I might be the only person left with internet access that doesn’t watch YouTube videos of cats doing funny things. I’ve always been a dog person – raising a puppy to a full grown dog (in my case, having dachshunds, a full grown dog is still quite a small dog full of energy and mischief). I’ve never quite seen the appeal of the cat and really believe you are either a dog or cat person.
Staying at Elephant Camp, I had read and heard stories of the house cat, Sylvester so I wasn’t sure how I would react to a cat. I had seen her on my drive in, she was in the back of the truck in front of us on her way back to her home on the reserve. Sylvester had a bad beginning as her mother and all siblings were killed during birth – Sylvester was found newborn, eyes closed with cord attached. The rangers rescued her and raised her with house cats for a while – until it was quite evident that she was not a normal cat. She would need special attention and learn some things as she was ready to roam on the reserve.
Did I mention Sylvester, the hotel cat, is a cheetah? A big cat I wouldn’t need to search for on safari. The hotel just started having guests accompany the trainers and Sylvester on her morning walk – it is a nice opportunity to hike the grounds of the reserve to the gorge and see a cheetah run to chase the animals as if she is Babe the pig corralling the sheep.
As we slipped under the rails on the deck, we walked down the slope around the main tent and out onto the land which was dry and crunchy to walk on. There was little water left in the few drinking holes due to the winter time – it was interesting to think as we hiked down toward the water that it is full in spring/summer with many animals using it daily. For now, we walked through the water hole toward the edge of the Zambezi gorge to look around.
During this time, Sylvester walked leisurely until the Impala went by, then as if she were chasing a rabbit she took off – not to hurt them (as a cheetah would in the wild) but to almost play to see them run and remind them who is the big cat on campus.
After the walk (about two hours), we stopped for photos with Sylvester and then brought her up onto the deck for other guests to pet her and take photos. I enjoyed the morning hike and learning more about Sylvester from her trainers.
So my opinion of cats changed slightly, I like the bigger cats (that are docile anyway) like Sylvester.
Lions would change my view soon enough – cue music from the Lion King…..