Aby-a-Day – 10 June: Bus stops, bus goes (Swedish Sunday)

Alfred arrived at our home and was almost immediately whisked off to the vet for his first visit.

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I mean, it was three days after we brought him home. We had to take the big cats in for their annuals, and we brought him along for an introduction and quick once-over.

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It was also Freddy’s first experience with a bus stop.

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“How long is it gonna taaaaaaakke? We’ve been waiting aaaaaages!”

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OMG YAY! It’s finally coming!

Aby-a-Day – 27 May: Typical Swedish breakfast (Swedish Sunday)

Swedes love kaviar in a tube. A paste of salted cod roe (Gadus morhua), sugar, canola oil and spices, the most famous brand is Kalle’s Kaviar, but Björn just buys the ICA brand kaviar; it tastes the same and costs less. It’s the standard condiment for hard boiled eggs.

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On her first morning with us, Lorelai investigated this fishy delight. She just needs to learn which end it comes out from.

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There you go, Rory! You’re getting warmer!

Aby-a-Day – 20 May: Jakedaw (Swedish Sunday)

Well, this was not the weekend we were expecting to have, and these are not the posts I was expecting to write, but we managed to turn things around pretty well. We went down and had a beer in the lobby and fell asleep later than we would have done last night, because there wasn’t any reason to get up early in the morning. We had breakfast, packed leisurely, and left Alsingsås around noon. We took the scenic route home and stopped at a couple of rummage sales in the countryside. Jacoby seemed to enjoy his weekend away from the kittens. When we got home, I let Jake out on his leash while we unloaded the car and schlepped things back up to the apartment.

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While I was inside, Björn managed to snap these two shots of Jake and a jackdaw eyeing each other. Jackdaws are corvids between a crow and a magpie in size, and they are everywhere.

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Jackdaws love to hang around outside cafés and eating areas in summer and they are fearless in the face of food. This one came to sit at one of the chairs at our table.

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He certainly wasn’t afraid of humans!

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Jackdays are known for stealing food off tables and bussing stations and I have even seen them go inside garbage cans to grab a tasty snack. Is it any surprise that Björn and I call them JAKEdaws?

Aby-a-Day -18 March: “If you gaze long into an Abyssinian, the Abyssinian also gazes into you” (Swedish Sunday)

This is another post written by my husband, Björn. While Björn has had cats most of his life, he never lived with Abyssinians before…

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Before Jake and Angel moved in, the most active cat I had lived with was Olivia (1999-2010), the small tortie shorthaired Norwegian Forest cat mix. She was pretty talkative and active, annoying and fun (usually at the same time). Still, she was nothing compared to cats like Jake, Angel, Alfred and Logan.

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Other cats I had met, like those of friends, were pretty sedate, just like my own old cat, Pyret. Some hid under the sofa and refused to come out when I was visiting, others were just furry couch potatoes. I had met Jake and Angel in Boston in 2015, and had seen their antics during our FaceTime sessions before Koshka moved here. I thought I was prepared…

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18 June 2016. Two cats are let out of their travel cage and explore their new surroundings. Soon I’ll learn what it means to live with Abys. While Angel is more like a regular cat as long as there’s no meat involved, my old Pyret was the opposite to Jake.

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Active, attention-seeking and affectionate (usually), the claim that Abys are the most dog-like of cat breeds is proven true.

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Did I say dog-like? Abys aren’t really like dogs, at least not at the dinner table. Dogs are usually well behaved and just sit there, with sad puppy eyes and whining, hoping for a scrap. Abys, on the other hand… Or paw.

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Living up to the epithet “grabby Aby”. Any plate within the reach of an Aby is fair game, and that reach is considerable. Turn your head for a couple of seconds, and that piece of chicken is gone. Don’t think that just because you’ve stuck your fork in the meat that it is safe.

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The Aby looks at it and says: “Is that meat you have on your fork? Mind if I insert my head between your hand and mouth and take it?”

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It was rubbing off on my old cat, too. OK, she always had a thing for shrimp off my pizza, but she began to join the other four-legged (or rather two-armed) pests when we had a meal.

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She wasn't as aggressive as the Abys, though. The young boys – at least Freddy – have adopted the bad habits of their elders, but that was just a matter of time…

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Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Living with Abys and a Singapura is a whole new experience, and I would never consider one of those decorative but passive breeds that might score first prizes at shows, but which are about as fun as a plushie. With Jake, Angel, Freddy and Logan around, there’s almost always something happening.

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Contrary to what uneducated people think, cats have personalities, and with their intelligence and activity, I would say that Abys are among the most personable of all breeds. That helps now, when my Pyret passed away two weeks ago. To have the other cats around have made the loss a little bit less painful. A home without a cat isn’t a real home.

Aby-a-Day – 11 March: Birthdays, party of three (Swedish Sunday)

The beginning of March is a big deal chez Hellqvist. Not only is it the anniversary of Björn writing the letter to me that started all this Swedish stuff, it is also Kalle’s, Logan’s and Björn’s birthdays.

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All in a row like that, too. Kalle’s is the 7th, Logan’s is the 9th, and Björn’s is the 10th. In fact, Logan’s birthday is one of the “signs” that lead us to getting him.

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Usually, Björn makes a fabulous cake, but then, we usually have a big party with all the family over for dinner. Since we had a quiet birthday weekend at home this year, Björn bought a ready-made prinsesstårta instead.

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After the candles were blown out, Logan wandered into the kitchen, so I snapped some photos of all the birthday boys.

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Logan was interested in the cake…but Singapuras aren’t as food-obsessed as Abys are.

Sidenote…Ha! I just noticed that prinsesstårtor are the same colour as our boiling kettle!

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When it was time to cut the cake…guess who came in to co-opt Logan’s share?
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And yes, you know Jacoby, the baked-goods-lover, actually ate some of the cake!

Aby-a-Day – 4 March: Pyret party (Swedish Sunday)

This is the first of (hopefully) many guest posts written by my husband, Björn. In his first post, which was originally written before Pyret died, and revised after she left us on Friday, Björn describes his experience of going from having one elderly cat to living with two active adult Abys and two kittens.

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With the passing of Pyret two days ago, I’ve rewritten this piece. My cat is dead. This is who she was, and how she was affected by the four- and two-legged people in her life.

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While having a horde of Abyssinians (well, two) descending on you is an experience in itself, it didn’t come quite as a surprise. Not so for my old cat, Pyret. She was an old dame, born in a stable on a farm in 1999, and used to having the run of the house since my other cat, the black tortie Olivia, passed away in 2010. “Pyret” translates as “the little mite,” as she was really tiny when we got her.

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Pyret was “my” cat ever since my ex and I got her as a kitten. She liked to be in the bathroom when I enjoyed a soak.

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Pyret’s background affected her dealings with other cats. When she was a kitten, she and the rest of the litter was orphaned when they were just five weeks old. My then partner got her a friend (Olivia) a few months later, but they didn’t really bond. Still, Olivia taught Pyret how to cat, like using the litter box and cleaning herself.

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Olivia as a kitten, about six months old. She was a talkative and rather smart cat, annoying and amusing at the same time.

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Pyret sure was a pretty cat, though, even when age and failing health made her lose weight. Pyret was gentle, and except for a couple unlucky birds and the unfortunate incident with Koshka’s finger, she never hurt anyone. The photo above is from 1 April, 2000, when Koshka visited us.

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She took the photo, never expecting that she one day would become Pyret’s mom.

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Pyret and Olivia got a new room-mate in 2003, when my son Kalle was born. When we came back from the hospital with our baby, the cats met us at the front door. Kalle cried a little, and Olivia vanished, hiding for a couple of hours, while Pyret showed some interest in the new arrival. Kalle has always had cats around him, and Pyret was like his older sister.

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Scruffy, but otherwise in good shape for her age. Her last weeks in life saw her lose weight, and it was heartbreaking to see her waste away.

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When she became the sole cat again, she didn’t show any signs of missing company; she was “my” cat, and appeared happy with sleeping and eating and not much more. Her life was uneventful for six years, with not even a visit to the vet.

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18 June, 2016. Two cats were let out of their travel cage and began to explore their new surroundings. Pretty soon Pyret and I learned what it meant to live with Abys. While Angel is more like a regular cat as long as there’s no meat (or corn) involved, Jake was the opposite to my old Pyret. There was plenty of hissing and growling; Pyret wasn’t too happy about getting her territory invaded, but with a large apartment (five rooms and kitchen, 120 sq.m./1290 sq.ft.), they didn’t have to share the same space if they didn’t want to. She kind of accepted them after a while, but kept to herself most of the time.

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Then, on 6 June 2017 and again five days later, on the 11th: Kittens! Alfred and Logan arrived on the scene. This time, the period of hissing was much shorter. She didn't bond with them, either (although Logan tried very hard to befriend her), but she didn't mind their presence. They mostly left her alone in her favorite spot in a chair next to my computer desk. We were together since the first weeks of her life until the last day of her long life, and I never had a pet this long. While she was far less active than the LunaTicks, she had always been around, and for a long time she was healthier than one would have expected from a cat her age. I counted every year past her 15th as a bonus, but all good things must come to an end. She died at home, surrounded by familiar things. When she had brief spells of cramps, we comforted her. We hope it was a better choice than a trip to the vet and a needle in an unfamiliar room. The other cats appear to understand that she was ill and that she’s gone now, and not just disappeared.

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Having the other cats around will hopefully soften the blow, but to me, Pyret will always be #1. Her spot next to my desk is so empty now, and I mourn her. She was like all of us made of stardust, and she was a tiny piece of the universe that experienced itself in the shape of a cat for the 18½ years she graced this world.

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When she died, a friend wrote this:

“Att somna från alla sina liv. Tassa rakt in i evigheten. Bo i hjärtan. Spinna i minnet.”

Translation: “To leave all lives in the sleep. Pad straight into eternity. Live in hearts. Purr in memory.”

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Björn’s early photos of Pyret and Olivia can be found here (ignore the broken thumbnails – they still lead to the photos).

Aby-a-Day – 25 February: Five cats doesn’t always feel like a lot (Swedish Sunday)

When I say I live with five cats, people are usually shocked and incredulous. “How can you live with five cats!? Don’t you feel claustrophic, with that many cats in an apartment?

Short answer, no, no we don’t. Firstly, one cat is 18 years old and not very active. Plus, it’s a big apartment, with an extra room in summer when we can open up the balcony.

But we have moments where we look around and ask, “Where the hell are all the cats? We have five cats…why can we not find any?

Well…we have Jacoby on the sofa next to Björn.

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Then, going round the room anti-clockwise, we have…Logan in the little brown house-bed…

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Grande dame Pyret asleep on her chair…

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Angel in the house at the top of “her” cat tree…

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And Alfred in the bed our friend Sanna-Leena sent Jake, on Harri’s old cat tree.

All of them, sound asleep. Except for feeding time, five cats are no more trouble than three or four. Trust me, I have had three cats, four cats, and (now) five cats…it just isn’t that much more work or trouble.