Sparta and Bob Hunt with StarClan

Sad news. Two of the world’s most famous cats have died this week. Sparta the Mean Kitty and Bob the Street Cat have died.

Sparta became famous when his human, Cory (aka Mr. Safety) posted his Mean itty song on YouTube in September 2007. That video, as of today, has had 91,004,261 views!

But on Sunday, 11 June, Sparta apparently had a saddle thrombosis and his back end was paralysed. Sobbing, Cory posted a short video to let Sparta’s fans know what was happening before he rushed to the vet. Sadly, there was nothing that could be done, and he had to be euthanised.

After Sparta was gone, Cory posted his last video on his Mean Kitty channel. He described what had happened, and thanked his followers. Sparta went from Southern California to Alaska to Oklahoma with Cory and his family. Over the span of 13 years, we followed the life of a man and his cat.

Then, today, Hodder & Stoughton and James Bowen announced the death of Bob the cat on 15 June at the age of at least 14 years on their Facebook page.

I’m sure most of you know about Bob from his books and movie. A busker living rough in Covent Garden selling newspapers meets a cat who decided that he wanted to adopt that human.

James Bowen says “Bob saved my life. It’s as simple as that. He gave me so much more than companionship. With him at my side, I found a direction and purpose that I’d been missing. The success we achieved together through our books and films was miraculous. He’s met thousands of people, touched millions of lives. There’s never been a cat like him. And never will again. I feel like the light has gone out in my life. I will never forget him.” And oh, how I understand how he feels…Jacoby wasn’t as famous as Bob…but I feel his light going out in his life sentiment.

2020 can bite my shiny metal ass.

May StarClan light your path, and you find good hunting, swift running, and shelter when you sleep, Sparta and Bob. You will be missed.

Aby-a-Day – 17 Juni 2020: Wordless Wednesday (“Kill no more pigeons than you can eat”)

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Aby-a-Day – 16 Juni 2020: Clan of Cats (Cartoon Tuesday)

When I woke up this morning, I had every intention of working on either my drawing of Kiipi and her kitten, or my drawing of Alfred the Cat Burglar.

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But instead of that, do you know what I did? I played a game

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I downloaded the game Clan of Cats years ago, but I never played it. Until today. For some reason, I randomly decided to give it a spin. And it’s actually a lot of fun. You’re a cat, and you gather your clanmembers, build your home base (apparently these cats use fire and build log forts, but okay), fight creatures to get magic, fight bosses and conquer other clans.

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It could be so much more; you could be able to interact with other players, you could be able to play it on a Mac or a PC, you could be able to really customise your cat…but hey. You can fight alligators in water and kill them with fireballs.

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See all the dead alligators? Good times.

Aby-a-Day – 15 Juni 2020: More Magpies (Movie Monday)

I know I posted about magpies just yesterday, but by sheer coincidence we had another magpie encounter this afternoon.

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Björn and I were outside with the cats, when the magpies started yelling. We looked over, and sure enough, they were yelling at Alfred.

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Freddy noped out, but Izaak was very interested in what was going on up in the branches.

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The magpies yelled at Zak, and Zak yelled right back at them.

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Lorelai, of course, was also interested in the screeching birds.

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She looked like she wanted to go up after them, but she didn’t go any higher in the tree.

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Zak, on the other hand…

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…I think even Rory was impressed with how high Zak was willing to climb.

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Zak is a deceptively good climber.

Here is a video of the entire encounter with the magpies. It’s sometimes hard to see them in the leaves, but you can certainly hear them!

Aby-a-Day – 14 Juni 2020: Lorelai and the Magpie (Swedish Sunday)

One thing I missed whilst living in New England was magpies.

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I grew up in the Northern California valley, the only place on the planet that is home to Yellow-Billed Magpies, and they are my favourite bird. The ones we have in Sweden are the usual Black-Billed sort…but it’s stlll nice to have them around.

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When we go out with the cats, the resident magpies keep a sharp eye on us.

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Mostly. When we went out the other day, this magpie brazenly decided to watch the cats from the ground.

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At first, Lorelai didn’t see the magpie.

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Until she did.

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Rory stalked the magpie for a while.

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And then, oddly, she just stopped. I am not sure why.

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She didn’t chase the magpie, but the magpie didn’t fly away, either. They just sort of looked at each other.

Aby-a-Day – 13 Juni 2020: The Ministry of Silly Runs returns (Silly Sunday)

Cats. Graceful, elegant cats.

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Until you freeze their action in 1/30 of a second.

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Then, as Dashiell demonstrates, they can look a little…well, goofy.

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Izaak, too, has a fairly silly run.

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Lorelai can look like poetry in motion…

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…or, not.

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This is her impression of a dolphin…I think? Or an otter. Something aquatic.

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And then we have Alfred.

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It’s like he was re-enacting his run at that same corner when we had snow on the ground back in March.

Aby-a-Day – 12 Juni 2020: Chris lost his head (Friday Flashback)

Bear with me, here…I am sad and not just a little bit angry. Sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the Christopher Columbus statue in Boston’s Christopher Columbus Park was beheaded. It will now be going into storage for an undefined period of time.

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I have posted about this statue back when I lived in Boston. Politics aside, I have always admired the workmanship on this statue. It never felt like a “white man’s burden” statue to me (unlike so many other racist statues). Made or marble imported from Carrara, an ancient quarry in Tuscany, and erected by the Knights of Columbus, an organization dominated by Italian Americans, the statue (which is in Boston’s North End, the Italian neighbourhood), always seemed to be more about being of Italian descent than about Colonialism.

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We didn’t go to Christopher Columbus Park very often, as there were closer parks along the Harborwalk, but I always liked going there with Jacoby.

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It’s Boston’s oldest waterfront park. I wish we had gone there more often.

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But I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the unconditional trust I had with Jake. I could put him anywhere and he’d pose for a photo.

Aby-a-Day – 11 Juni 2020: Happy 13th birthday, Angel! (Thursday Things)

Despite strong evidence to the contrary, 11 June is the day we celibrate Angel’s birthday, and today she is 13.

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Despite having done this eleven times before, Angel was still a bit wary of the candles.

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She got over it pretty quickly. You know, food…Abys…

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I blew out her candles, but she was still a little skeptical.

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But eventually Angel tucked in.

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Once she started to eat, it was game over.

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And now, she is a woman.

Aby-a-Day – 10 Juni 2020: Wordless Wednesday (Lorelai and the Cycle)

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Aby-a-Day – 9 Juni 2020: Freddy the cat burglar (Cartoon Tuesday)

I had an idea today that I just had to sketch out. I was musing that I draw a lot of cartoons witch feature Lorelai and Izaak (especially Zak), but not so many starring Alfred. And I had a lightbulb go off in my head. I started out with the above sketch and a sneaky walk animation sequence I found online.

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This is my final sketch. Freddy the cat burglar! He’s got keys and a crowbar because his specialty is breaking and entering.

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Because Procreate has a recording feature, and I did all this work on my iPad (unlike some other drawings that go back and forth between Procreate and Photoshop), I also have a video of the drawing developing. Click on the image to watch it in a new tab/window on Flickr.

Aby-a-Day – 8 Juni 2020: Our visit to the vet (Medical Monday)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about our upcoming annual check-up at our veterinarian.

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As always, getting there is half the “fun.” It was particularly difficult because people in Sweden have no sense of distance, so I had to stand most of the ride to avoid getting to close to people.

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I think this was Dashiell’s first time in the stroller. He kept trying to pop through the top.

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The vet is far away, but it’s an easy trip by bus (easy, but long). We just have to change buses downtown.

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Luckily, this time we didn’t have any competition from stupid human strollers.

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Angel was first up. She’s completely healthy, but Dr. Brigitte wants us to have her good eye checked because she thought it looked a little cloudy, more cloudy than usual. I need to remember to make an appointment with the eye specialist for an examination.

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Alfred is also healthy, and I was surprised I didn’t get a lecture on how he needs to lose weight. He got some vaccinations and a prescription for Prednisone to treat his asthma. This is him on the counter…trying to get into the treat jars on the counter (Freddy? Protip: they aren’t in the sharps bin). Lorelai came after Freddy; since there was a social distancing rule (rare for Sweden), only one of us could be in the examination room, so I have no photos of her. She got a vaccine, and we discussed her future kittens.

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Izaak also needed some jabs, and one of them was a new Suprelorin chip.

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Unlike last time, Zak was not very cooperative. We actually had to purrito him.

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When it was all over, we had to wait a bit to check out…and met a curious dog who looked a lot like our neighbour, Bruno.

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When we got home, we were so exhausted and stressed that we all crashed in the bedroom (myself included). Taking five cats to the vet during a pandemic is stressful!

Aby-a-Day – 7 Juni 2020: Another encounter with Markis (Swedish Sunday)

The other day when we went outside, we happened to run into our friend and upstairs neighbour, Markis.

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Lorelai ran up to meet him first.

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Markis was not impressed.

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He insisted on social distancing himself and backed away.

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So of course Izaak felt the need to come barrelling up behind her…

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…and straight past her, right up into Markis’ face.

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Zak may have come up on Markis a little too quickly; there was a tiny little scuffle.

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“SOCIAL DISTANCING! DUDE!”

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Rory came to back Zak up, just in case.

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It wasn’t necessary.

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Markis decided to turn and run into the tall grass to get away from them. Rory could. Not. Resist. “Ooooh, big fluffy cat is running into the grass! Cool!!”

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She lost sight of him momentarily…

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…but then Markis made the mistake of raising his tail.

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And Rory literally flew after him.

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That’s the only word for it: flew.

Aby-a-Day – 6 Juni 2020: Dashiell spreads his wings (Swedish Saturday)

As I have posted before, Dashiell is a bit skittish when it comes to going outside with the other cats.

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But lately, with each outing he goes on, Dash gets a little bit braver and a little more confident. I used to have to catch him and drag him outside.

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But now he actually comes to the door with the others to go out.

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And look! Dash actually ran out to the sandbox first, and Lorelai and Izaak followed him there.

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I was so proud of him.

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He does still tend to stick to the sides of the building and the trees, though.

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Unlike the others (except Angel), he’s not gotten quite the confidence to be out in the open and run out in the middle of the yard or down the hill.

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Many cats who don’t go outside often are afraid to be in the open without any cover. The first time Kylie went out, she was afraid that there was no ceiling. It’s an instinct that I believe comes from a fear of hawks and eagles (at least it is in the Warriors books).

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It’s nice to see Dash enjoying being outside.

Aby-a-Day – 5 Juni 2020: Has it been four years already? (Friday Flashback)

As you probably remember, four years ago this month, Jacoby, Angel and I moved to Sweden.

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The movers came on 31 May. Angel was remarkably chill.

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The movers coming in and packing everything up didn’t faze her one bit.

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Jake, of course, was very helpful.

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Tessie wanted to keep the scratching posts.

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But mostly, the Abys just napped whilst the movers worked.

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I was quite impressed watching the movers watching the movers wrap up the big cat tree.

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A week and a half later, it was our turn to go.

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We travelled to Sweden on IcelandAir, which requires all animals to travel in a designated animal area in the cargo hold due to Iceland’s quarantine laws. I was lucky enough to see Angel and Jake’s carrier transferring to our plane during the layover.

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We arrived in Sweden just fine.

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And we made it home to our apartment in Skövde. And here we are, four years later, living our happily ever after.

Well…except we no longer have Jake…but still.

Aby-a-Day – 4 Juni 2020: Izaak vs the sheepskin (Thursday Things)

We have some sheepskin circles on our sofa cushions, because they look nice and they happened to be the exact same colour as the sofa. Then, when Björn’s mother died, we got a grey sheepskin patchwork square. We keep it at the end of the sofa, and the cats like to nap on it.

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Except Izaak.

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He’s got a different relationship with the sheepskin square.

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He likes to randomly attack it and kick its guts out.

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But look in the background, at Lorelai.

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Wait, what?

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Look at Rory, flying over the sofa and Zak’s battle with the sheepskin square.

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Did that just happen?

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Hm. Well. Back to grooming and fighting with the sheepskin square, then.

Aby-a-Day – 3 Juni 2020: Wordless Wednesday (Izaak sees a Wagtail)

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Aby-a-Day – 2 Juni 2020: “Face masks in public spaces do not provide any greater protection to the population” (Cartoon Tuesday)

I have been very frustrated at the fact that Sweden doesn’t think masks work to control Covid-19. The State Epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, has said repeatedly that “masks don’t make sense” and has literally scoffed at the very idea of wearing a mask in pubic.

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So, since I have been using my Izaak Baby Yoda and Zak Toothless as my Facebook userpic and cover photos…I took out a little of that frustration by putting masks on their faces.

Didn’t work. I am still frustrated. And I am still wearing my mask.

Aby-a-Day – 1 Juni 2020: Happy Birthday to me! (Miniature Monday)

Today is my birthday! A fairly important one (I was born in 1965; you do the math)…and Björn gave me gifts that coordinate with my art in the past year. First…the one that was released today and hasn’t shipped yet: a Baby Yoda doll!

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My next gift was a small plushie of Toothless, who I also drew as a versiom pf Izaak.

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Besides Baby Yoda and Toothless, Björn also got me a black Lucky Cat.

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Okay…so, angry black Lucky Cat may not connect to any cartoon I’ve done, but he’s still adorable. I love them all!

Aby-a-Day – 31 Maj 2020: Izaak in the Duvet Cover (Silly Singapura Cinema Sunday)

The funniest, cutest thing happened this morning.

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Izaak got inside Björn’s duvet cover and was trying to get to me for a cuddle. He got his head through the hand hole…and then got stuck.

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Which is funny, because I always thought that if a cat could get his head through a hole, the rest of the body would fit, too. Apparently, not so much.

I had to make a video of him for Björn, who was making his breakfast and couldn’t come to see Zak in the duvet. I thought you all would like to see it, too.

Aby-a-Day – 30 Maj 2020: Angel and the tree battle, round three (Silly Saturday)

Angel has sort of claimed the top of the cat tree as her own, but as I have previously posted, Izaak has been challenging her for control of the top. But a new challenger approaches: Lorelai. Seems she was napping on the top of the cat tree when Angel wanted to be up there.

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But whilst Angel is attempting to deal with Rory, a complication presents itself…

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…Dashiell got up on the tree, too.

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I don’t think Dash realised what he was getting into.

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I think he thought he was just getting on the cat tree to play with Angel and Rory.

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I think he was wrong. Angel was determined to oust Rory from the top of the cat tree.

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Using as much force as necessary.

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Finally, Angel managed to evict Rory from the top of the cat tree.

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(A close-up of the ousting.)

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Rory’s disinvitation made Dash abandon the tree-ship as well.

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Angel was careful to make sure that all the younger cats were well away.

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Angel remains the Queen of the Top of the Cat Tree.