Aby-a-Day – 25 April: Ashes to ashes (Thursday Things)

So, I got a phone call today from Anicura.

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Jacoby’s ashes are ready for me to pick up.

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We’re going to go pick him up on Tuesday, because Björn has the day off. But I did find the perfect urn to put him in…and some of his ashes will be sent back to Boston to be snuck into and scattered in Fenway Park.

Aby-a-Day – 18 April: Eulogy for Jacoby (Thursday Things)

Jacoby was such a great poser. He just seemed to understand what I wanted, and I could set him some place and he would sit there perfectly. I never trained him to do that, he just knew that the camera meant that he should hold still.

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When I saw the cat on the carousel in Boston Common, I knew I had to get a shot of Jake riding it. In between rides, they let me put him on the cat and were quite impressed with how cooperative he was.

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He struck this pose when he was only six months old.

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I used it to make this.

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He posed wonderfully without even trying.

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This photo became the iconic #strollercat T-shirt.

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He could be very dramatic at times…

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very dramatic!

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He was so wonderfully patient when I asked him to pose in his clothing.

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Jake loved riding the T.

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When it came to agility…Jake was a little too good at posing!

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Some of the best photos of him were in snow. The first one, with the hat, was published in Boston magazine.

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The current lot are photogenic, and Alfred in particular can throw some awesome poses… but they don’t have that understanding that Jake had. What were a team. We did so much together. I wonder if I’ll ever have that again with another cat.

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It’s not impossible…I said the same thing after Harri died, the last cat I had that kind of bond with. I just don’t know what the magic formula is for finding a cat like that.

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Jake was just so…bulletproof. I could set him anywhere and back away to take a photo, and I knew he wouldn’t jump down. We trusted each other implicitly.

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I love our current LunaTicks dearly, of course. Angel is not really bonded to anyone (she cuddles on her own terms) and Freddy is bonded to everyone. The kittens are also bonded to everyone, Izaak slightly more to me and Lorelai slightly more to Björn. But as much as we love them and they us…none of them have that connection, that spark, that undefinable something that elevates them to another level of human-cat interaction.

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On the simplest level, no other of our cats head bonk me. With Jake, I would put my head down and we would bonk our skulls together like a cranial fist bump. We did it fairly hard, too. When I try to do that with the others, they either back up, or sniff me, or rub their sides against my head…well, Freddy will sometimes pat me on the head. But no bonks.

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I hope I can find another Aby to bonk heads with some day.

Aby-a-Day – 15 April: ” He was my North, my South, my East and West, my working week and my Sunday rest…” (Medical Monday)

Warning: photos of Jacoby’s body to follow…

I was already planning to go to Jönköping last Friday before Jake so suddenly died whilst the vet was on the phone with me. I still went to visit him last Friday…Just not quite the way I intended…or wanted.

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They took me back into the same room I was in when Alfred and I said goodbye to Logan. Philippa, the same vet tech who was there with Logan, brought in his little white box.

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He didn’t look dead…just asleep.

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As if any second he would start that purr of his and snore his cute little happy snores.

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But he was so cold. I petted him all over, telling him that he missed getting his dirty dirty ears cleaned because this weekend was meant to be claw-clipping weekend. I flexed his little toes…he loved it when I massaged his paws. It was so surreal…he looked so alive. He felt like himself. He felt like my Jakey. Except he wasn’t warm and he didn’t push back when I petted him.

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I was surprised his shaved stomach looked so good. I couldn’t see any stitches at all.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

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When we left him at the hospital that Saturday night…I didn’t know it would be the last time I would see him alive. It was supposed to be “see you in a few days,” not “Goodbye forever.” Had I known, I would have held him, cuddled him, hugged him, memorised every inch of him. But I thought he’d be coming home, so we just had a few head bonks.

I miss him…it hurts so much…oh, Jakey.

Aby-a-Day – 14 April: Happy Birthday, Jacoby (Cinema Sunday)

Today would have been Jacoby’s 10th birthday. We had candles already for such a special birthday. I made a cake anyway, for all the other cats to share.

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Unlike Jake, the other cats were a bit taken aback by the burning candles.

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Naturally, Alfred was the least afraid of the fire, because it was on food.

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Once the flame was extinguished, though, they all tucked right in.

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Jake loved the birthday ritual. He was never afraid of the candles and usually had a few singed whiskers after the candles were extinguished.

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He also loved plastic springs.

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I gave him a fresh package of them last year.

However where as most cats bat them, chase them or carry them around in their mouths, but not our Jake. A still photo could never capture his technique, so here is a video I managed to capture.

Aby-a-Day – 13 April: Remembering Jacoby

Today’s post was written by my husband, Björn…

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Our Jacoby is dead. He died in the prime of his life. We had hoped that he would be with us for at least another five or six years, but that wasn’t to be. Following first the announcement of his illness, then his passing, the outpouring of love, sadness and sympathy from people, many who had never met him, was amazing. If a cat can make that kind of impression, it is a very special cat.

I saw my first Abyssinians back in 1992 at a local cat show. My then partner and I went there, as she had grown up with cats. According to her, I fell for the Abys then and there, and I had said something along the lines of that we should get one eventually.

In 1999, we got two cats: Pyret, a housecat, and Olivia, a mixed breed. An Aby was something in the distant future, if at all.

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Fast forward to 2015. Koshka and I were chatting on Messenger. I knew about Gun-Hee, Angel and Jake, having followed her LiveJournal and seen them on her Christmas cards. Our old friendship took an unexpected turn, and suddenly we were a couple. I went to Boston and met her for the first time in 15 years. I was introduced to Jake and Angel, and Jake and I got along great from the start.

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In 2016, Koshka and the cats moved to Sweden. Jake decided he liked the apartment. My aging cat Pyret wasn’t convinced that the newcomers were welcome, but the apartment is big and they didn’t have to rub shoulders.

Soon, we began taking Jake to shows, and the second part of his show career started. That meant going to hotels, usually by train, but a couple of times it was by overnight ferry. Jake loved to travel and see new places.

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Going places meant going in his stroller. One might think that a grown man would feel self-conscious pushing a cat around in a stroller, but that didn’t bother me – I felt pride! Wherever we brought Jake, he drew attention. Strangers would smile, snap photos, ask questions, and pet him. Jake loved the attention. Many people hadn’t heard about Abyssinians, and thus he became an excellent ambassador for the breed and for cats in general.

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Jake was an extremely handsome cat. His vibrant coloring, elegant body, and alert expression won him many prizes, but other people than cat show judges found him striking. But his beauty went deeper than his ticking. He was an affectionate, intelligent and social cat, who made visitors feel welcome.

Sure, he had his quirks, like sitting in the cast-iron frying pan, rolling around on beds kicking himself in the head, and eating any and all plastic bags. Traveling by car meant that one would have to endure his meowing every fourth second for an hour or more.

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When we drove to the animal hospital in Jönköping a week ago, his meowing was barely audible. How I wanted it to be as loud as it used to be! We brought his carrier inside, and he explored the examination room on shaky legs. Koshka and I said goodbye to him, not expecting that it would be the last time we saw him alive. Then followed days filled with worry, and then came the news that Jake, that most excellent cat, had left us. I cried.

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The last year has seen so much death. My mother passed away, and Pyret and Logan died. We didn’t expect to lose Jake, who seemed almost indestructible, but fate wanted otherwise. I got to be his dad for 34 months, which was way too short, but he will stay in my memory until my own time is up. Jake, you made our lives richer, and you were loved by people on two continents. We are all made from stardust, but some shine stronger than others.

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Goodbye, Jake. I miss you.

Also, Jake’s GoFundMe campaign is closing tomorrow, Sunday 14 April on Jake’s 10th birthday. We don’t know how much over the insurance cap his bills are, but we still believe there will be something to donate to New England Abyssinian Rescue.

Aby-a-Day – 11 April: Why does the sun go on shining?

Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
‘Cause you don’t love me anymore

Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when I lost your love

I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why everything’s the same as it was
I can’t understand, no, I can’t understand
How life goes on the way it does

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when you said goodbye

Jacoby died at 18:35 CEST today. May StarClan light his path. May he find good hunting, swift running, and shelter when he sleeps.

A vet at Anicura called me around 18:25 to tell me he was having trouble breathing and they wanted to know what to do, if they should resuscitate him or use heroic measures…and while I was on the phone with the doctor, he just…died. He was alive at the beginning of the call (which thank StarClan I didn’t miss), and gone at the end of it. Apparently, 20 minutes prior to her calling me, he was doing all right, but then he just crashed. There was no possible way I had time to get there before he was gone.

A different vet had called me earlier in the afternoon to tell me how he was doing. He was still having a lot of trouble breathing outside of the oxygen cage. He was still on the feeding tube. He was too weak for another round of chemo. She told me that the total was up to around 43,000kr in charges (which puts us over his cap; more about that later) and wanted to discuss my DNR wishes, so I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I was already bracing myself for him not celebrating his 10th birthday on Sunday.

The worst part is, when that last call came…I was sitting in a nail salon, getting my toes painted green for Jake. I heard that my soulmate cat had just died whilst having a woman put my feet under the dryer. It’s so hard to watch them die, to say “okay” and watch the vet inject the overdose of painkillers into them…but it’s a million times worse to not be there…not even be able to be there. Long distance is not the next best thing to being there.

I was planning on going to Jönköping to see him tomorrow. I still will, just not in quite the same way.

Jake was such a special boy. He was born to be my kitten. He bonded with me instantly, and slept by my side within a day of joining our family. He was smart, friendly, and bulletproof. His name was decided twelve days after he was born, when Jacoby Ellsbury stole home against the Yankees at Fenway Park; I didn’t name Jake after the player, but rather the awesome thing he did that time on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball at Fenway against our most hated rivals. I was right about that, considering that Ellsbury eventually ended up going to play for those pinstriped goons.

Jake was a therapy cat, and he loved riding in his stroller when we walked to our visits at the psych wards at facilities along Harrison and Albany Streets in the South End. He loved people, especially children. He loved going on shopping errands with me and I would take him along if I was shopping anywhere that didn’t involve food. He even went to restaurants with me, as long as there was outside seating.

He was also a minor celebrity in Boston, known as Strollercat. He appeared on the cover of the Boston Herald during a newsweek consisting of Hurricane Sandy, the Patriots playing at Wembly Stadium in London, Halloween, and a Presidential election involving a former Massachusetts governor. He got a two-page spread in Your Cat, the UK’s biggest cat magazine, and there was an article about him and his travels in CFA’s Cat Talk. He was a celebrity cat guest at the first ever Somerville Cat Film Festival. And, perhaps most amazing of all, he was named Cat of the Year by the Westchester Cat Club and honoured with the Scarlett Award for his therapy work with first responders after the Boston Marathon bombings.

He was a show cat, but he didn’t start his show career until he was two years old, partly because of this therapy training, and partly because he got his foot caught in the top of the escalator at Broadway T Station when he was a year and a half old. He did well, the judges exclaiming over his rich ruddy coat, and his decidedly non-Abylike behaviour on the judging table. One judge called him a “poseable action figure,” and another said he was “a Persian in an Aby suit.” He became a Grand Premier in a nailbiter of a show, needing only one final to have enough points and not getting it until his last ring on Sunday. One year, he was in the top ten Abys in Premiership in all of CFA, only to get bumped to #11 on the last weekend of the season. Ironically, in the 2015 season, he was 8th best Aby in Premiership without even trying…and then in 2016, he was 10th best after having gone to only two CFA shows! He also managed to crack the top 25 Best Cats in Premiership in the Northeast Region in 2015, earning a regional win and placing 21st…again, without really trying. The year we went to the World Show in Philadelphia, he was the Best Abyssinian Premier in the Red Group. The only thing he failed at in cat shows was agility. He preferred to pose on the obstacles rather than run through them. He was also a Double Grand Champion Alter in TICA.

After we moved to Sweden, he registered in FIFe, where he earned Nominations, a Best in Variety, and a Best in Show in Altered Males, Category 4, along with several Best in Shows in the Senior class. He ended up with the title of International Grand Premier before deciding he didn’t like FIFe’s style of showing.

He did like dressing up for NEMO’s costume contests, though. Except for wearing pants.

Born in Canada, he lived in Boston and visited New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania in the States and then Göteborg, Stockholm, Helsinki and Tallinn (and Reykjavik’s airport) in Europe. He’s ridden on almost every form of transport imaginable: Car, bus, subway, train, ferry, airplane…and of course, stroller.

As I said above, the insurance cap has been reached so I won’t close the GoFundMe campaign for his chemo just yet as we don’t know what his final total bill will be. Also, the insurance won’t cover his cremation. An anonymous donor made an extremely generous donation, so I am confident there’ll be something left over for New England Abyssinian Rescue. I will close it down on Jake’s birthday, 14 April.

My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend has stopped running today. Sleep well in Tuonela, my beloved Jakey Bakey.

Reggie hunts with StarClan

Sad news from my friend Kim…her fawn boy, Reggie, died yesterday. He had several tumours in his organs and a polyp in his nostril. He was only 13½.

Kim adopted Reggie and his sister Cheri when they were 10 years old after their human went into an assisted living facility. She got them from Northeast Aby (and Somali) Rescue (NEAR) just before Christmas, 2015. Sadly, Cheri died from the same multiple tumours in multiple organs only a couple of months after Kim adopted them.

Here is Reggie last October on his last birthday (which was celebrated late because Jacoby’s Uncle Clancy had just died. He was so adorably crosseyed, and a drooling, purring cuddler. I’ll miss seeing his photos. My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend has stopped running today. Sleep well in Tuonela, lovely Reggie.