Aby-a-Day – 12 Augusti: The Descendents of Bastet (Thursday Things)

For over ten years, Karen Lawrence has been working on collecting, archiving and publishing the history of the Abyssinian breed. At long last, her book has been published, and my copy arrived yesterday. It’s an incredible oeuvre, and an incredible resource.

bastet_7891 1

There are photos of all sorts of relics from the early days of Abyssinian breeding, like this pin from the Abyssinian Cat Club in England that’s 102 years old.

bastet_7889 1

And these CFA registration cards, when the records were kept on index cards.

bastet_7887 1

The cover of the first issue of Cats Magazine from 1945 featured Abys.

bastet_7888 1

And, yes, as advertised, there is a chapter about the Somali, too.

bastet_7890 1

And there are also a few nifty surprises, too, like these photos of Aby kittens taken by Kenneth Heilbrom. I have some of his prints.

bastet_7886 1

And look, I even have a mention! I sent Karen a photo of my Selene’s Firefly

rorybastet_7893 1

Apparently, it also makes a fine seat for a certain blue Aby girl.

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 – 6 July: Poetry in Paris (Special Saturday)

On one day of our trip to London, we took a daytrip to Paris on the Eurostar.

shakespeare_co_7804

We were only in Paris for nine hours. Not long; just enough time to see some sights, grab a bite (about which more later), and wander the streets looking for adventure. At one point, we came upon Shakespeare and Company, the famed English bookstore and sister store to San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore (you can see a tribute to the SF store above the door). I used to walk down Jack Kerouac Alley, alongside City Lights, when I was living in SF and swing dancing almost every night. So seeing this bookstore kind of resonated with me.

pariswall_7807

indifferent_7808

They have interesting snippets from news articles written on chalkboards on either side of the storefront. This was my favourite.

askmeforapoem_7806

But the best thing about the bookstore was this guy outside with his manual portable Remington typewriter. His name is Leo, and as you can see, he would write you a poem upon request. Leo only asked that you decide to pay what you think it’s worth only after you’ve read the poem. So I asked him to write a poem based on my tattoo of Gun-Hee and Logan. He was impressed with the concept, and only asked what the breeds of the cats were, and confirmed that the plants were maple leaves and pussywillows. Then he thought a moment and started typing.

poem

This is what he wrote:

singapore, abyssinia
maple leaf and pussy willow

meeeeeoooooow

stare into these eyes
deeper than the wisdom
collected through the course of
nine lives
wider than the stream of
time into which so much is
washed away

meeeeeeoooooow

we are they who traverse
the limits you imagine

we are they who were once
worshipped and are glorified
still, have you discovered
why, in the course
of your one
life?

poemsig

Leo signs the back of every poem he types.

framedpoem_7949

Of course I loved it, and I paid him 10€ for his work. I also explained the story behind the tattoo, how these two boys died ten years apart from the same awful disease. About a year or so ago, I found an awesome antique glass frame that I’ve been saving for the perfect thing to put into it. I think I finally found what the frame has been needing.

Other People’s Singas: Noodle the paddle boarder, Paolo the Brave and his brother, Keiko

This really awesome video of a Singapura paddle boarding with her human in the UK popped up on Facebook yesterday. Noodle and her human, Nigel, go paddle boarding regularly on rivers in Essex and Sussex. They even have an Instagram page.

But as cool as this story is, it gets cooler. Noodle (Singaneko Artemis) comes from a British cattery, and her father is Bakardi Minimali*PL (“Keiko”). Kinsey, the breeder, has also written two children’s books about Keiko and his littermate brother Paolo (Bolt Minimali*PL). I discovered – and bought – these books last year after we got Logan, delighted to find any books starring Singas.

zakmousieC00604

Of course, you know that our Izaak also comes from Minimali*PL. But if you look at Paolo’s, Keiko’s and Zak’s pedigrees, you’ll find that all three boys’ parents are Tinytoy Rus Mafoj*PL (father) and Angelina Minimali*PL (mother)…so Zak is Paolo and Keiko’s full brother, and Noodle is his neice! Paolo and Keiko are three years older than Zak…but how amazing is it to discover that Zak’s brothers are children’s book stars!? And his neice is a famous paddle boarder!? I guess Zak has a lot to live up to.

Aby-a-Day – 31 July: You’re never done learning (Cartoon Tuesday)

I am endlessly amazed at how popular the Warriors series is in Germany and Holland. I mean, it’s way more popular than it is in the UK or the States. If you search Amazon.de, you can find all sorts of Warriors merchandise.

Look at all this! Sticky notes, badges, notebooks, gloves…I have the laptop stickers and I love them. You can’t get any of this on the other Amazons (.com and .uk.co), trust me. I looked.

Because I order my (English) Warriors books from Amazon.de, they send me emails when new Warriors items are released. Usually, they’re translations of the series books in German, but a few weeks ago they sent me an email about an interesting book entitled Warrior Cats – Katzenzeichnen: Von den Grundformen bis zur Clankatze (Warrior Cats – Cat Drawing: From Basic to Clan Cat).

Now, I have been drawing cats for over 50 years, and apparently I’m pretty good at it, since people like the drawings I do. But this book is amazing, even for someone like me. Because you can always learn more drawing techniques. Look at the instruction on drawing paws (well, hands, if you’re doing Abys).

The book goes into great detail about all aspects of cat life, and it even has blank pages for you to practice on. Unfortunately for me, it’s in German, and it’s a translation of the original publication…in Dutch. So there is no English edition of this book yet. Considering that the original books were English, it’s a bit interesting that the Germans and Dutch have taken to the cats so much that they’re coming up with all kinds of original items and books that aren’t available in English!

Izaak Sketch

Using some of the book’s recommendations, I did this sketch of Izaak. What do you think?

Aby-a-Day – 1 February: Findus och Pettson (Miniature Monday)

While I was in Sweden, I got a set of Pettson and Findus figures.

sverigexmas-goteborgfindusC04316

Pettson and Findus are the main characters in a series of children’s books written and illustrated by Sven Nordqvist. They are very popular – this photo is from a display in a book store in Göteborg. Pettson is an old farmer who live alone with his cat, Findus, some chickens and some little house creatures. Findus gets his name from a brand of frozen foods; when Pettson got Findus as a kitten, he was in a box labelled “Findus Green Peas.”

sverigexmas-findusIMG_2001 1

I’ve had this small plush Findus since I visted Björn in 2000. He went back to Sweden with me for Christmas.

jakepettsonC04513

Naturally, I adore Findus…

jakepettsonC04511

…I mean, what’s not to like? He’s a cat, he can talk, and he’s a sassy troublemaker. Someday, I want to get Jacoby a pair of green striped pants like Findus wears.

jakepettsonC04502

I think Jake would make a great Findus.

jakepettsonC04500

But what does Jake think of Pettson and Findus?

jakepettsonC04499

He likes them!

Aby-a-Day – June 4: “Lackadaisy Homage” (Cartoon Thursday)

As I mentioned a couple of cartoons ago, I am absolutely head over heels in love with Lackadaisy, a webcomic by Tracy J. Butler. Imagine the 1920’s – bootleggers, gangsters, flappers…but with cats.

I love Tracy’s intricate and detailed style and I could never hope to compare, but I did find this pastel illustration from a 1927 J.L. Taylor men’s fashion catalog which I could mimic.

abycartoon178

And so, here you have Jacoby and Angel as they might appear in a contemporary illustration in the Lackadaisy universe.

(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – May 19: “They call me Aby driver, once upon a pair of wheels…” (Cartoon Tuesday)

This is based in part on this photo from the Abyssinian Cat Club on Facebook.

abycartoon176

And it’s partly based on this expression tutorial, brought to you courtesy of the artist who does Lackadaisy. Since it’s Cartoon Tuesday, if you have any interest in cats, the Roaring 20’s, incredible artwork, pig farmers, or old photographs, you really should check it out. Of course, this has little to do with my cartoon, per se…but there are cats who drive in that cartoon, too.

Seriously, though. Awesome webcomic. And I suspect Viktor may be a Somali – there’s a photo where his complexion is described as “Ruddy”…Just sayin’.

(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – May 1: Warm and Wonderful Feline Fashions (Fashion Friday)

I actually got a chance to try out Angel’s new purple parka in some actual snow before it all melted away.

angelsnowC07289

I took these photos in our courtyard the day before Easter.

angelsnowC07287

We still had a good amount of snow on the ground then, as you can see. We actually still had snow in our courtyard as late as April 17.

angelsnowC07284

I took Angel out into the little snow patch so we could see how her coat stands up to real outdoor use. She meowed a LOT while we were out there…I am not sure if she missed Jacoby or if she was just especially chatty about being outside.

angelsnowC07372

It was a quick outing, so I didn’t bother with her harness and leash. I did put on her undershirt though.

angelsnowC07339

The sleeves seem to be about the right length. I like the way the faux fur ruff frames her face. It really is a perfect coat for her.

angelsnowC07296

Here’s how it looks from the back. It seems like it’s a good length and covers her back well.

angelsnowC07236

And she can walk in it with no problems.

angelsnowC07239

She may not like walking, but the coat doesn’t hinder her. Next step: boots!

angelsnowC07256

That should be interesting…

Speaking of fashionable Abys, I also wanted to share these photos of our friends Sanna and Sketsi strolling about on a spring day in Helsinki.

Aren’t they adorable?

Sketsi is modeling his bomber jacket and knit cap that Jake and I sent him in one of our box exchanges.

Sketsi’s a boy. He just likes pink, but he’s secure in his neutered manhood. Sanna says that Sketsi is one of those males who can rock pink.

He was seagull watching on this outing.

There goes one now, apparently.

He really likes his pink knitted cap from our friend Sara at ScooterKnits. And, speaking of Sara and her infamous cat hats…she’s written a how-to book with patterns to knit or crochet your own cat hats! How awesome is that?

Also, please note that
her book‘s cover model is none other than Vivi, a red silver Abyssinian!

The book has patterns for the Pom-Pom and the Elf hats that Jake and Angel have…but the infamous Mistletoe hat is not included.

menorah

I’m still hoping she makes the Hanukkah Hat someday…

Aby-a-Day – April 28: “Well, dog my cats!” (Cartoon Tuesday)

You’ll find in many, many books and websites about cats in general or specific to Abyssinians, that this breed is often described as being “dog-like.”

abycartoon173

I mean, there’s even a YouTube video about it!

And while it is true that Abyssinians are one of the oldest breeds (going all the way back to 1860), and Abys have probably lived alongside humans for more of the breed’s history than other “natural” breeds (Abys are the first breed that was based on human’s desire to make a cat look a certain way rather than being based on a genetic trait like tailessness or thermo-restrictive partial albinism)…somehow, I don’t think they’d find being called “dog-like” exactly complimentary.

(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – April 10: A gift from The Great White North (Fashion Friday)

I am really late on this…but I wanted to thank my friend Kim for sending me Canadian Care Package a little while back.

kimbagC05075

She sent me a ton of awesome Royal Canin swag! The promotional items Royal Canin has in Canada tend to be a lot better than the stuff we get in the States.

kimbagC05069

One thing she sent was this awesome Kitten Kit.

kimbagC05072

We can actually use this because Kylie is a super picky eater, but she likes Royal Canin. She can also eat kitten food because she can use the calories. And another lid for leftover canned food always comes in handy.

kimbagC05065

Kim also sent me Volume 4 of the Royal Canin Cat Encyclopedia. This was especially wonderful, because I already have Volume 1, which features Abyssinians.

kimbagC05061

Volume 4 features Somalis. So now I have both the Aby-related volumes!

kimbagC05086

She also sent this cute little black cat face…

kimbagC05081

…that expands into this adorable shopping bag! Look at the little fish bones!

kimbagC05130

I was super excited to find this in the bag…Teddy Bear Peanut Butter!!! If you’ve never been to Canada, you may not understand. I can’t explain it, but it is the best peanut butter in the world. And this came with a recipe, a bear-shaped plastic cookie cutter and a jar to put the cookies in! This is also my first encounter with the new “Creepy Bear” label design

kimbagC05089

Of course Kim also sent some goodies for Jacoby. She sent him two bandanas…

kimbagC05097

…and a T-shirt!

jakekimbagC05103

He’s already modelled a Royal Canin bandana, so I decked him out with the maple leaf one, along with his new T-shirt.

jakekimbagC05104

He had possession of the Finnish cat bed (which is the most popular bed in the house right now), and he didn’t want to leave it for a photo shoot because he was afraid of losing it.

jakekimbagC05102

So, here he is modelling his Canadian outfit from Kim in his Finnish bed from Sanna.

jakekimbagC05110

Thank you so much, Kim!

Aby-a-Day – November 15: “Books” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Books.”

jakebooksE_1621

I have been collecting cat books for a very long time, and I have a lot of them. I have books on cats in general, on specific breeds (mainly Abyssinians and Siamese), biographies and hardcore veterinary manuals and genetic texts…and silly cartoon and picture books. I’m pretty proud of my feline library.

jakebooksE_1640

I also have all of the Warriors books. They take up most of one bookshelf in the bedroom.

jakebooksE_1635

In case you haven’t discovered these books yet, they’re epic tales of war, prophecy, mystery, intrigue, love, loyalty, honour, responsibility, family, destiny, betrayal, murder, faith and acceptance.

jakebooksE_1637

With cats (and one badger). Mostly, the cats are feral, but there’s an Abyssinian in one of the books (probably)!

jakebooksE_1643

They’re fast-paced and addictive. Currently, there are five 6-book story arcs (with a sixth reportedly in the works), seven expanded “Super Editions” focusing on specific characters, and several novellas and manga that fill in stories between the main novels. There are also “field guides” with character profiles and other background information. The only thing that there isn’t is a full-length feature film (or several) – these books are easily as gripping and thrilling as, say, Harry Potter or Twilight.

jakebooksE_1644

Looks like Jacoby is having a hard time deciding where to start.

jakebooksE_1645

Or, maybe he’s just remembered that he doesn’t know how to read.

Aby-a-Day – October 5: “Spark” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Spark.”

jakesparkleE_6755

The only thing I can think of for this one is our friend Sparkle, a Somali and Jacoby’s very distant cousin. Jake does a pretty good Sparkle impression when he wants to, too.

jakesparkleE_6751

We have both Sparkle’s books, and Jake really loves them.

jakesparkleE_6768

jakesparkleE_6769

He’s read them both cover to cover.

jakesparkleE_6773

jakesparkleE_6781

And, I’m sure, he’s gotten some really good ideas from them.

jakesparkleE_6839

Jake also reads Sparkle’s blog every day.

jakesparkleE_6846

Although he seems a little too interested in looking at the photos of Sparkle in her mermaid costume…

The Book of the Cat

I was given a copy of The Book of the Cat (edited by Michael Wright and Sally Walters) for my 17th birthday, and it was one of the best birthday gifts I have ever gotten.

Originally published in 1980 and currently out of print, even 30 years later it’s still one of the most informative and useful cat books I own. I actually searched for years to find a hardcover copy, and I refer to this book frequently.

cover

This book is one of my biggest influences. It features breed paintings by Peter Warner that are among the best I’ve ever seen. One of his illustrations of a Siamese was the genesis of my first tattoo, of my Siamese Harri.

bookofthecatsabylittercolours0041

It also has a copy of this photo, the first I ever saw of all four Aby colours (red/sorrel, fawn, ruddy/usual and blue) in one single litter. The first book I saw this photo in was a Christmas gift in 1974, and that was when I fell in love with blue Abys.

bookofthecatabyheadbutt0042

And this photograph I have just always, always loved. The obvious affection between this Aby and his person has always made me so happy.

The point of this post is that I happened upon a spare copy of this wonderful, beloved book a few days ago. It’s a paperback edition, printed in the UK, in almost perfect condition – the cover’s got a bit of a ding, but all the pages are there and the binding is like new. And I love this book so much, I want to share it with the world.

However, I only have one spare copy. So I can only share it with one of you. Leave a comment on this post by Sunday, March 4, at 3am Eastern time (midnight for you west-coasters), and I’ll randomly select one lucky reader to win!

Abyssinians are Everywhere: Catalyst and Catacombs

Thanks to Jacoby’s cousin Toki’s human, Julie of Cat Atelier, I was incited to read Catalyst and Catacombs, two “Tales of the Barque Cats” books by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.

(I had forgotten that Sparkle reviewed these books earlier this year).

The nominative stars of the books, the Barque Cats, are the science fiction version of ship’s cats, future descendants of the same Maine Coons who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean centuries ago. But the real mastermind behind the events that take place in the books just happens to be a cat named Pshaw-Ra, who…well…here is how he is described: “Were he not the bold, heroic, cunning, adventurous, incredibly brave, fast talking, quick thinking, highly skilled, and of course devastatingly handsome cat he knew himself to be, all would have been lost. But thanks to his daring, his farsightedness, his willingness to spend month after solitary month in alien space cleverly tricking passing ships into unwitting participation in his master plan, his race would be saved.”

Chester, a tuxedo tom Barque Cat, calls him “the tawny shorthaired big-eared Pshaw-Ra…”

Oh, yes, indeed. Pshaw-Ra is an Abyssinian, all right. In fact, he’s out to save his race; as he explains to one of his daughters, “Our gene pool, it seems, has become too shallow and we are now too interrelated.” And if that isn’t the sort of problem a future race of intelligent, telepathic Abys would have, I don’t know what is.

And these books are a wonderful conglomeration of some of my most favourite things: cats, science fiction, and cats in science fiction. The first thing I was reminded of were the stories of the Instrumentality of Man by Cordwainer Smith, not just The Game of Rat and Dragon, which the authors acknowledge as an inspiration, but also Norstrilia. And a cat who’s telepathic and flies his own spaceship? How could that not remind me of The Cat From Outer Space. Of course, Jake is somewhat less self-aggrandising than Pshaw-Ra, but they do share an affinity for fishy treats and fraternising with longhairs…

I have to admit, I was also reminded, just a little, tiny bit of Flyball, the Space Cat, Moofa the Martian cat, and the kittens Tailspin and Marty

There is also some wonderful Ancient Egyptian mythology, as well as little nods to both Paul Gallico and Scarlett, the cat who saved her family.

The only bad thing I have to say about these books is that there are only two of them; I was sad when I got to the last page and had to bid farewell to Pshaw-Ra and the Barque Cats.

You can’t judge a book by its cover

I’m a huge fan of the Warriors series of books by Erin Hunter. They tell the story of several generations of feral cats living in a forest in England, and they have it all: prophecy, intrigue, war, romance, mystery…and cats!

OmenStars4Cover

The newest novel was released on April 5, and of course, I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon. When I got it, my first thought was, “Wow, that cat on the cover looks a lot like an Aby.” I showed it to my husband, and he agreed.

OmenStars4Cover-Jake

So I’m sure you can guess where I went with that…

Aby-a-Day – January 21: “Up High Is Where I Like to Go…”

This photo reminds me of a cat poem by Paul Gallico

jacobyN1036

Up high is where I like to go
Watching people down below
That’s why you find me up a tree
Where no one can look down on me

I love the fact that the same man who wrote “Pride of the Yankees” also wrote a book of cat poetry. Of course, with one cat named Jacoby and another named Tessie, I’m not thrilled that he chose to write about that team, but Paul Gallico is proof that Real Men Have Cats.

Abys are Everywhere – Sparkle the Designer Cat

Interestingly enough, while I was looking up articles about the dangers of escalators, I happened upon an ad/link to a blog belonging to Sparkle the Somali.

Sparkle!

Sparkle is a gorgeous Ruddy Somali living in SoCal. She’s published two books with her cat-to-cat advice, and has quite a following.

How funny that I discovered her while Googling ferocious escalators, but it proves that Abys (and Somalis) really are everywhere!

Aby-a-Day – Day 242 of 365

I’m currently reading the Warriors books by Erin Hunter, and I have to say, they’re awesome books. Drama, romance, intrigue, war, murder, loyalty, mysticism, bravery, and yes, even comedy abound in these books, which are about the lives of feral cats living in a forest. The only thing wrong with them, as far as I’m concerned, is a flagrant disregard for feline genetics and too many blue-eyed cats…

jacoby0678

…although Jacoby thinks the cover art of the book I’m currently reading could feature a more handsome cat!

Other People’s Abys – Historical Abyssinians

I just got a fabulous treasure: a copy of the little booklet Journey From the Blue Nile: A History of the Abyssinian Cat. It’s basically a pamphlet, 24 glossy pages stapled into an orange cardstock cover, but it’s the oldest book about just Abyssinians I’ve been able to find.

It’s small (pretty much the entire thing is reproduced at the link above, including the photos), but it’s such a wonderful little bit of history.

I’m also rather amused that the primary author, Aida Bartleman Zanetti, is from Cambridge, Mass. I got the book from Booksavers of Ephrata in Pennsylvania, so it’s a bit like it’s come back home.