Aby-a-Day – 24 April 2020: Fancy face masks (Fashion Friday)

As everyone on the planet knows, we are experiencing a pandemic and we’re all being held hostage by a familiar virus. Unlike the rest of the world, Sweden is managing the Covid-19 situation in a…unique way. Most businesses are still open, high schools and universities are teaching online but all other schools are still in session, there are markings on the floors near the checkouts in shops, but there are no measures taken in the aisles to keep people apart. And nobody is wearing masks. But I am. I have asthma, and everytime I get a cold, it doesn’t go away. It settles in my lungs, and turns into bronchitis or pneumonia. I know how insidious coronaviruses can be. I have been reading studies of one certain type of coronavirus for twelve years now, and I am not taking any chances.

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I bought a box of 50 semi-disposable medical masks on Amazon.de to tide me over until I can get some cuter ones. On a whim, I thought I would try one on Izaak. Whoops…sorry, Zak, you can’t see with it on like that!

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Okay, that’s better. Zak actually wore it pretty well, but I am not going to lie, I miss Jacoby. He would rocked this mask!

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Even though he’s not the pro Jake was, Zak did finally strike a couple of pretty good poses for me.

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Of course Alfred had to come check out what Zak and I were doing.

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Huh. That’s rude. Guess he’s not a fan of masks.

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Given his reaction, of course I made him model it, too. He only kept it on long enough for one good photo, though, and I didn’t have time to adjust it so it wasn’t covering his eyes. Again, sometimes I really miss Jake.

But I really want a better mask than these disposables. One of my Facebook friends sent me a link to a super cute face mask with Abyssinians wearing masks on it! I love that a blue Aby is the main cat on the mask. (There is also one with Somalis on it.)

But look what else they have! A Singapura face mask! I ordered one of each. I know they seem a bit expensive ($24.95), but each mask comes with three replaceable filter pads, to give a little more protection when you go outside, and you can always get more filters. I can’t wait to try them on!

Aby-a-Day – 9 Mars 2020: Happy birthday, Logan

Today would have been Logan’s third birthday had he not gotten FIP.

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We only got to light one candle for him.

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He only got one birthday present.

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I know we have great cats, and I love Izaak, and Dash and Lorelai…but sometimes I miss Logan.

Aby-a-Day: Photobooth memories (Friday Flashback)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we took Logan to the cat show in Örebro. We are going with Lorelai and Izaak to that same show next weekend. I wonder if the Agria photobooth will be there again this year?

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We had SO much fun taking photos with Logan!

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Not only is Agria a veterinary health insurance company, they are our insurance company, and when Logan got sick with FIP, they handled everything. It made a horrific time a little less horrific.

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We were extremely lucky to have been benched right next to where the photobooth was set up. If you know cat shows, you know that it’s hard to go across a show hall to do things. The things that are close to you are the easiest things to do. Since we could see when the booth was free, it was easy for us to take Logan up for photos.

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I hope they have it this year…I want to take photos with Rory and Zak!

A vaccine for FIP? Compound GC376 may be the answer

There may be a vaccine to prevent FIP in the future. Researchers at Kansas State University, together with a medicinal chemist at Wichita University and Dr. Neils Pedersen at UC Davis, have been working on an FIP vaccine, and last week it was announced that they had licensed their compound GC376 to Anivive Lifesciences, which is a major step towards developing the compound into a commercial vaccine available to veterinarians.

Remember, though, that getting the compound to a pharmaceutical developer is just the first step. Clinical trials need to be run, and then the vaccine needs to be approved by the FDA before it will be available for sale. That will probably take a few years. But still…we may very well see a vaccine in our lifetimes that will prevent FIP in our feline companions!

Aby-a-Day – 25 September: My new tattoo (Cartoon Tuesday)

Today we started work on my memorial tattoo of Gun-Hee and Logan. Yesterday, Linus, my artist, sent me the above outline drawing…

…and this complete drawing- I was blown away. Linus thought that just their heads worked better as a tattoo than showing their whole bodies…and he was right.

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These are the photos Linus used as a reference.

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Here is the tattoo after the lines were done.

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Linus working. He wanted to make sure he looked “ugly” before I took the photo.

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Here is Gun-Hee and his leaves coloured in.

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And here is Gun-Hee’s part done completely with blue shading. On 10 October, Logan will get coloured in and it will be finished.

Aby-a-Day – 10 July: The Girl with the Aby and Singa Tattoo (Cartoon Tuesday)

You might recall a few weeks ago I was about to go in and get a magpie tattoo on my arm and plan my next tattoo with Linus, my new tattoo artist here in Slövde. Linus is amazing, and tomorrow I am going to get it coloured in. I can’t wait! Since the 21st, I’ve had a half-done, just black lines and shading. It’s going to be amazing to finally have it finished.

In the meantime, I have worked up two better-coloured versions of my original sketch. The one above was coloured in on my iPad Pro using pencil and an incredible app called Art Set which works well…except it hasn’t got layers. So I did more colouring using Photoshop…and the result is above.

Then I thought my rough-sketched maple leaves, pussy willows and cherry blossoms were kind of…lazy. So I found some Photoshop brushes and line art and created a better background. At least I have something to show Linus tomorrow during my appointment.

Aby-a-Day – 29 June: Mourning anniversary (Friday Flashback)

Yesterday, 28 June, was the 10th anniversary of Gun-Hee’s death. He succumbed to FIP at the age of 1 year, 9 months, 1 week and 5 days. He had such a short life, but he made a huge impact on my life, and he is the reason that this blog exists.

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Sherry took this photo of Gun-Hee and his littermates. It’s one of my favourite photos.

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This was the only litter that Pellburn Scarface Cat Pacino and Marica’s Bright Amber of Pellburn had together. Scar is, of course, Jacoby’s father as well. Amber was actually imported from Denmark and had Finnish, German, Norwegian and Australian cats in her pedigree. I made this image of them together in the style of those cheesy wedding photos set against fake backgrounds.

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It was love at first sight when I met him. He was named after the title character in the Korean serial “First Love of a Royal Prince” because we were adding him to a household with two female cats and he would be spoiled rotten, much like Choi Gun-Hee in the series. I loved that character, and the name Pellburn Prince Gun-Hee was such an awesome name…so that’s why I gave him a Korean name.

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He was there when I got engaged.

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But he still only had one birthday.

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In his short life, he did everything Jake did. If I had known about cat strollers back then, he would have been Strollercat.

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He was a part of my life for such a short time…but he has affected my life for over 12 years. And I still think of him every day.

Aby-a-Day – 19 June: A tattoo for FIP (Cartoon Tuesday)

I have wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate Gun-Hee for years, but I never came up with a design. And then I got Logan, and he also died because of FIP. So my tattoo idea changed. It needed to include both Gun-Hee and Logan. So I came up with the above sketch. I am actually getting a tattoo on Thursday by Linus at Magic Man Tattoo here in Skövde…not cats, but magpies. I have always loved magpies, and I had one on my SCA arms (sable, on a maple leaf argent, a magpie displayed gules, marked and breasted argent (or, in other words, a black shield with a white maple leaf with a red magpie on it).

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It looks like this…this is an enamel piece I made in university, sometime around 1988. But I digress. When I go in for my magpie tattoo, I want to talk to Linus about my next tattoo…the one I have wanted since Gun-Hee died.

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This is my first colourised version of the sketch; I want to make a second version before I see Linus, but I’m not sure if I’ll have time to do it before Thursday. I can’t decide about the banner; I want to have something about FIP, but I don’t know if I like the location of the banner no matter where I put it. I want to have it done on it on my right calf. I am really pleased with the way Logan’s profile turned out, and Gun-Hee looks like Jacoby…but still looks like himself (it’s hard to explain). I can’t wait to hear what Linus says about it!

Aby-a-Day – 4 May: “Oy with the poodles already”

You may remember my post last Thursday, I mentioned that, before we even knew Logan was sick, we had arranged to get another Aby kitten. What happened was, at the Scandinavian Winners show, I was across the aisle from an Aby breeder from Uppsala, and she had a very cute sign on top of her cage saying she had kittens available. So I took one of her little slips of paper, which said that not only did she have kittens…but they were blue kittens!

I showed the paper to Björn, and unlike most normal, sane husbands, he did NOT say, “Are you freaking kidding me? Another cat!? No more cats without a divorce!” but instead said, “Are they show quality? And…maybe a girl kitten? She could be a show friend for Logan, and I could show her while you show Logan…”

So yeah. That happened. And then we found out Logan was sick…but tomorrow we are collecting Lorelai (Rory for short).

Now, everybody say it with me, “FIP is NOT contagious“…but I still want to be as careful as possible. So I’ve been cleaning the house, cat beds, toys, everything with Virkon. If you aren’t familiar with this miracle potion, you should be. It has no smell. You can spray it, dip things into it, mist it over the population (for example, in chicken coops). You can put it in a steam floor cleaner. You can use it as a pre-wash in the laundry. You can even use it as a shampoo on animals and livestock! So I have gotten the place as clean as I can so at least I know I did everything I possibly could.

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I also scrubbed and sanitised all the litter boxes and Litter Lockers and put in all fresh litter (That’s them all piled up outside the bathroom, where I hosed them down in our tub using the shower massage). Since moving to Sweden, we’ve gone to Pee Wee pine pellet litter (and the special boxes that go with it) in five of our six boxes. The other box contains Majstor a clumping, corn-based litter. When we got rid of clay for once and for all, Pyret refused to use the pellets, so this was a compromise she accepted. After she died, at least one cat was still using it, so we kept it on, and now I guess we’ll just keep on using at least one box of it just in case.

Both of them are brilliant, though: light, inexpensive, virtually dust-free, and almost odourless!

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Here are all the shiny, clean boxes back in their places and waiting for fresh, unsullied litter.

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And here they are all filled up!

Another thing I like to do when adding a new family member is to bathe the newcomer, not only to reduce introduction of any germs unfamiliar to our household from the kitten’s home, but to make the newcomer smell less different.. But this time around, I thought not of bathing just Rory…but of bathing the resident cats here as well. Afterall, germs, and smells, can go both ways. Jacoby, Alfred and Logan all got baths shortly after they came home, and so shall Rory when she comes home tomorrow. Besides, Jake, Freddy and Angel haven’t had baths for a while, so they were due.

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So here.

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Enjoy some photos of wet pussies.

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(Not exactly sure what was going on here…)

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Of course, Abys never look wet for very long.

Aby-a-Day – 22 April: The Watch that Ends the Night

Alfred was so lonely after Logan went to the Djursjukhuset in Jönköping.

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I got a call from the vet in Jönköping on Friday the 13th, of all days, that Logan was going to die. He had a surgical biopsy of his mesenteric lymph nodes. In his belly, they found gelled fluid indicative of FIP. After Pyret, and the way all the cats paid their respects to her, I knew I couldn’t let Logan die without saying good-bye to his brother from another mother.

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So I bundled Freddy up and took him with me to Jönköping to say good-bye to our Logan.

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We had to wait in the cats-only waiting area first, where there were lots of certificates announcing how cat-friendly the hospital is.

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They also had this awesome poster showing Cats of the World. The Abys were much better than on the last poster I saw in a vet’s office…and there is a Singapura on it, too!

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Eventually, we were taken to a room. Not a hospital room, but an office-type room, with computers and a comfy leather sofa.

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The vet tech brought Logan in, and Freddy was right there to greet him.

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Then I cradled my baby and cried over him.

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Being on his back was uncomfortable for him, so I held him turned over. I wore my Porg T-shirt because Logan was my little Porg.

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Freddy didn’t care that Logan was wearing the Cone of Shame. He was just happy to see his brother from another mother.

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Logan struggling to get into the carrier with Freddy after the vet tech took off the Cone of Shame. I have no words to express how much I miss his love of Freddy. And his funny faces.

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We had to wait a while before it was our turn. We didn’t mind.

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Logan was so weak and tired. He had had surgery, blood tests and so much else done to him those last few days. But still he hung on.

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He was happy to be with Freddy.

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Finally, the vet tech came back with all the syringes. Because the doctor was tied up with an emergency, she was going to administer the drugs.

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She flushed out his port with saline before starting the euthanasia procedure. I didn’t take photos of that. I wouldn’t normally have taken as many photos of all this as I did, but Björn was away that weekend on his Hemvärnet exercises, and he couldn’t be there to see Logan that last time. So I took these for him, and also for Lisa, his breeder.

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All clear.

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He started receiving the sedatives first. While they started to work and make Logan drowsy, Freddy was right there with him.

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Brothers to the end.

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Finally the last needle was given, and Logan left us. They gave us a blue towel to wrap him in, and Freddy said his last goodbye.

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I hated to leave him alone in that empty room, so I left one of his favourite fishes with him. It’s been just a little over a week since he died, and Freddy and I are so lost. He was our little dude, and we miss him.

Aby-a-Day – 20 April: “Hold my hands; kiss my forehead, hug me and look in my eyes; maybe today is the last day you can do this.”

Logan did not want to leave us.

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He loved our apartment and everything in it.

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Logan was my little shadow. He would get up and follow me if I left the room, even if I wasn’t headed towards the kitchen. He always wanted to sleep on me, not next to me.

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Jacoby hissed at him, but Logan didn’t care. He loved Jake, too.

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He loved our balcony with its chairs and cat tree.

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I am glad the weather was getting warmer so he could enjoy it again.

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Logan loved being with Alfred on the balcony, of course.

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He also loved this chair.

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If I couldn’t find him anywhere else, I knew he’d be on his chair. Towards the end, I fed him out there, on his chair.

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But mostly, he just loved being where I was.

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I miss him being underfoot.

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And I keep looking back at his corner of the sofa, behind me, where he loved to sleep while I worked on my computer…working on photos of him and the others, writing blog posts…I miss my small but mighty boy.

Aby-a-Day – 19 April: Keeping his weight up

Logan’s weight went from 3.4 kg on 4 March to 2.9 kg on 8 April. At first, I didn’t think much of it, all the cats eat a little less and seem to lose wight when spring comes and there’s more daylight.

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But the last weekend, Logan wouldn’t eat anything. Not even freshly cooked chicken or lamb. He also wouldn’t drink – and he used to love to drink from the fountain.

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So I had to feed him and hydrate him. I fed him a gruel of Hill’s A/D and Royal Canin Convelescence, and gave him Oralade to hydrate him and give him electrolytes.

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When Gun-Hee was sick, we were told to give him Pedialyte…but they don’t seem to have that in Sweden (and I have no idea what one would do if they needed to give a baby electrolytes, either). But Oralade is actually better, since it’s balanced for cats and includes taurine. And it’s chicken flavoured!

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Logan really didn’t want to eat, and he hated having to eat from the syringes, but he tolerated it so well. The least he would do was push my hands away. But I think he knew I was trying to help him.

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I had a routine: One 10ml syringe of Oralade, then one 20ml syringe of the food mixture, and then another 10ml of Oralade.

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It could get a little messy. I know that bothered Logan, too, because he was such a fastidious little guy.

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Oh, I miss his expressions!

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You have to go slow while feeding like this. You have to give the cat time to swallow, and make sure he doesn’t accidentally inhale any of the food or liquid.

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We also took clean-up breaks.

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Come on, little Logey! Just a little bit more…

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…and, we’re done. Good job!

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Wipe the chin a little bit…there we go.

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Okay, now just one more little syringe of the Oralade…

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…there you go. Good!

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See how he’s holding onto my arm? I miss those little hands…

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…and that funny, funny face.

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The whole feeding process took about 20 minutes. I fed him every four to six hours starting on the first Friday night (6 April) until Wednesday when we went to the Djursjukhuset in Jönköping (11 April).

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This is how he looked on Sunday, 8 April, after eating. He really didn’t look like an FIP cat. And the best news is, I was able to hold his weight steady at 2.8-2.9 kg by our scale until we went to the animal hospital on Wednesday. I haven’t accomplished that much in my life, but this is one of my proudest achievements.

Aby-a-Day – 16 April: Beginning of the end…

Vide. It means “pussywillow” in Swedish and “empty” in French. Ironically appropriate.

Also appropriate: the British meaning of the word “gutted” for this feeling I have right now.

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Logan was losing weight, but I fed him kitten food, Hill’s A/D, Royal Canin Convelescence, and Aptus Reconvalescent Paste.

I called the vet on Tuesday, and the first appointment available was Friday. We took it.

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Logan was thin, but he didn’t look sick.

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He definitely didn’t have the swollen, fluid-filled belly.

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Logan needed an ultrasound of his belly, but there was another patient in that room, so we had to wait.

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We finally went in. I don’t have any photos of him getting his ultrasound because I was busy helping to hold him.

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After the ultrasound, they took samples of Logan’s blood for testing.

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He did not like that.

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Although I think he was more upset about having to have a bandage on his arm than the actual blood draw.

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“Can we please go home now, mom?”

And when we did, all we could do was wait for the test results. It was a very long weekend.

Aby-a-Day – 15 April: A post I never thought I’d be making this soon (Serious Sunday)

Logan joined StarClan yesterday around 17:20 in Jönköping. Alfred and I were with him at the end. He was killed by FIP, ten years after my first Abyssinian, Gun-Hee, was murdered by the same virus. Ten years of research, and we still lose our cats to this horrible disease.

I have a lot to process (and not just photos)…but I will tell the whole story over the next few days. But to summarise, after the judge at the Winners Show said she thought Logan was thin, I weighed him as soon as we got home. And yes, Logan had lost weight since the last time he’d been weighed (I weigh all the cats every other week, when I clip claws), so I took him to our vet here in Skövde. I called on Tuesday, and the first appointment we could get was on Friday. They ran blood tests, but we didn’t get any results until very late Monday night, and the rest of the results came in Tuesday afternoon. They said he needed to go to the nearest big animal hospital, which is in Jönköping, an hour train ride from Skövde. So on Wednesday, Logan was admitted for more tests, feeding and hydration, and a possible biopsy. For a while, we thought it might not be FIP, since he had enlarged lymph nodes and anemia, and didn’t show the classic signs of FIP, like the swollen belly that Gun-Hee had. But on Friday the 13th, after they opened his abdomen up to surgically biopsy his mesenteric lymph nodes, they found the tell-tale fluid in his abdomen. It was a jelly rather than free fluid, which is why is wasn’t so obviously FIP.

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So on Saturday, Freddy and I took the train to Jönköping to say goodbye to our friend. Phillippa the vet tech brought him into the room and Freddy went right over to him.

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Then I got to hold him. I wore my Porg shirt because they always remind me of Logan.

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He didn’t like being held on his back, so I turned him over and Freddy was back to check on him.

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Freddy went back into the carrier, and the sweetest thing happened. Logan started squirming in my hands. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but the tech exclaimed, “Oh! He wants to go into the carrier with Freddy!” And he did. I made a short video of the two of them (click the above image to view); Freddy hissed a little at Logan’s funny smell, but they cuddled together like they always have.

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Up until that moment, I thought I brought Freddy to say goodbye to help Freddy deal with the loss of his Brother From Another Mother. But bringing Freddy was as much – if not more – for Logan.

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Turn up the volume…Logan was so happy to see Freddy and me he was purring! (Click image to play.) The tech was called away for an emergency, so we had a little more time together. Logan was so tired, though.

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Finally, the tech returned and the sedation and final injection process began. We stayed with him until they confirmed he was really gone.

My heart has joined The Thousand, for my friend has stopped running today.

Goodbye, my little dollbaby. May StarClan light your path. May you find good hunting, swift running, and shelter when you sleep. There will soon be a new star in the night sky.

SE*Melur Vide “Logan” – 9 March 2017-14 April 2018

Other People’s Abys: Maisy Hunts with StarClan

I cannot believe I am writing this post. I cannot believe that this is happening.

Back in January, I reported the sad news that my friend Kelli lost her Aby Emmy. In March, she adopted a new Aby girl, Maisy.

Sadly, just this past weekend, Maisy was diagnosed with FIP and Kelli made the horrible, painful decision to put her to sleep. Losing two beloved Abys in less than six months…oh, Kelli.

It’s especially painful since Kelli and I met because we shared a loss of Abys to FIP, her Maggie and my Gun-Hee. It’s never easy to lose a cat…but it’s so much harder when they don’t even get a chance to grow up.

My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend has stopped running today. Sleep well in Tuonela, dear Maisy.

Aby-a-Day – June 28: Remembering Gun-Hee

Today is the 8th anniversary of Gun-Hee’s death.

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Actually, he was murdered. Murdered by that malicious serial killer known as FIP.

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He was so miserable when he was sick.

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It’s true what they say. They do tell you when it’s time.

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I still miss him every day. I wish Jacoby could have met his half-brother.

My heart has joined The Thousand…

Sad news this morning…Jacoby’s niece, Pellburn Cassia Alexdandrina joined StarClan yesterday. It was FIP, the same as her uncles Gun-Hee and Rusty. Cassia was Jake’s littermate-brother Dillin’s daughter.

I hope Sherry is doing okay in this time of sadness.

Aby-a-Day – June 28: Five years without Gun-Hee (Part 2) (Friday Flashback)

Today is the day Gun-Hee lost his short but fierce battle against FIP.

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There is hope, however: Just last week, Cornell announced a breakthrough in the search for the mutation that turns the benign feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) into the fatal FIP virus. Let’s all keep our fingers and toes crossed that this will lead to some sort of a cure for this evil disease.

Aby-a-Day – June 7: Five Years Without Gun-Hee (Part 1) (Friday Flashback)

June is always a bittersweet month for me, because it is the month that Gun-Hee went from being a healthy, normal almost-two-year-old Aby to being gone.

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These photos were taken on 7 June 2008. He wasn’t really showing symptoms of FIP yet.

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We took the red line out to Cambridge. He always loved to look out the window as we crossed the Longfellow Bridge.

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It was a hot, muggy day. We went to Harvard Square.

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Gun-Hee posed with John Harvard and his famous shiny shoe.

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That was a really good day.

Nyan Cat hunts in StarClan Now

Super sad news from Catsparella: The cat who inspired Nyan Cat has died from FIP. He was 2 years old.

He was a blue shorthair named Marty (after Marty McFly), and he took over the world. I have a Nyan Cat scarf, a T-shirt, and a very awesome camera strap featuring everyone’s favourite Pop-Tart rainbow cat

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you know FIP is my sworn enemy. It’s an evil, evil genetic disease that has no test, no vaccine, and no cure. There’s no way to really know if a cat has the “FIP gene” until they get sick. Very, very few cats survive FIP.

Jacoby’s half-brother, Gun-Hee, my first Aby, died from FIP before he was 2 years old. He was fine on June 1, looked a little peaked on June 10, went to the vet on June 20…and died on June 28. Researchers still don’t know a lot about FIP, except that it is caused by a mutation, not spread by air or shed in feces. I know it’s genetic because when Gun-Hee got sick, the cats he lived with (Kylie, age 3; Tessie, age 5; and Patrick, age 14) didn’t get so much as a sniffle…but his littermate-brother, Rusty, 1,000 miles away in New Brunswick, got sick with FIP within days of Gun-Hee. They hadn’t seen each other since they were 3 months old, but they both got the same disease in the same week.

Jake and Gun-Hee have the same father, Scar, but different mothers. Gun-Hee’s mother, Amber, had kittens with other fathers, and Scar had kittens with other mothers, but Gun-Hee and Rusty’s litter was the only one between Scar and Amber. No other kittens of Pellburn have gotten FIP.

And now Marty, aka Nyan Cat, has joined StarClan. Of course, he already has his own stars…and a rainbow, too.