Aby-a-Day – 7 May: Kittens!

This is another guest post by my husband Björn, describing what it’s like to have a new kitten.

With kittens, you never know what to expect but the unexpected. As followers of this blog know, we have lost two cats this year. My old Pyret gave in after 18½ years in early March. It was sad, but I knew that day would come. When Koshka suggested that we should get a new cat, bringing our total back up to five, and that she knew of a breeder with kittens to sell, I wasn’t just positive to the idea, but interested in getting a show quality cat. That kitten was to become Logan’s show buddy, giving us two cats to show and more to do at the shows. The deposit was paid. Then Logan got sick, and lost the fight to FIP after just a couple of weeks. Suddenly, we only had three cats, where we had had five just six weeks before.

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When the two of us took the train to Stockholm to pick up our new kitten, Lorelai (“Rory” for short), we both felt that it wasn’t like last year when we got Logan and Alfred. Sure, we were happy to get a new cat, but losing Logan still cast its shadow. We weren’t prepared for the force of nature in the form of a small, blue Aby girl…

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We met her breeder, Eva, at a cat show. She was to deliver two kittens to new forever homes. The cats were kept in a motor home, and we and the other family all squeezed in to meet the cats and sign papers. Little Rory was there along with her mother and sister, Maya. The first thing that struck us what how small she was. Then we saw how fearless and active she was… We were smitten.

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Rory’s sister, Maya, is larger and lighter in colour than she is. Maya will have a little boy to be her best friend in her new home!

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A twelve week old girl kitten, she became ours, and we brought her in a carrier to the railway station. Rory didn’t appear to mind leaving her family behind, or the busy surroundings of Stockholm Central Station. Other travelers who saw her were charmed by the tiny but perfect cat. We got on the train for the two-hour ride back. Rory was let out, and she began to explore her surroundings.

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Back in Skövde, we introduced her to the other cats. Jacoby hissed a little, but then he’s been grumpy recently. Angel seemed nonplussed. Alfred, on the other hand (paw?), perked up visibly. He had missed Logan, but when he saw Rory, he began to follow her and play with her. But it was the humans who were most affected by the little Aby…

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Last year, when we got Logan and Freddy, they became best buddies. Logan was bossy and underfoot, while Freddy was a good-natured goofball with a penchant for inadverently pushing things to the floor. Rory proved to be more like a fearless Energizer bunny. She stole our hearts in no time.

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Koshka and I share Rory, and it’s gratifying that she seems to like both of us equally. She has the makings of a shoulder rider, and she’s very social.

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The day after she came to our house, we took her to our local pet store in order to get a harness and collar that was small enough to fit her and to introduce her to the staff. She hadn’t ridden in a stroller before, but that didn’t faze her. Neither did walking on a leash, when she had adjusted to wearing a harness. For being a newbie at it, she walked really well – no, she walked like a pro.

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When I first saw an Aby many years ago, I fell in love with the breed. When Koshka moved here, bringing Jake and Angel, I got to see first hand what a great breed Abys are. Still, I wasn’t really prepared for Rory. All the traits of the breed packed into that little body – who can resist?

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Koshka says that she hasn’t had a kitten quite like Rory. Jake and Gun-Hee were active, charming kittens, but Rory is an Aby squared. For my part, she has won my heart. The first night, she curled up next to me in the bed and slept, displaying 100% trust. She is the perfect kitten, and we couldn’t be happier. After a depressing period of losing the oldest and the youngest cats, we feel joyous again. It’s sad that Rory and Logan never met or got to go to shows together, but our little blue girl brightens our lives and home.

Aby-a-Day – 24 March: Cat-apulted into a new life (Swedish Saturday)

Björn has written another post for me, this time about our cat show career. He is such a great help to me at shows, and he’s better at talking to the spectators than I am! I am so glad he doesn’t hate going to shows with me.

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Dogs have masters. Cats have servants. And show cats have an entourage. Since Koshka moved to Sweden, I’ve become sort of her tour manager.

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We’ve been to shows both in Sweden and abroad (Finland and Estonia thus far) with both Logan and Jacoby, and I’m usually the one who books hotels, tickets for trains and ferries, and rent and drive a car if one is needed.

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Hauling all that luggage (one big bag for the cat, and one for us, plus a few smaller bags) is too much for one person, so that’s another task.

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Then, at the shows, it’s the usual setting up to do. That’s pretty much Koshka’s thing, as she has done it so many more times before. Once the show starts, I’m still bewildered by what and when things are supposed to happen, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.

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I take it that men are in minority in the world of cat shows. There are the judges and breeders, the spouses (enthusiastic or suffering), and the occasional single guy with his cat. As we go to a show on average once every two months, it doesn’t get boring. What is fun is to go to new places, meet new people, and to stay at a nice hotel and go to a good restaurant.

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Also, as I have come to know Jake and Logan, I have become more invested in their success. After all, no one goes to a show just to display your cat and chat with the neighbor!

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While I’ll never have the cat show circuit as a lifestyle, I’m not doing this to indulge my wife, but to do something that I’ve come to enjoy.

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After all, we do this at the pleasure of our feline overlords, right?

Aby-a-Day -18 March: “If you gaze long into an Abyssinian, the Abyssinian also gazes into you” (Swedish Sunday)

This is another post written by my husband, Björn. While Björn has had cats most of his life, he never lived with Abyssinians before…

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Before Jake and Angel moved in, the most active cat I had lived with was Olivia (1999-2010), the small tortie shorthaired Norwegian Forest cat mix. She was pretty talkative and active, annoying and fun (usually at the same time). Still, she was nothing compared to cats like Jake, Angel, Alfred and Logan.

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Other cats I had met, like those of friends, were pretty sedate, just like my own old cat, Pyret. Some hid under the sofa and refused to come out when I was visiting, others were just furry couch potatoes. I had met Jake and Angel in Boston in 2015, and had seen their antics during our FaceTime sessions before Koshka moved here. I thought I was prepared…

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18 June 2016. Two cats are let out of their travel cage and explore their new surroundings. Soon I’ll learn what it means to live with Abys. While Angel is more like a regular cat as long as there’s no meat involved, my old Pyret was the opposite to Jake.

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Active, attention-seeking and affectionate (usually), the claim that Abys are the most dog-like of cat breeds is proven true.

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Did I say dog-like? Abys aren’t really like dogs, at least not at the dinner table. Dogs are usually well behaved and just sit there, with sad puppy eyes and whining, hoping for a scrap. Abys, on the other hand… Or paw.

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Living up to the epithet “grabby Aby”. Any plate within the reach of an Aby is fair game, and that reach is considerable. Turn your head for a couple of seconds, and that piece of chicken is gone. Don’t think that just because you’ve stuck your fork in the meat that it is safe.

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The Aby looks at it and says: “Is that meat you have on your fork? Mind if I insert my head between your hand and mouth and take it?”

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It was rubbing off on my old cat, too. OK, she always had a thing for shrimp off my pizza, but she began to join the other four-legged (or rather two-armed) pests when we had a meal.

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She wasn't as aggressive as the Abys, though. The young boys – at least Freddy – have adopted the bad habits of their elders, but that was just a matter of time…

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Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Living with Abys and a Singapura is a whole new experience, and I would never consider one of those decorative but passive breeds that might score first prizes at shows, but which are about as fun as a plushie. With Jake, Angel, Freddy and Logan around, there’s almost always something happening.

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Contrary to what uneducated people think, cats have personalities, and with their intelligence and activity, I would say that Abys are among the most personable of all breeds. That helps now, when my Pyret passed away two weeks ago. To have the other cats around have made the loss a little bit less painful. A home without a cat isn’t a real home.

Aby-a-Day – 4 March: Pyret party (Swedish Sunday)

This is the first of (hopefully) many guest posts written by my husband, Björn. In his first post, which was originally written before Pyret died, and revised after she left us on Friday, Björn describes his experience of going from having one elderly cat to living with two active adult Abys and two kittens.

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With the passing of Pyret two days ago, I’ve rewritten this piece. My cat is dead. This is who she was, and how she was affected by the four- and two-legged people in her life.

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While having a horde of Abyssinians (well, two) descending on you is an experience in itself, it didn’t come quite as a surprise. Not so for my old cat, Pyret. She was an old dame, born in a stable on a farm in 1999, and used to having the run of the house since my other cat, the black tortie Olivia, passed away in 2010. “Pyret” translates as “the little mite,” as she was really tiny when we got her.

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Pyret was “my” cat ever since my ex and I got her as a kitten. She liked to be in the bathroom when I enjoyed a soak.

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Pyret’s background affected her dealings with other cats. When she was a kitten, she and the rest of the litter was orphaned when they were just five weeks old. My then partner got her a friend (Olivia) a few months later, but they didn’t really bond. Still, Olivia taught Pyret how to cat, like using the litter box and cleaning herself.

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Olivia as a kitten, about six months old. She was a talkative and rather smart cat, annoying and amusing at the same time.

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Pyret sure was a pretty cat, though, even when age and failing health made her lose weight. Pyret was gentle, and except for a couple unlucky birds and the unfortunate incident with Koshka’s finger, she never hurt anyone. The photo above is from 1 April, 2000, when Koshka visited us.

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She took the photo, never expecting that she one day would become Pyret’s mom.

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Pyret and Olivia got a new room-mate in 2003, when my son Kalle was born. When we came back from the hospital with our baby, the cats met us at the front door. Kalle cried a little, and Olivia vanished, hiding for a couple of hours, while Pyret showed some interest in the new arrival. Kalle has always had cats around him, and Pyret was like his older sister.

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Scruffy, but otherwise in good shape for her age. Her last weeks in life saw her lose weight, and it was heartbreaking to see her waste away.

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When she became the sole cat again, she didn’t show any signs of missing company; she was “my” cat, and appeared happy with sleeping and eating and not much more. Her life was uneventful for six years, with not even a visit to the vet.

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18 June, 2016. Two cats were let out of their travel cage and began to explore their new surroundings. Pretty soon Pyret and I learned what it meant to live with Abys. While Angel is more like a regular cat as long as there’s no meat (or corn) involved, Jake was the opposite to my old Pyret. There was plenty of hissing and growling; Pyret wasn’t too happy about getting her territory invaded, but with a large apartment (five rooms and kitchen, 120 sq.m./1290 sq.ft.), they didn’t have to share the same space if they didn’t want to. She kind of accepted them after a while, but kept to herself most of the time.

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Then, on 6 June 2017 and again five days later, on the 11th: Kittens! Alfred and Logan arrived on the scene. This time, the period of hissing was much shorter. She didn't bond with them, either (although Logan tried very hard to befriend her), but she didn't mind their presence. They mostly left her alone in her favorite spot in a chair next to my computer desk. We were together since the first weeks of her life until the last day of her long life, and I never had a pet this long. While she was far less active than the LunaTicks, she had always been around, and for a long time she was healthier than one would have expected from a cat her age. I counted every year past her 15th as a bonus, but all good things must come to an end. She died at home, surrounded by familiar things. When she had brief spells of cramps, we comforted her. We hope it was a better choice than a trip to the vet and a needle in an unfamiliar room. The other cats appear to understand that she was ill and that she’s gone now, and not just disappeared.

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Having the other cats around will hopefully soften the blow, but to me, Pyret will always be #1. Her spot next to my desk is so empty now, and I mourn her. She was like all of us made of stardust, and she was a tiny piece of the universe that experienced itself in the shape of a cat for the 18½ years she graced this world.

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When she died, a friend wrote this:

“Att somna från alla sina liv. Tassa rakt in i evigheten. Bo i hjärtan. Spinna i minnet.”

Translation: “To leave all lives in the sleep. Pad straight into eternity. Live in hearts. Purr in memory.”

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Björn’s early photos of Pyret and Olivia can be found here (ignore the broken thumbnails – they still lead to the photos).

Aby-a-Day – September 15: Jacoby by Björn (Cartoon Tuesday)

As you may remember, Björn and I met because we both like to draw. I, of course, love Björn’s cartoons, so I asked him to do a cartoon of Jacoby. Here is what he drew for me:

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Doesn’t it just capture Jake? I know it’s more a portrait than an actual cartoon, but…jag älskar det.

Brief Discussion of Feline Diabetes – Guest Article by Jackie Clark

Feline diabetes can be a significant health problem for cats that develop it. The condition mirrors its counterpart in humans and manifests through many of the same symptoms. Individuals with a cat that has been diagnosed with the disease should follow a strict healthcare regimen that will likely be given to them by their local veterinarian.

The condition is most frequently found in cats that are eight years of age or older. The most obvious sign that something is wrong is a sudden change in weight and/or appetite. Likewise, cats that drink and urinate more than average may have the condition. The urine itself can be tested with simple glucose strips, which should indicate whether or not glucose is exiting the body. If the test is positive, then the animal has diabetes and a treatment plan will have to be developed.

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Abyssinians, as with most other cats, can be treated in a number of different ways. The diet should be strictly regulated. The vet will usually recommend low-carbohydrate dry cat food, which should help to regulate the insulin levels that are so important with animals afflicted with diabetes. Veterinarians can sometimes help to mix up dietary formulas that are specifically designed for cats in serious condition. This allows the overall ingredient percentages to be carefully controlled, which should keep the worst diabetic symptoms at bay.

Pills and insulin injections are also available, and veterinarians can help with setting these up and training the owner on how to administer the injections. Injections have in fact been found to be more effective than pills in most situations. Though the cat may be less than pleased with the injections themselves, in most cases they will begin to become familiar with the process and will behave better as time goes by. These additional treatment options, when combined with a diet that is carefully monitored, may even send the disease into remission. It is certainly treatable, even in progressive cases.

Some conditions, like mesothelioma, may mimic diabetes in the symptoms that present themselves. Lethargy, inability to keep down food, and physical weakness could be due to any number of conditions, and this is where a vet comes in handy. Ultimately, if the pet cat is acting a bit odd and is simply not itself, then this is the time to schedule an appointment with a professional. Vets have whole batteries of innovative tests that they can run on animals, and one of these should offer up a diagnosis.

Feline diabetes is a serious illness that can nevertheless be treated if it is caught in time and treated proactively. Most cat’s will go on to live normal and happy lives with their owners.

Thanks to Jackie for this informative article!