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 – 11 May: Remembering Gun-Hee (Friday Flashback)

Lorelai has been with us for a week now, and it’s like she’s always been here. She’s feisty, trusting, playful, curious and just…perfect. Jacoby growls at her, she doesn’t care. She pushes Angel and Jake away from their leftovers if she’s still hungry. She holds her own with Alfred even though he’s nearly 10 times her size. She’s had no litter box issues, no eating problems…nothing. She just integrated herself right into the cat family.

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Kind of like another Aby kitten I know. Gun-Hee was a lot like Rory. Jake, Freddy and Logan were somehow not as easy. They all had giardia as kittens, and, I don’t know. It just felt like it took a lot more work managing those three as kittens compared to Rory and Gun-Hee.

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We got Gun-Hee on 15 December 2006, the day before he turned three months old.

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We tried to keep him separated from Tessie, Kylie and Patrick when we first brought him home. That lasted about five minutes. He would have none of it. The older cats were…not the most welcoming at first.

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Gun-hee didn’t care.

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He just stood his ground.

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For some reason, Patrick was his particular favourite. Patrick was still missing Harri, who had died four months earlier.

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Gun-Hee eventually wore him down.

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He loved Patrick.

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Kylie was the closest to him in age (she was only 17 months older than him), so they also became friends rather quickly.

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Tessie was a little slower to thaw.

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But Gun-Hee eventually melted her, too.

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He also loved the floor-to-ceiling cat tree in my old apartment.

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He loved being on the top, epsecially.

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Rory takes on that same floor-to-ceiling cat tree and, if she falls off, she just climbs back up. As I am typing this, she’s at the very top of it, trying to touch the ceiling. Gun-Hee was like that, too.

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Another thing they have in common is shoulder-riding. Neither Jake, Angel, Freddy or even Logan have ever been able to stay on a shoulder. Jake is particularly bad at it; I say it’s like he has magnets on his feet that are the opposite of the ones on people’s shoulders and he just can’t stay on. It’s nice to have a shoulder-riding kitten again.

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And Gun-Hee could be cuddly, too. Just like Rory. It’s a little eerie how much she reminds me of him.

Aby-a-Day – 4 June: “Snazzy” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

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

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I have this very snazzy, super deluxe, floor-to-ceiling cat tree from Drs. Foster and Smith. I had it in the kitchen of my old apartment in Somerville, and Harri, Patrick, Tessie, Kylie and Gun-Hee all loved it.

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Patrick especially loved it.

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I mean, he really loved it.

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I got it in 2005 as a replacement for the older, blue one I’d brought with me from Atlanta, which was getting a little ragged. Patrick couldn’t wait for us to unpack it.

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He even helped to assemble it.

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He could not even wait for it to be put together before he was climbing on it!

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Sadly, it wasn’t tall enough for the very high ceilings in the old condo, so when I moved out of my apartment in March 2009, the awesome tree went into storage.

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When I got Angel in 2008, I wasn’t spending much time at my old apartment although I still kept it for a few months after I married. I’m not sure if she has ever seen this cat tree (but she really loved the floor-to-ceiling cat tree my mom has at her house, and wasted no time climbing it). I know Jacoby never has, since it was put into storage before he was even born!

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But on Monday, it was packed up to go to Sweden.

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It was pretty amazing to watch the mover pack it up in paper.

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We decided not to take it apart, except for the very top, spring-loaded part.

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He was so fast! I couldn’t imagine wrapping up a cat tree in moving paper…but then, he’s a professional.

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So, here’s my snazzy cat tree, all packed up and ready to go. Next stop, Sweden!

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 – 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 – 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!