On February 2nd, 2017 a tiny force entered this world. Little did we know that this fierce little spirit would change our lives in unimaginable ways.
My partner and I had just said goodbye to our sweet angel kitty, Chinchin at 19 years old and wanted to start life with a new kitty off on a different foot. We both do a lot of local travel for work, and decided that it would be a lot easier if our new companion was able to come along for the ride. Our business relies heavily on outdoor photography, so we were constantly going on short trips throughout our home province in Alberta, Canada. We began to do some research trying to figure out if there were specific types of cats that might be up for a life of adventure. That’s when we came upon the bengal breed. Most accounts suggested that bengals are endlessly energetic, bold, intelligent, and often on the destructive side; not exactly a cat that is meant for the lazy household life. In other words, a bengal seemed to be the perfect match!
We looked through local listings and found a reputable breeder who happened to have one kitten available. Suki was the last pick of the litter, because she was born with a heavy dose of crazy: we knew immediately that she would be just perfect.
Our adventures started off small, but it didn’t take long for Suki to fall utterly and completely in love with joining us on outdoor excursions. We waited until Suki had all of her vaccinations before we began taking her outdoors- that was around 3 months old.
Her first adventure began in the wildest depths of our backyard… under a bush. We had spent just over a week training her to wear a harness indoors. It was a relatively easy process since we only kept it on for a few minutes at a time and convinced her to practice walking in it with treats. Once she was getting up on her own to awkwardly hobble around, we knew it was time to move to the next step. When Suki first stepped out of that doorway, she was overwhelmed. All of the new sights, smells, and sounds left her practically petrified. She spent the entire 10 minutes sitting under a bush with her eyes wide as the moon, and ears and nose twitching like someone who’s had 5 cups of coffee. We thought that maybe it had been too much stimulation, but Suki remained cautiously curious. In less than a week she was completely obsessed with going out into the backyard!
Since those early days Suki has been on countless adventures both at home and abroad. Currently, she has visited a total of 13 countries including, Canada (of course!), USA, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Croatia, Belgium, France, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Austria, and Luxembourg. It sounds like a pretty impressive list, but she visited most of those countries on a 2 month road trip through Europe in 2018. We don’t do a ton of travel abroad, so this was a very special trip for all of us. Most of our adventures are actually very close to home and generally don’t require more than an hour or two of driving.
We often get asked how Suki learned to pose so well in her photos, but we honestly can’t take credit for any of her meowdelling skills. She usually just sits when she sees the camera come out, because she is waiting to get her treats. Her perfect posing actually makes it really difficult for us to get interesting photos! Most of the tricks that we have up our sleeve involve getting her to move around instead of sitting pretty. The rest comes down to good timing and a very fast camera. I shoot with a Sony A7III and a 16-35 mm f2.8 lens- it’s a great camera and a very versatile lens. Regardless of what camera you have, the most important thing is to keep your settings in a fast shutter speed and high-continuous shoot mode. That way you won’t miss a moment, even if it lasted a split second.
At home, Suki is usually causing a ruckus. She sticks to us like glue, and will spend her time stealing forbidden snacks, tearing up packaging materials from our shop, and running around with the zoomies. We have to tire her out to keep the destructive behaviours down, so Suki gets regular walks during the warm months and as much play time as we can give her during winter months. She usually walks around 2 kilometres on our regular outings, but is a total diva when it comes to going uphill. We always take her kitty backpack with us so that Suki can sit on top of it to hitch a ride when she doesn’t feel like walking. Something we noticed right from the beginning, is that Suki enjoys walking on narrow paths- the more roots and rocks the better! If the path we are on is wide and flat, she tends to lose her excitement and interest to keep going. This might be a good pointer to consider if you are trying to leash train your kitty!
I think it is very important to highlight that we do not let Suki off leash on our walks! I often edit the harness and leash out in her photos for a cleaner image, but the only time Suki is off leash is when she is in our garden or out at our cabin while we are watching closely. Canadian national & provincial parks require by law that pets are on leash, and we completely agree with this for a number of reasons! There are plenty of predators in our neck of the woods that could easily have Suki as a snack, and it is also very important to make sure that she does not injure smaller wildlife since this is not her natural environment. Cat’s are very efficient hunters with a high prey drive, so it is unlikely that Suki would listen to us if she has her mind set on chasing an animal.
As much as she would love to eat all the wild birds and squirrels, Suki gets less exciting meals. We give her a mixture of homemade raw, cooked, and store store-bought canned food. It can be difficult to find the same food when we are travelling to different places, so feeding a varied diet helps prevent any sensitivities. Suki has a voracious appetite for just about everything. Some of her strangest favourites include, broccoli, canned corn, chocolate cake (don’t worry, we always keep cake secured it in the pantry), and allll the insects. Suki has even tried to eat stink bugs after repeatedly spitting them out from the bad taste! If she ever got loose, I think she could probably survive on bugs alone.
Despite all of her mischievous antics, Suki has taught us to slow down and appreciate the little moments. Whether it’s snuggling on the couch, going on a quiet canoe ride, or chasing her to get our stolen lunch back- life with Suki has given us happiness beyond measure.