A vaccine for FIP? Compound GC376 may be the answer

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

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

Singas are Super: Bruce Lee dials 999

(Photo from the Daily Mail)

It’s not often you find a news story about a Singapura, but back in 2013 a Singa kitten in London named Bruce Lee managed to dial 999 and summon the police.

Next they’ll be wanting their own iPhones.

Other People’s Abys – Cleo closes down a pet store chain

I don’t know how I missed this, but better late than never. Back in January, an Abyssinian kitten was seen for sale in a pet store in Brampton, Ontario, Canada…for $1,300 CDN!

Braydon Dennee first saw Cleo during a trip to the mall. According to him (and his photos), “You could see every single bone in her body…She wasn’t fighting back. She was just getting beat up by this other kitten.”

I can well believe that one…after all, I also have a red/sorrel Abyssinian who gets bullied by another cat. Bad enough that Abys don’t do well in cages to begin with.

Cleo’s plight sparked an internet attack on PJ’s pet stores. And it’s true: PJ’s Pet Centres are going out of business. Not sure if that “by popular demand” is referring to the closing or their restocking pet food…but I’m going to pretend it’s the former.

The only thing that stops this story from being a truly happy ending is the fact that no one seems to know what happened to Cleo. According to the news articles I found, the store pulled her to aid in her “recovery.” but no one seems to know where she ended up. If anyone does know…I’d love to hear the rest of this story!

Aby-a-Day – 17 April: Pages 6 and 7 (Selfie Sunday)

Björn was interviewed by the Göteborgs-Posten last Thursday bay a reporter doing a piece about Migrationsverket and the “love migration process” and people like us who either have a partner trying to move to be with them or who are that partner, and an article was published in last Saturday’s paper (that’s the big paper of the week there, Saturday instead of Sunday, so you have two days to read it all).

This was the main photo they used on the web version of the story and in the newspaper itself.

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This is the front of the newspaper…

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Look who made it to page 1!

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This is the spread on pages 6 & 7 with sidebars about other aspects of Migrationsverket and Swedes waiting for their partners.

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Interestingly, this isn’t the first time someone I know has been featured on the front of a major publication.

Postcards from an Aby - Your Cat Magazine, Oct. 2012

Not only that…he also had a spread on pages 6 & 7! Björn and Jacoby…media superstars!

Aby-a-Day – January 13: Nous sommes tous Charlie (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, something terrible happened, which has affected cartoonists around the world.

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I consider myself a cartoonist. I’ve been drawing cartoons since I could draw. I actually even got in trouble in high school for controversial anti-Reagan editorial cartoons I did for the high school paper that were also published in the local paper on their “Under 20” page. Some people have said that the Charlie Hebdo cartoons were “asking for it.” Others have said that the cartoons were offensive/obscene/profane/bad, as if these had been painters or musicians or some other type of “real” artist who had been attacked, it would have been a bigger deal. But it’s not about WHAT you draw. It’s not about being offensive. It’s not even about liking the cartoons that Charlie Hebdo has been publishing since 1970. It’s about someone deciding that because they don’t like what you drew, you are worthy of killing.

And the way things are, someone could be offended by anything someone else drew.

5 guys who drew cartoons were killed because some other guys with guns didn’t like those cartoons. And that’s not right.

Nous sommes tous Charlie.

à la mémoire de:
Cabu (Jean Cabut)
Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier)
Georges Wolinski
Tignous (Bernard Verlhac)
Philippe Honoré (Honoré)
(ce sont les caricaturistes)
Bernard Maris (“Uncle Bernard”)
Elsa Cayat
Frédéric Boisseau
Michel Reynaud
Mustapha Ourad
Et les policiers:
Frannk Brinsolaro
Ahmed Merabet

(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – January 7: (Mostly) Wordless Wednesday (#JeSuisCharlie)

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The Yonkers 25 – Westchester’s Cats of the Year

The Westchester Cat Show was held last weekend in White Plains, NY. Every year at this show, the Westchester Feline Club honours a “Cat of the Year.” As you may recall, Jacoby was last year’s honouree

Jake and I weren’t able to go to the show this year, but I did want to share with you who the WFC selected as their Cat of the Year. It’s not one cat, but 25.

Back in April, Yonkers Department of Public Works employees discovered 25 dead cats hanging in plastic bags from tree branches and bodies of several other cats on the ground in a park along the Hudson River. Some of the cats had been dead for quite some time, but necropsies on three of them revealed that they had succumbed to blunt force trauma to the head. This is the worst animal cruelty incident in the history of Westchester County.

The Westchester Feline Club chose to honour the innocent “Yonkers 25” and bring light to a new awareness of the magnitude and effect of animal cruelty in local communities. I think Scarlett would be pleased that these murdered cats and kittens were remembered in her name. And now, thanks to Westchester, they will never be forgotten.

This crime was discovered, as I said earlier, on 24 April of this year, but no arrests were made until just three days ago, when, on 18 November, a Yonkers man was arrested and charged with three misdemeanor counts of violating environmental conservation law related to his alleged disposal of a kitten and two cats, which were among those discovered in the woods. He’s also facing two counts of animal cruelty. He faces up to one year in jail, a $500 fine or three years probation on the animal cruelty charges. The other charge can carry a sentence of six months behind bars.

That may not seem a fitting punishment for his (alleged) crimes…but in a way, it’s a miracle they finally caught this man at all! I wonder if the Westchester Feline Club’s award and subsequent publicity had anything to do with his apprehension?

Aby-a-Day – November 5: Wordless Wednesday (“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”)

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Jake’s littermate brother Dillin on the news!

Check this out!

Jacoby’s littermate brother, GC Pellburn Johnny Dillinger, was featured on the Halifax 6 o’clock news last Sunday. It was actually a story on the Fundy Fanciers CCA show, and it also features Nofuratu the Nakedcat, a Sphynx friend of ours.

It’s always so much fun to see pictures of Dillin…after all, he is Jake’s closest relative. I wonder if they would remember each other if we could reunite them?

Aby-a-Day – March 18: “Harmony seldom makes a headline” (Cartoon Tuesday)

By now, you’ve most likely heard about Lux, the 22lb Oregon cat who attacked his family and prompted them to call 911 from behind a locked bedroom door.

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It’s a crazy story, and of there’s just so much we don’t know about the situation beyond what the humans involved are telling reporters. Lux doesn’t seem to be giving many interviews, but cats don’t generally “go ballistic” unless they’re provoked.

To me, however, the most absurd thing about this whole thing is the “transcript” of the 911 call:

“Raaaaaarrrrrrr”? Really?

And then there’s the media calling Lux the attack cat a “Himalayan” when he’s clearly a black and white longhair. I’m sure Himalayan breeders the world over are just thrilled about their cats getting a false reputation of being an “aggressive” breed. And despite the fact that several photos of Lux have been widely circulated in the media and online, he’s still being called a Himalayan. That kind of negative press can take a lot to overcome.

Of course, when an Abyssinian gets media attention, it’s usually because they’re just being Abyssinians. And fortunately for everyone, they’re not really the violent type.

Edit: Guess what!? Jackson Galaxy will be going to Portland to visit Lux and the humans, and it will be featured on an upcoming episode of “My Cat From Hell!”

(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Abys are Everywhere: Abissini d’Italia

One of the members of the Abyssinian Cat Club on Facebook, Chiara Parodi, posted an article which appeared yesterday in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which featured photos of her Abyssinians Solarian Velluto (the largest photo) and kittens Solarian Valentino (ruddy), Solarian Vanilla (fawn) and Regtime Vulcano (sorrel/red).

You can read the original piece (in Italian) on the Corriere della Sera website.

#5 with a bullet

The latest CFA CatTalk magazine included an article about the CFA’s Top Ten Breeds for 2012. There was some rearrangement in the rankings from 2011, interestingly. The 2011 Top Ten were:

1. Persian
2. Exotic (basically a Persian with short hair)
3. Maine Coon
4. Ragdoll
5. Sphynx
6. Siamese
7. Abyssinian
8. American Shorthair
9. Cornish
10. Birman

But THIS year, the Top Ten shifted considerably beneath the first four:

1. Persian
2. Exotic
3. Maine Coon
4. Ragdoll
5. Abyssinian (!!!)
6. Sphynx
7. American Shorthair
8. British Shorthair
9. Siamese
10. Devon Rex

After the first four breeds, there have been some major changes to this year’s list! It’s also interesting that the Top Ten traded Rexes and added the British Shorthair; apart from the Persian, Maine Coon and Ragdoll, the most popular breeds are predominantly shorthaired.

But the point here is, of course, the Abys gained two points! They’d dropped from #6 to #7, but now we’re in the Top 5 breeds!

Naturally, all these statistics come with a caveat: these are based on registration within CFA, not the actual number of cats born or owned. But still…We’re #5!

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Hey, Jake’s excited!

Aby-a-Day – February 9: Snowed under Nemo

So, you may have heard something about a little storm happening out here in New England.

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We’ve all been safely hunkered down in our 107-year-old solid brick building and we’re all fine.

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The snow started to fall here in Boston around 10am and hasn’t stopped yet. The MBTA shut down at 3pm Friday afternoon and Governor Patrick declared a statewide state of emergency and shut down all roads – no driving allowed anywhere, on any road, for any reason (except emergency vehicles and snowplows) – starting at 4pm Friday. It hasn’t been lifted yet. According to the reports, “Nearly 22 inches of snow fell in Boston and more was expected, closing in on the 2003 record of 27.6 inches.”

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Problem is, we were supposed to go to a cat show this weekend! Not only were we entered, but I’m a member of the Nutmeg Club (you may recognise the drawing style on that logo), and I’ve been involved with the planning for this show since December! Disappointing, to say the least.

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I was really looking forward to our first show since September. We’d entered Tessie this time along with Jacoby, it was a hotel show, and it had a really special line-up of judges. We’re still keeping the option of going out there just for Sunday’s judging…but since the travel ban hasn’t been lifted yet, it’s looking less likely by the hour.

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Just now, as I’m typing this at 12:20pm, it’s still snowing outside, albeit more lightly than earlier this morning. But both the Mayor Menino and Governor Patrick are telling people to stay off the roads.

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I was really looking forward to my first cat show as a club member, too. Of all the weekends!

Aby-a-Day – November 18: Seeing ghosts

I grew up in Davis, California, which is known for three things: Its veterinary and medical schools and, of course, Leslie Lyons and the Feline Genetics Lab), the Allen Bakke case, and bicycles. Davis has been riding bicycles since before I was born and I grew up riding bicycles. Before I could pedal on my own, I rode on the back of my dad’s bike.

Bicycles have become extremely popular in Boston lately. There are bike lanes on the streets, and many paths dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians only (the Harborwalk is one of these). I even started biking again, thanks to The Hubway network of rental bikes; there’s a station across the street from the welders’ place!

At the end of September, a female cyclist was killed in the intersection of West Broadway and A Street in South Boston. This is only about two blocks from my Hubway station, and while I don’t typically ride up Broadway, it still caught my attention, as you might well imagine.

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Talk about a news story hitting close to home! And I have to admit, I have thought about taking Jake on bike rides with me someday. When I was in high school, I built a cat-seat for my Siamese mix, Sgt. Pepper, on the back of my bike, and we took long rides around Davis. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been thinking about getting a bike seat for Jake a lot lately.

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Jacoby and I had to go pick up milk at a store near where the accident happened, and we discovered that a Ghost Bike has been placed at the scene as a memorial to the fallen biker. It’s a really somber thing, to see that white bicycle chained at the sight where someone died.

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I’ve seen them before, in Boston. Fortunately, I haven’t seen that many. This is my second.

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A little shrine has also appeared next to the Ghost Bike with flowers, candles, photographs and an Irish flag.

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It really makes you think about how fragile life is.

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“Be careful out there! And wear a helmet!”

Aby-a-Day – November 13: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” (Cartoon Tuesday)

Jacoby is such a ham. You know he doesn’t actually mean it…

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(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – November 4: Witnessed on the T this week (Serious Sunday)

Submitted for your perusal: things I’ve seen on the T’s red line this week.

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Bicycles.

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A double-child jogging stroller in the doorway at 4:45 pm Thursday.

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A small purse with its very own seat.

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A lovely, sweet Australian Shepherd named Rogue.

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Jacoby in his stroller.

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And, I think, the most important thing of all: The T is public transportation, and everyone is important.

Of Cheetahs, Cats & Kings…Genetics in action

On 21 September, Science Magazine released a new paper titled “Specifying and Sustaining Pigmentation Patterns in Domestic and Wild Cats.” Unfortunately, I can’t find a free copy online of the full article, but
Science Magazine does have an illustrative slideshow here, and other supplementary materials here.

This blog post does a great job explaining the article, and also has a link to an earlier study on King Cheetahs done in 1986 , and even Wired Magazine did a piece on this paper, proving that cats really do own the internet.

Basically, what the study found is that the gene responsible for the Classic/Blotched tabby pattern in cats is identical to the gene that causes the blotched “King” Cheetah.

As you regular readers know, I love breaking genetics news. But even better than random genetics discoveries, I love seeing genetics in real life. So imagine the thrill I felt sitting down to watch the HHP judging at the cat show last weekend and seeing this little girl:

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This cat isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill, random-bred silver classic tabby HHP. Sascha is actually a purebred, pedigreed silver Egyptian Mau. She just happened to be born blotched, not spotted.

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The blotched, “classic” tabby pattern is actually recessive to the mackerel, spotted and ticked (aka Abyssinian) tabby patterns. Blotched Egyptian Maus do crop up in even the best bloodlines, but they’re extremely rare; in this cat’s breeding program there hasn’t been a blotched Mau in seven years.

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In every other way, she’s 100% Egyptian Mau, but she’s not registrable as a Mau in CFA. But she can be entered in the HHP class.

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She has the most amazing blotching. I was mesmerised by her. Compare Sascha to her spotted half-sisters:

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I’ve got a couple of them side-by-side, too:

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Isn’t it just so cool when you get to witness something you just read about in real life?

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Sascha really enjoyed showing, too, so I’m sure she’ll be in New England CFA HHP rings for years to come. I think it’s awesome that her breeder isn’t keeping her hidden; this is just a great thing to be able to see in real life.

I Am Lennox

I know this is a cat blog, but I’m sure you’ve all heard about Lennox, the part Lab mixed-breed dog in Belfast put to sleep this week after two years in custody because the city measured his head and decided he was an illegal Pit Bull. Well, an internet movement has started with photos of mostly bully breeds captioned with the words “I AM LENNOX.”

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I did one with Jacoby, because honestly? Any breed or species of animal could be legislated against if someone a position to do so wanted to do it badly enough. For example, some states prohibit Bengals, Savannahs and other hybrid cats. It’s illegal to own any generation of Savannah in some cities (including both Boston and all five boroughs in New York City, although F4 and below are legal in the rest of Massachusetts and F5). and lower are legal in the rest of New York State) It’s something of a one-drop rule, since the percentage of wild to domestic cat is relatively small, but it still is the law…because they’re part wildcat and therefore “unpredictable.” Just read this charming article in – guess what – the Daily Mail about the dangers of hybrid “supercats” and you’ll see what I mean.

Jake’s not got a vicious bone in his feline body, but remember, even he has a ticked African wildcat in his pedigree. And since he’s part wildcat, what’s stopping him from suddenly attacking someone?

As Joe Bob Briggs used to say, “Without eternal vigilance, it can happen here.”

Other People’s Abys: Cover Story

Check out this photo of Cousin Taz and Specialty Judge Lorraine Rivard from yesterday’s Concord Monitor:

Take a good look at #131 there in the background. That’s Jacoby…I guess he didn’t realise there was a camera on him.

There’s also a really good photo of Richard from Chanan at work:

As Meg wrote to the Aby list:

I have to admit I was pretty thrilled & excited at the Seacoast Cat Club CFA show in Concord, NH this past weekend. This is the same show where my little, red, barely adult boy, Taz Mania, last year went from Open to Grand. This year, in a highly competitive Premiership class (that included four Abys), Taz made every final and was the second highest scoring cat in Premiership [this weekend] behind the (incredible) British Shorthair [blue-cream tortie] spay. One judge gave the two Aby GPs (the other one being GP Pellburn Jacoby Stealin’ Home, a glorious ruddy boy) Best and 2nd Best Cat. Taz even made the front page of the Concord Monitor.

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(Officially) GC, GP Anubis Taz Mania is sired by GC Bojangles Australia of Instincts and his dam is GC Etochat Canada Post of Anubis DM. He is co-owned with his “grandmother” Chris Giammarinaro. He is one of my litter of three red Grands, the other two being GC, RW Anubis Lew Zealand and GC Anubis Kuki Airani (aka Ginger).

Taz is most of all my sweetheart. His heart is as richly gold as his coat.

Thanks, Meg, for the heads up!

Stewie the Maine Coon: Show cat, therapy cat and World Record holder

I know this is a blog about Abyssinians, but I saw the story of Stewie (Mymains Stewart Gilligan) the Maine Coon. He’s the Guinness World’s Record-holding Longest Cat in the World, measuring 48.5″ – just over 4 feet! – from nose to tail-tip. Most cats are about 18″ long; Jacoby is a pretty long and tall cat, but he’s only about 32″ long*, a piker compared to Stewie! On Stewie’s blog, there are photos of him and his human, Robin Hendrickson…look at the one where he’s not stretched out, but just sitting there with her standing behind him with her arms around him. WOW.

But what actually caught my attention isn’t that Stewie is the world’s official Longcat, but he’s also a show cat (he was actually just at a TICA show at Cal Expo in Sacramento, CA, where I used to go to cat shows when I was a teen) and a therapy cat! There aren’t many cats who are both show cats and therapy cats.


(Image via MSNBC)

I really like this one thing that Robin told Catsparella: “Stewie visits local hospitals and rest homes and brightens the patients’ day. I hope to get him into the schools to work with special needs kids,” because that’s exactly what I want to do with Jake some day.

Jake probably won’t ever hold a world’s record (unless it’s for heaviest Abyssinian!), but it’s fascinating to know that there’s another cat out there who does both cat shows and therapy work.

*I say about 32″…I have an awesome string measure…but Jake’s really squirmy, and even with my husband’s help, I’m still not sure. So I took my best out of three.