Nikki Roo adventures with his brother Sawyer and was initially mistaken for a girl!
We asked his mum, Marley to tell us all about them.
Tell us the story about how your catexplorer came into your family.
I am allergic to cats and while researching hypoallergenic breeds, I stumbled upon the Siberian Forest Cat breed.
Whereas most domestic house cats have around 30 ppm of the protien FEL-D1 (the allergen responsible for cat allergies), Siberian cats typically only have 4 ppm.
This means only about 1 in 200 people with cat allergies react to these cats.
For context, the most popular hypoallergenic breed - the hairless Sphynx cat, has around 15 ppm. I was sold!
Tell us the story behind Nikki's name?
Nikki was actually called Nala for the first 4 months of his life as I purchased him as a female kitten from the breeder.
He had a condition called dual feline cryptordism (where neither of his testicles descended from his body as the filament connecting them to his organs was too thick and unable to snap during growth).
One day, while scratching his belly... he decided to show me that he was infact, a boy cat. 😫😂
I rushed him to the vet where he was diagnosed with that condition, and he later underwent a successful surgery to remove both testicles (had they been left inside his body, he would've had a 50% chance of developing testicular cancer at some point later in life).
Since he already responded to Nala, I changed his name to something similar; Nikki, short for Nikkolai.
The "roo" was fondly added to his name after it became apparent that he is an extremely vocal cat, and that his favourite way of communicating is to "roo" at his humans and brother.
What is Nikki's favourite thing to do?
He lives to go outside and play. Walking down the neighbourhood sidewalks, through a park, or down mountain trails is the best thing in the world to him.
All of the exciting sights, smells and new people and critters to meet keeps him constantly purring.
What kind of cat adventures does Nikki go on?
Weather allowing, we like to take Nikki and Sawyer to one of our local river valley parks every Saturday.
We might take them on smaller walks to a school park two blocks away in the evenings, and we try to have dinner in the front yard on weekdays so that they can hang out on their tie-outs in the lawn and flowers.
Once in a while we go on a bigger, multiday adventure with them to Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Elk Island Provinical Park or other destinations.
Tell us about your most memorable adventure
On our first excursion to Jasper National Park, Nikki was acting up in his catbackpack. He complained that he wanted out, so we let him out.
But then he refused to walk and just layed in the snow, which is very unlike him.
We put him back in his catbackpack and decided to call it a day as he clearly was done with hiking. But then he started yowling in his catbackpack, and pressed his face as hard as he could against the mesh siding.
I was panicking a little, thinking he had somehow become ill during the hike.
We immediately let him out again and watched him closely, petting him furiously and giving him plenty of love, trying to encourage him to walk back to civilization where we could figure out what was wrong.
Suddenly he sighed, dug a hole in the snow (with a disgusted look on his face), groaned loudly and 💩ed. A lot.
Apparently he had just been constipated, and was trying to hold it as he didn't want to go in the snow (that was the first time he had ever 💩ed outside and both John and I cheered)!
After that, he got the "poop zoomies" and a wave of energy, in addition to being much happier.
He trotted down the trail with his tail high in the air, purring, and we walked with him for another 2 hours.
Now we know what behavioural signs to look for to avoid an accident, and he is getting more comfortable with doing his business outside.
Why did you decide to train Nikki & Sawyer?
While researching the Siberian Forest Cat breed, I read that they are very high energy, intelligent and loyal. Some people even called them the "most dog-like cat breed."
I had decided before they were even born that I would take as much time as necessary to train them to walk on a lead, as that would ultimately make them more happy and satisfied in life than being cooped up in a house (letting them roam outdoors wasn't an option for me as the city is a dangerous place for cats).
How did you train Nikki & Sawyer?
With a lot of patience and love!
Each cat is different, I have seen cats start training mid-life and be comfortable on a lead after just a couple of sessions!
Nikki and Sawyer started as kittens and it took about 6 months of 3-4 times a week sessions before they were fully leash trained.
What has been the most rewarding part of having a catexplorer?
I have an excuse to go outside and exercise!
If I didn't have these guys, it would be easy to talk myself into having a weekend-long Netflix marathon.
But I know Nikki and Sawyer look forward to walking all week, so I feel compelled to take them out for at least a few hours a week.
It's good for their health, and mine!
What has been the hardest?
Sawyer is prone to car sickness, so there have been a few accidents.
What advice would you give other humans training their catexplorers?
Be patient and learn to read your cat fluently.
If they are uncomfortable, you need to recognize how they express that before it progresses into fear or frustration.
If they are not having fun while training, they won't want to do it again.
What are your favourite products for your catexplorer?
Our catbackpack from YourCatBackpack.com
Is there another Catexplorer that inspires you?