Aby-a-Day – 29 July: There’s cat proof…and then there’s Abyssinian proof (Swedish Sunday)

I have been regaling you with tales of our balcony/catio. It took a while to make sure it was cat-proof…wait, I mean, Aby-proof. Because protecting something from Abyssinians is a huge step up from protecting a thing from a regular cat. Trust me on this. You would think that a pot of plain pasta left on the stove is of no interest to cats, right? And you would be correct. It is of no interest to a cat. But leave that pot of plain pasta on the stove with Abys around? Yeah…have fun cleaning that pasta up off the floor. Oh, and enjoy your broken pot.

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So testing the cat-netting from the inside was only a starting point. The real test came a few days later.

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We were outside with Lorelai and Izaak. We’re trying to teach them to stick to us outside off leash, so we go out, they run around, but when we call them, they come right to us. It’s the sort of thing I couldn’t teach Jacoby, living in Boston.

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But when Jake heard our voices outside, he ran to join us.

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And he really tried to join us. But thankfully, the netting and chicken wire held.

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Then Angel came to help.

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So now we had two adult Abys actively trying to breach the netting.

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Oh, sure, they pretend to not get along. But they are totally in cahoots. Don’t let them fool you.

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Angel seemed content to simply be near us…Jake, not so much.

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He was still testing the netting, searching for a weak spot.

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And he was trying really hard to find that weakness.

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Angel and Jake tried each end of the cat-netting to see if they could escape.

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Seeing Zak just below only made Jake and Angel try to break through the screen even harder.

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And then, Alfred decided to join the party.

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“Hey, what’re you guys doing?”

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“Oh, breaking through the netting? Did you try gnawing on it?

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Here’s a side view of the big cats on the balcony. That netting is really doing its job!

Aby-a-Day – 28 July: A breath of fresh air (Swedish Saturday)

Ever since I moved here with Jacoby and Angel, we have wanted to put up cat netting and turn the balcony into a real, open-air catio.

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Thing is, the netting is a bit expensive. You probably can’t see the prices on the stickers, but the regular price is 548kr ($62). The box with the red tag is marked down because it’s missing screws…but even so, it’s still 488kr ($55). And it’s difficult to install, especially since our 50-year-old concrete walls are murder to drill into. So we let inertia rule, and made do with the glass windows just barely cracked open. It was a little warm out there when the sun was shining on it, but the cats didn’t mind.

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However, a couple of months ago I had the incredible good fortune to find a complete cat netting set at a second-hand store…for only 25kr (a little less than $3)! We find a lot of great things at the second-hand stores here…but this was one of our best scores.

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The netting sat around for a bit while we tried to figure out how we were going to put it up. As you may have heard, Northern Europe has been experiencing a wicked heatwave this summer, and with the balcony glassed in and closed up to keep the cats in, the temperature on the balcony was getting up to 40°C (104°F). We had real motivation to put up the netting and open the balcony up to whatever breeze we could get.

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Finally, even though it was hot, sweaty work, we finally sucked it up and hung the netting.

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And it was great!

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For about five seconds. Then Jacoby came to take a look and worked out how to escape through the side. Alfred was not far behind.

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So we closed the windows again and went back to the drawing board. Björn came up with a way of reinforcing the bottom section of the net with chicken wire. We fastened that to the lower screw eyes the net was attached to, secured it well at the bottom edge, and then wove wire through both the netting and the chicken wire along the top. Then we opened the windows again and held our breath. Would it stand up to Jake and Freddy?

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Jake tried his old trick to break through the way he did the last time, pushing hard with his head.

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But it held!

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Freddy had a go as well, but even with his method (leaning on it with all his weight till he fell out) the reinforced netting kept him inside.

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Finally, both of them stopped trying to escape and just enjoyed the fresh air.

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Izaak and Lorelai were quick to join them.

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They love it out there!

Aby-a-Day – 27 July: Evolution of a Catio (Fashion Friday)

When I first moved here in 2016, Björn’s balcony was a rather Spartan affair.

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There was only a wooden bench, a makeshift cat tree made from natural tree parts, a basket and…not much else.

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It was pretty barren. Once my things came from the States, we put my redwood burl table out there, and my floor-to-ceiling cat tree bumped Björn’s old cat tree out there as well. The balcony was open to the elements, so we couldn’t keep much else out there, but we put a tarp over the table, and it was fine out there. And so were the cats…until Jacoby taught himself to jump off the balcony. After that, we had to keep the balcony door closed until we could get it glassed in.

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Finally, May last year, we got the balcony glassed in. Jake was out there in a heartbeat.

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So was Pyret. The basket on the bench was her favourite spot…

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…which is one reason we kept her body there until we could get her cremated.

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For a while after it was glassed in, we used it as storage for the chairs until we could get it organised.

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Angel didn’t mind. She had sun and a cushy place to nap. She was good.

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Even now, you can usually find her in one of the chairs on the balcony.

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Either a chair, or the cubby in the cat tree.

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Alfred…well, he tries to fit in there sometimes, too.

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Logan also really loved the cubby.

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Logan loved the balcony.

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He spent a lot of time out there in the sun before he died.

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Jake and Freddy love being out there, too…but they’re usually trying to work out a way to escape.

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We got the basic layout of the balcony done last summer after the glass was installed, and we hung curtains and icicle and fairy lights, which actually give enough light to read by, but this year we have been focusing on really getting it set up to be a catio. I fell in love with this artificial pine tree at IKEA, and I found a reindeer hide for 125kr (around $14, about 1/10 what they should cost) which I love…but which sheds too much to live in the apartment. It looks great out on the balcony, though!

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One of the biggest things we did this year is lay down wooden tiles.

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Those tiles made a HUGE difference in the overall feel of the balcony. It feels warmer and more homey – more like a part of the house rather than “outside.” There was just one more thing we needed to do…and you’ll see what we did tomorrow!

Aby-a-Day – 28 January: Pile-up on the cat superhighway

This is why it’s so important to have a two-way cat superhighway.

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Angel is pretty much trapped up there in the top box while Jacoby (and Tessie) block her one way down. And don’t think it’s accidental. Jake just wants to be up there in that top spot…and Tessie is just “helping.”

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I had wanted to eventually create some kind of way down to the windowsill on the other side, but it never happened. However, Björn and I are already planning a walkway in his (our!) apartment what will be a two-way street. He also has a balcony that is going to be a cat paradise when I get finished with it. Now if I could only just move there!

Aby-a-Day – September 24: Angel up a wall

Angel has been spending a lot of time up on the wall lately.

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I do worry a little because she’s not got the best depth perception and she’s a little clumsy (although not as clumsy as Jacoby).

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But she seems to do okay. I don’t think she’s ever fallen off.

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But she certainly does seem to take some chances!

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Be careful up there, Angel!

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Oh, so you DO listen!

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Is that some sort of rude arm gesture?

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Ah, yes…the old “looking cute” trick…

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Wait…what?

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I must go, my people need me. Or there’s food. Something.

Aby-a-Day – June 8: Checking out the Cat Style Lounge at Blog Paws (Miniature Monday)

If you saw Summer’s blog post last week, you saw her photos at the Hauspanther Cat Style Lounge.

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Well, since I wasn’t able to bring Jacoby with me, I had to visit the Hauspanther lounge with Jake’s mini-me.

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But I think he enjoyed it at least as much as the real Jake would have.

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The first stop were the Pet Tree Houses with leaves.

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I absolutely love these trees. I wish I could fit one in my apartment. Especially with the autumn foliage. Besides looking pretty, they also are very well built.

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Next we played with the Jackson Galaxy Cat Crawl.

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And then we checked out the Jackson Galaxy Comfy Cocoon.

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CatastrophiCreations, an Etsy store, makes some awesome cat climbers, like this amazing Indiana Jones rope bridge…

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…and this system of wall furniture that can be adapted and customised to your cats and your walls.

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Next we checked out the ökocat litter display…but the resident flat cat didn’t seem to approve. I’m just glad that Rufus wasn’t there. That cat creeps me out (even if he does look a bit like an Aby).

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This Vesper Tower cubby had such a fluffy lining!

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The Vesper V-Cube is really elegant too.

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I really loved My Katio which can hold a litter box or just be a little mini-porch for kitties. I just don’t think my building would allow them since we have central air conditioning rather than window-mounted AC.

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I can’t for the life of me remember who made this cat tree. I can’t find it on Hauspanther’s style guide. It was awesome, though.

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I really liked the Cattino cat-shaped, all-in-one cat centre. It has a bed and a scratcher in one compact, cat-shaped package!

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The PurrfecTower trees were amazing. I could totally see one of these in my apartment.

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Finally we checked out the CatIt Wellness Center

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Mini-Jake seemed to really enjoy it. I may need to get one for big Jake!

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When we were done playing with all the toys, we hung out at the Hauspanther craft table.

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There were little cardboard cat toys scattered everywhere.

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We even got to meet the lovely and amazing Kate Benjamin! I was flattered that she had heard of me!

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Finally, just for fun, here’s me with mini-Jake. My dress is from Modcloth and I just adore it.

But you can see I really missed having Jake with me. He would have loved all this.

Aby-a-Day – March 9: Update – Climbing the Walls

As I mentioned a while back, we’re installing Designer Pet Products’ Sophia Wall-Mounted Cat Tree (which uses a blue Aby as their model). We will have four of them (two pair), but one hasn’t been mounted yet as it came missing a part.

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In the meantime, though, Jacoby checked out the lowest one before we moved in.

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He’s smiling!

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I think he likes it! Stay tuned for more updates once we get that missing shelf up.