoor only cats for the time being... but that doesn't mean they don't like to get out and about. I started getting my boys used to wearing their harnesses a few weeks ago, just after they first arrived.

I wanted them to associate their harnesses with nice things so started by quietly putting them on them while they were eating. They were so distracted by the food that they barely seemed to notice and as soon as they finished eating, I took the harnesses back off and gave them lots of fuss. Gradually, I started leaving the harnesses on a little longer each time and my boys seemed totally laid back and relaxed about it... it's kind of how they deal with everything in life and I love them for it.

Up until now it has been chilly, wet and miserable here and Devon Rexes really do feel the cold so I've been trying to get them used to being out and about with me by putting their jumpers on, bundling them up in a blanket and putting them in a rucksack strapped to my front with their heads peeping out. They really seem to enjoy these "walks" and it's been a great way to gently get them used to the outside world.

Blue climbing a tree for the very first time
Yesterday, spring finally arrived, the sun came out and the temperature rocketed to 20c so I decided to take them out on the leash for the first time. We'll be moving into an apartment in the city in a few days so I wanted to make the most of the fact we have a well-fenced garden for now to try out the leash for the first time.

I was a little nervous to begin with but my boys had a great time! Both of them climbed their first tree, explored every inch of the garden and watching a Devon Rex kitten chase butterflies through clover has to be one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

I have elasticated leads for them which are even better than I'd expected. There's no harsh, abrupt jerk on the lead to scare them if they get a bit over-excited and run too far and they seem to have learned pretty quickly that if they feel the tension starting to build up on the leash they need to stop and come back to me.

After a while I felt so relaxed with them I let them off the leads completely and they raced round and round the garden after each other, chasing insects and generally having a brilliant time.I hope you enjoy the pictures almost as much as we enjoyed our day out in the garden!

Bowie in the clover

Blue climbing his first tree

Bowie chasing butterflies

Brotherly love
A mad five minutes racing each other round the garden

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Bathtime for Bowie

Bowie always turns heads with his brilliant white coat and striking odd-coloured eyes but there is a downside to owning a white Devon Rex kitten. As any Devon owner knows, these guys are into everything you do and always want to get involved. The other day, while I was cleaning out the fireplace, I turned my head for just a moment and... Bowie was straight in there to investigate.

The result? One grey kitten with black splodges. Pushka, my moggie had a big white bib and four white stockings and seemed to always manage to keep them snow white so I figured Bowie would get himself sorted. Two days later and he was still looking pretty manky so down the pet shop I went to buy a bottle of neutral cat shampoo.

I have never bathed a cat before so I heated the bathroom up for a good hour first and decided to run enough gently warm water to come up to the top of his legs. He was pretty okay about it... he escaped a few times but I let him as I didn't want to force him in the water and put him off bathtime forever more. I just placed him gently back in the water each time, giving him lots of fuss and talking to him gently.

My arm has been pretty badly scratched but I can't really blame him for that, poor boy. I did find that holding him gently by the scruff of the neck seemed to help him calm down a little. I figured getting him gently used to the bath will be better in the long run rather than getting him brilliantly clean now and having a cat so traumatised he'd never go near water again so not much shampooing or scrubbing went on and he's still pretty grubby but I reckon overall the first bath was a success and my baby is currently wrapped up warmly in a towel and snoozing away on my lap.

I love Devon Rexes!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Devon Rex Love...

Devon Rexes just have something about them that makes you melt...

My boys aren't exactly backward about coming forward when we're talking about affection. It doesn't take much from them to turn me into a pathetic, cooing mumma... when they wag their tails at me, do that special Devon Rex chirrup or jump into my lap I almost always forget what I was meant to be doing and smother them with kisses and love.

Sometimes I've got other things I have to do... (get dressed to go out, make dinner, try and have a pee in private) and can't devote myself to them 100%. That's when they bring out the big guns. Both my boys can climb my legs and jump into my arms in seconds if they feel like they're being ignored. They've been with me a month now and I've already lost count of the number of times I've been late to meet friends because of them. I lie of course... there's no way you can tell a non-Devon owner that you're 20 minutes late because while you were applying your makeup your cats just had to have a cuddle.

But the thing that really makes me melt every time is the way they look at me. I've owned dogs, horses and regular cats for most of my life and have always been very aware that for an animal direct eye contact is an act of aggression or domination. Apparantly nobody told my boys...

If I have one (or both) of them in my lap while I'm watching the TV, on the computer or reading they'll sit there, purring for ages. Then I feel like I'm being watched, look down and see a kitty staring straight into my eyes. The second I make eye contact with them, they go nuts, purring even harder than before, headbutting my face and generally telling me they love me and want me to love them in the most irresistible way possible,

I love my Devon Rexes. And they love me. What more can a girl ask for?

Monday, 25 February 2013

Teaching a Devon Rex to Come When Called

I specifically wanted Devon Rexes as they're known for their intelligence and love of people. I'd trained my gorgeous Irish Setter, Lola, as a pup to do a whole range of tricks and she can sit, bow, beg, shake hands, play dead and growl or bark on command. Having a dog that can do all this is pretty cool and always a hit with friends, but the best thing about training her was the effect it had on our relationship.

Bowie and Blue playing in the kitchen
Lola LOVED our training sessions and it was a great way to burn off her extra puppyish energy. I also found it helped us to bond more and we have a stronger relationship because of it. So I wanted to do the same with my cats.

Apart from toilet training them (read more here) and training them to walk on the lead (read more here) we've been working on getting them to sit on command and come when called. Bowie is also learning to fetch but Blue doesn't seem to get that one yet!

It's still early days and they're still young but our training sessions are going so well!  Most people are pretty cynical about training cats and think it can't be done, but think about it for a moment. Every cat I've ever known has been able to recognise the sound of his food bowl being filled in the kitchen from 50 paces and comes flying in to find out what's for dinner. They hear a noise, associate it with something nice and run over to investigate. All you need to do is harness that natural instinct and get them to do it on a given prompt.

First pick your command. I've settled on whistling to get my boys to come to me. When I start letting them outside to play they'll be able to hear it from a distance and it's easily distinguished from all the other voice commands I'll be teaching them.

I started by standing a few metres away from them and giving the command. Both of them are naturally inquisitive and came right over to see what was going on. I gave them both a treat and a fuss and walked away. A few metres away again, I repeated the command and they both came running so got another treat.

After this, it got a bit tricky... I couldn't get them to stop following me! After a while of them running all over the house after me, they finally gave up and sat down. I repeated the command. Bowie came straight over but Blue hung back. When Blue saw Bowie getting his reward, he also came over to demand his but I didn't give him one. After all, I'm trying to teach them to come on command, not to come whenever they feel like it!

Beautiful Blue and his wrinkly forehead
So we've been repeating this for the past few days with me gradually making things harder each time. I'll started by increasing the distance from them when I asked them to come ,then to call them from another room or whistle for them without warning when they're doing something else. It doesn't always work and sometimes I only get one come on command or find that they both ignore me. However, they have gone from coming 50% of the time to about 90% of the time now and get better every day. I'm confident in a week or so we'll have that up to 99% which I'll be more than happy with.

I have found that training always goes better when they're in "play mode" as they treat it all like a big game and respond far better. You do have to know when to stop. My boys are still young and sleep about 20 hours a day and when they get tired or bored it makes things a lot harder, so I limit our training sessions to 10 minutes two or three times a day. It's far nicer for all three of us if we're all motivated and enjoying ourselves after all. Sometimes when I've decided it's time to call it quits, they disagree and climb my legs or jump all over me until I start "playing" with them again.

They love their training sessions and I've found that they are definitely much more responsive and affectionate towards me since we started, so everyone is happy!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

My Adorable Devon Rexes

I took this photo of my boys today and think it's the cutest thing I've ever seen... what do you think?

My Devon Rex kittens, Bowie and Blue

Monday, 18 February 2013

Devon Rex Boys and Their Toys

It's just happened again. I came back home with another little present I'd bought for my boys and they were completely uninterested.

Today's offering was a set of three neon coloured foam balls I'd found in the discount shop. The boys hadn't liked a very similar set of three neon coloured spiky rubber balls I'd bought the week before from the pet shop so I figured I'd give these a go. I got home, made a fuss of my twins and quickly got the toys out of my bag. I rolled the yellow ball towards them. They ignored it. I tried again with the green one. They ignored it. Bet you can't guess what happened with the red one? Yep, they ignored it.

The one expensive toy they do love, the Catit Speed Senses Circuit
So I sat beside my cats and rolled the balls away from them one by one . Blue carried on playing with the Q-tip I'd just used to clean his ears. Bowie looked bored. I rolled the balls around 3 at a time. Nothing. I rolled the foam balls around with the rubber ones from last week. Nada.

Finally, success! Blue took off across the living room after a ball... and got distracted by the coffee cup I'd put on the floor a minute before. Bowie then found a piece of dry dog kibble and the two went nuts playing with it for the next half hour, totally unfazed by the balls I kept chucking towards them.

They have a load of cutesy little furry toys stuffed with catnip. That they have never touched. A giant rat I lovingly handmade for them out of an old cashmere cardigan I never wore. Couldn't care less. They liked the toy mice. All eight of them. For the ten minutes it took for them to lose them somewhere, never to be seen again. I've checked under the bed, the sofas, behind all the doors and I have NO idea where those mice are.

They loved the laser toy I bought. Until Bowie knocked it off my bedside table and it broke open on the floor. He then hid the batteries in the same place the mice presumably are.

The packaging from the toys is a different story. They love packaging. And scrunched up bits of paper or tinfoil. Plastic bottle tops are also a huge hit. Dog kibble is by far their favourite toy and they'll chase a piece round the floor for ages. They also love my hair scrunchies. I am down to one (I had about 30 before the cats turned up 3 weeks ago). Presumably the missing 29 hair scrunchies are cosied up with the mice and laser batteries. I am guarding my last one with my life. If it's not on my head, it's hidden in a drawer to keep it safe.

My boys love to play. Just not with anything I have ever spent money on. Go figure.

My Devon Rexes - The Bits I Missed

My boy's breeder, Patrizia of the Rarex Cattery in Italy just sent me these photos of my Devon Rex twins growing up before they came to live with me. They're just so adorable I had to share them!

Blue, my Blue Smoke Devon Rex as a baby 

140 grammes... Awww!

My cute little Devon Rex alien, Bowie

Bowie's first words on film

All three brothers together

This is the first photo I saw of Blue... how could I resist this face?

Mealtimes were a family affair

I just wish I'd been able to take all three!

One of the first pics I saw of Bowie. Cute here, DELICIOUS in real life!

Getting into trouble as only Devon Rexes can

So this is where the bad habits came from. I did have to train my boys that Mummy doesn't like sharing her dinner

Ski Kitty

Where do you keep the biscuits?

Growing up and looking more like the beautiful boys I know and love

Blue loves to snuggle under the duvet... and always has!

Seeing this photo I just knew I had to have both of them

About Me

I'm not a Devon Rex expert nor am I a breeder. In fact, when I set up this blog (early Feb 2013) I'd had Devon Rexes for just 9 days. I'm just blogging about my life with my Devons and writing the kind of blog I wish I'd had access to when I was researching the breed. I hope you find it useful and/or entertaining. I'm already head over heels in love with the Devon Rex Breed and especially with my two beautiful boys, Blue and Bowie