Very Aby Holidays – Safety and Enlightenment

Jake’s recent accident has made me realise the importance of having a first aid kit for cats on hand and at the ready. Entirely Pets has a convenient list of items you’ll need to stock it with. The one item that isn’t on the list is No-Chew Vet Wrap, which, I have discovered, is invaluable in keeping bandages from being chewed off, and may just keep your cat from needing to wear a Cone of Shame.

One more handy thing to have in your arsenal is The Veterinarians’ Guide to Your Cat’s Symptoms. This isn’t the sort of book you would refer to for in-depth research, but when you’re trying to decide if you need to go to the emergency vet today or if you can wait to call the regular vet in the morning, it’s a great help.


If you go outdoors after sunset (which, depending on where you live, could start as early as 3:30pm), lighting = safety. There’s a company that understands this and makes an array of safety lights for humans and their pets. Nite-Ize Spotlit and Magic Marker especially are designed specifically for pets. Jake has two Magic Markers attached to the front bars of his stroller, and they help a lot in making it more visible at night. I also generally hang an LED wand from the handlebars as well. Combined with the reflective tape that already sewn into the sides of his stroller, I think we may be more visible in the dark than we are during the day!

Aby-a-Day – Day 334 of 365

Jacoby is so helpful in the kitchen!

jacoby 031

I don’t know what I ever did without his assistance.

Aby-a-Day – Day 333 of 365

While going though old photos looking for pictures of Gun-Hee and Patrick, I found this photo of Angel, taken about a week after we adopted her.


I was struck by the resemblance to this recent photo of Jacoby:


I guess there’s a reason the ancient Egyptians carved so many likenesses of them back in the day.

Very Aby Holidays – Abys on Etsy

It’s really amazing how many Abyssinians can be found on Etsy.

My most recent discovery is The Magic Sleigh’s holiday cat ornaments, including this perfectly charming Aby fellow helping with the Christmas lights.

Dusty Rose Designs has some wonderful porcelain cat items, and she also makes custom orders. She made these wonderful portrait sculptures of Jake and Angel based on my photographs.

You’ve seen my Orange-Brown (Aby) Cat at the Wine Bar tile hanging above the bathroom sink in the photos of Abys “helping” in the bathroom. Lulunjay makes over 200 different tile designs featuring different breeds of cats and dogs (and other animals) engaged in such whimsical endevours as drinking tea, taking baths and doing laundry.

I love Magic Bean Buyer’s Kittehs. They come in all different colours, but I think her Brown Kitteh looks a lot like Jake!

Another favourite of mine are Drenculture’s letterpress notecards. I have a set of his Aby With Butterflies cards…but they’re almost too nice to use!


And of course, no post about Aby (and cats in general) Art would be complete without Teri Persing’s Fat Cats. I’ve posted about these charming, chubby little guys before…but I just love them. Teri’s always coming up with new patterns and colours, so her shop can be dangerous to visit if you’re low on cash…but you will never, ever be disappointed when you adopt a FatCat (or six).

Greenies watched my YouTube video!

I got an email today from YouTube, with a comment on the video of Jake taking his pill in a Pill Pocket:

TheGREENIESBrand has made a comment on Jake Takes His Pill:
We are so happy that Jacoby enjoys Pill Pockets!

I’m sure they go through YouTube searching their products’ names…which by the way is the kind of day job I need! But it’s cool to know that they watch these things.

Aby-a-Day – Day 332 of 365

I don’t know why it is, but Jacoby loves the Christmas tree.


As soon as I finished setting the tree up, Jake camped out underneath it.


It’s really funny, because my Siamese Harri loved the tree, as did Gun-Hee, but the girls don’t seem to care about the tree at all. They certainly don’t camp out underneath it. He’s going to be sad when I start putting boxes under there, and he won’t be able to fit anymore.


“Dis mai snowman…dun worry, he’z cool.”

Very Aby Holidays – Hacks, modifications, and other DIY Projects

Sometimes, the exact piece of cat furniture you want or need just doesn’t exist. Yet. But it could, with a little creativity and ingenuity.

Moderncat is a great source of ideas for furniture modifications, as is the IKEA Hacker blog. IKEA is actually the basis for a lot of creative cat furniture, including the Hollywood Franklin Tower, which is based on the Stolmen system.

Ideas for cat furniture can come from literally anywhere. Ever since visiting Twice Sold Tales, a used bookstore in Seattle, I’ve been in love with the idea of combining bookshelves with cat trees and beds. Our favourite Shabu Shabu restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown has several pillars wrapped in sisal rope.


Every single time we go there to eat, I admire these “giant scratching posts” and think that if we ever move into a place with an architectural pillar, I want to wrap it in rope.


How much fun would that be?

Aby-a-Day – Day 331 of 365

I put up our Christmas tree and the other holiday decorations up this afternoon.


Of course, I had help.

Very Aby Holidays – Accessories for Travelling Cats

The holidays are a season for travelling, and many people can’t imagine spending holidays without their cat. Contrary to popular belief, some cats do like to go places with their people, and while travelling with a cat is somewhat easier than travelling with a baby, there’s one thing that’s always more difficult: finding a place to spend a night that will also welcome your cat. However, all Red Roof Inns are pet-friendly and the Cat Fanciers’ Association has a 20% corporate discount for exhibitors, judges, family and friends. There are a few basic rules, but if you ever need to travel with your cat, whether for a vacation or a cross-country move, just remember Red Roof Inns are your friend.



Another item that comes in handy if you travel with your cat is the Sturdi Products pop-up shelter. Mainly used as personal exhibition cages for cat shows, this portable house is great for travel (especially if you need to stop at a Red Roof Inn – even if you don’t keep your cat inside it the entire time you’re in the motel, it will reassure the fussier desk clerks that the carpet and furniture will survive your cat’s stay unscathed. It also comes in surprisingly handy around the house. We kept it set up for Gun-Hee during most of his life, and he came to see it as his lair. He would take things he wanted to hide from us and store them there. It was also the place he’d go when he wanted to be alone. I’ve just set it up for Jacoby today, so it will be interesting to see if he loves it like his brother did.


We also used it as a place to put him when we were doing something dangerous or intricate with which we didn’t want or need any Abyssinian assistance. He minded incarceration in his “house” much less than he minded being shut in the other room, because he could see and hear what we were doing.

One more note on travelling with your cat: it helps if your cat has his own bag to carry the things he needs on a trip. Of course, you could always just pack your cat’s things along with your own, but I’ve found it’s a whole lot easier if Kitty’s belongings are organised and packed into their own bag. Two that I’ve found useful come from LL Bean: The Carryall Tote Bag (I use one of these as our therapy visit bag) and the Microfiber II Tote Bag. Both are well made and well designed with lots of pockets so you can find what you need when you need it. Don’t forget, LL Bean has free shipping until December 20.

Aby-a-Day – Day 330 of 365

Thanksgiving was a carnivorous celebration in our house. This was our dinner:


And this was the cats’ dinner:


I know their dinner doesn’t look as impressive as ours, but they enjoyed it.


Angel is a nervous eater, and she doesn’t like to eat around the other cats, so she eats in the bedrom.


She always “buries” her food when she’s finished eating it so the other cats won’t eat it. She’s very diligent about it, too; if one of the sheepskin rugs are nearby, she’ll use it to cover her leftover food.


But don’t worry…they got plenty of our turkey as well. As if we could not share it with them!


So, for the next week or so, we’ve got Jake over a barrel. He’ll do just about anything for a little white meat.

Very Aby Holidays – A Little Flash and Zazzle

Looking for a unique gift? Something that you know no one else will give? Thanks to digital photography, there are several companies that can help you turn your favourite photos into fantastic gifts.

Zazzle allows you to turn your photos into a variety of items, but my favourite is their photo sculptures. I haven’t found any other place that makes photos into standup cutouts for such a great price.


They do an amazing job. I sent this photo of Jake and Angel playing just to see how their statues turned out and I was very impressed. They cut out everything I didn’t want, but didn’t cut out anything I wanted to keep, and they did it all without any instruction from me.


These photosculptures are made of sturdy Plexiglas, and they can made into more than just statues. They can also be made into pins, magnets. keychains and ornaments.


They’re a lot of fun to have on your desk at work, and they’re a little more interesting than framed photos. I’ve been giving these to family and friends for birthday gifts and they are always appreciated.

Flashbags are unique bags made in Vermont from recycled newsprint and plastic. You can have your own photograph made into a durable totebag, clutch, checkbook cover, file folder or placemats.


I love their bags, which I have given as gifts using some of my catart photos. In the photo, you can see how large – and how sturdy! – these bags are (and yes, that’s a Rossi Pet Tag attached to the handle). I almost always get asked about these bags when I use them around town, and it’s nice to have something that’s not only original but also environmental.

Aby-a-Day – Day 329 of 365

Today was the big day: Thanksgiving! Of course, Jacoby helped with the turkey.


“Isn’t it done yet?”


“Maybe we need to turn up the heat? Or turn it over, or something?”


“Moo-om! Why is it taking so long!?”

Very Aby Holidays – Where do you go for Black Friday?

For those Abyfans who do not live in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving, “Black Friday,” is a day of publicly sanctioned insanity and celebration of the true American pastime: Shopping. Supposedly, most people’s holiday shopping happens all in one go on this day, which I just don’t get. I start Christmas shopping for each person as soon as their birthday is past; I haven’t got enough money to buy everything in one month!

I’ve also never understood the drive that motivates people to get up and be someplace at 4am to spend their money when, the other 364 days of the year, they can barely manage to get themselves out of bed by 6:30 to get to the job that pays them money. I mean, I love to shop, but seriously? 4am? That’s what we have the internet for, and you don’t even have to put on shoes to do it.

But, if you do plan to venture out, where do you go? What awesome local pet stores do you have in your town? When I go on vacations, I try to seek out local pet boutiques. I’ve actually gone to pet stores (or cat specialty stores) in Stockholm, Amsterdam, London, Tokyo and Seoul, as well as New York, San Francisco, Key West, Chicago, Montréal and Seattle. It’s always fun to see what other pet stores have; many items they carry are regional, or locally made, so you can find things you may not be able to get at home.

A few of my favourite stores from my travels include:

San Francisco: George, on California at Fillmore, is mainly dog-oriented, but they have some great cat items. I bought a Cubeycat in 1997 for my Siamese Harri and Patrick, and, for whatever reason, it’s still on of the most popular toys in the house today. Currently, it’s in the bedroom right now, still popular 13 years later…not bad for $10!


Barry for Pets, nearby on Fillmore between Bush and Sutter is more of a neighbourhood store; I used to shop here when I lived in San Francisco, and we stopped in this summer when we were on vacation. It’s small, but it has some great cat toys.

New York City: The first time I went to NYC in 1996, I had to visit Just Cats Inc. in the Upper East Side on 60th (near Bloomingdale’s and Serendipity, and also the Roosevelt Island Tram). I’d read all about in Cat Fancy, so it was a must-see stop on my list. Also nearby are Pets on Lex and American Kennels. This was long before the pet boutique boom, but they are all still there (American Kennels has occupied their space since 1954). These stores do sell kittens (including Abys!), so keep that in mind; they also sell toys and supplies.

Key West: Key West is known for its cats, and when we stopped here on our honeymoon cruise, we fell in love with a shop called The Blue Cat. This store collects photos of cats from around the world, sent in by people who have shopped here. I found an incredible T-shirt here with an Abyssinian graphic that literally took my breath away.


Seoul: In Seoul, it’s not one pet shop you visit, it’s a neighbourhood. Chungmuro (충무로) Street is famous for its concentration of pet stores along its 1.75km. We saw kittens for sale (mostly Siamese, Persians and Scottish Folds), and I bought one of the best leashes I’ve ever found there.

Pet City

Tokyo: No contest. Pet City in the Venus Fort shopping center, in Palettetown, Odubai, is a definite must see. Venus Fort is actually a super cool mall, which allows pets – on the first floor, they can walk around on leashes, and on the upper floors, they can be carried in bags. The pet shop itself is busy on weekends; many Japanese live where they cannot have pets, so they flock to Pet City to see cats and dogs. When we went, there were two Aby kittens in a playpen (I wish I had been brave enough to take photos)! Pets there were incredibly expensive, but well cared for. The clothing selection was impressive and took up about half the floorspace.

I know it sounds like an odd thing to do, visit a pet store on a trip to Tokyo, but you won’t regret the time you spend here. Or the money…of course we spent at least $100 on collars made from kimono fabric, catnip toys, and colourful cans of cat food. We also saw the infamous “Cat Smack” while we were there.

Stockholm: When I went to visit my friends Björn and Titti, they made sure to take me to Katt! Katt!. Hidden inside a building that looks like a castle, it is a shrine to all things feline. The best cat toy I’ve ever bought, a Sami reindeer fur toy, hung on our cat tree until it went into storage.

And, if you’re ever in Boston, we have a new shop in Back Bay named Pawsh. Jake and I haven’t checked it out yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

One final note: LL Bean has just added a new Faux-Shearling Jacket for Dogs! I’ve ordered one for Jacoby already; it matches the Faux-Shearling Coat I bought for myself a few years ago perfectly! You can also get it monogrammed, and LL Bean is offering free shipping until December 20. Also, through Monday Nov. 29, you can save an additional 10% using the code “LLBEANFRIENDS10” at checkout.

Aby-a-Day – Day 328 of 365

I started preparing our Thanksgiving turkey last night.


Jacoby helped.


It’s a 21lb turkey. He’s an 11lb cat. You have to admire that kind of ambition.


He actually licked the turkey while it was still wrapped in plastic. Goofball.

Very Aby Holidays – Holiday Feast Fixings

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a day that people claim is about “giving thanks,” but we all know what it’s really about…eating. And why should your cat be left out of your holiday feasting? He can sit at the kitty table and enjoy Merrick Thanksgiving Day Dinner canned food. I love this stuff and it’s been a holiday staple in our house since 2007 (and it’s not just us: Sparkle the Somali and her family love it, too). Besides turkey, it’s made using potatoes, green beans, and even dried cranberries, so it really is Thanksgiving in a can! However, your trendier cats may prefer their Turducken, with sweet potatoes, peas, carrots and cranberries, instead.


Every Thanksgiving feast should have some appetizers, and Catswell makes some wonderful treats; Jake and Angel go crazy over Breathies Chicken Jerky with mint and parsley, which is also good for their teeth. Another treat they love is Wellness Pure Delights. Jake and I discovered these at our vet’s office and he loves them. He will even eat them when we’re out, which is saying a lot. Zukes Natural Purrz cat treats are also apparently very tasty; Jake’s chewed into the package to get to these treats! These are all softer, more “meaty” treats, so they’re great for training.

You may not believe me, but some cats just don’t like canned food, or they’re extremely picky about what flavours they will eat. This is actually a problem with Kylie, who will walk away from her canned food if she doesn’t like the type of meat. Luckily, Whole Life DeVour for Cats solves that problem. Made of freeze-dried, human-grade white meat chicken with ground dried peas and cranberries, just sprinkle a little over your cat’s food and watch finicky turn into famished. Our four know what the container looks like and sometimes they’ll wait until I’ve put some on their dinner before they’ll start eating. It can also be mixed with water to make a gravy, and it can be stirred into dry food. It’s a local product, too; the company’s headquarters are in Pittsfield, MA.

Finally, this time of year I am always reminded of Bird, the Abyssinian. Leave it to an Aby to get stuck inside a turkey!

Aby-a-Day – Day 327 of 365

One month ago today, Jacoby had his harrowing escalator emergency at Broadway T station.


Today he wishes to show off how well his foot has healed.

Very Aby Holidays – Colourful Name Tags That Are More Than Just a Pretty Face

Even if your cat is an indoor cat who never goes outside unattended (or even attended, for that matter), a collar and tag are still an important thing to have. Accidents can happen, and even the most agoraphobic cats can find themselves on the wrong side of a door. Of course, microchipping is a great way to protect your cat, but even chips have their shortcomings. Microchips are invisible and require a special reader to identify the animal, and most people who find your cat won’t know if there’s a microchip present or not.


Blanket ID, a Canadian company, has come up with a clever and attractive solution to this problem. Their tags provide access to vital information to ensure the return of your pet quickly and safely. Through Blanket ID, when your pet is lost, email broadcasts with photos are sent to to local SPCA, shelters, hospitals, and other local BlanketID members. Currently, this broadcast service operates throughout North America. The tags are small, lightweight, silent, scratch resistant, waterproof and come in a variety of great designs and colours, and can be easily updated online. Their customer service is also just amazing; Martin and Cate will answer emails quickly and they’re wonderful to deal with.


Another favourite of mine, Rossi Pet Tags, has a huge selection of engraved tags, with more fonts and graphics than any other tag company I’ve found yet. More than just collar tags, I use these on their carriers as an extra ID. I have also made a bunch of these for myself, and put them on my own bags and on my camera. They can be engraved on both sides, and there’s a huge selection of fonts and small graphics to further personalise your tag. Check with Jennifer if you have something special in mind; as you can see on Angel’s purple star, they were able to engrave Korean characters as well as English.

Aby-a-Day – Day 326 of 365

When Gun-Hee first showed up at our house, Patrick was not impressed and wanted nothing to do with the kitten.


The kitten was relentless, however. He was going to be Patrick’s friend whether Trick wanted to be friends or not!


Eventually, Gun-Hee won that battle (just try denying an Aby something he really wants, I dare you). I love this photo because it’s so representative of their relationship. This was taken in 2007; Patrick and Tessie had been together amost 2 years at this point, but they were not what you would call friends. Gun-Hee treated Tessie like a surrogate mother, and Trick was his big brother. You’ll notice that Tess and Trick are not touching each other, but Gun-Hee is touching both of them, oblivious to whatever may be going on between the two older cats.

Jacoby does that, too, he’s friends with everyone, even if they’re not friends with each other.

Very Aby Holidays – Warm and Cozy Gifts for Kitties

This is the time of year when cats, the original heat-seeking missiles, really come into their own. Of course a cat won’t turn down a warm napping spot even on the hottest day of summer, winter is when they really appreciate a little extra warmth.

Cats really appreciate a warm cozy place to sleep, but there aren’t a lot of cat beds that also fit in with the human’s furniture. When looking at cat beds, you need to check out ModPet’s stunning modern furniture for cats. Their sleek designs look just like real modern furniture scaled down. It’s incredible; they’re not inexpensive, but they are something that will last for years.

If 1960’s pop-mod is more your style, Like Kittysville may have the bed for you. These beds are completely customisable, and they certainly look comfortable!

If you’re in the market for a more traditional cat bed, Photogirl95’s Cuddly Cat Snuggle Beds are made just for cats and, while not indestructible, her “kitty likes to sharpen his claws on the bottom of his bed and it is still in the same shape it was when I gave it to him.” They’re 100% cotton and machine washable, which is always a good thing. The sales of Angelic Cat Beds’ beautiful crocheted cat beds go towards the seller’s diabetic cat Angel’s medical care. Each bed is named after a shelter kitty in Durham, NC and each listing includes a photo of the bed’s namesake. WeezWear’s squishy round beds are custom made from your choice of colourful cotton prints. She even has Hello Kitty fabric imported from Japan.

For some cats, especially older cats, those who live in drafty houses, and those who have thin (or no) coats of their own, a warm bed isn’t enough. These cats will appreciate a sweater or jacket on cold days.

For cats with a sense of humour, take a look at Youth Diaspora’s whimsical cat clothes. Now your kitty can be warm and look like a bat, shark, or rocketship! Also be sure to check out Emilio Poochi! I actually met Barb at the SoWa Market on Halloween and she is making Jake a marvelous fur coat. He is her first cat couture model, so be sure to tell her Jake sent you if you buy one of her coats!

You’ve seen plenty of photos of Jake wearing his Beantown Homemade Beretta Sphynx sweater. Angel has one, too, although she doesn’t go out in cold weather as often as Jake does. These sweaters are awesome because they are designed specifically to fit cats’ bodies, which are different from dogs, particularly in the chest and shoulders. While Abys have a bit more fur than Sphynxes do, they still get cold very easily.


While it may be a myth that most body heat is lost through the head, hats do make one feel warmer when the winter winds blow. Why should it be different for cats? That’s the reasoning behind Scooter Knits’ cat hats. These hats are awesome, made just for cats, and are made with an eye towards functionality and humour. I mean, just check out her Under the Mistletoe Cat Hat. If that’s not sublime evil genius, I don’t know what is!

Aby-a-Day – Day 325 of 365

My tabby-point Siamese, Patrick was put to sleep today. He lives in California with my mom, and he just turned 16 last month; within the last week he started just…fading, in the way that older cats do. Trick had lost half his body weight (and he did not have hypothryroid), his kidneys were failing, he was severely dehydrated and he could not maintain his body temperature (his temp at the vet was 94° – normal for a cat is 101.5°). He also had a dark area on his lungs in an X-ray, and there may have been other things going on as well, but they stopped running tests on him.


It’s hard to be sad when he had such a long life, and he was fairly healthy until just this past week, so he didn’t suffer at all. I am just so happy that we went to see him this year when we went to San Francisco. We took Amtrak on the Sunday of that vacation to go to Davis, and went to see him as much as we went to visit my mom, and it turned out to be the best thing we did the whole trip.

Patrick was adopted to be a friend for my seal-point Siamese, Harri. He was almost 3 when I got him, and he was always more cat-oriented than people-oriented. You could be gone for a month and he wouldn’t notice, but when Harri went to the vet without him for a few hours, Trick would get really upset.

After Harri died, Trick was miserable; even though we had Kylie and Tessie, because he just didn’t like female cats (he was a very peculiar cat). But when Gun-Hee arrived, Patrick was happy to have another friend.


When Gun-Hee died, Patrick became very depressed, even though we had Kylie and Tessie at the time. He never bonded with them; he only liked boycats. So I took him back to California to live with my mom and her two boycats, Baxter and Madison. He was so happy there for the last two years of his life.


If Gun-Hee had not gotten FIP and died, though, Patrick would have stayed here, with us…Even though they were 12 years apart in age, Patrick and Gun-Hee became close in the two years after Harri died.

My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today…He hunts with StarClan now.