Aby-a-Day – 19 September 2020: Singas love to share! (Singapura Saturday)

As I have said before, Singapuras are big fans of sharing…whether or not you want to share with them.

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This happened the other day. That this is Angel’s bed is well established. But Izaak thought she needed company.

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So he wedged himself into her bed.

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Zak tried to appease Angel with some licks to her head.

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I am not sure how successful that actually was, but Angel didn’t kick Zak out of her bed.

Aby-a-Day – 18 Januari 2020: Girls! Girls! Girls! (Swedish Saturday)

I have said, for many years, that cats work better in pairs. I am now kind of eating those words, since we have had five cats for a few years, now, and it’s a wonderful dynamic.

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They fall into some natural pairings: the two girls (Angel and Lorelai), the two (soon to be three) show cats (Izaak and Rory, plus Dashiell), the older two (used to be Jacoby and Angel; now it’s Angel and Alfred), the two neutered boys (Dash and Freddy), the two unneutered cats (Rory and Zak), the two youngsters (Rory and Dash), the two Americans (Angel and Dash), the two Swedes (Rory and Freddy)…it’s kind of fascinating to see how they align each other.

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Angel was always bullied by Tessie, and Kylie would join in when she heard Angel scream at Tessie. She was always a bit nervous around Pyret, but since Pyret has left us and Angel became the senior female, she’s really come into her own.

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Feeding five cats is tricky, but luckily, we have a lot of rooms. Freddy eats on his own, because he eats wicked fast and he’ll eat everyone’s food given half a chance. Dash and Zak eat together (in the winter, anyway) because Zak won’t steal Dash’s food, and Dash is preoccupied with his own bowl.

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That leaves the two girls to eat together. And they do eat very nicely together. They are very companionable, sometimes switching bowls, but there is never an argument over dinner. Angel still doesn’t really cuddle or sleep with anyone (unless Zak insists), but she does seem to have forged a friendship with Rory.

Aby-a-Day – 15 Januari 2020: Wordless Wednesday (Illustrating the Singapura personality…)

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Aby-a-Day – May 28: Confident Owners and Wallflowers (Cartoon Tuesday)

During his talk at the Boston Public Library a couple of weekends ago, Jackson Galaxy described three feline personality types, or as he called it, “Cat Mojo.” The three types were the “Confident Owner,” the cat who owns the room and confidently greets and rubs up against all visitors; the “Over Owner,” the cat who is insecure and overcompensates by lashing out; and the “Wallflower,” the cat who just leaves the other types to their business and tries to blend into the background.

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Jacoby and Angel very clearly fall into two of those three categories. Jackson described the Confident Owner as the feline equivalent of “a host who greets you with a trayful of mojitos,” and well…that was something that just needed to be illustrated. And Jake would totally do that, too. Angel, meanwhile…

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

Aby-a-Day – August 9: All by myself

We’ve gone back to feeding Angel in the bedroom alone because we’ve discovered that she has a bad habit of going around to everyone else’s dish and hoovering up whatever they’ve left over. I think she really likes her “alone time” away from the other cats.

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She likes to camp out under the bedside lamp where it’s really warm and lean on a pillow.

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Angel is a really funny sitter sometimes.

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She takes this time to groom thoroughly, which is something I think she doesn’t feel secure enough to do when the other cats are around.

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She’s also happier when the TV’s turned on; she cries if she’s in the bedroom without it. That makes sense, she she sleeps on the big TV in the living room. I guess she likes it for more than just heat.

Aby-a-Day – May 7: Well-trained (Hipstamatic Monday)

To get to the cat show this past weekend, Jacoby and I took the Commuter Rail to Lowell, where my friend Karen, who lives in New Hampshire, picked me up.

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I don’t know what it is about trains and Hipstamatic, but they seem to go together so well.

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It must be the whole retro-1970’s vibe both Hipstamatic and most of the Commuter Rail trains have.

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But as were were saying all weekend, Mr. Bulletproof is really placid in the show ring.

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Like, unnaturally-for-an-Abyssinian relaxed. Like, are-you-positive-this-isn’t-a-British Shorthair-on-downers-in-an-Aby-suit calm, cool and collected.

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Did I spoil him for the cat show circuit by taking him out on adventures in public transportation?

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Did training him to be a therapy cat, unfazed by dogs, machinery or unexpected things make him less representative of his breed in the show ring?

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Perhaps. I mean, there aren’t many cats on the planet that will sit on the seat of a train with his paws folded beneath his chest.

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Well…I guess that makes the ribbons awarded by judges who see through his tranquil façade all the sweeter, then, doesn’t it?

Aby-a-Day – April 25: Jake and his other sisters (Hipstamatic Monday)

Jacoby usually prowls the hallways with just me, but, as we saw last Monday, he sometimes escorts Angel about the carpet.

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He also accompanies Tessie from time to time.

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They tend not to explore the hallway together the way Jake and Angel do. They’re sort of on a joint independent mission when they go out together.

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Jake doesn’t go out with Kylie very often, because when Kylie goes into the hallway, she goes out there to RUN, not flop and loll about. Kylie’s entire goal in life is to break the condo hallway land speed record, and it’s amazing just how fast she is. She can make an entire circuit in the time it takes Jake to go three steps and then fall over.

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So shots of Kylie and Jake together in the hallway are rare, comparatively speaking, but they do exist.

Aby-a-Day – April 23: Angel WILL give you lovings

Usually Angel is a pretty laid back, chill little cat, happy to accept pettings as they come. But every so often, she decides to demand attention. When that happens, look out!

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She turns into a little purring, kneading machine, relentless in her quest for headbutt targets.

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She will approach from any angle until she achieves her objective.

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Paws going like mad the entire time.

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And purring so loud she almost drowns out the television! It’s really adorable.

Aby-a-Day – March 24: Angel the sun worshipper

On sunny days, I like to open the blinds and watch the cats enjoy the sun.

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None of them seem to appreciate it as much as Angel does, though.

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I always say she seems to “see” things the other cats don’t, and this is especially true on a sunny day for some reason. She notices tiny reflections and tricks of light the others take for granted.

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Of course, it could also be her native California girl coming out. She was born in the Golden State, after all.

Aby-a-Day – Day 360 of 365

Angel also had her share of holiday cheer, of course.

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Her favourite stocking stuffers were the Catnip Sauce Packets and her Hey Pais Blue Ridge Mouse.

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But the toy she loved most was a new thing I found from Petstages: a Blinking Buddy. Petstages has a great line of nighttime toys for cats to play with quietly while their owners are sleeping. I think it’s a brilliant idea and I wonder why no one has thought of it before, since cats are nocturnal and all.

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Angel loves lights and things that move, so this was a no-brainer.

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It’s so gratifying when you find the perfect toy for your cat. It may seem silly to people who don’t have cats, but they really do love their play things.

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If I wanted to custom design a toy for Angel, I couldn’t have done a better job.

Aby-a-Day – Day 309 of 365

You would think, after four trips to the vet in less than two weeks, Jacoby would be completely over the whole doctor’s office thing.

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He isn’t.

Aby-a-Day – Day 248 of 365

The theme of today’s post is “Context.”

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Jacoby looks quite ferocious in this photo, doesn’t he?

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Well, he’s just whining about not being let out of his stroller on the T. Turns out, it’s a thin line between killing and kvetching.

Aby-a-Day – Day 127 of 365

Angel has the best sarcastic/skeptical/suspicious expressions. She manages with one eye what some cats can’t do with two.

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Aby-a-Day – Day 75 of 365

Angel gets brave when it’s time for the cats’ nightly can of cat food. She does this little dance and twitches her tail, as though she’s so excited she can’t contain herself.

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She is such a solid little cat. We call her our “brick.” For an Aby she has short legs and a short tail, relatively speaking. She’s also kind of bow-legged. When she runs, she throws her legs out sideways like a boycat, rather than keeping her feet all inline like a girl. She’s the only female cat I’ve had who runs like that.

Aby-a-Day – Day 28 of 365

I wanted to train Gun-Hee to be a therapy cat, but he died before we got the chance. However, Jacoby seems to have an even more suited temperment (he’s not afraid/intimidated by dogs, where Gun-Hee was). This summer we’ll be spending a lot of time out and about, gettng used to going out and being in different environments, so I bought him a little “Therapy Animal In Training” vest. Here he is showing it off.

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What really cracks me up is the way he poses for these photos. I really think he knows what cameras are for. He’s the most camera-friendly cat I’ve had since my Siamese Harri.

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I mean, look at these! Tell me he’s not striking model poses!

Aby-a-Day – Day 8 of 365

Gun-Hee used to steal packets of treats and carry them back to his little house, where he would get Kylie to chew them open for him. They would both then share the spoils. Jacoby also does this, but for some reason he doesn’t need Kylie to open the packets – he can chew them open himself!

We have Gun-Hee’s house in storage now, but Jake has his own places to hide his treasures. During the holidays, the Christmas tree was one of these places…

Sometimes you can believe the hype

I know I’ve said this before, but damn. Owning (or being owned by?) an Abyssinian is definitely an experience unlike any other feline husbandry situation I’ve ever experienced.

I mean, seriously: I read the breed profile on the CFA’s website, and I’m like, oh right. They’re making this stuff up.

I mean: “…however, when that mischievous playfulness moves them, they like to see what may happen when they push some trinket over the edge.” Well, Friday morning I had my cellphone on the bathroom counter while I was getting ready for work. He sees it, paws at it…I tell him, “Gun-Hee, No…” and he looks at me. And then wham! He pushes the phone off the edge. The battery comes out and everything. And he thinks it’s the coolest thing ever.

Or this: “These cats constantly seem to patrol their territory.” I realised this morning as I was getting ready to run errands that Gun-Hee knows the difference between weekends and work days. And he’s figured it out: when I get up with the alarm and get dressed right away, he doesn’t get to go with me. But if I wake up without the alarm, and hang out for a while in my pajamas, maybe work on the computer and watch some television, eat breakfast, and get ready slowly…he knows there’s a chance I might take him with me for a ride on the T and an adventure. So while I was getting ready, he was, basically, stalking me. Every couple of minutes, I see a little brown shape and eager gold eyes making sure I’m not done yet. Because if I’m not done, I’m not leaving yet. And if I’m not leaving yet, he still has a chance.

He’s wicked smart, that one. I wish it had been warmer today; I would have loved to taken him with me today.

And then there’s this: “As a breed Abyssinians seem to be able to defy gravity at times. There seems to be no place in the house where they cannot get. Frequently it appears impossible for them to reach certain perches…” Um….yeah. Gun-Hee does things no other cat I’ve ever known. In fact, he does things the other cats never even conceptualised, let alone attempted.


But no other cat I ever have known ever thought to themself, “Hm, that vent cover over the stove is kind of flat…I bet I could get up there,” let alone actually tried to do it.

(We’d been on vacation. It got dusty while we were away. It doesn’t usually look like that. Just saying.)

So yeah. They are amazing cats. But if you read this journal and think, “wow, I want one of those cats!” please look at the photos of the top of the stove vent hood and ask yourself what you would do if that was your stove and your cat…

Gun-Hee’s a bad influence!

It’s not so much that he’s a naughty cat, but he, more than any cat I’ve ever known, will try things. Most cats would never, for example, try to jump from the back of the sofa to the stepping stool. They look at the distance and decide there’s no way they can make it. But Gun-Hee, he’ll try it. He’s not afraid of what happens if it doesn’t work. He doesn’t care if he falls flat on his face.

Over the weekend he decided to try to wriggle out of the “flak jacket” – the vest harness I got him in Oregon. He got bored riding and wanted to walk, so he started leaning forward in the front carrier as far as he could, using the clip as leverage, and pulling his arms as close to his body as he could. Sure enough, he sort of slithered through the neck hole and out onto the sidewalk. Of course, once he realised that he could do it, there was no keeping him in his harness, because he kept doing it. But the point is, you put a harness on most cats, and after a feeble attempts, they just accept that they’re stuck wearing the thing. But Gun-Hee, it’s like he doesn’t know he’s not supposed to be able to get out, so he gives it a shot.

But once he figures out he can do a thing, that’s it. He keeps doing it. This is why I’ve got carabiner clips on his show cage: he’s figured out how to work the zippers.

One thing about cats is, they learn by example. A mother cat teaches her kittens to hunt, groom and use the litter box by showing them how to do it. This is why Gun-Hee does things like reach up for the elevator buttons: he knows they make the thing go to our house. He doesn’t know how they do it, but he knows that we get in, I touch them and we come out on our floor.

What worries me is that Gun-Hee’s pioneering spirit is going to rub off onto the other cats, and then we’ll be doomed. This past weekend, for example, Gun-Hee decided he wanted to see what was in the dishwasher.


You can see he’s got the concept of how to open the door down;
he’s even starting to position his body to use his weight to pull it down.
He’s just not heavy enough.


Kylie comes over to see what Gun-Hee is doing. He’s still trying to open the dishwasher.


After he finally gives up, Kylie gives it a go. You can see she’s not sure what he was doing, but if she were to figure it out? She might be able to do it. She’s got a little more weight and, being taller, a little more leverage.
At least he hasn’t started to work on opening the refrigerator…yet.

Bless the Beasts and the Children

On our walk on Saturday, Gun-Hee and I met a little girl named Shelby and her mother in the Binford Street Park. They were just leaving as we arrived, but Shelby said hello to Gun-Hee and asked to pet him.

On Sunday, as I was taking the photos of Gun-Hee in the heather, I heard a young girl cry, “Oh, look! That kitty’s here again!”
She petted Gun-Hee some more, and then my husband gave her the sparkly wand toy that he’d brought along with us for Gun-Hee to play with. The pair of them had a pretty good time playing with it

It’s hard to say, actually, who had the better time…

You can’t exactly tell from the photos, but Gun-Hee was playing, too, and seemed to enjoy it.


I dub thee…Sir Gun-Hee..!


This started out as Shelby shaking hands with Gun-Hee, but ended up as sort of a hug…I was so proud of him, though. He’s so patient and tolerant with little kids, and he really has no right or reason to be, never having been exposed to them before. He’s just that good natured. It’s this quality more than any other that makes me think he might be a good therapy animal. I could totally see him visiting the cancer kids at Dana Farber (the ones you always see during Red Sox games)…I think he’d be good at it, and I think it would be enjoyable for both sides. I’m looking into it, getting trained, but I really wonder about “co-ed” classes since Gun-Hee is so anti-canine. I also haven’t found any in Boston that I can get to without a car…but he’s young. There’s time.

Life with an Abyssinian

Gun-Hee is sitting on the back of the sofa, gazing speculatively up at the ceiling.

I can only imagine what he’s plotting.