Aby-a-Day – 15 April: A post I never thought I’d be making this soon (Serious Sunday)

Logan joined StarClan yesterday around 17:20 in Jönköping. Alfred and I were with him at the end. He was killed by FIP, ten years after my first Abyssinian, Gun-Hee, was murdered by the same virus. Ten years of research, and we still lose our cats to this horrible disease.

I have a lot to process (and not just photos)…but I will tell the whole story over the next few days. But to summarise, after the judge at the Winners Show said she thought Logan was thin, I weighed him as soon as we got home. And yes, Logan had lost weight since the last time he’d been weighed (I weigh all the cats every other week, when I clip claws), so I took him to our vet here in Skövde. I called on Tuesday, and the first appointment we could get was on Friday. They ran blood tests, but we didn’t get any results until very late Monday night, and the rest of the results came in Tuesday afternoon. They said he needed to go to the nearest big animal hospital, which is in Jönköping, an hour train ride from Skövde. So on Wednesday, Logan was admitted for more tests, feeding and hydration, and a possible biopsy. For a while, we thought it might not be FIP, since he had enlarged lymph nodes and anemia, and didn’t show the classic signs of FIP, like the swollen belly that Gun-Hee had. But on Friday the 13th, after they opened his abdomen up to surgically biopsy his mesenteric lymph nodes, they found the tell-tale fluid in his abdomen. It was a gelly rather than free fluid, which is why is wasn’t so obviously FIP.

freddylogangoodbyeIMG_2971

So on Saturday, Freddy and I took the train to Jönköping to say goodbye to our friend. The vet tech (whose name I sadly did not get) brought him into the room and Freddy went right over to him.

logangoodbyeIMG_2978

Then I got to hold him. I wore my Porg shirt because they always remind me of Logan.

freddylogangoodbyeIMG_2981

He didn’t like being held on his back, so I turned him over and Freddy was back to check on him.

freddylogangoodbyeIMG_2995

Freddy went back into the carrier, and the sweetest thing happened. Logan started squirming in my hands. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but the tech exclaimed, “Oh! He wants to go into the carrier with Freddy!” And he did. I made a short video of the two of them (click the above image to view); Freddy hissed a little at Logan’s funny smell, but they cuddled together like they always have.

freddylogangoodbyeIMG_3023

Up until that moment, I thought I brought Freddy to say goodbye to help Freddy deal with the loss of his Brother From Another Mother. But bringing Freddy was as much – if not more – for Logan.

purringIMG_3022

Turn up the volume…Logan was so happy to see Freddy and me he was purring! (Click image to play.) The tech was called away for an emergency, so we had a little more time together. Logan was so tired, though.

freddylogangoodbyeIMG_3030

Finally, the tech returned and the sedation and final injection process began. We stayed with him until they confirmed he was really gone.

My heart has joined The Thousand, for my friend has stopped running today.

Goodbye, my little dollbaby. May StarClan light your path. May you find good hunting, swift running, and shelter when you sleep. There will soon be a new star in the night sky.

SE*Melur Vide “Logan” – 9 March 2017-14 April 2018

Aby-a-Day – 18 February: Up to scratch (Serious Sunday)

Claws are serious business. Even if they are clipped.

scratchOctIMG_0573

I clip claws and do other grooming on all five cats every other week, usually on Sunday. Back in October after I clipped Angel’s claws, she rolled off my lap awkwardly and scratched my leg. It was an accident – she tried to grab onto something when she fell off my lap and my leg was within reach. When clipping claws and doing their general grooming (ears, teeeth, bum, etc.), I tend to wear shorts. This photo was taken a week after Angel scratched me.

scratchFebC01298

And this is the scratch today, just over four months later. It didn’t get infected or anything, but four months later, I still have these very clear scratch marks on my leg. And these were made by clipped claws. So keep that in mind when taking care of your cats. Even when clipped, claws are serious business.

Aby-a-Day – August 30: Would you like chips with that?

Bringing a domestic cat (or dog or ferret) into Sweden as a permanent resident seems to be a lot easier than importing a human. At least some things about this will be easy!

angelvetC02301

The regulations are intended to prevent the spread of rabies in Sweden, but the rules are acutally set by the European Union. Dogs, cats and ferrets that travel within the EU must be identity marked with a microchip and vaccinated against rabies.

jakerabiesvetC02268

Well, since Massachusetts also requires cats and dogs to be vaccinated against rabies, that’s not a problem.

jakemicrochipvetC02288

The microchip was a bit more problematic. The EU requires a 15-digit ISO microchip. Angel’s was already the correct type, but Jacoby had a domestic, 9-digit chip. Not only that, but his chip had migrated to the front of one shoulder, where his collarbone would be if he had one.

jakemicrochipvetC02283

So Jake had to have a new microchip implanted.

microchipC02291

In case you’ve never seen an actual microchip, this is what it looks like. And it’s tiny – literally the size of a grain of basmati rice.

jakerabiesvetC02265

jakerabiesvetC02264

Both Jake and Angel also needed to get their blood drawn to test their rabies titres. This is the level of rabies antibodies present in their systems. Because I keep them up to date on their shots, they’re both fine and can go to Sweden at any time.

jakeangelvetC02297

I wish it were that easy for humans. I mean, I have had my rabies shots, too!

Beware of Caracats!

A few weeks ago, there was a post on the Facebook Abyssinian Cat Club about Caracats. Caracats are a hybrid of Abyssinians and Caracals. My friend TJ Banks, inspired by this post, wrote an article about Caracats for Pets Adviser. Well, now it’s my turn.

I’m against wild/domestic hybrids in general (all species, not just cats) because they tend to dilute the wild species. Granted, this does happen naturally, but Scottish wildcats and American red wolves are almost extinct as distinct species and part of the reason is because of hybridisation. In the Scottish wildcats’ case, it’s interbreeding with domestic cats and in the red wolves’ case it’s interbreeding with coyotes…although an argument can be made that this can also be blamed on human intervention which enabled the coyotes to expand their range into the red wolves’ natural territory. Even when it happens naturally, hybridisation it is bad news for wild species. Messybeast has an in-depth article about wildcat-domestic cat hybrids that is well worth reading.

Another problem is that lot of cat rescues aren’t equipped to handle the early (F1 & F2) wild/domestic hybrids because they’re so wild…but the wildcat sanctuaries won’t take them, either, because they’re not wild cats. It’s a bit like the old fable about the bat, the birds, and the beasts – the hybrids are neither one thing nor the other. So where do they go? Well, a lot of times, they’re put to sleep. Or, they’re “set free” in the wild – which causes problems to the ecosystem. Also, if you read this article…the infertile Caracat male “in-between generations” kittens were being sold as DECLAWED pets. Which tells me that they are too wild to be allowed to go as clawed pets…and declawing is a whole other issue I don’t want to get started on!

Big Cat Rescue has a good article on the subject as well, and it excellently makes an important point: “So many breeders claim that they only breed 4th and 5th generations, but don’t seem to get the fact that you can’t get a 4th generation without a lot of suffering in the first three.” The early generations are, basically, wild cats. Not at lot of the domesticated traits exist until you get to the fourth generation and beyond.

Which brings me to what I think is the biggest problem about Caracats – their wild origin. Caracals, you see, are big. Really big. You may think your Aby is big when he’s lying all over your laptop or taking over half your bed, but that’s just peanuts compared to Caracals.

This is what one looks like lounging on top of your refrigerator.

And THIS is what a regular domestic cat looks like next to a Caracal. Got it? Caracals are big. While yes, I do see the appeal that owning a part-wild cat would hold, especially one that was more “dog-sized”…It’s just not a good idea.

Obviously, this size difference causes issues in getting the Caracals and the Abys to breed. Female Caracals can weigh up to 35lbs/16kg, and an average male Aby would be too small to properly mate with a female Caracal (Jacoby is considered a “larger” Aby, and he only weighs 10lbs/2kg! Male Caracals, weighing up to 40lbs/18kg could easily accidentally injure or kill the smaller female Aby during mating with the “mating bite” that felines use. What’s happening to all the Abys who don’t survive the mating? Yeah, I don’t want to know, either.

Then, even if the male Caracal and the female Aby manage to conceive, there are still problems. The gestation period for Caracals is 73 days, 10 days longer than the domestic Aby’s 63 days. Even if the Aby carries to term, the kittens are still premature from the Caracal’s perspective. But the kittens need to be premature to be born at all; if they were more developed, they would be too big for the Abyssinian mother to be able to give birth to them naturally. Breeders are putting their mother Abys through a lot of stress when these kittens rarely survive. Also, because of the chromosomal differences, first generation male Caracats are usually sterile; only the female kitten can be used for breeding successive generations.

Savannahs (Serval/Domestic crosses) are actually illegal in Massachusetts, although Bengals (African Wild Cat/Domestic crosses) are allowed. I know a lot of people have Bengals and they’re “hardly wild anymore” but they still aren’t domestic cats, and you can achieve the look of them without a drop of wild blood (take the Ocicat, for example…or the Abyssinian!) so why put the wildcats through it? We’ve got plenty of domestic cats with 12,000+ years of domestication behind them. Lately, CFA has been considering recognising hybrid “breeds” like Bengals and Savannahs. These “breeds” are already accepted in TICA. I really hope CFA sticks to their “domestic cat” origins and NEVER accepts the wild hybrids.

Aby-a-Day – November 16: Assessment

Jacoby and I had our recertification assessment for Pet Partners today. Since he didn’t pass the last time, we didn’t take the train; my husband drove us. We also took the test in a different room that was completely dog-free.

jakeassessmentC00324

Jake did a lot better this time than last time; being in the new room definitely helped.

jakeassessmentC00323

And he was really happy to be back in his stroller. In fact, he was a little too happy to be back in his stroller…and that may actually have been part of the problem.

jakeassessmentC00326

When Jake was doing the parts of the assessment that involved him not being in his stroller (on someone’s lap, being held by me or someone else, or on a table), he hissed and growled. Not at anyone – these were “in general” hisses and growls – and once he was back in his stroller, he would purr and knead his cushions.

jakeassessmentC00335

However, the growling was bad sign, regardless of the reason for it, and he didn’t pass his assessment again. Deb, the person who did his assessment today and who’s done all of his previous assessments, is afraid he might be suffering from therapy burnout. He still obviously loves and enjoys aspects of therapy visits, he doesn’t seem to love all of it, at least when he’s being tested. He’s never growled or hissed on an actual visit, but the concern is that if he does it during the test, he could do it on a visit, and the last thing you want to do is scare a patient. So, for the time being we’re still on a break.

jakeassessmentC00331

We aren’t going to take the test again until March, and if he doesn’t pass then, well…maybe he’ll be a retired therapy cat. We’ll just have to see.

Aby-a-Day – November 2: Urine luck (Serious Sunday)

This week, Jacoby has had another urinary tract infection flare-up.

jakeUTIpeeIMG_5891

It started with him trying to pee in first one litter box, then the other…and then the first one again. Lather, rinse, repeat. So on Thursday morning, while he was trying to pee again, I slipped a little dish under his bum to collect a urine sample. And…it wasn’t yellow, like it’s supposed to be. It was pink. And I’m sure you know what pink urine means: blood. (When you have a cat with UTI issues, it helps to have a very bonded relationship; obviously, I couldn’t collect a urine sample myself from most cats, but Jake doesn’t mind if I do something like put a small takeout container under him while he’s trying to pee!)

jakeUTIvetIMG_5895

So I called my boss to tell him I’d be late, called the vet to tell them we were on our way (they don’t open until 9am on Thursdays), and we were off to see the vet.

jakeUTIvetIMG_5896

They took a better urine sample from him (it was still bloody), and gave him his first dose of a new medication.

jakeUTIvetIMG_5897

Of course, he took it perfectly – Jake’s great at taking pills.

cerenia

The prescription that we were given was for Cerenia, which is mainly used to prevent nausea in dogs and cats, but also has an off-label use as an anti-inflammatory. We’ve never been prescribed this medication before…and I’m not entirely sure it worked. His usual UTI cocktail is Phenoxybenzamine (an antispasmodic which also increases urine flow) and Bruprenex, a pain reliever. After 24 hours on just the Cerenia, it was obvious that he was still in pain…and he was still feeling like he needed to pee when he didn’t. I went back to the vet to get his usual medications…and by the next morning he was back to his old perky self. The Phenoxybenzamine and the Buprenex work that quickly, at least with Jake!

jakeUTIvetIMG_5898

He also got an antibiotic, but that was in the form of an injection rather than pills. He’s had Convenia twice before, the first time to treat his chin acne, and then again the last time he had a UTI in April.

jakeUTIvetIMG_5900

He took that well, too. And by today, Sunday, he’s back to normal – he not finished with his medicine yet, but he’s chasing Angel, knocking stuff over, and climbing up to the top wall shelf. If he was a kid, he’d be going back to school tomorrow.

UTIs, crystals and blockages are serious business. Jake’s never had a blockage, but he does have crystals, and he eats only prescription UT canned and dry food – and mostly the former. He is also the reason we have a drinking fountain for the cats. If you notice the warning signs (trying to pee over and over again and/or peeing in the wrong place when the cat NEVER pees outside the box), do not hesitate. Drop what you’re doing and go to your vet. Not to scare you, but an Aby breeder friend of mine lost a healthy young stud male to a blockage. She had been away, and the pet sitter didn’t know the signs. He looked like he was just asleep when she found him…but he was dead. She had an autopsy done, and he had a urinary blockage. He was only about two years old.

One thing that I am considering getting is Perfect Litter. It changes colour when your cat has a UTI, so you have another warning sign to look for. And as luck would have it, right now, the company is giving away a month’s supply of litter just for the cost of shipping ($4.99) – and they give you a $5 coupon good on your next purchase. Hauspanther posted about this on Thursday, the same day Jake went to the vet – talk about perfect timing!

Abys in Need – A tragedy in Russia

This is a really sad story of an Aby and Somali breeder in Russia.

“The house of Olga Kravchenko has burned, she breeds Somali and Abyssinian cats in Russia, some cats didn’t survive… we try to help her & her cats… Every little money is more than welcome.”

“June 12, 2014, the son of Olga woke up in the burning house, Olga was awakened by the explosion of the window of his room, they miraculously survived but lost everything and some cats didn’t survive. (The) cats (are living) in the wild, they are burned, injured …They need a new home, veterinary care and food.”

There is a fundraiser to help Olga, her son, and their cats on YouCaring.Com, and every little bit helps. There is a modest €2,000 goal.

I don’t know what caused the fire, but it looks like they lost everything. Luckily, it seems a lot of the cats have stayed close to home.