Aby-a-Day – 20 Juni 2020: Happy Gotcha Day! (Special Saturday)

Two years ago today, I travelled to Stockholm to collect our little Izaak.

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His harness was almost too big for him, even adjusted to the smallest size..

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He was so tiny…

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Zak and Lorelai bonded over leftovers. This is the day after he arrived.

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Two days after that, he had his first outside adventure.

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He quickly discovered his favourite, IKEA mice. This was his fifth day with us.

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The day after that…

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…we had our first trip to the vet…

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…our first visit to DjurMagazinet…

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…and our first walk home. Little Zak did a LOT in his first week with us!

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But it isn’t just Zak’s Gotcha Day. Fifteen years ago today, we answered a Craigslist ad and brought Kylie home from Quincy. We had to stop at Petco on the way home to buy a carrier!

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This is her and Tessie today, back in Boston. I can’t believe she is 15! And, in a month and a half, Tessie will be 17!

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But wait, there’s more! 29 years ago, today, I got Harri, my very first Siamese. We were on our way to an SCA event, and we picked him up on the way.

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He camped with us for his first several days with us before we got him home. That’s probably why he was such a good traveller.

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He was 14 years old when we got Kylie…but he was very fond of her. Seems that 20 June is a good day to get a kitten!

Aby-a-Day – 26 Maj: Outside with Alfred (Cinema Sunday)

When I share the photos of Lorelai and Izaak running around outside, people ask why we don’t let Alfred run free, too.

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The reason for that is he was never trained to go outside offleash. We worked on leash training with him and Logan, not offleash training. It’s something I never thought to do again until I met Rory. My Siamese Harri was the last cat I trained to stay close offleash. It helped that he hated me to be out of his sight, so all I had to do was hide behind a tree, and he’d yowl and come running.

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Zak is the same way Harri was. Rory is a little more free-spirited; she knows when we want to go in, but she tries to stretch her time outside as long as she can. If I go back into the building, though, she always comes up to the doorstep trying to find me.

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But if Freddy gets out off leash, he runs off to explore on his own. This is partly because I never trained him to be off leash, and because, being the evil genius he is, when he was young he managed to open the kitchen window and the balcony sliders a couple of times without our knowing and roamed around alone for hours until we noticed him missing. Jacoby also did this; the first time he escaped, he was gone for over an hour!

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So, sorry, Freddy…you need to stay on your leash.

But really, he doesn’t seem to begrudge the kittens their offleash time. He’s perfectly happy to be outside at all, even if it’s on his leash.

Aby-a-Day – 26 Februari: Fox finished…plus a little extra (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, Linus finished up my fox tattoo. I really love the way it turned out.

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Here is a close up, showing where the snake used to be.

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I am so glad to be rid of that snake! Even though I adore Barnaby, the artist who did it (and who did my Octopus, Koi and Tiger tattoos)…but it was a mistake.

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Whilst I was there, Linus also touched up the memorial tattoo of Gun-Hee and Logan (Logan’s eyes were made greener, and the background was touched up.

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But best of all, he also touched up my very first tattoo, which I got on my first trip to New York City at the end of 1995. Naturally, being almost 25 years old (Day-uuuuuuummmmm!), poor Harri has faded quite a lot.

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Now he looks like he did when I first got him! Thank you, Linus!

Aby-a-Day – 19 October: Come on kitties now…Everykitty get together (Flashback Photoshop Friday)

This morning, Facebook greeted me with a reminder of a post I made four years ago. I was challenged to post five photos of my cats, and I decided to post five group photos. Getting a photo of all the cats in the house together at the same time is harder than some might think. So, because of the reminder that Facebook sent me, I decided to post all the “family photos” I have been able to capture over the years.

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The oldest is this, of Sigrid, Harri, and Patrick cuddled together on my sofa. This was taken in autumn 1997. It looks cuddly, but actually Sigrid and Tricky were sleeping there, and Harri decided to squeeze in between them. Still cute, though.

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This is after I’d moved to Boston. Harri and Patrick had been joined by Tessie and Kylie. This is the first photo of all of them together.

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This is my favourite photo of this group. I even used it as a Christmas card.

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…And this would be the outtake of that photo…

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This was Christmas 2006. Harri had died in August and we had just adopted Gun-Hee.

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This photo is less posed, but more my favourite. Love Kylie’s arm!

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Another photo of Gun-Hee with Patrick, Kylie and Tessie, this time all gathered on our bed.

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This is another shot from that session, “arted up” in Photoshop.

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One evening, all the cats lined up on the back of the sofa.

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I had this shot…but Gun-Hee moved his head.

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Thanks to Photoshop, I was able to replace Gun-Hee’s head and make this into a usable image.

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This is another “art” composite photo. All of them were on the tree together, but this is multiple shots combined so each cat looks good.

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Food and the kitchen is a great way to get everyone together. Here we have (anticlockwise) Jacoby, Angel, Tessie and Kylie.

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However, they did have other motivations to gather together.

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After we moved to Sweden, the kitchen was more a gathering point than ever. Here we have Alfred, Jake, Angel, Logan and Pyret.

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And then, suddenly…our five cats became Jake, Freddy, Lorelai, Angel and Izaak.

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A collection that was also easier to gather in the kitchen.

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But they also gathered spontaneously on our bed! No Photoshop required.

Aby-a-Day – 2 June: Logan’s last cat bed (Swedish Saturday)

When pets are cremated in Sweden, it seems the pet crematoriums return the ashes to you in a simple, pine box. This is how Björn received the ashes of first Olivia and then Pyret, and that’s how we got Logan back from the vet as well.

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Lorelai came to see what was left of the brother and show companion she will never get to meet.

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Bittersweet photo, isn’t it? Hang one, more where that came from.

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To my surprise, when I opened the box Logan’s ashes came in, they were just loose inside! Back in the States, you would get the ashes in a box, sure, but the ashes inside the box were in a plastic bag of some sort.

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Alfred also came to investigate Logan’s loose ashes. Yeah, that’s the more bittersweet thing I mentioned earlier.

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Of course, for Harri and Patrick, I had lovely urns made by Alex in Welderland, and while I love them, another would be too heavy and too expensive to ship from the States to Europe. Gun-Hee didn’t have so much as an urn as a “memorial box” which included a flask of his ashes along with other souvenirs of his short life. I looked online for cat urn options in Europe and eventually discovered Etsy seller 1st4Signs.

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It’s really beautiful. The box is oak, with an engraved slate top and a photo of Logan. Of course, Freddy was on hand to help me put his brother from another mother into his final cat bed.

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I poured Logan’s ashes into the fancy new box. They fit perfectly.

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Then we put the lid back on.

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It fastens with two brass screws. Jacoby came to see what was going on while I was screwing the lid back on.

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Not sure how a screwdriver equals a possible meal, but all right…

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There we are. Logan is in his final resting place.

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Freddy and Jake say goodbye to Logan one last time.

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No Jake…this won’t be you for a very, very long time. I hope.

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For now, Logan is on the windowsill near Björn’s computer underneath which Pyret loved to sleep, next to Pyret and Olivia’s ash-boxes. Eventually we’ll have everyone’s ashes on one shelf somewhere. It just seems so sad that the older we get, the more little boxes of ashes we collect.

(Also…and I am sorry it’s such a depressing post…but, happy birthday, Sherry!)

Aby-a-Day – 12 April: My first wedding – Part 2 (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, I posted the cartoon I did for the holiday card I sent out just before I got married to my first husband.

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This is the drawing I did on the invitation. Again, Harri the Siamese is prominently featured. I sent Björn and his then-fiancee an invitation…but they weren’t able to attend.

Aby-a-Day – 5 April: My first wedding – Part 1 (Cartoon Tuesday)

Despite meeting Björn in 1992, he will be my – gasp! – third husband! My first husband and I were both members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and we got married in medieval garb. Our wedding was held on New Year’s Eve; we had the reception first and then got married just before midnight. The SCA’s big holiday celebration (and dress-up event) is Twelfth Night, and in the West Kingdom it’s typically held the first Saturday in January.

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This was my Christmas/12th Night card to our friends in 1992, and of course I sent one to Björn. He recently found it and, since we’re getting married in less than two weeks, I thought I’d share it because it also shows my Siamese, Harri. Harri actually came to the wedding as Best Cat and had a wonderful time. Harri was actually quite the party cat – I think he and Jacoby would have been great friends.

Aby-a-Day – October 6: Christmas Déjà vu (Cartoon Tuesday)

Björn found another holiday cartoon I drew while clearing the basement storage for the imminent arrival of all my crap. This one was a quick sketch I drew, without pencil, for his then-girlfriend Titti back in 1997 when I was living in San Francisco with my two Siamese Harri and Patrick.

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A quick sketch like that? Of course I didn’t remember it after 18 years. But when he showed it to me on Sunday when he discovered it I was instantly struck with the similarity of this little scribble of Patrick and Harri to this cartoon I did in 2013 starring, of course, Jacoby and Angel:

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I mean, okay, the joke is different…but the basic dynamic is very similar. I’m also amused that Harri seems to have transitioned from being the “goofball” (aka Jake) character into being the “intelligent straight-man” (aka Angel) character with the introduction of Patrick, who was younger, rather than Sigrid, who – like Angel – was older than Harri. Or, the girlcat is always smarter…when there is no girlcat, the older cat is smarter.

Still…interesting to see an embryonic idea become a full-fledged cartoon years later…even if it was a complete accident!

Aby-a-Day – September 29: Christmastime is here, by golly! (Cartoon Tuesday)

This is the actual illustration for the Christmas card I was talking about last week.

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This is San Francisco, the intersection of Geary and Stockton in front of Union Square, 1996. My then-boyfriend, Eric, and I are doing Harri and Sigrid’s holiday shopping for them. Also, if you look at the background, there is another cat sitting on the sidewalk; that is Fagin and his human Mario, who would panhandle with his lovely blue-point Siamese mix. I used to bring fagin cat food, and Mario liked that better than the money! Mario wasn’t homeless, but he had been a construction worker until he started to lose his eyesight. I wonder what he’s doing now…and if he still has a kitty buddy.

That intersection is completely torn up now for light-rail construction, but here’s how it looked in 2011:

I can’t believe how much time I spent on this drawing! Nowadays, I’d just use a photograph and be done with it. I also used old-school Chartpak shading film on this…oh, man, I do NOT miss that stuff!

Aby-a-Day – September 22: Jake and Angel are the new Harri and Sigrid (Cartoon Tuesday)

Björn has been going through his basement storage, in order to make room for all the crap that I’m dragging with me to Sweden. In the process, he’s found all the old letters and cards I sent him over the years. Including this little sketch from the back of my Christmas card from 1996:

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This, of course, is my two Siamese, Harri and Sigrid (this was before I adopted Patrick). But what struck me when I saw this drawing (which I’d completely forgotten), was how similar the dynamic of Harri and Sigrid was to the dynamic of Jacoby and Angel in my current cartoons.

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Harri, like Jake, is the boyish, over-the-top goofball, while Sigrid, like Angel, is the feminine cool head of reason.

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I’m completely in love with the fact that I drew Harri wearing hockey skates while Sigrid wears figure skates. And I know that if I drew Jake and Angel ice skating, I would do the exact same thing.

Aby-a-Day – April 24: Kylie’s 10th Birthday (Friday Flashback)

Today is a very special day – it’s Kylie’s 10th birthday!

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Of course, we don’t know her exact birthday, but we got her on June 20, and she was about 7 or 8 weeks old. So, counting back, we decided that her birthday was April 24.

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My husband wanted a tiny girl kitten. I found a Craigslist post for free kittens in Quincy, and when I emailed the man, he said he had mostly white kittens and one grey tabby. My husband kind of wanted a tabby, but by the time we got to the house, only the white kittens were left. We saw them running around, and then heard a tiny “mew” from a side table behind us. The tiny mew came from a tiny, white kitten with two grey stripes on her head. And that was that.

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Kylie was tiny when we got her, too.

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She was literally the same size as a Beanie Baby cat! We got to meet her mother, who was a very petite, slender all-white shorthair with odd-coloured eyes, one green and one blue. Her name was Mary Jane, and she was so pretty. To this day, I wish I’d taken a camera along and gotten a photo of her.

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At the time, I had my two Siamese, Harri, aged 14, and Patrick, aged 11. We had just gotten Tessie a month before, and she was meant to be Kylie’s mother figure and playmate, since the boys were a little old to be much fun for an active, lively kitten. This is one of Kylie’s first encounters with Tessie…it got better.

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Kylie was a very lively kitten.

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She was the type who would play with anything.

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Anything!

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A piece of plastic foil wrapping paper was an awesome toy. I think she played with this for days.

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Despite being 14 years older than Kylie, Harri really loved her. He always loved other cats and kittens; even though he was an only cat until he was 3, Harri was the most welcoming, friendly cat I’ve ever known – he never minded having other cats around him.

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Kylie looked up to Tessie as her role model.

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“This is how you lie on a hot day, Kylie.” “Okay, Tessie, am I doing it right?”

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Like I said…Kylie was tiny. Look at her compared to Tessie in this photo!

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She was tough, though. She could hold her own against Tessie, despite the size difference.

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Tessie was so patient with her. Of course, Tessie had one litter of kittens before I adopted her, so she knew how to handle Kylie.

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Kylie and Tessie were almost always together. Even today they still sleep together.

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Kylie was also fond of Patrick.

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They would play together. At the time, Patrick was our largest cat; he was a bit chunky at 13-14lbs. It was comical to watch Kylie and Patrick play together because of their size difference.

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Patrick was always the last cat to accept a newcomer. I guess Kylie won him over.

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Trick even shared the cave at the top of the cat tree with her!

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This photo of the four of them sleeping together on my bed in my old apartment was my Christmas card in 2005.

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Kylie loved to play and cuddle with stuffed kittens. This was one of her most favourite “dollies.”

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Harri died in August of 2006, and then that following December, Gun-Hee joined the family. Kylie was only a year older than Gun-Hee, so they were pretty close.

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She took on the role that Tessie had taken with her.

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You would find them together a lot.

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They used to play together all the time.

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They had projects, like trying to open the dishwasher. Gun-Hee was the brains and Kylie was the muscles of the operation.

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They hung out together.

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She helped him celebrate his first birthday. She was really sad when Gun-Hee died and she mourned him. She didn’t eat treats for a week.

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She was quick to accept Jacoby, too. I think she was happy to have another Aby to play with.

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Kylie and Jake have always gotten along.

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She was one of the first to not hiss at him and let him play with her, actually.

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They like to go out to the park together, too…although Kylie isn’t as brave around dogs as Jake is.

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But since Kylie is four years older than Jake, their bond isn’t quite the same as the one she and Gun-Hee’ shared.

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They share a love of high places.

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This is also a common sight at our house: Jake cuddling with Tessie and Kylie.

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Angel always seems to be the odd cat out. Of all the cats, Kylie and Angel probably interact the least. I think that’s more Angel’s doing than Kylie’s, though.

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I had Kylie’s DNA tested at UC Davis. We think her father was a tabby Maine Coon. Since her mother was a white shorthair, those dominant traits covered up anything her father was carrying. I know that she does carry the genes for long hair, dilute, and tabby, and that her ancestors originated in England rather than the Middle East or Asia. Underneath her dominant white, she is probably a non-dilute tabby, and she may actually be a torbie (UCD doesn’t have a test for sex-linked red). While Kylie is small like her mother, she is built like a Maine Coon, with a long tail, lanky legs and a boxy muzzle. She’s just a miniature shorthaired version.

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She also does a mean Hello Kitty impersonation!

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It’s hard to believe she’s 10 years old. Happy birthday, Kylie!

Aby-a-Day – December 21: A visit to St. Nicholas

Last week, Jacoby went to see Santa at Petco.

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This is something I’ve wanted to do with him forever. I used to take my Siamese, Harri and Sigrid, to see Santa back in San Francisco.

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So when I learned Petco was doing photos with Santa I leapt at the chance.

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Luckily, it was a nice warm day, in the 40’s. I bundled Jake up well, but really, it wasn’t that cold at all.

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It’s been a while since we went anywhere in Jake’s stroller. I think he was happy to go out somewhere.

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We actually went to an Unleashed by Petco store. This one just opened on Washington Street in the South End back in July, and it’s so close to where we live! It was less than a mile’s walk, closer than the Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller Center. We’ll definitely have to come back more often.

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The staff is awesome. And they were thrilled to see a cat come to shop.

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The manager, Jim, was playing Santa. He left his post to come meet Jake.

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Now, that’s special treatment, when Santa comes to see you.

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I’m not sure who enjoyed the petting more, Jake or Santa!

Aby-a-Day – June 13: The cats who came before – Part 4 (Friday Flashback)

Originally there were only going to be two parts to this series…but it turned out to be four parts! This is about the crossover between the Siamese regime and the Abyssinian era and who from my old life knew the cats I have today.

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I met my future husband in 2003. Before he met me, he’d never really known any cats. In fact, he told me he didn’t like cats. I asked him why, and he responded, “Well, they don’t love you. They aren’t loyal. They don’t greet you at the door when you come home, you can’t play with them or take them to the park…” “Ah,” I said. “You haven’t met my cats.” And, sure enough, he saw the error of his assumptions. So much so that he decided he wanted his very own kitten to raise himself and be “his” cat. This was in 2005, when Harri was 14 and Patrick was 11; of course, those two old bachelors would be no match for a hyper young cat.

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So I adopted Tessie. Her registered name is Bes Butterfly; Tessie fit the sounds well enough and also evoked the previous year’s World Series victory. I found her on the Retired Friends list (the same place I’d found Patrick eight years before) and fell in love with her photos and her description. She’d also had her own litter of kittens, so she knew how to handle them. I’d originally been looking for a Siamese, and then branched out to Burmese and eventually found Tessie under Asians.

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Tessie fit right in.

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Tessie was 12 years younger than Harri, but they formed an almost instant bond.

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I always said it was because they were both born in the Year of the Goat, and had many qualities in common. But whatever the reason, they became fast friends.

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Tessie adored Harri.

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And the feeling was mutual.

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They often slept cuddled together.

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Tessie’s relationship with Patrick was more complicated. I think Patrick was a little jealous of Tess’ friendship with Harri.

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However, they did get along. These two photos were taken not long after Harri died. Both Tessie and Patrick loved Harri, so I think they bonded for a while.

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But at best they were more roommates than actual friends.

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Sometimes, Patrick would pretend Tessie wasn’t even there.

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Tessie has always been our nurse cat. That may have been why she was so drawn to Harri; he was in pain from his arthritis and also on daily medication for his thyroid. When Patrick came home after yet another dental procedure, Tessie would look after him.

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And then, in June 2005, Kylie the kitten arrived on the scene.

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Tessie was cast in the big sister/auntie role to deflect Kylie’s attention from the older boys. Turns out, that was a good call!

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Kylie idolised Tessie and did everything she did. She was like Tessie’s little white shadow.

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Harri always loved other cats, especially kittens. He would run up and greet them, and seemed taken aback when they would hiss in his face.

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He watched over Kylie like an uncle.

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Harri really loved Kylie, but as she got older and he got more frail, she started avoiding him, and would hiss at him when he got too close. I think that really hurt his feelings.

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Patrick and Kylie had an odd relationship.

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For one, he was just so much bigger than she was! I don’t think he really knew how to deal with her.

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Harri died in August 2006. This photo was probably the last “portrait” of Harri, Patrick, Tessie and Kylie together. It was taken in

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In December 2006, I got my very first Abyssinian…Gun-Hee!

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Patrick took to Gun-Hee right away – this photo was taken the day after we brought Gun-Hee home. Like Tessie and Harri, Gun-Hee and Patrick were 12 years apart and were both born in the Year of the Dog. Say what you will about astrology, I’ve always wondered what it was that caused the two cats born under the same Chinese zodiac animal to become bonded not once, but twice.

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Patrick became closer to Gun-Hee than he ever did to Tessie or Kylie.

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And apparently Gun-Hee felt the same way.

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Of course, Gun-Hee got along with everyone.

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He and Patrick just had an especially close friendship.

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Patrick was crushed when Gun-Hee died, only two years after he’d lost Harri.

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But for those two years, we had a happy family. After Gun-Hee’s death, as I said last week, Patrick just went into a decline. At the same time, I discovered Angel being fostered by Purebreds Plus, whose headquarters are in Vacaville, CA, only about 20 miles from where I grew up. We needed another Aby to fill the hole Gun-hee left, and Angel needed a home. At the same time, Patrick needed some boycat buddies. So…Patrick went back home to California, and Angel came to Boston. A year later, Jacoby happened…and the rest is history!

Aby-a-Day – June 6: The cats who came before – Part 3 (Friday Flashback)

1997 was a pretty big year for me.

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Harri turned 6, and Sigrid turned 9. Harri was a little too playful for our older lady.

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So I added Patrick, to be Harri’s friend and wrassle partner. And then, a month later, I moved into my own apartment with all three Siamese. Sigrid, however, was in love with my ex-boyfriend, and became depressed. So, she ended up going back to live with him. I was sad and I missed her terribly…but she was so much happier with him (and, I think, without the two boisterous boys).

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Harri and Patrick became fast friends. They didn’t seem to miss Sigrid at all, even if I did. A year later, we all moved all the way across the country from San Francisco to Atlanta.

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It was a pretty huge move, but my boys took it in stride.

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The house we lived in had a deck, which both Harri and Patrick enjoyed to its fullest.

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Atlanta and I did not agree, so after almost two years, we all moved again, to Boston. Harri and I flew first; my ex brought Patrick a week later.

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Harri always loved hotel rooms.

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My new apartment was on the third floor of a typical Sommerville triple-decker, and it had a sunroof over the landing. I made this into a sort of patio for the boys to enjoy.

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Harri and Patrick were the best of friends. Harri was still bonded to me, but Patrick was bonded to Harri. He actually got more upset if Harri was gone overnight than if I was.

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This is one of my favourite photos of Harri. I took this at the vet.

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And this is one of my favourite photos of Patrick. Patrick was actually a registered TICA Siamese and his name was Sugarhills Twinkletoes. I got him from a breeder of Devon Rexes and Sphynxes; Patrick was their “pet” but he was twice the size of the dainty Rexes and delicate Spynxes and played too roughly with them. I found him on the Retired Friends website. Yes, in 1997 I found a cat on the internet! In 2005, I would find Tessie on the same website.

I had to rename Patrick; there was no way I was going to have a cat called “Twinkie.” But his nickname was “Tricky,” which sounds similar. He never had a problem with the name change. He was named after Patrick Roy…but his full name was Patrick Tinglatårna (Twinkletoes, in Swedish).

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Patrick had bad teeth. Really bad teeth. He had about half of them removed over the course of his life. One of these was a canine so he ended up with this sort of sneer when his lip would get caught on the tooth that was left.

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Harri and Patrick at the vet. When I lived in Somerville, I went to Porter Square Veterinary, which was about five blocks from my apartment. I used to walk with both boys – in their bags – for appointments.

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They always did everything together.

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Except when Harri had to go in the back for bloodwork. Harri had hypothyroid starting when he turned 13, and had to get bloodwork done every 6 months.

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Patrick was quite a character, though. He was always doing really goofy things.

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Like this.

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Or sitting in front of the fan and meowing into it to hear the sound of his voice.

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He also loved cereal. Not the milk…the actual cereal.

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Even though Harri had Patrick, he was always my boy.

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I still took him out and about, albeit not as much as when we were active in the SCA. But he did go to Boston Common.

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On his 10th birthday, we went to Long Island.

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Sun, sand and surf. Except it was April, and still kind of chilly.

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That was a fun weekend, though.

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Harri may have been 10, but he still loved to explore.

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He was the only cat I’ve ever had that I trusted to be off-leash. He would panic if I was out of his sight, so I knew he’d never wander off. (Patrick, on the other hand…yeah, not so much.)

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Although there was this one time when we had a blizzard in Boston…

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Harri wanted nothing – I mean, nothing to do with the snow. He took one look at it and ran back up three flights of stairs. But Patrick had to check it out.

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I’m not sure if he regretted his decision or not…but he did make the best of it.

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Harri also really loved Christmas. It may have been because of his trips to see Santa, but I have a video of him trying to open his own presents, and one year he tried really hard to pull down his stocking. And he knew which one was his.

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Harri loved to sit near the tree, and watch the lights. Patrick…well, Patrick liked to sit next to Harri.

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Harri and Patrick were the best of friends for 9 years. This photo was taken the Sunday before Harri died.

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Poor Harri had such bad arthritis in his last couple of years. I gave him Cosequin, but he was still in pain. He was my loyal protector right to the end, though. These two photos were taken just before we went to the vet for the last time.

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After Harri died, Patrick was so bereft. Gun-Hee’s arrival four months later helped a lot (as you will see next week), but Patrick was always kind of lost after Harri left us.

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After Gun-Hee died, Patrick really got depressed. He never really bonded with any of the girls, despite having known them longer than he knew Gun-Hee. It turns out, Patrick really preferred to be around boycats. So, I took Patrick to live with my mom, and my sister’s two boys, Madison and Baxter.

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This is Patrick and Madison the weekend I brought Patrick to my mom’s house. The same weekend, and he’s already sharing a bed!

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Patrick and Madison became fast friends. I wonder if Madison being a bluepoint and white Siamese mix had anything to do with it?

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I went back to visit Tricky in June, 2010. He’d been living with my mom for almost two years at that point, and he was so happy. He died that November, on Thanksgiving weekend, a month after his 16th birthday. He was luckier than Harri; he may have had bad teeth, but he didn’t have the hypothyroid problems or the crippling arthritis that Harri did. My mom said he was fine up until his last week, when his liver and kidneys just suddenly gave out.

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Harri and Patrick are together again, now, forever. I got these urns made by Alex in Welderland, and they helped me so much. They have hooks to hold their tags, and their names are on the backs. Harri’s has a candleholder, and Patrick’s urn has a crooked smile and stripes on the tail.

I miss those two boys so much…but it was because Harri – my bonded heart cat – left me that I finally got my first Abyssinian.

Aby-a-Day – May 30: The cats who came before – Part 2 (Friday Flashback)

Originally, there were only going to be two parts to this series…but it turned out, I had so many photos of Harri, I need to break it out into two parts. So now, instead of being part two of two, this is part two of three.

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Harri (Harakka Talonväkiliäinen) was my first cat as an adult. I was 26, and finished with university and in an apartment that could support a cat. He was actually my birthday present, but I didn’t get him until 20 June. I was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism at that time, and I actually picked Harri up on the way to June Crown. He spent the weekend camping and it wasn’t until four days later that he finally got to his new home. I was actually his second person. We got him from a man who’d had him two weeks. He’d gotten Harri from the son of the breeder, who lived “in Redding…or Red Bluff. One of those” and hadn’t paid extra to get his papers. I asked why he was getting rid of him and the man told me, “Well, he cries all the time. And I have white carpets, so I can’t leave him alone in the house while I’m at work. I have to keep him in the garage. Well…duh, he’s a Siamese kitten, that’s what they do! I paid the man $100 and took “Siamy” off to the event.

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To say he loved the SCA would be an understatement.

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He embraced it.

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He was squired to a knight, Count Sir Brion Thornbird at his second event. Sir Brion later said that Harri was his most active squire.

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Harri fit right in, drinking from tankards (in fact, throughout Harri’s life, he wouldn’t drink water from bowls; he had to have his water in a cup. People don’t drink from bowls, so neither would he)…

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…hanging out in the Royal Pavillion impressing the ladies…

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…and just generally being the mascot of the West Kingdom for a couple of years. I never left him home alone, so he went to every event that I did.

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He even had his own little pavilion.

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After a while, though, he outgrew it, and that style of pavilion didn’t really fit his Viking persona, so…

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…he upgraded to a genuine Viking A-Frame. He also had a miniature rope bed with a futon mattress, a steel raised firepit, and, of course, his own heraldic banner.

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Of course, no matter what tent he himself had, he still crashed in my tent, too.

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Harri was my best buddy, very much the same way Jacoby is now.

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He was even “Best Cat” at my first wedding!

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Harri was one of the bravest cats I have ever known. For some reason I never figured out, he hated dogs. He considered them the ultimate evil. He would insert himself physically between me and any dog, and he would attack if the dog came too close. We used to go for walks in Golden Gate Park, and when we’d encounter a dog, I’d tighten Harri’s leash. “Oh, don’t worry,” the dog owner would invariably say. “He likes cats!” “That’s great,” I’d respond. “HE hates dogs.”

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Harri was a great cat. He and Sgt. Pepper actually met once (the crossover between my childhood cats and my adult cats) and I know I have those photos, but I haven’t been able to locate them yet. He did have a lot of energy and, as an only cat, he used to stage running attacks on my ankles. This started to get a bit painful, so when he was three, I adopted a friend for him.

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At the time, I was working for a weekly newspaper taking classified ads over the phone. I happened to take a call from a man who needed to rehome a redpoint Siamese cat because his son was suddenly allergic. We got to talking and…well, let’s just say that ad never made it into the newspaper. Sigrid was six years old, a retired CFA Grand Champion. I can’t remember the cattery name but her call name was Sugar…which I promptly changed to Sigrid.

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Harri loved her right from the start. She was such a wonderful, beautiful cat…and I have so few photos of her.

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The SFSPCA would have photos with Santa every Christmas. These are some of the only photos I have left of her now.

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I had Harri and Sigrid together for three years, during which time I moved from Chico to Sacramento to San Francisco. But then Harri was still an active 6 year old who weighed 12 lbs, and Sigrid was an elderly 9 year old who weighed 8 lbs. It was clear that Harri needed a more energetic pal to roughhouse with. And that’s when I adopted Patrick.

More about Harri and Patrick next week.

Aby-a-Day – May 23: The cats who came before – Part 1 (Friday Flashback)

I was going through some old photos the other day and realised I’ve never shared these photos of the cats who came before Jacoby, Angel, Kylie and Tessie. Of course, there were many many more than just these whose photos you see below…these are just the only ones that I have in jpeg form. I’m sure my mom has a huge box full of all the photos I took of all the cats we had when I was a kid, along with all their negatives (remember those)? I’m just not sure where they are. I’ve asked her to look for them, though. There’s another pile of photos in storage somewhere in Atlanta…and I’m sure a lot more are just gone.

But in the meantime…

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This is me with Baby Puss, my first cat. We had her mother, too, and somewhere there is a photo of me around the age of 2 with a box full of kittens, one of which is Baby Puss. She was named after the Flinstones’ cat, of course. This was taken when I was 7, so Baby Puss must have been 5.

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I drew these pictures of Baby Puss when I was 3 years old. The first word I could write was…you guessed it: Cat!

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Baby Puss photobombs a picture of my sister, my mom and me in matching dresses. These were made for my aunt’s 25th wedding anniversary party in Edmonton, so I was 6. We also had a solid black tomcat named Bagheera but I think he wasn’t neutered and he wasn’t very friendly. And yes, I’ve pretty much always had the same short haircut.

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I made a little book about Baby Puss when I was in Grade One.

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Later on, when I was 8, I got my own kitten who I named Crystal. She was all black, too. This is a drawing I did of her with my parents. Interestingly, they got divorced about a year later. I wonder if I sensed it coming and was trying to ward it off with a drawing?

Then there were some cats in between…Morris (red tabby) and Sam (Crystal’s son, a solid blue), Rossi (a part Abyssinian who looked like a silver Egyptian Mau), Billie and Pezza (both black and white shorthairs) and Shane (another black shorthair who just showed up in our backyard the same day we’d started reading the book in school and he was a dark mysterious stranger who just appeared one day. We never knew how old he was, and he died of Feline Leukaemia). I know there are photos of these cats…I just don’t know where any of them are.

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Rossi was an awesome cat whose mother was half Abyssinian. He was leash trained and smart…and he died tragically when he was only 10 months old. He got out of my dad’s house and was hit by a car. I know I have photos of him somehwere, but I can’t seem to locate them. But I also used his name when I drew editorial cartoons when I was in high school, and added him in the corner as a commentator (imitating Pat Oliphant).

One side note…I thought splitting California into two states was a good idea when I was 15 and I still think it’s a good idea…

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I did find this one, very overexposed photo of me with Billie (both Billie and Rossi were named after characters on Lou Grant). I was able to fix it up quite a bit in Photoshop…couldn’t do anything about those glasses, that hair, or those legs, though. This would have been late 1980 or early 1981. You can see why I wanted contact lenses so badly.

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This is Sgt. Pepper. He followed me home in 1981 when he was a kitten and I was 16.

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Pepper was my second cat to walk on a leash (Rossi was the first).

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He would also follow me without a leash. One day he was following me (which I didn’t know) and he was hit by a car which then took off when it saw me. It was a summer afternoon and Happy Days was on. I rushed home with him and we took him to the vet – he was remarkably unhurt apart from a broken leg. My mom did not allow indoor cats then but he was allowed to stay inside while he recovered. He slept in my bed, of course. That was the best time ever.

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When I went to college, Pepper came along with me and lived indoors finally – but he hated it. He was an outdoor cat at heart.

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Which is not to say that he didn’t like his humans.

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He was a very social and helpful cat.

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You can see Pepper helping my dad here. I don’t know why he had a hammer when he was working on his bicycle…

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Despite being a mostly outdoor cat, Pepper was my first CFA show cat to ever get a Best Cat award (which you can see on the side of his cage in this photo). I had shown Billie and Pezza as Household Pets once or twice,but they didn’t like showing and they didn’t do well. Pepper was a natural.

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My mom even made me and my sister our own show curtains! My sister showed her boy Paul (McCartney the Second), a brown mackerel tabby.

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I also had Lovely Rita, a blue tabby point with white whose mother was a Himalayan that belonged to a friend of mine. She was born in 1982. She was a very pretty cat…but she was not the brightest cat I’ve ever known.

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She was super sweet, though. I entered her in a couple of cat shows as a HHP, too. My sister also had a girl cat we called Berry (short for Strawberry Fields), a silver ticked tabby and white girl who looked a bit like an Aby. I can’t find any photos of them, though…but I took a lot of photos of them throughout high school. All of them lived to be 13 or 14; Berry I think was the youngest, passing away at 11.

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Next week…Harri the Siamese and his friends, seen here as a kitten in a rare photo of my dad’s Scottish Fold, Oliver Roundhead.

Aby-a-Day – August 10: “Blue” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Blue.”

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(Photo by Sherry Pellerin)

Each of our cats has their own colour. Tessie’s is red, Kylie’s pink, Angel is purple, and Jacoby’s is green.

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Gun-Hee’s colour was blue.

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I always thought it really suited him.

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Before Gun-Hee, blue was my Siamese Harri’s colour.

Scientists have discovered that cats can see blues and greens, but reds and yellows appear as shades of grey. Harri always preferred blue things; it wouldn’t be at all surprising for a cat to choose a blue or green bed or feeding dish over a red or orange one.

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Even the welder’s cats love blue!

Aby-a-Day – August 30: X marks the spot

As I posted back in July, Angel’s teeth are not so great. I’m sure some of this is genetic, since Abys are especially prone to dental disease. Today was the day she went to the vet to get her teeth cleaned and the two with Oral Resorptive Lesions extracted.

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I really do love my vet’s devotion to dental care. She gave me a little folder with these photos of Angel’s mouth while she was under anaesthetic, before and after the cleaning and having her teeth pulled.

But that’s not all she gave me…

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…I was also given a CD with Angel’s dental X-rays on them. Really interesting. You can see that Angel has no incisors left, but I wonder if she also has some bone loss on the sockets?

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I don’t think the tooth with the spot on it is one that was removed. If that spot is what I think it is, it’ll probably be our next project.

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This is her upper jaw, showing her skull and one remaining little incisor.

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Looks like she has a chipped canine tooth, too. I hope that doesn’t cause her any problems in the future.
She’s only 4 years old, so it’s a little distressing that she’s already needing this much oral intervention. I suspect that even if I could brush her teeth, it wouldn’t make a lot of difference. Some cats are just genetically cursed to have bad teeth. I had two Siamese, three years apart in age, who were not related but who, as long as I owned them, ate the exact same food. One lived to be 15 and the other 16. Harri, the 15 year old, didn’t need to have his teeth cleaned by the vet until his 15th birthday. Patrick, who lived to be 16, started needing dental work when he was 5 or 6, and by the time he was 10, he’d had most of his teeth taken out.

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And, to add insult to medically-sanctioned injury, they shaved her arm to put in an IV.

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She’s doing well, though, and eating like nothing happened to her at all. And she has some teeth to leave under that pillow for the tooth fairy!

Aby-a-Day – January 20: Words for Wordless Wednesday

Yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday post showed Jacoby with the urns of Harri and Patrick, my two Siamese. When Harri died in 2006, I had a custom cremation urn made for him by Alex in Welderland, so when Patrick died last November, I knew he needed one, too. It came last week, and I had to photograph the two urns together.

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And Jake had to help me! Harri was a sealpoint Siamese, and his urn is the dark brown one; Patrick was a chocolate tabbypoint Siamese, so I had his urn made in a silver colour. You can see his crooked smile, caused by having about half his teeth extracted by the vet. The tail also has Trick’s tabby stripes on it, which you can see in the photo below. Alex is a joy to work with…if you ever need an urn for a dearly departed kitty, she’ll make it easier for you to deal with.

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Here’s their backs…You’ll notice that Jake is also showing us his backside.

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Jake was, admittedly, less than helpful at some points during the photo shoot.

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This is why I don’t use real tealight candles in Harri’s urn.

Aby-a-Day – January 19: Wordless Wednesday (Urning his keep)

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