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.

Aby-a-Day – March 2: Reality Realised

You may remember my post from a about a week ago about building furniture the cats can climb. In that post, I showed mock-ups of our IKEA Bestå TV cabinet, imagining how it would look in the new workroom:

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Well…here’s how it looked on Thursday!

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We swapped the three-shelf section with the two-shelf; the three-shelf now has the legs and is the bottom unit and the two-shelf is the floating upper unit. The doors will probably stay on the three-shelf unit. These shelves are pretty heavy and the floating section is anchored to a stud and there are brackets attached to the top but still…with cats jumping around up there we don’t need to stress the wall any more than necessary!

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We don’t have the doors or any of the shelves up (both in the main cabinet or the green external climbing shelves), and I had to give Jacoby a boost to get up there…but you can see he’s already enjoying his new perch!

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We haven’t built the Expedit extravaganza in the bedroom yet, but we do have the carpet installed.

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(I found it interesting that the carpet padding is made of recycled running shoes!)

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I had mixed feelings about carpet. I’m not a huge fan of wall-to-wall, but the bedroom was already carpeted when we bought it and it gave it a really nice, warm cozy feeling in there. I know carpet and cats don’t always mix, but this is a pet-recommended carpet from Home Depot, and we chose a dark grey colour, so that should help hide any of the inevitable barfing that will happen.

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And when the Expedit kitty stairway is all set up, Jake is ready to test it out!

Aby-a-Day – February 28: Angel on high (Friday Flashback)

Last week I posted about how much Jacoby is going to love our newly catified apartment, but Angel will get a huge kick out of it, too.

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The very first night I had Angel, she climbed to the top of the cat tree in my mom’s house.

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And she kept going when she got to the top!

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My mom’s place is actually naturally cat-friendly, with the addition of that one cat tree.

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My mom’s cats never thought to go up there, though. Angel did it almost immediately! I guess some things just need an Aby’s touch.

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When we first built our IKEA Pax cabinets, Angel was right there, helping.

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She was up on top of the first one before we’d even finished assembling it.

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I don’t remember how she even got up there!

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But she immediately tried to go even higher!

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It will be interesting to see how she reacts to the cat shelves in the new apartment.

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I just hope they don’t fight over the good spots!

Aby-a-Day – February 20: Catification chez nous

As most of you know by now, we are moving to a new apartment in our building. It’s exciting, and a lot of work. Our building has an open plan, and when the interiors were first built out, the original buyers (which we were, also, in our current apartment) had options as to how the units were built out. In our case, the optional second bedroom wasn’t built out…but we wanted it, so we’re having it built back in according to the original plans.

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Of course, a new apartment affords us a chance to create a haven not only for ourselves, but for the cats as well. While my husband won’t let me go completely crazy the way they did in The Cats’ House or the $35,000 Complete Cat House, or get the German Cat Climbing Furniture, but we are creating something of a Cat Superhighway in our new home.

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Originally, there was an open space between the living room and the middle room.

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We had that made into a solid wall. And we’re installing two sets of Sophia Cat Shelves alongside the television.

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One hasn’t been mounted yet because it has a missing piece, so that’s why there are only three on the wall right now.

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Look how high the top one is! Jacoby is going to love this.

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The new middle room is going to be my art room, and it will also have a television on the wall (I watch TV while I work instead of listening to music). My original concept was this:

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But we decided not to surround the TV with shelves, so instead of the Hemnes piece, we opted for IKEA’s Bestå TV stand. The cool thing about Bestå is that you can arrange pieces on the IKEA website to see how they’ll look.

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This is what our setup should look like (I’m not entirely sure about the doors, though).

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Then, we’ll add a few Ekby Tryggve shelves and Valter brackets, painted to match the wall.

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I painted them all myself on Monday.

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And this is what my workroom wall should look like!

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This was the concept I had for our bedroom. It was to be custom-built, but that proved too expensive.

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I came up with a way of assembling different sizes of Expedit units to create the same staircase effect for a lot less money. The people at IKEA were pretty impressed, actually.

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It’s 8 squares by 8 squares, 10 feet by 10 feet. It should work well.

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And it should look something like this. I can’t wait to build it and see what Jake thinks!

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Because right now, he thinks this is an awesomely high place to sit. He has no idea what’s in store for him in a couple of weeks!