I have mentioned previously that we purchased two strollers for Siada's surgery recovery. One is at the house and the other at the Cabin and goes camping with us. I figure it is about time for a side-by-side comparison of the two items given that we have now had them for 6 months.
Things are not so bad right now in Kittonland. Isis is continuing to regain weight, which means that her meds and foods are helping deal with the lymphoma. She and Reeses now have a quiet space to hang out, look out the windows, sleep and not have Malik eat all their toys during the day. They look forward to us coming home from work so that they can get social time, but are pretty much ready to go back to the private suite at bedtime. I initially had great guilt about setting up the house like this, but they actually seem to prefer it, so all is well.
Siada had her two-week post-op check up last week. She is doing great, and everything is healing up well. She now gets to take 2 five minute walks a day (under strict supervision) and gets cuddle time with Papa. I think that is the thing that makes her most happy!
And then there is the knuckle head brigade. Malik and Layla pretty much act like little furry hurricanes that barrel through the house at random intervals. They knock over furniture, steal potatoes and crackers, and generally drive me nuts, but I love them. Layla Squashin, as you can see below, is still a very real event in our house, and even Isis gets her turn at the Squashin (I think she likes it less than Layla does, lol).
I am delighted to find out that my Savannah Scams page on this site has really taken off. I have now gotten several emails from folks regarding it, and how it helped them avoid scams (or emailing me to see if I think something is a scam). I will be posting more updates there this week.
I hope everyone is having a good 2019 so far!
Well, despite some unwelcome issues with our geriatric feline friends, the holiday season was mostly peaceful.
Reeses had a few out-of-litterbox incidents, which I initially thought was progression of her kidney disease (she is stage 3 CKD), but it turns out it was a UTI. We got her treated and she is back to being her excellent self (and is still holding her own against the CKD).
Isis, as I mentioned last month, has been dropping weight, barfing more than usual and has been exploding in the litterbox multiple times a day. She was referred from our regular vet to a specialist (who fortunately was also Nimar's doc), and is now being treated for small-cell Lymphoma. She is on special food and some medications and in just three weeks has gained a half pound! I am so very happy about that. Also, no more barfing and all else is also now functioning normally. For a 16+ year old lady, this is really good news. Her appetite and energy are great and she can even jump on the bed again without using the cat stairs. I have to count all of this as a blessing.
On the Kitton Front, Siada went in this morning for surgery on her other knee. The first one has healed fantastically, but the left knee is now much worse than it was on initial diagnosis (it slips out regularly), so we are getting that taken care of now. Of course, that means I am a total stress case today, but she is a Champion, and should be fully recovered in time for camping season.
And what about the rest of the crew? Well, I can say that the Kittons had a great holiday playing with their new Ripple Rug that Santa brought them. This thing is probably the best $40 I ever spent on a cat toy. The three Savannah's love darting in and out of it, rolling in it, and beating each other up on it. I think Layla even declared it the BEST DAY EVER when they unwrapped it!
Let me set the scene for this story. We have an accordion door leading to the back hallway, and at the end of the hall is the external door. Papa installed the folding door to set up a sort of a mantrap there (or kittontrap, as the case may be) to prevent these knuckleheads from dashing outside. It worked amazingly for about 11 months and then stopped 'clicking' closed. To counter that, he added a hook on each side, and we just have a hair tie on the handle that an latch onto the hook to keep it shut.
This weekend I was sitting there and heard someone rattling that door. I looked over my shoulder and saw Malik battering ramming the door until it popped open (and now I understand why it is broken to begin with). He pops the door open and then widens the gap with his paw, but cannot manage to get through.
Me: Malik, no!
Malik: But I cant get through it.
Me: You are not supposed to be in there.
Malik (slamming harder at the door): Cant. Get. Through.
Me: Malik, NO!
At this point, Malik wanders off, and, foolish me, I turn back to what I was working on.
A few minutes later, he and Layla parade past me and head towards the door. Malik proceeds to pop open the door, and Layla leap frogs over his back, through the gap, and into the damn hallway. After I recover from this brilliant display of teamwork, I go over, open the door and let Layla back into the kitchen. It was then that I discovered the reason this was so very important. One of the straws they play with had gotten pushed under the door. I returned it to the Butthead Brigade, closed the door again, and went back about my business.
Layla (racing around with the straw): BEST DAY EVER!
And this is take two for this post because I just lost every bit of the lengthy piece I already typed up. Needless to say, this will now be much shorter and far less eloquent.
Siada blew her knee out (the one that had surgery) Sunday night. Not even sure how she did it. She was in her stroller, jumped about something and then was all wonked out after that. We gave her time to sort it out (prior to surgery she could stretch her leg and reseat it), but come Monday it was no better so off to the ER we went.
There was a steady stream of critical cases right after us that had priority (which is fine as I know Nimar was that critical case more than once and others got bumped down the list in his favor). After several hours of waiting, Siada was sitting on her Papa and leapt off. She landed wrong, which ended up "fixing" her knee. She proudly paraded (with a slight limp) around the facility after that. I guess not many people are used to seeing a princess kitton on a leash, based on the stares she got. We opted to return home rather that continue to wait at that point.
The next morning Papa called the surgeon and they said that if she was walking and the kneecap was in its proper spot that we could just wait till our appointment Friday to take her in. Yes, the girl made it almost the whole 8 weeks with zero issues and had to blow it at the very last moment!
As it was, Friday was a very exciting day for all of the kittons as they got to go visit the dentist. Not their dentist, but ours. We have seen the same dentist since before Nimar, and he knew someone at one time who had a pet serval so was always asking about Nimar and then his successors. He wanted to meet them and even blocked off time on the schedule for the kittons to visit him and staff (and his wife who came over as well to meet them). They had a wonderful time climbing all over the waiting room, eating the Christmas decor and making new friends. It was a bit of a shock though, I think, to the elderly client who arrived just as we were about to leave. I don't think he was expecting to see a giant Malik sitting there!
After that we went to the appointment with Siada's surgeon. Her x-rays were great and her luxation is reduced from a Grade 4 to Grade 1 and that might further improve once she uses the leg more and regains strength.
She gets lots of free time now, but is still heavily watched and is not allowed to do anything drastic for the next month. I don't think she was listening to any of that part because she tried to lead the Savannah 500 Friday night at the cabin. I wanted to get really cute photos of them all playing together this weekend, but, alas, they were all too excited to sit still for it and all I got was the blurry one I used with this post.
Now for the less pleasant news. The old gals, Isis and Reeses, had their senior appointment this past Wednesday. For having Stage 3 kidney failure, Reeses is still doing pretty good. Her numbers are up a little and she had a UTI (which has since been treated) but for a 16 year old lady, she is doing alright. She still has a great appetite and can still jump on the counters with no issues.
Isis, on the other hand, has been losing weight. She also still eats really well, and is happy to see us come home from work, and joins the Savannah parade that follows me from room to room, but her white cell count is up and she clearly has digestive issues. We have some special food for her and now have an appointment with Nimar's specialist. I have been worried about this girl a lot, lately, and am reminded that old cats will break your heart at some point. I am hoping that this appointment will give us some good forward direction for her continued care. Please keep the beautiful lady in your thoughts.
My kittons are very diverse in both personality and looks. We have a fearless bossy Siada, a loving silly Layla and a Malik practices daily to be the best butthead he can be. I can tell which one of them is making a mess in the next room just by the sound of the thud them make when jumping from a forbidden counter to the floor. And yes, I can even tell who just made that awful smell without looking.
What I did not realize though, is that not everyone is schooled in how to differentiate between kittons! When I share photos online there is a series of questions about "which one is that?" and often friends (who are more learned in the ways of kittons) will chime in with identifiers ever before I can.
In an effort to make everyone a pro at this, I submit the following guidelines below. (Perhaps we should even have a certification course in "Kitton ID"?)
Note that in all of the comparisons below that order will be Siada, Layla, Malik.
The Savannah breed standard aims for a very servally type cat, so the eyes are ideally medium sized and have a slightly hooded brow, with the top of the eye having a bit of a boomerang shape. All eye colors are allowed. Servals typically have browish or greenish eyes, but blue-grey and gold are also possible.
In the Kittons, Siada has very pretty eyes. They yellow-gold with green around the pupil and very clear and bright. (They bely her wicked intelligence and can strike fear into the hearts of her enemies, or at least Malik!) Layla's eyes are huge, round and more green than gold, but not the gooseberry green of a Bengal or an Isis. (These orbs look at you with adoration!) . Malik has the hooded eyes of a serval that are brown like Nimar's were, with only the tiniest hint of hazel in their depths when looking at him in full sunlight. (Alas, his hooded eyes often give him a wounded-puppy look that pretty much means he will get whatever he desires.)
A Savannah's face should form a triangle in profile and also if you look down at it from the top with the muzzle the point of the triangle. The bridge of the nose should either be straight or have the slightest concave curve to it.
Siada's face is all triangles, with a beautiful line to her jaw and a delicate muzzle. (She will even lift up those dainty muzzlepuffs to you for kisses!). Her nose is long and has the slight curve mentioned above. Layla has a short, blunt face, with a wide muzzle that is more reminiscent of a Bengal, or cute stuffed animal, than a Savannah. (That is ok though, that mouth is built perfectly for carrying theived bananas through the house!) And of course Malik, being only one step removed from a serval, has a very triangular face, as well as the long nose with the slight slope that Siada has. (He is handsome and he knows it all too well!)
Nose (arguably one of the cutest parts)
The standard is wide across the top, with a slight downward turn at the end. Yup, this babies have perfect noses! In Savannahs, these snufflers can have a variety of colors, including pink, red "leather", black or even black with a pink stripe!
Siada has a dark, heart shaped nose, that she turns up over chicken that is not properly minced enough for her pristine tastes. Layla has a red leather nose, perfect for sniffing out the bananas. Malik has a puffy pink nose that you just must kiss, even if he thinks otherwise.
"Remarkably Large" that is the description in the official breed standard. They should also be wide at the bottom, sit high on the head (some servals have ears so close together they almost touch at the base), and noticeable ocelli ('night eyes') on the backs of the ears is desirable.
These babies all have big ears. Heck, Siada was specifically chosen for her ears! Malik has very servally ears, that we wide, with very round tops and that sit quite close together. Siada's ears have very slight points at the top and the very tiniest of ear tuffts if you look closely. Layla's ears are somewhat between the two and while not quite as large, they are, in fact, quite adorable. (Bonus of baby kitton ear photos!)
Below you can see the striking contrast of an F1s ocelli, with the F3 girls who only have the slightest shading on the backs of their ears. (Layla and Siada in the left photo and Malik and Layla in the right.)
Can you tell them apart yet? Maybe? If not, Part 2 of the Definitive Guide to Kittons (covering the build, feetsies and fur) will be coming soon!
Cats have such diverse personalities that I am always amused that they seem to have a solid reputation as being aloof, or only wanting to be around people when they need fed. Every cat in my life has been different. They are different in their needs for interaction with both the people and with each other.
Isis and Reeses are well bonded to each other. I actually worry about the day we lose one of them, because I think the other will be quite forlorn (they had no interest in Nimar or the new Savannah clowder). They come to you on occasion for petting and purring, but are not as needful of people time as any of the Savannahs.
Siada is interesting. She loves having Layla as a playmate, but is possibly the most solidly "people oriented" cat I have ever met. She wants her people time, all the time. She likes to play chase with me as much as she does the other cats (maybe even more) and she plays very rough so they can try to avoid her when she gets amped up. Her quarantine for recovery from surgery has been very hard on her in this respect, but now that the incision is healed, we are giving her lots of lap time.
Malik and Layla on the other hand, HAVE to have companionship. It really doesn't matter who it is with, but neither of them like to be alone. For example, I was deveining shrimp last night and had to lock Malik in the back of the house because I would be fighting him off and likely losing half the shrimp. The old gals were in a room alone so they could eat their dinner in piece and Siada was still in quarantine till after we ate dinner. This meant Layla was running around the house with no cats, and Malik was in the back with no cats. It sounded for all the world like Malik was trying to rip the toilet off the wall while he wailed, whined and howled to get out.
Layla, on the other hand was running around as if possessed and slamming into the three doors where they other cats were (even the old cats, who she really has little interaction with). I eventually managed to catch her and toss her into confinement with Malik and I cooked (and we ate) in peace.
When we were first looking at getting Malik I had even said that we should get our boy sooner, rather than later, because Siada having surgery (which we knew was coming) would be hard on Layla. I had no idea at the time how correct that statement was.
Layla Squashin' Time is a very real thing in our household. It just happens and no one knows why. The adorable marbled kitton will be sleeping peacefully and Malik will decide, out of nowhere, that it is clearly, most definitely, time to utterly squash the Layla.
This has happened since the beginning of time, and yes, he started small with nudges and cuddles and then, in mere weeks, the full-on squashing began. And as for poor Layla Beans, she is so sweet of temperament, that she just lets it continue. I can only hope she manages to not get flattened too much as this little boy continues to outgrow her.
When we went to pick up Malik from the breeders house, she gave us an awesome gift bag full of goodies (for him and for us). When I saw it though, I had to choke back tears because on the top was a large, stuffed white rat. She noticed me looking at it and said she likes for the Savannahs to have larger toys to play with. She didn't know I was reminded of Nimar at that moment, as he had that very same rat, but I was and my heart ached with both the loss we had and the joy of bringing a new baby home.
It was one of those rare toys that actually survived for quite some time in our house. I think he got it when he was 5 or so years old, and we still had it (missing feet, ears, face and tail, and covered with gross cat food) when he passed. He carried it around before his illness and it became victim of his excessive chewing habits after the tumor started to take over. But I can say he loved that thing
Savannah Caretaker who is honored to do the job.