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 – February 14: Longstem Valentine (Friday Flashback)

Valentine’s Day always reminds me of Gun-Hee.

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These photos are from Gun-Hee’s last Valentine’s. I got some carnations and brought them home to see what Gun-Hee would do with them.

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He and Patrick examined them closely.

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Then, Gun-Hee gave some of the flowers to Tessie! Awww…

Aby-a-Day – December 5: Somalis on the go at Westchester

At the Westchester show, it was my pleasure to be benched next to Joe and Marvie and their Aby QGC, RW Odakota Fearghus of Majorus (Gus, for short) and their fawn Somali Majorus Conneach (Max, I think he was called for short).

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Max is only just a year old (born 28 October 2012*) and he’s still in the Novice class, but he has a very mature personality.

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In fact, Joe says he may have a future as a therapy cat! I can see it. Max is a wonderful guy who loves to walk on his leash and meet people.

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He spent a lot of the weekend on the floor, playing with the spectators.

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I don’t think I’d ever seen a fawn Somali in person before I met him…isn’t he handsome?

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But the funniest thing was when we were packing up on Sunday afternoon. Joe and Marvie’s grandkids were pushing a little flat cart, and Max and Gus went along for the ride!

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It reminded me so much of Jacoby riding the cart in our building down to the first floor. I guess cart riding is another Aby/Somali trait. Gus is actually an Aby variant; his mother, Thecatgarden Lildreamer of Odakota is a Somali).

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I thought Gus looked more like a Somali than an Aby when I first saw him; he reminded me a bit of my Siamese Patrick, whose mother was a Balinese. Although he was a TICA-registered Chocolate Tabby Point Siamese, he had softer, silkier fur than a “normal” Siamese.

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Max was much more into the riding than Gus was. It was pretty fun to watch them. Good to know I’m not the only one who has a silly cat!

*Speaking of Patrick, he and Max share the same birthday! Patrick (aka Sugar Hill Twinkletoes) was born 28 October 1994 and lived to the grand old age of 16.

Aby-a-Day – November 29: Gun-Hee’s Thanksgiving (Friday Flashback)

Gun-Hee only had one Thanksgiving with us.

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Sadly, we had to travel on his only Thanksgiving, so he didn’t even get to experience the glory and the wonder that is a Thanksgiving turkey.

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He got to eat at the cats’ table (aka the floor) and share with his adopted brother Patrick and his sisters Tessie and Kylie.

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He still got his turkey, though. I cooked one for Christmas dinner that year.

Aby-a-Day – June 28: Five years without Gun-Hee (Part 2) (Friday Flashback)

Today is the day Gun-Hee lost his short but fierce battle against FIP.

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There is hope, however: Just last week, Cornell announced a breakthrough in the search for the mutation that turns the benign feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) into the fatal FIP virus. Let’s all keep our fingers and toes crossed that this will lead to some sort of a cure for this evil disease.