Aby-a-Day – 4 August: No allen wrench required (Silly Swedish Saturday)

Back in April, I posted about Malt, a Japanese Singapura who loves to drag his favourite toy all over the house.

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It seems Izaak and Malt have something in common.

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Zak absolutely LOVES IKEA mice and rats.

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LOVES them.

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He also loves to carry them around.

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We are always finding them in our bed.

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Apparently, this is the best place to play with them.

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It’s tempting to call his mousies his “friends,” but he doesn’t see them that way. When he picks them up, he tends to go for the backs of their necks. And then he shakes them. So…probably not friends.

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Whatever they are, he loves to carry them around the house.

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What’s funny is, we had a load of mice and one rat that lay around the house for over a year, because nobody ever played with them. The best they could hope for was to end up helping to bury the food bowls when Alfred was done eating. So now, whenever we go to IKEA, we of course have to get Zak some new mousies.

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The last time we went, we got one of each colour mice, plus a black and a grey rat. And a lion, because why not?

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Zak immediately decided he liked the big grey rat the best.

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He picked it right up and carried it off.

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He had a bit of a struggle with it on the balcony floor…

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…and then he carried it into the living room.

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His ultimate goal was this little tent we have set up in the living room.

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There was a little bit of distraction involving a brown mouse from an earlier IKEA trip.

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But in the end, Zak got his rat into his tent.

Aby-a-Day – 27 July: Evolution of a Catio (Fashion Friday)

When I first moved here in 2016, Björn’s balcony was a rather Spartan affair.

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There was only a wooden bench, a makeshift cat tree made from natural tree parts, a basket and…not much else.

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It was pretty barren. Once my things came from the States, we put my redwood burl table out there, and my floor-to-ceiling cat tree bumped Björn’s old cat tree out there as well. The balcony was open to the elements, so we couldn’t keep much else out there, but we put a tarp over the table, and it was fine out there. And so were the cats…until Jacoby taught himself to jump off the balcony. After that, we had to keep the balcony door closed until we could get it glassed in.

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Finally, May last year, we got the balcony glassed in. Jake was out there in a heartbeat.

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So was Pyret. The basket on the bench was her favourite spot…

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…which is one reason we kept her body there until we could get her cremated.

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For a while after it was glassed in, we used it as storage for the chairs until we could get it organised.

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Angel didn’t mind. She had sun and a cushy place to nap. She was good.

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Even now, you can usually find her in one of the chairs on the balcony.

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Either a chair, or the cubby in the cat tree.

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Alfred…well, he tries to fit in there sometimes, too.

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Logan also really loved the cubby.

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Logan loved the balcony.

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He spent a lot of time out there in the sun before he died.

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Jake and Freddy love being out there, too…but they’re usually trying to work out a way to escape.

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We got the basic layout of the balcony done last summer after the glass was installed, and we hung curtains and icicle and fairy lights, which actually give enough light to read by, but this year we have been focusing on really getting it set up to be a catio. I fell in love with this artificial pine tree at IKEA, and I found a reindeer hide for 125kr (around $14, about 1/10 what they should cost) which I love…but which sheds too much to live in the apartment. It looks great out on the balcony, though!

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One of the biggest things we did this year is lay down wooden tiles.

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Those tiles made a HUGE difference in the overall feel of the balcony. It feels warmer and more homey – more like a part of the house rather than “outside.” There was just one more thing we needed to do…and you’ll see what we did tomorrow!

Aby-a-Day – 16 July: “No guts, no glory” (Medical Monday)

(This post was written by Björn, as I was so busy helping the doctors I wasn’t as able to record what was going on.)

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Jacoby has been really grumpy for the past few months now. He’s been hissing and growling, lashing out at the kittens (but not hurting them, thankfully) as well as attacking Alfred and Angel. He’s been barfing more than usual, and on top of that, he’s lost a significant amount weight over the past seven months, going from 4.9 kilos in January to 4.1 kilos the first weekend in July (10.8 lbs vs 9.4, or a sixth of his weight). We’ve been mystified by this change, which is so unlike Jake. He used to be a sweet, stable cat, and his current grumpiness has to be an indication that something’s physically wrong with him. He’s been to our local vet a few times; a blood test done in April showed no abnormalities and we tried amitriptylin, Metacam, Feliway, calming collars…everything we and the vets could think of, but nothing helped. While at the cat show a couple of weeks ago, we were talking to our neighbor about cats (of course), and she mentioned a cat of hers that had had similar symptoms because of plastic he had eaten that had stuck in his digestive tract. That set off bells – Jake has always been a plastic eater, to the point where we have to tuck the plastic garbage can liner in carefully so he doesn’t eat the bits hanging out; we just had never made the connection between that and his sudden personality change. We had an ultrasound appointment with our regular vet, but as it’s vacation time right now, the ultrasound technician wouldn’t be back until 24 July. We didn’t want to wait that long now that we had the idea about plastic, so Koshka called the AniCura animal hospital in Jönköping, some 100 km (60 miles) away. They are the same people who took care of poor Logan in his final days, and we know that they are a professional outfit.

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We got up early on Friday 13 July, and took the local bus to the railway station. The train ride was one hour, passing through the fields and woods of a summery western Sweden. We arrived in Jönköping around 10am, and killed half an hour before getting on the bus to the animal hospital.

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Jake visited the local tourist office where he made an impression on the staff.

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Next to the bus stop, there was a pigeon with a death wish, as it strutted about without any regard for the predator in the stroller. Good thing for the feathered fool that Jake was tethered.

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Then we got on the bus, where Jake regaled the bus with the song of his people.

The three of us arrived at the hospital some 20 minutes prior to our appointment. The animal hospital is a well-run operation, with separate waiting rooms for cats and dogs.

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Jake was called up, and it was time for his ultrasound. The ultrasound tech was a friendly Pole named Dr. Wojciech who had 20 years experience in examining animals with ultrasound. He shaved Jake’s belly (the fur would interfere with the readings otherwise),

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applied the gel,

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and began the examination.

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Jake struggled a bit, but he bravely endured the 25-30 minute examination. Dr. Wojciech pointed out the organs to us, like the intestines, kidneys, stomach and so on. It was really interesting to see Jake’s insides.

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He could tell us that there was no signs of any plastic or other foreign bodies, which blew our working theory out of the water. There were signs of some enteritis in the small intestine, but Dr. Wojciech didn’t think that was the reason for Jake’s problems.

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After the ultrasound, we were taken to another examination room while we waited to see the next vet. You may recall from when Koshka took Logan to this vet that they have excellent bird TV.

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Well, this time it was extra excellent.

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A magpie came to eat at the feeder! Jake wasn’t especially impressed, but Koshka got very excited.

Dr. Cecilia arrived, and, like Wojciech, she impressed us with her professionalism.

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She asked us about Jake’s symptoms and problems. As an optometrist, I know about how to do an anamnesis, and I thought she was very thorough.

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Dr. Cecilia ordered a full set of blood tests to be taken, and a veterinary nurse (whose name unfortunately evades me) brought syringes and the other paraphernalia needed.

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Jake got a mild sedative, was rolled into a towel, got his front leg shaved, and his blood drawn. He was very brave about it, not causing any trouble. The vet nurse bandaged his leg.

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Dr. Cecilia wanted a urine sample, which was to be drawn by Dr. Wojciech.

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Jake had to go back to the ultrasound room, where his bladder was located by ultrasound.

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By using a syringe and drawing the urine directly from the bladder, any contamination by proteins from the urinary tract was avoided. Dr. Cecilia returned, as she’d remembered one more thing she wanted to check. She palpitated the base of Jake’s neck, and confirmed a suspicion she had. She noticed that his thyroid was somewhat enlarged on the right side. Jake got a prescription of Royal Canin Sensitivity Control. This diet is to be followed until the vet calls back about the final diagnosis, but if we are lucky, there’s just a problem with his thyroid. That is easily medicated.

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The whole visit took about two hours with very little waiting time between the examinations. The vet bill was about 6000 SEK (about USD $680), but most of that should be covered by the pet insurance. We said our goodbyes to the hospital staff, and took the bus for a quick trip to IKEA.

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Even in his stroller, IKEA would not let Jake in, so we took turns shopping. And, since he had fasted from 21:00 the night before, Jake was ravenous. While I shopped, Koshka let Jake try his new food, and he polished off two packets of the wet version.

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After IKEA, we had a quick visit with my mom, brother and sister, and then, finally, dinner at a new Mexican restaurant in the center of town.

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A long day for all of us, but well worth it.

Aby-a-Day – September 25: Angel we have heard on high (Friday Flashback)

I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised at Angel embracing our wall climbing system.

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The very first night I adopted her and brought her to my mom’s house, Angel did this…

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…and this…

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…and this!

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And then the next morning, she got up the nerve to jump the gap and stand on top of the TV cabinet!

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A few months later, we were installing an IKEA Pax wardrobe, and before it was even finished, she was on top of it! I don’t even know how she got up there!

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And she tried to go even higher!

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For such a skittish kitty, Angel really loves to climb.

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I guess this is kind of anti-clime-actic…

Aby-a-Day – September 7: Camouflage Swedish Style

We got a new IKEA Billy bookcase which we built today. It’s pretty tall, so we built it in our hallway.

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Angel loves it. It’s exactly the same colour she is!

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She blends right in. “Look at me – ha! You can’t! I’m invisible!” she says.

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Wow…I guess it works! Jake didn’t even see her!