Aby-a-Day – 25 May: Angel, Rory and the Frankentree (Fashion Friday)

Before I moved to Sweden, Björn had an old, beat-up, second-hand cat tree for Pyret. It was one of the first things Angel discovered when we let her out of the carrier. When my things arrived from the States, my big floor-to-ceiling tree was among them, and it was installed in the corner where the old tree had occupied. The old tree was moved to the balcony, which was scheduled to be glassed in for the cats to enjoy.

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Angel was quick to claim it out there, too. But it was a little short, and I wanted the cats to be able to sit up high on the balcony, too, so I ordered this new cat tree by Dogman, a Swedish pet supply company. But when I assembled the new tree, it seemed a little sad without the cubby section, especially since it was Angel’s favourite part, and it was still perfectly good…so I got an idea.

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I combined them! I took the non-worn parts of the old tree (which was probably also a Dogman tree) – the cubby, the platform and the ladder, and put them together with the new tree and created…the FrankenTree! It worked surprisingly well, and the colours combined well, too.

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Angel loved it.

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Logan and Alfred came along and loved it, too…and of course so does Lorelai.

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(Despite the silly tongue…)

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Angel didn’t really mind sharing the tree with Logan and Freddy, but what does Angel think about sharing her tree with another girl?

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These Millennial kittens these days…no sense of boundaries.

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Angel is not above defending her territory. Although, to be honest, I don’t think Rory even noticed that Angel took a swipe at her.

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“Damn kids, get off of my tree!”

Aby-a-Day – 10 April: A sketchy packing job (Cartoon Tuesday)

While I was at the Winners Show, I found this sketch I had done on my (then new) iPad Pro with the coordinated Apple Pencil. I am not sure where I was going with this, but it had something to do with packing to move to Sweden. I wish I had put in the conversation Angel and Jacoby are having.

Aby-a-Day – 9 April: Timing is everything (Part one) (Medical Monday)

As most of you, I think, know, I moved from my beloved Boston to Sweden in June 2016. But what I haven’t had a chance to explain yet is…

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…my beloved Boston veterinary clinic, South Boston Animal Hospital, moved from East Broadway between H and I Streets (which is now, rather disconcertingly, a nail salon so fancy it calls itself a “nail bar”) to…

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…Yeah. Right. In. The. Building. I. Was. LIVING. In.

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It’s one of the few things I really, really miss about my life back in the US. The fact that, for 15 short, precious days, my vet’s office was in the first floor of the building I lived in. I mean, literally…all we had to do was go down the elevator, go out the front door, walk a few steps outside…and yeah. You’re at the vet. The awesome vet that you love, not the sucky one you go to because you have no options.

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We were lucky enough to go there three times before we left.

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The opening was supposed to be on my birthday, 1 June, but it was delayed because of…reasons. We visited on 6 June and work still wasn’t quite finished. There were caution cones all over the place.

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They did have impressive wifi set up already, though!

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Jacoby was eager to check everything out.

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Angel was…rather less enthusiastic about exploring.

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This was our fist visit to the new location before moving. Next week, come along with Jake and me to the SBAH grand opening party!

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 – 8 February: Food, glorious food!

After my visit with Björn over Christmas 2015, I posted about the different types of cat food I found in Sweden

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The food I was most excited to try out on the cats was the Swedish food Bozita. It’s very high quality, 93% meat (but usually only about 7% of the meat flavour on the box). In the EU and Sweden, pet food is strictly regulated, and everything is listed out by percentage. You almost never see the vague and all-encompassing “Meat and Bone Meal” or “Animal By-Products” listed on pet food labels here. You also don’t get pet food with expired meat from supermarkets (including the styrofoam tray and plastic wrapping), roadkill and euthanised shelter animals.

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Jacoby was eager to try it!

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So eager, in fact, that he tried to open the box with his teeth!

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It looks really good when you open it, too. And the packaging, in Swedish-invented Tetra-Pak boxes, is so much nicer and easier to deal with than either cans or plastic pouches.

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I mix it with a little warm water, with probiotic powder for Jake, and L-Lysine powder for Angel.

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Jake could not wait to taste it.

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He liked it! Hey Jakey!

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Angel loved it too, and she can be particular about food (strange for an Aby, I know).

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Clean plate club all around!

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Now we have a cupboard full of a wide selection of various fish, bird and mammal flavours, including crayfish, salmon, duck and rabbit along with the moose and reindeer. And you can see what I mean by the Tetra-Pak boxes being easier to deal with than cans or pouches. My main concern is feeding them too much of any one protein source. I don’t want to have too much chicken, or beef or salmon…I want them eating as many different species as I can find so they don’t get hooked on one type of food.

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I also feed them this marvelous frozen raw food from Finland, Vaisto Mush.

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It’s little meatballs with real raw ingredients, bones and organ meat, very easy to deal with and feed – basically one ball, mixed with the Bozita and whichever prescription food the cat in question eats (UT for Jake and Angel, Kitten/Growth for Logan, Weight Management for Alfred, and Renal for Pyret).

(Yeah, I’ll do a post about just HOW I feed everyone in the near future…)

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Freddy! You can’t eat them when they’re still frozen solid!

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The link to the Cat raw food isn’t in English, I’m afraid; they only have Finnish and Swedish (and German) – the English pages seem to be down. They do have English on their packaging, however, so you can read the ingredients in these photos.

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The Cat raw comes in three mixes: Chicken and Pork, Chicken and Beef, and Beef and Pork…but sometimes I also get the Puppy raw, which is Salmon, Reindeer and Beef, or their special edition Wild blend for adult dogs made of Moose, Reindeer and Lamb.

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I know that cats are not to be fed dog food of course, because cats and dogs have different nutritional needs, but the Puppy and Wild blend percentages are almost identical to the Cat blends (they include 8% and 5% respectively vegetables and fruits, while the Cat is almost 100% animal, and this is not their exclusive diet. I always mix it with Bozita and prescription food.

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I also sometimes get Norwegian-made Vom frozen cat food. It’s good, with chicken and salmon, but it comes in a sausage-shaped package. You have to thaw the whole “sausage” in one go, and sort of squeeze it out like toothpaste. It’s a bit harder to measure out properly, and it’s a lot messier. I prefer the “kattbullar” to the sausages, but I like to get them once in a while for variety.

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Freddy ate a lot of this type of raw food before he came to live with us, and when he saw this one he recognised it instantly.

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…And, of course, tried to eat it. I swear, he is endlessly hungry!

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The only thing about the raw that I don’t like? Jake flat out refuses to eat it! He likes raw meat when I am cutting it up to cook it…but he won’t touch the raw, thawed meatballs, or the Vom sausages. Not even if I offer it to him as a treat! I have no idea why. Angel, Logan and Freddy love it, and I am happy to be feeding them a mix that includes raw in their diets.

Aby-a-Day – 15 January: When we came home

Pyret was right at the door to meet us. Or, more likely, to meet Björn. Pyret was born in 1999 and was bottlefed by Björn and she is very bonded to him. To meet me on time in Stockholm, he had to stay overnight, so he hadn’t been home for nearly a day. Pyret was hungry and missed him, so she was coming to greet him.

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She certainly was not expecting other cats!

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Pyret has been an only cat since Björn’s other cat, Olivia, died in 2010. I really wonder what she thought when she realised that there were cats in that big box.

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I opened the door…

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…and, curiously, Angel was the first one out. It’s like she knew that the airport and the train weren’t home, but she was home now.

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Jake, of course, was not far behind.

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They both took off in different directions to check out the new digs.

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Angel went to check out the living room and under the sofa, and Jake went to explore everything else.

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Including the litter box. Always a good idea to locate the facilities right off the bat.

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“Okay, litter box sorted. Next!”

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Angel was in there soon enough, though.

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Angel’s big discovery was the old cat tree Björn had in his living room. It’s out on our balcony now, and she still loves to sleep in that cubby.

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She explored the whole tree. And even today, my big tree is primarily her domain.

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Meanwhile, Jake was checking out the new cat fountain in the kitchen.

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And while he was doing that, Pyret was checking him out.

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After only a few hours of being home…this was Angel.

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And this was Jake. Moving to Sweden was so freakishly easy for them!

Aby-a-Day – 14 January: Planes, Trains and Automobiles Part 2 (Swedish Sunday)

When we landed at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, it was 7:something am and I am never at my best at single-digit morning hours. Jacoby and Angel, however, were just fine.

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They were, in fact, eager to get out of that crate. (Click for video) Or, at least, Jake was.

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Apart from the cats, I had a lot of luggage. Since it was a one-way ticket, bought a first class ticket. It turned out to be a wise investment, since my extra bags were actually free.

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We had to wait a bit for our train to Skövde, but hey, we got to see this guy.

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We let Jake out on the train (Angel did NOT want to explore) and he was excited to see his new country.

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To Jake, it was just another train ride.

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The trip from Stockholm to Skövde is a bit over two hours, so Jake had plenty of time to bond with his new dad.

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He also found time to check in on Angel.

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When we got to Skövde, we needed a cab to bring us home to our apartment, because I had so much luggage, and also the cats’ crate. Luckily, we had a very friendly cab driver.

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Finally, it was time to go inside.

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Pyret was ready to greet us.

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What happened when we came inside? Stay tuned..!