Wine is made from grapes.
And old plastic wine corks make fun cat toys!
They roll…and they bounce!
Wine is made from grapes.
And old plastic wine corks make fun cat toys!
They roll…and they bounce!
Originally, there were only going to be two parts to this series…but it turned out, I had so many photos of Harri, I need to break it out into two parts. So now, instead of being part two of two, this is part two of three.
Harri (Harakka Talonväkiliäinen) was my first cat as an adult. I was 26, and finished with university and in an apartment that could support a cat. He was actually my birthday present, but I didn’t get him until 20 June. I was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism at that time, and I actually picked Harri up on the way to June Crown. He spent the weekend camping and it wasn’t until four days later that he finally got to his new home. I was actually his second person. We got him from a man who’d had him two weeks. He’d gotten Harri from the son of the breeder, who lived “in Redding…or Red Bluff. One of those” and hadn’t paid extra to get his papers. I asked why he was getting rid of him and the man told me, “Well, he cries all the time. And I have white carpets, so I can’t leave him alone in the house while I’m at work. I have to keep him in the garage. Well…duh, he’s a Siamese kitten, that’s what they do! I paid the man $100 and took “Siamy” off to the event.
To say he loved the SCA would be an understatement.
He embraced it.
He was squired to a knight, Count Sir Brion Thornbird at his second event. Sir Brion later said that Harri was his most active squire.
Harri fit right in, drinking from tankards (in fact, throughout Harri’s life, he wouldn’t drink water from bowls; he had to have his water in a cup. People don’t drink from bowls, so neither would he)…
…hanging out in the Royal Pavillion impressing the ladies…
…and just generally being the mascot of the West Kingdom for a couple of years. I never left him home alone, so he went to every event that I did.
He even had his own little pavilion.
After a while, though, he outgrew it, and that style of pavilion didn’t really fit his Viking persona, so…
…he upgraded to a genuine Viking A-Frame. He also had a miniature rope bed with a futon mattress, a steel raised firepit, and, of course, his own heraldic banner.
Of course, no matter what tent he himself had, he still crashed in my tent, too.
Harri was my best buddy, very much the same way Jacoby is now.
He was even “Best Cat” at my first wedding!
Harri was one of the bravest cats I have ever known. For some reason I never figured out, he hated dogs. He considered them the ultimate evil. He would insert himself physically between me and any dog, and he would attack if the dog came too close. We used to go for walks in Golden Gate Park, and when we’d encounter a dog, I’d tighten Harri’s leash. “Oh, don’t worry,” the dog owner would invariably say. “He likes cats!” “That’s great,” I’d respond. “HE hates dogs.”
Harri was a great cat. He and Sgt. Pepper actually met once (the crossover between my childhood cats and my adult cats) and I know I have those photos, but I haven’t been able to locate them yet. He did have a lot of energy and, as an only cat, he used to stage running attacks on my ankles. This started to get a bit painful, so when he was three, I adopted a friend for him.
At the time, I was working for a weekly newspaper taking classified ads over the phone. I happened to take a call from a man who needed to rehome a redpoint Siamese cat because his son was suddenly allergic. We got to talking and…well, let’s just say that ad never made it into the newspaper. Sigrid was six years old, a retired CFA Grand Champion. I can’t remember the cattery name but her call name was Sugar…which I promptly changed to Sigrid.
Harri loved her right from the start. She was such a wonderful, beautiful cat…and I have so few photos of her.
The SFSPCA would have photos with Santa every Christmas. These are some of the only photos I have left of her now.
I had Harri and Sigrid together for three years, during which time I moved from Chico to Sacramento to San Francisco. But then Harri was still an active 6 year old who weighed 12 lbs, and Sigrid was an elderly 9 year old who weighed 8 lbs. It was clear that Harri needed a more energetic pal to roughhouse with. And that’s when I adopted Patrick.
More about Harri and Patrick next week.
I just got the photos that were taken of us during the AARP Life @ 50+ event at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center that we participated in earlier this month. All of these photos were taken by Scott Amundson Photography for United Healthcare especially for the event and are used with permission.
Before the presentation, we just mingled with visitors and other United Healthcare participants.
Including this box character, who was wearing those flashing tentacle head boppers.
Turns out, Mr. Box is a cat person! Who knew? I asked him if he was related to the Progressive Insurance box, but he declined to answer.
The presentation explained the benefits of animal-assisted therapy, not just for the elderly in nursing homes but also for people affected by disaster (the Boston Marathon bombing, the Newtown shootings) and children learning to read.
While the presentation was going on, the animal therapy teams sat at a table.
Jake, of course, was completely fine with this. This is basically what he does at cat shows, too.
Sit on a table, look out at the audience, and generally be awesome.
Interestingly, during the presentation, people would come up and talk to us. I hadn’t seen that happen at presentations before, but it was cool. Jake was happy to have some more attention.
Unless, of course, there was something interesting on the screen!
After the presentation, there was a short Q&A session, moderated by Christine.
And then more people came up to talk to us.
I loved talking to this woman! I’m so happy they got a photo of her. She was from California and we had a lot in common. I didn’t get her name, though, but I did give her a blog card.
Jake wasn’t the only star of the show, of course. Here’s Sophie and her human LeeAnn – you can see Jake’s stroller in the background.
Ralphie (the “other Abyssinian”) and his human Nikki made a lot of friends. A lot of people have owned Guinea Pigs in their lives!
After the presentation, we wandered around the United Healthcare booth (as I posted on 15 May) and then we had our portraits done. I LOVE this one of Jake and I. I want to use it as our new ID badge photo when we renew our Pet Partners certification in July. Of course, I’ll need to Photoshop the lettering behind my head out of the picture before I do!
There was a group portrait, too. Here we all are!
This is another true story, shared by Abyfriend Wendy on the Abyssinian Cat Club Facebook group.
“Well – thought I had seen everything… I was outside grilling hot dogs. On my way back in, Wren brought me the remaining four. These are the kind in natural casing, so they are all connected… It’s funny that she brought them to me, rather than running off with them. Wren is such a funny girl.”
Abyfriend Kim said Wren was bringing the hot dogs back to Wendy so she could cook them for her. Wendy added that “[Wren] had one in her mouth and the rest were dragging behind her on the floor,” and then lamented the fact that she hadn’t had a camera handy. The mental image was just too much to resist.
(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)
Sunday at the show in Concord, Jacoby got to compete with Meg’s boy Chai Latte (aka Petit Garçon). It’s fun to watch the differences between a younger, not-yet-Granded Aby and a seasoned veteran.
You can see Garçon in the background as Jake is examined by judge Kathy Calhoun.
I love how Jake stands tall on the table and surveys the audience and the show hall while he’s being judged.
He doesn’t play with the toys or climb the pole, but he’s perfectly happy to just stand there. The judges barely need to hold onto him.
“Hey! I wasn’t finished being admired!”
Garçon, on the other hand, was very active on the table. Kathy had to keep a good hold on him, you can tell.
It looks like Jake’s looking on in the background thinking, “What a showoff!”
Jacoby’s black SturdiShelter, usually referred to as his “house,” was originally purchased used for Gun-Hee back in 2007. It was originally meant to be used only for cat shows, but it quickly became a combination clubhouse/time out tent for Gun-Hee and we kept it set up all the time.
Gun-Hee considered the tent his personal lair. He would steal things – like packages of hot dogs – and carry them back to his den for safekeeping.
Shortly after Jake’s escalator accident, the tent was reinstated and quickly became Jake’s dining room. Given that Jake’s been using that tent every night for three years, it’s been getting a bit worn. And his ability to push the zippers open with his head hasn’t helped the tent’s longevity.
We started latching the zippers closed so he couldn’t get out, but that didn’t stop him from trying. And in trying, he’s started to wear through the mesh next to the zipper.
I patched the worst hole, but there are at least two more holes starting. Unless I can come up with a way to really fix the mesh and not just patch it, his tent needs to be replaced.
Of course, Jake does have the leopard-print tent that he got for his birthday last year, but I kind of want to keep that one in good shape for cat shows, and the leopard print is a little busy for our living room. It was starting to look like I’d need to buy him a new tent, but they’re a little expensive. I’d gotten very lucky – and found some awesome deals – finding the two tents we have on eBay six years apart. I wasn’t sure I could get that lucky a third time.
But I did. At the Seacoast cat show in Concord earlier this month, a navy Sturdi single show shelter was one of the items in the silent auction. I saw a chance to get a new tent for a lot less than full price.
And I actually managed to win it!
I also saw an advantage to setting up a single rather than a double. When Jake eats in his house, he really only uses one side. He eats on the floor and then hangs out on the hammock until we let him out.
So the new tent takes up less floor space and serves the same purpose, but Jake doesn’t feel any less comfortable in there.
There’s another advantage to the single: it has a side door, and the side door is set in only canvas, not mesh. I set the new tent up with the main mesh door facing the wall and only let Jake in and out though that side door. So far, it’s been working really well. He hasn’t tried to push the zipper open yet.
But does Jake like his new fort?
Oh, yeah. I’d say he’s definitely already quite fond of it.
Jacoby still has his urinary tract issues.
Despite eating only UT prescription food, he still gets the occasional flare-up. His most recent attack was last month.
He’s never had a blockage, thank goodness. He only gets an infection which causes spasms. He feels like he has to go but when he does, nothing comes out because his bladder is already empty. But he keeps trying, hopping in and out of both boxes every few minutes. When he does that, it’s time to see the vet again.
He gets prescribed an antibiotic and a painkiller and in a few days he’s back to normal.
There doesn’t seem to be any obvious trigger to these episodes with him. I’ve read that they can be caused by stress or the environment…but as far as I can tell with Jake, it just happens sometimes. It does seem that he’s more likely to have an attack in the spring, though; I’ll keep an eye out to see if that holds true in the future.
I was going through some old photos the other day and realised I’ve never shared these photos of the cats who came before Jacoby, Angel, Kylie and Tessie. Of course, there were many many more than just these whose photos you see below…these are just the only ones that I have in jpeg form. I’m sure my mom has a huge box full of all the photos I took of all the cats we had when I was a kid, along with all their negatives (remember those)? I’m just not sure where they are. I’ve asked her to look for them, though. There’s another pile of photos in storage somewhere in Atlanta…and I’m sure a lot more are just gone.
But in the meantime…
This is me with Baby Puss, my first cat. We had her mother, too, and somewhere there is a photo of me around the age of 2 with a box full of kittens, one of which is Baby Puss. She was named after the Flinstones’ cat, of course. This was taken when I was 7, so Baby Puss must have been 5.
I drew these pictures of Baby Puss when I was 3 years old. The first word I could write was…you guessed it: Cat!
Baby Puss photobombs a picture of my sister, my mom and me in matching dresses. These were made for my aunt’s 25th wedding anniversary party in Edmonton, so I was 6. We also had a solid black tomcat named Bagheera but I think he wasn’t neutered and he wasn’t very friendly. And yes, I’ve pretty much always had the same short haircut.
I made a little book about Baby Puss when I was in Grade One.
Later on, when I was 8, I got my own kitten who I named Crystal. She was all black, too. This is a drawing I did of her with my parents. Interestingly, they got divorced about a year later. I wonder if I sensed it coming and was trying to ward it off with a drawing?
Then there were some cats in between…Morris (red tabby) and Sam (Crystal’s son, a solid blue), Rossi (a part Abyssinian who looked like a silver Egyptian Mau), Billie and Pezza (both black and white shorthairs) and Shane (another black shorthair who just showed up in our backyard the same day we’d started reading the book in school and he was a dark mysterious stranger who just appeared one day. We never knew how old he was, and he died of Feline Leukaemia). I know there are photos of these cats…I just don’t know where any of them are.
Rossi was an awesome cat whose mother was half Abyssinian. He was leash trained and smart…and he died tragically when he was only 10 months old. He got out of my dad’s house and was hit by a car. I know I have photos of him somehwere, but I can’t seem to locate them. But I also used his name when I drew editorial cartoons when I was in high school, and added him in the corner as a commentator (imitating Pat Oliphant).
One side note…I thought splitting California into two states was a good idea when I was 15 and I still think it’s a good idea…
I did find this one, very overexposed photo of me with Billie (both Billie and Rossi were named after characters on Lou Grant). I was able to fix it up quite a bit in Photoshop…couldn’t do anything about those glasses, that hair, or those legs, though. This would have been late 1980 or early 1981. You can see why I wanted contact lenses so badly.
This is Sgt. Pepper. He followed me home in 1981 when he was a kitten and I was 16.
Pepper was my second cat to walk on a leash (Rossi was the first).
He would also follow me without a leash. One day he was following me (which I didn’t know) and he was hit by a car which then took off when it saw me. It was a summer afternoon and Happy Days was on. I rushed home with him and we took him to the vet – he was remarkably unhurt apart from a broken leg. My mom did not allow indoor cats then but he was allowed to stay inside while he recovered. He slept in my bed, of course. That was the best time ever.
When I went to college, Pepper came along with me and lived indoors finally – but he hated it. He was an outdoor cat at heart.
Which is not to say that he didn’t like his humans.
He was a very social and helpful cat.
You can see Pepper helping my dad here. I don’t know why he had a hammer when he was working on his bicycle…
Despite being a mostly outdoor cat, Pepper was my first CFA show cat to ever get a Best Cat award (which you can see on the side of his cage in this photo). I had shown Billie and Pezza as Household Pets once or twice,but they didn’t like showing and they didn’t do well. Pepper was a natural.
My mom even made me and my sister our own show curtains! My sister showed her boy Paul (McCartney the Second), a brown mackerel tabby.
I also had Lovely Rita, a blue tabby point with white whose mother was a Himalayan that belonged to a friend of mine. She was born in 1982. She was a very pretty cat…but she was not the brightest cat I’ve ever known.
She was super sweet, though. I entered her in a couple of cat shows as a HHP, too. My sister also had a girl cat we called Berry (short for Strawberry Fields), a silver ticked tabby and white girl who looked a bit like an Aby. I can’t find any photos of them, though…but I took a lot of photos of them throughout high school. All of them lived to be 13 or 14; Berry I think was the youngest, passing away at 11.
Next week…Harri the Siamese and his friends, seen here as a kitten in a rare photo of my dad’s Scottish Fold, Oliver Roundhead.
For the longest time, Tessie and Kylie were underweight, so Angel was fed by herself in a different room because she eats faster than they do and, if left in the same room would scarf up their dinners, too.
However, since we’ve moved the dynamic has shifted. Tessie has gained back her weight and is now also eager to eat Kylie’s food as well as her own. So now, Kylie eats in a room by herself and the two “hungry hippos” have to eat together.
Angel was less than thrilled with the new arrangement. She was growing tired of being locked in a room by herself as time went on, but…eating with Tessie wasn’t what she had in mind, either. And we have to feed them both at the same station because we don’t have another bowl-and-mat set and both Tessie and Angel like to take bits of food out of the dish and eat it off the floor, which gets really messy really quickly.
Look at Angel’s body language…when we first started feeding her with Tessie, she didn’t want to get any closer than she absolutely had to!
However, as she becomes more and more used to this new arrangement…
…she’s gradually beginning to relax.
Maybe she’s relaxing a little too much.
At the very least, Angel is starting to see the advantages to dining in public!
Good thing Tessie is adaptable.
There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of difference between a five year old Aby and a fifteen year old Aby except a decade. The passing years don’t take much of a toll on their playfulness…or their goofiness.
I based the Aby drawing in this cartoon on a random photo I found of an Aby named Tiera, who was 17 when the photo of her sleeping was taken. Tiera, sadly, passed away this year, aged 20. I regret that I didn’t discover her til after she died.
(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)
Living next to Fort Point Channel is interesting.
We have a little salt water ecosystem right in our back yard. I’ve seen cormorants, grebes, swans, ducks and herons in the water at one time or another. But the most common waterbird is the Canada goose.
Just try getting a photo without a goose or two in it somewhere!
Jacoby is used to them. He’s been around them since he was a kitten; to him, they’re no different than the trains, trucks and buses. They’re scary and loud, but harmless if you stay out of their way.
Geese can be pretty mean, but the geese along the Harborwalk are fairly tame.
I’ve seen people feeding them bits of sandwiches and chips from their hands.
The only time you really need to be careful is when they have goslings.
But even then, they’re so used to humans that they aren’t too belligerent unless you get too close.
They almost seem proud to show off their babies.
This story, as you may have guessed, hasn’t really got very much to do with Abyssinians or cats. But last week, as I was biking home along the Harborwalk, I saw a pair of geese with a new batch of goslings.
Naturally, I stopped to take some photos of the little babies.
We were on the Harborwalk at the stretch that is entirely fenced along the water, and the geese were walking along the inside of fence.
Some of the babies, however, were walking on the outside of the fence!
And one of them fell off the ledge into the water. Now, this should not have been a big deal: geese, after all can swim. And the baby was completely fine, too, swimming around and peeping up to the rest of his family. But the parents started to freak out and crawl under the fence to get to their missing gosling! Yes…under the fence. And they were too big to squeeze underneath the bottom bar of the metal fence. Of course, you would think they would simply flap their wings and fly over the fence…but it was like they’d forgotten how to fly! They just kept trying to either bash their way though the upright bars of the fence or squeeze underneath.
It was seriously like an old Warner Brothers cartoon, where Daffy Duck is falling off a cliff and smashes into the ground because he forgets he’s a duck. So, I decided to help. I started trying to scare the geese into remembering to fly. I am sure I looked ridiculous, waving my arms around and yelling “Come on, you can fly! Come on, FLY!”
Finally, I managed to get one parent, I believe the father, to fly over….
…like this (this isn’t him).
One baby and parent down, four babies and one parent to go.
I started trying to shoo the babies into the water with their father. One fell into the water by himself, but the next one fell into a crevice between two of the granite stones.
So I had to pick him up! I then held him out over the water and dropped him as softly as I could. He splashed down, unharmed, and swam over to his dad and siblings. And there was just mom and two babies still up on the wrong side of the fence. A couple of other cyclists stopped to see what I was doing and offer help. Another little baby plopped into the water on his own and there was just one left. I managed to catch it and drop it to join the rest. And only the mother goose was left on the seawall with us humans.
She was completely freaked. She could see her family in the water, but despite seeing her husband fly over, she still didn’t remember that she had wings. She kept trying to squeeze underneath the fence. I actually tried to help push her through at one point – she was so upset she let me touch her back! Finally, one of the other bikers came up with a plan: we would corner her and sort of boost her over the fence. That didn’t really work. We got her about halfway up and then she smacked the guy in the chest with her wing and he backed off. But after that, she was even more upset than before, so I just ran at her, yelling and waving my arms. At first, she just ran away from me with her wings out…
…like this (this isn’t her). But then the light seemed to dawn and she took off and finally – finally! – flew over that damn fence.
And at long last, the family was reunited and they swam off into the sunset.
It wasn’t til a few days later that I realised how lucky they were. It was a fairly high tide that afternoon when the first baby fell in, and the baby landed safely in water. But had it been low tide, that baby would have landed on rocks…
…which you can see in this photo of a heron at low tide. You can also see what a long stretch of fence that is – there was no way those geese were going to be able to walk around to the unfenced part!
I’m not going to lie, though…I did think, when I was holding the first gosling, how much fun this whole thing would have been had Jake been with me!
We have a small aquarium that houses two African Dwarf Frogs (Harold & Kumar), one white Mystery Snail, and three Zebra Danios.
Of course, all of these creatures live in water.
Jacoby loves to watch them swim around. It’s especially interesting when I’ve just fed them.
We’ve always had an aquarium of some sort, with frogs and/or fish, as long as Jake has been alive.
“Show me the kitten at seven months, and I’ll give you the cat.”
As is common at every convention-type event I’ve ever been to, there were a lot of goodies handed out at the AARP Life @50+ event that Jacoby and I went to last week.
One of these was a set of flashing tentacle head boppers, given out by our hosts United Healthcare at their booth.
You may recall that we had a previous encounter with one of these back around Halloween 2012.
You can see a United Healthcare human sporting a set of the same tentacle boppers in the background.
Jake had a harder time keeping his on his head than she did, however.
As always, Jake finally managed to keep it balanced.
Bystanders were very impressed that he would keep the head bopper on!
We, of course, know better. Jake can wear a lot more impressive things than a mere headdress!
And in case you’re wondering, it was actually lit up and flashing. You just can’t see it in these photos because of the lighting in the hall.
Last Thursday, Jacoby and I were invited to participate in the United Healthcare booth at the AARP 2014 Life@50 National Event in Boston. It was held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, only a mile and half from where we live!
It was a nice day so we walked over to the convention center, where we met up with our host from United Healthcare, Christine, and another PetPartners therapy team, Lee Ann and Sophie.
Sophie, a King Charles Spaniel, is deaf. She was excited to meet the famous Strollercat, though.
The other therapy teams were Deb and Boo, a Shitzu, and Nikki and Ralphie, an Abyssinian guinea pig. The convention center is HUGE (it’s the largest in New England), and we had to walk a good way to get to the area the event was actually being held.
Good thing we have a stroller!
Like I said, the hall is huge, but we’ve been to big convention halls before. Jake was eager to explore…
But I made him stay in his stroller.
“Aw, geez Mom…”
I got a United Healthcare shirt to wear, so I took this selfie of Jake and I. We participated in a panel about therapy animals, sitting on the stage at a table while there was a slideshow presentation. I don’t have photos of that yet, but I should hopefully be getting some that I can share later.
After the presentation, we hung out at the United Healthcare booth. There were several different stations in the booth, which was quite large. There was a Boston photo booth, so Jake and I posed for this…it needed a little Photoshop touch-up because the flash lit up Jake’s eyes (and yeah, while I was in there, I might have added a little lens flare).
Another part of the booth was set up for visitors to create cheerful cards to send to children in hospitals.
This is the one Jake and I drew.
The inside says “Sending you sunshine.”
Yet another section had a whiteboard for people to write their “What’s Next” moment.
I cannot pass a whiteboard without doodling a cat on it, so I drew this…
We also met Ralphie the Abyssinian guinea pig, of course!
Ralphie and Nikki visit at the Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller Center too, but we haven’t run into each other there, yet.
Jake and Ralphie sat next to each other on the table at the panel. Despite being at different ends of the food chain, they seemed to have no instinctual problems with each other.
I know it may not seem that way in these photos, but…
…the BEST photo turned out blurry. I saved it by turning it into “art.”
Abyssinian guinea pigs are “Abyssnian” because of their hair, not their colour. It has whorls and sticks up in odd places. They can be any colour that regular guinea pigs are, but Ralphie just happens to be whatever the guinea pig equivalent of ruddy is. I wonder what an Aby cat would look like with Aby guinea pig fur?
After our duties at the United Healthcare booth were fulfilled, we were allowed to explore the rest of the event.
There was a lot to see!
We even met the Geico gecko!
We stayed until 6pm, when the event closed for the day. We’d been there since 1:30, so it was a pretty long day for Jake.
Despite that, he was still perky and cheerful.
It was a great event and we had a wonderful time. I’m so glad that Jake and I were able to be a part of it all!
There’s a thing you notice when you look at a lot of photos of Abys: they smile. A lot. We call it the “Aby smile” and you see it all the time. Take, for example, this random Aby kitten I found on the internet:
See? He’s definitely smiling! Just something about Abys’ faces is very smiley. Which is not true of all breeds…
And, honestly…how can I do a cat blog and draw cartoons and not make at least one Grumpy Cat joke?
(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)
When I leave my laptop open, it’s usually Angel who likes to sit on it. I was very surprised to discover Jacoby comfortably ensconced on my computer the other day. That’s just not like him. Sure, it’s warm, but it’s not that warm, and he usually prefers a cushier seat. He wasn’t at all interested in moving off of it, either. I don’t know what he did, but he made all the desktop icons enormous. He seemed almost proud of himself. It took me a while to get them back to their normal size once I shifted Jake off. “Whattaya mean, I have to move so you can write a post about this?”