Aby-a-Day – 11 April: A sad anniversary and an update (Serious Sunday)

I haven’t posted since Thursday, because…Björn and I have been sick. Björn is actually in the hospital with Covid, and I have a wicked cough but no fever yet. It’s also the second anniversary of Jacoby’s death, so with all that going on I haven’t felt very inspired. Kalle and I will get tested for Covid on Tuesday, and hopefully Björn will be home soon. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Aby-a-Day – 31 Januari: A sad day for the Singapura world (Serious Sunday)

This is really hard to write. I just found out this morning that my friend Pat died suddenly yesterday. Apparently, she’d had a bad fall a couple of days ago…and, something happened. Our friend Linda posted the announcement to the Singapura Facebook group we were all in.

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Björn and I only met her in person, when we carried Logan’s mother, Naina, from Boston to Sweden after our wedding. I wish I had met her sooner; she lived in Cambridge and we could have hung out. But we were good friends online, and we had much in common besides cats. Last month, I sent her a copy of Hamilton, because she didn’t have Disney+, and I included a Trump catnip toy, which she loved. We were just chatting a week or so ago.

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If it hadn’t been for Linda, Pat and Naina, I don’t I would ever have gotten a Singapura. I will miss her. My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend has stopped running today.

Aby-a-Day – 14 & 15 November 2020: Learning curve (Serious Saturday and Sunday)

Okay, so the new laptop arrived on Friday. I spent the rest of the day and part of yesterday transferring data from the old MacBook Pro to the new one.

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Problem is, I had to upgrade the system. I don’t have a choice; there’s a Magic Keyboard that I don’t think will work with the older software. However, I must say, the thing is wicked cool. The functions you have change depending on which application you’re using. In Facebook, you get predictive text like on the iPhone. Listening to music on iTunes, you have the play, pause and skip functions. And in photo apps, you get controls for whatever you’re doing.

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Also, no need for passwords; there’s a Touch ID button so you can log into everything with your index finger.

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However…I am absolutely bereft without Photoshop. I did everything I could find to work around it…to no avail. I have been using Photoshop since…1997, I think. I can do everything so reflexively…Why, Adobe, why?!

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Well, I absolutely do NOT want to pay $20.99 a month for a subscription. So I’ve been investigating other apps that have very high ratings. I’ve downloaded a couple of trial apps. The first one I tried was Acorn. It is highly rated, especially for Macs, and it’s only $29.99. It’s pretty nice…but I couldn’t figure out how to do simple tone, colour and contrast corrections (the things that are so easy to do in Photoshop). I’ll go back later and play with it. The other one I am trying is Affinity Photo, which is a LOT easier to figure out. It’s much more similar to Photoshop, and it can open .psd files. I can also import all my special brushes into both Acorn and Affinity, which is awesome. It’s $49.99…but it seems worth it (and, okay, it’s a lot less expensive than Photoshop was).

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As a bonus, in learning about these two apps (and another one, Affinity Designer, which looks interesting), I discovered I can also import my brushes into Procreate. That means no more having to finish drawings in Photoshop…I may just be able to do everything on the iPad now.

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Still, I really want Photoshop back. I have a lot of work and research to do in the next ten days.

Aby-a-Day – 8 November 2020: Technical difficulties (Serious Sunday)

I have been trying so hard to keep this blog going, and make sure to post everyday. An I will still do my best. But Friday, I noticed my 2015 MacBook Pro was…broken.

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Like, really broken. I suspect that it is a battery issue, but my machine isn’t eligible for replacement. I think it’s probably because it was already replaced, in March 2016.

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I have been staying off it as much as possible since I noticed it, but I think it’s worse. This is how it looks today.

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Pretty bad, right? I have been keeping it turned off – and unplugged – unless I absolutely need to be on it.

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I have already ordered a replacement, I wasn’t really ready to get a new laptop right now…but it was five years old, and it was going to happen sooner rather than later, so…yeah. It is what it is. I will need to find a workaround so I can still use Photoshop, because the updated iOS (Catalina) doesn’t support it. But there are ways to make it work.

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…but in the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep posting on my phone and iPad until the new one arrives. Which I hope is soon.

Aby-a-Day – 14 Juli: “I’d seriously contemplated a real collar” (Serious Sunday)

The other day, I noticed Lorelai had lost her collar somewhere in the apartment.

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This happens from time to time…the collars I have been using for almost ten years, made by Etsy seller Hi Tide Creations, are wonderful, light and…just one piece.

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Most people would recommend against a non-breakaway collar for a cat, but I have always had collars on my cats. The Tag Collars are the best because they are lightweight…and escapable.

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I finally found Rory’s collar…caught in the cat-proof netting on our balcony. And that’s why these collars are so wonderful. Rory got her collar caught in something, but she was able to get out of it. Collars don’t need to be breakaway…they just need to be escapable in case of emergency.

Aby-a-Day – 30 December: The cat burglar (Serious Sunday)

As I have mentioned before, Alfred is an evil genius. He is also incredibly food-oriented.

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And by “incredibly,” I mean he has figured out how to open the cabinet where the cat food is kept…

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…to the point that we started finding this on an all-too-frequent basis.

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He has different methods for eating the food out of the wet packets…

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…and the dry ones.

The latch on the cabinet was a bit weak, but it had never been a problem before. Now, this is a problem, clearly…so we replaced it with a 4kg magnetic cabinet latch. You would think that would work.

And it did. For a while. Then we had to jam this rubber cat’s paw doorstop.

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Which helped. Until it didn’t.

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The problem is, he’s too stealthy for us to catch in the act. And he’s quiet. By the time we happen to go in the kitchen, he’s finished his share, and only the others are left eating.

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Of course, we know it isn’t Angel or Jacoby opening the cabinet. If it was, it wouldn’t have been a problem two years ago, not just within the past two months! Nice frame-job attempt, Freddy.

Aby-a-Day – 11 November: On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month…(Serious Sunday)

Today is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of the Great War To End All Wars. As I recalled a few years ago, this holiday is observed somewhat differently in Canada than it is in the United States.

Apparently, the 100th anniversary observance of this occasion is handled VERY differently by Canada and the US, as evidenced by the two countries’ respective leaders. I’ve never been prouder to hold Canadian citizenship.

Aby-a-Day- 28 October: Here we go again…(Series-us Sunday)

And we’re here again. Up 3-1 after two epic games in Los Angeles. Tonight could be the night, but if not, we go back to Fenway where we will win at home. Just as we did five years ago, we all put on our Red Sox gear to cheer the Sox on. I posed everyone with BallGuy™, my Red Sox mascot I got in 2004, and who went to the “Who’s your daddy game at Yankee Stadium.

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When I got the kitty Red Sox things out and dressed Jacoby, he was all, “Oh, this again? Right, okay.”

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“Just put me where you want me, and tell me where to look. I got this.”

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He is so awesome. I won’t ever have a cat quite like him.

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Jersey, socks, hat…no prob.

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Alfred…not so much.

You may remember that Alfred doesn’t like wearing clothes, even if they keep him warm.

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You think the jacket is bad? Freddy absolutely hated the hat.

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The fact that I got him to pose at all is a miracle.

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Lorelai, on the other hand, was fine with wearing a shirt.

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The hat, however…

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…not so much.

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I think she looks intent on getting an errant foul ball, though.

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The Red Sox fleece jacket was the best I could manage with Angel.

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Still, she posed well with BallGuy.

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Then we have Izaak.

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He didn’t mind the T-shirt, but he hated the hat.

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I managed to get a few shots before he got rid of it.

GO RED SOX! BEAT LA!

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 jelly rather than free fluid, which is why is wasn’t so obviously FIP.

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So on Saturday, Freddy and I took the train to Jönköping to say goodbye to our friend. Phillippa the vet tech brought him into the room and Freddy went right over to him.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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So Jake had to have a new microchip implanted.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

Aby-a-Day – April 27: Ears the thing…

Sometime in the past year or so, I’ve noticed Jacoby has these spots on his ears.

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I’m not sure when they first appeared; just one day I noticed they were there. And they’re only on his ears, no where else on his body. Just the ears.

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Jake does have a chronic yeast infection issue inside his ears which crops up every few months and is treated with Tresaderm, but this doesn’t seem to be related to that.

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I thought it might be, at first, though. I thought they were bald spots, so I thought that perhaps they were caused by him scratching or shaking his ears. But the spots aren’t actually hairless.

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If you look very closely, you can see that the spots do have hair on them. Well, as much hair as the parts of his ears without the spots. They seem to be more depigmented than they are hairless, sort of like reverse freckles. Curious, I did a Google search for bald spots on cats’ ears, and I found this article on The Cat Site about a 4 year old Aby boy with the exact same problem!

Look at this photo of his ears! They look just like Jake’s ears!

Unfortunately, this person hasn’t got any more answers than I have. The best advice I’ve had so far about how to take care of these depigmentation spots?

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A brown eyeliner pencil to cover up the pale spots! This won’t cure it, of course…but I’ll try it next weekend at the cat show.

Aby-a-Day – April 6: Thank you for riding the Commuter Rail…

Jacoby and I went to a CFF show with Meg yesterday in Attleboro. This was a wonderful location for a show because not only does Meg live in Attleboro, but there’s an MBTA commuter rail stop right there, too. Meg takes the train from there every day to get to work. So, we had a simple morning planned: get on the train at South Station at 6:45am, go to Attleboro, meet Meg, grab some breakfast and go to the showhall.

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Nice and simple, right?

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Not so much.

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It started out simply enough. Jake was in his stroller, and we tried to get in the first car, but it was closed so we settled into the “entryway” at the front of the second car. I parked the stroller in the area where people with bicycles typically sit, because we were in a double-decker car with steps to the upper and lower seating areas.

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It was early and Jake is a talkative cat. He was meowing a bit, because he was excited to be going somewhere.

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After a couple of stops, the conductor came up to me and asked, “Is there something wrong with your cat?” I looked at him and said, “No. He’s just talking.”
“Well, people have been complaining about the noise.”

Really? Most of you know what meowing sounds like. It’s not that loud, especially on a moving train…and there were about three people on the train that early on a Saturday. There were two men with bikes sitting in our area, and we had been chatting about bikes and such; they were the closest to Jake and they weren’t disturbed. I think the “complaining” was coming from the conductor himself. But I just looked contrite and said, “I’m sorry…I can’t really stop him, what can I do?”

“You’ll need to move into the first car,” the conductor said. “Okay, that’s awesome,” I said, explaining, “I actually wanted to sit in the front car because it’s where I need to get off, but it was closed.”

The conductor didn’t seem to care. All he said was, “Okay, this will be your exit door, the one on the right.”

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So we settled in to our new seats. It was an uneventful ride, apart from the fact that there were no station announcements, and I had to track where we were using an app on my phone. But that was not a problem and as we approached Attleboro, I closed Jake back up in his stroller, shouldered the show cage bag, and stood in the door the conductor had assigned to me.

And…nothing happened. I waited for him to come and open it. He didn’t. I called for him. Nothing. I even tried to open it myself, which didn’t work. Then, to my dismay, the train started to move!

My first reaction was to call Meg. “You are not going to fricking believe this,” I said. “You’re going to South Attleboro,” she said. “I’m on my way to meet you.”

“Yeah,” I said, “But that’s not all – the conductor didn’t open the door for me! I couldn’t get off!”

As I was talking to her, I was lugging Jake’s stroller and the show cage bag up the steps and through the second car (the show bag kept getting stuck on the seats as the aisle was very narrow), looking for the conductor. I saw him at the other end of the car and called out, “Conductor! I needed to get off at Attleboro! You told me that was my door, but you never came to open it! I missed my stop!”

He looked at me coolly and said, “Oh. I thought you were getting off at Providence” (Providence is the end of the line, and is Zone 8).

“I gave you a Zone 7 ticket. Why would you think I was getting off at Providence?” I growled. (There are only two stops in Zone 7 on the line: Attleboro and South Attleboro. So there was not only no way I was going to Providence, but there weren’t that many options for where I was going).

“If you don’t lower your voice, I’ll have to call the police,” the conductor said. Um, what? I was using my “train voice” in order to be heard over the sound of the train, but I was far from shouting…yet.

“You told me that was my door. It was bad enough the stops weren’t announced, but you told me that you were going to let me out there and you didn’t.” I reiterated. “I had someone waiting to pick me up in Attleboro!”

“Well, you can either get off at the next stop, or you can go to Providence and wait for the train to turn around,” was all he said. No apology, nothing but an “it sucks to be you, huh” attitude.

“No, I can’t – I have to BE somewhere in Attleboro. I had a friend waiting to pick me up! Now she has to drive out of her way to get me in South Attleboro!” Oh, yeah, Meg…she was still on the phone. “Hey,” I said to her, “Yeah the guy thought I was going to Providence, can you believe that?” Meg made a comment and I responded, “YEAH, I KNOW! I gave him a 7 ticket! I have no idea why he thought I was going to Providence…wait, hold on,” I turned back to the conductor. “Which door are you going to open at South Attleboro? I just want to make sure I don’t miss THIS stop!”

“If you don’t stop harassing me, I’m going to call the police,” he said. Seriously? I actually shook my head in disbelief. “You’re going to call the police, for what? I’m not harassing you – you made me move to a different car, you told me what door I was to use to exit, and you made me miss my stop! And I’m harassing you!? What’s your name and badge number?” Now, for the record, I was angry, but calm. And when I get angry, I get very articulate. So I wasn’t swearing or calling him names. I was just trying to get him to at least acknowledge that he’d done something wrong.

“I’m not giving you anything, ma’am. I am calling the police.” Oh, now he’d done it. They HAVE to give you their badge number if you ask them for it. I turned to the phone I still hadn’t hung up. “Hey Meg, he says he’s calling the cops because I am harassing him! Yeah, I know. Oh, and he won’t tell me his name or badge number, either.”

By this time, the train was slowing down at South Attleboro, and those of us who were exiting at that stop were gathered in the vestibule. The conductor left, presumably to call the authorities on me. Not surprisingly, the other passengers had seen what had transpired and were on my side. One woman handed me her business card, telling me that if I needed someone to corroborate my story, she would stand up for me as a witness. Another man was looking out the window, and he said, “I don’t see any cop cars out there. You’re fine.” The train stoped and the conductor reappeared. We got the hell off the train, and as soon as I was on the platform, I turned around, looked the conductor in the eye, and said, “You’re going to get fired.”

Then I turned back to Meg on the phone. “Okay, he was lying. He didn’t call the cops. I’m off the train at South Attleboro.” Meg assured me she was less than 5 minutes away. Luckily, the rain had stopped, but it was still chilly. The more I thought about the situation, the angrier I got: what if I hadn’t had someone to pick me up at a different stop? What if I was going to walk to whatever it was I was going to? I take the same train with Jake to Mansfield, which is two stops before Attleboro, and when I get there I take the hotel shuttle to the Holiday Inn and the show hall – what if I had been going to Mansfield? I’d have been stranded!

So I called the MBTA Customer Concerns Line, and told the woman who was working the story as I’ve told it here. And she told me, basically, that the conductor was dead wrong on every count. We developed a theory that for some reason, he just didn’t like the fact that there was a cat on his 6:45am Saturday morning train. We did nothing to bother him beyond simply riding the train, but he relocated us and then he neglected to let us off the train (or even ask what our stop actually was). Needless to say, I filed a report, and I intend on following it up tomorrow. I also Tweeted this:

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Hey, people follow that #mbta hashtag! And the #strollercat one, too. So you never know. And if you are on the MBTA, keep an eye out for an average-built, 5’8″ Hispanic man in his mid-to-late 30’s who looks a bit like Peter Lorre and has a huge chip on his shoulder. He’s probably the same conductor.

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Luckily, we had plenty of time to get to the show, and we didn’t miss a thing. The remainder of the day was excellent – Jake did well, we got to see Stan, Patty and Buddy (who took Best in an Allbreed ring), and we had a great time. But it sure didn’t start out that way!

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Jake sums our morning trip with one little pink tongue. Yep.

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Thank goodness we had an uneventful and relaxing trip home, with a lovely and polite conductor!

Update: Home Sweet Home for the Abys in Need in NSW, Australia

The Australian Abys are home for good!

Phyll posted an update to the Abyssinian Cat Club on Facebook this weekend. It’s early days, of course, but everything seems promising.

“Well everyone, here they are. OMG, Mr one eye (no definite name yet) is so small, vet thinks they are about 4 years old but he is the size of a 6-8 month old kitten. The fawn is a bit bigger but much more shy. Both very active through night and love the cat tunnel, as we know those things are so quiet when being played in, NOT.”

The new arrivals have, however, set off her other two cats. One is acting out on the other instead of the Abys: “I am having troubles with my older cat, Blueboy who has taken to attacking Baron viscously. Did the dash out yesterday and bought some Feliway and rescue remedy. I still have Bluey isolated from Baron I am expecting a call from a lady today involved in cat rescue and hopefully she can give me some helpful tips to get my old boy back to being his usual loving and smoochy self. He is fine with us just not Baron.”

Hopefully once the Abys are acclimated and meet Bluey and Baron, everything with sort itself out and they’ll all be one big happy family. Good on you, Phyll!

Aby-a-Day – December 8: Achilles (Serious Sunday)

I would like to introduce you to a very special Aby.

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Isn’t he handsome? His name is Achilles.

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Achilles is a therapy cat and visits nursing homes with his human, Gwyneth. But Achilles is not your ordinary therapy cat.

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You see, Achilles has only two and a half legs.

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He’s a perfectly healthy, well bred ruddy Aby who had a slight mishap at birth.

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His umbilical cord was entwined around his back legs so tightly that the circulation was cut off. It was too late to save his feet, so they had to be amputated.

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He was a tiny kitten when all this happened, and he doesn’t seem to mind his disability in the slightest.

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Achilles manages to get around perfectly fine on his two front legs and his stump, which has developed a nice tough callus, as well as any other tripod kitty.

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And oh, what a sweetheart he is! He reminds me a lot of Jacoby, with his calm and his steadfastness. Nothing seems to faze him and he loves people. He was having a great time hanging out in the Galileo’s Organic Catnip Toy vendor’s stall at the Westchester Show.

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I think if any cat deserves a Cat of the Year nomination, it’s Achilles. Maybe next year..?

Aby-a-Day – September 1: First visit at a new hospital

Jacoby and I have just started visiting a new facility: The Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center at Boston Medical.

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Jake was excited to visit a new place.

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But he was also a little reserved. After all, it was unfamiliar territory.

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When we go to Tufts, we’re on the second floor.

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At the Fuller, we visit the fourth, fifth and eighth floors.

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So Jake dealt with any nervousness he had by checking out a different view from a new window.

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Until he met the patients.

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Then he went into therapy cat mode and never looked back.

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It’s so much fun to watch Jake interact with the patients when we go on visits.

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“When’s our next visit, Mom?”