Aby-a-Day – 14 Maj: How it started (Friday Flashback)

Since last Sunday was Mother’s Day, I thought I’d post this. I was always Daddy’s girl. Also a tomboy. Also hated dresses and pink. And dolls. That was Tabby, my version of a doll. They tried to give me dolls. I took their clothes off and put them on Tabby. This was 1969. You can see the look in my eyes…He’s taking the photo and I’m begging him through the lens to get me out of this and take me fishing or something.

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This is where my love of Siamese, and by extension, purebreeds began. My dad’s sister had two: Bippie and her son Caesar. This is me napping with Caesar on my uncle’s lap. Also 1969.

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This was my cat, Baby Puss, on Easter.

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This is when I met Baby Puss in 1967. She is named after the Flintstones’ cat. We also had a black male cat named Bagheera. I was always an avid television watcher.

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My mom was ALL ABOUT the matching outfits. This was for my aunt’s 25th anniversary up in Edmonton in 1971.

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And, in case you’re wondering…this was my reaction when my dad tried to get a puppy.

Aby-a-Day – 14 Februari: Alla hjärtans dagen!

It’s Valentine’s Day! I thought I would share some old Valentine’s art I made for calendars years ago.

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This, of course, is Angel. I think the original photo was taken the first Valentine’s Day after she came to live with us.

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This one was taken the weekend before Harri died. He and Patrick were such good friends…they were such great boys, too.

Hsppy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Aby-a-Day – 26 Februari: Fox finished…plus a little extra (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, Linus finished up my fox tattoo. I really love the way it turned out.

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Here is a close up, showing where the snake used to be.

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I am so glad to be rid of that snake! Even though I adore Barnaby, the artist who did it (and who did my Octopus, Koi and Tiger tattoos)…but it was a mistake.

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Whilst I was there, Linus also touched up the memorial tattoo of Gun-Hee and Logan (Logan’s eyes were made greener, and the background was touched up.

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But best of all, he also touched up my very first tattoo, which I got on my first trip to New York City at the end of 1995. Naturally, being almost 25 years old (Day-uuuuuuummmmm!), poor Harri has faded quite a lot.

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Now he looks like he did when I first got him! Thank you, Linus!

Aby-a-Day – November 24 – Breed sketches (Cartoon Tuesday)

I found these sketches I did during a therapy visit at Tufts last year with Jacoby, probably around the time some patients did portraits of Jake.

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On this one, I was explaining how different the body types and skulls of different breeds are. I also explained how ticking on an Abyssinian hair looks.

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Then I was asked if I had any other cats, so I drew Angel, Kylie and Tessie and showed how different each of them look – both when compared to Jake and when compared to each other.

Aby-a-Day – October 16: NEMO’s Infamous Costume Contest (Fashion Friday)

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“Who are you talking to?”
“That sounds like a really good deal…uh, it’s Jake, from State Farm.”

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“Jake, from State Farm, at three in the morning?! Who is this?”
“It’s Jake, from State Farm.”

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“What are you wearing, ‘Jake from State Farm’?”

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“Uhhh…Khakis…”

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“Well, she sounds hideous.”
“Well, she’s a cat, so…”

In case you haven’t seen the original commercial…I’ve been wanting to do this since I came up with my April Fool’s image back in 2012:

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But honestly, all the costumes this year were clever. We also had…

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…Homer Simpson and a donut…

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…Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf…

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…My friend Charlotte and her tortie Colorpoint Shorthair Arwen as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (last year, they along with Charlotte’s cream-point, were Galadriel, Legolas and Arwen from The Lord of the Rings).

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My friends Bob and Iris were Robin Hood and Maid Marian, along with Harold, a deer from Sherwood Forest.

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This little girl was a princess, and her shaded Persian was her Prince Charming.

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And last, but not least, we had a Harley biker gang.

And the winners were…

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Charlotte and Arwen as Fred and Ginger! And in second place…

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Jake! From State Farm!

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Charlotte and I were both thrilled to have won, having entered all three years with what were (according to other people and not just ourselves) ingenious and well-done costumes. As I told Charlotte, our victory wasn’t just this year’s costumes; like figure skating, our scores were based on our historical performance as well as the current one.

I’ll miss this contest when we move to Sweden, but FaceTiming with Björn while at the show gave me a brilliant idea. At the next show, I’ll FaceTime in during the contest, and I’ll be one of the judges!

Aby-a-Day – September 29: Christmastime is here, by golly! (Cartoon Tuesday)

This is the actual illustration for the Christmas card I was talking about last week.

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This is San Francisco, the intersection of Geary and Stockton in front of Union Square, 1996. My then-boyfriend, Eric, and I are doing Harri and Sigrid’s holiday shopping for them. Also, if you look at the background, there is another cat sitting on the sidewalk; that is Fagin and his human Mario, who would panhandle with his lovely blue-point Siamese mix. I used to bring fagin cat food, and Mario liked that better than the money! Mario wasn’t homeless, but he had been a construction worker until he started to lose his eyesight. I wonder what he’s doing now…and if he still has a kitty buddy.

That intersection is completely torn up now for light-rail construction, but here’s how it looked in 2011:

I can’t believe how much time I spent on this drawing! Nowadays, I’d just use a photograph and be done with it. I also used old-school Chartpak shading film on this…oh, man, I do NOT miss that stuff!

Aby-a-Day – September 22: Jake and Angel are the new Harri and Sigrid (Cartoon Tuesday)

Björn has been going through his basement storage, in order to make room for all the crap that I’m dragging with me to Sweden. In the process, he’s found all the old letters and cards I sent him over the years. Including this little sketch from the back of my Christmas card from 1996:

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This, of course, is my two Siamese, Harri and Sigrid (this was before I adopted Patrick). But what struck me when I saw this drawing (which I’d completely forgotten), was how similar the dynamic of Harri and Sigrid was to the dynamic of Jacoby and Angel in my current cartoons.

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Harri, like Jake, is the boyish, over-the-top goofball, while Sigrid, like Angel, is the feminine cool head of reason.

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I’m completely in love with the fact that I drew Harri wearing hockey skates while Sigrid wears figure skates. And I know that if I drew Jake and Angel ice skating, I would do the exact same thing.

Aby-a-Day – May 15: Jacoby and Russell (Friday Flashback)

Russell Webb is one of my favourite judges. Not only is he a lot of fun to watch – especially his finals – but he likes Jacoby.

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In fact, I think that Russell has never not used Jake in a final when he was judging – at least not yet (knock on wood). Even before Jake Granded, Russell named him 9th Best Cat in Premiership.

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Russell also likes Abys, and it’s not unusual for him to choose Jake and another Aby for a final, like he did in 2012 when he had Jake and his cousin Taz in his final at Seacoast. Judges do have some cats they just like, and when they see them, they tend to use them in their finals. Danny the Siamese is one of these cats that a lot of judges like.

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(Of course, him hugging the judge when they come to get him from his cage doesn’t hurt!)

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This was the Mansfield show in 2012.

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At the Seacoast show in 2013, Russell gave him a Best Allbreed Cat in Premiership rosette.

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I was thrilled! Russell has actually placed Jake 1st, 2nd and 3rd at Seacoast shows.

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Sometimes I wonder if Jake remembers Russell.

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I think he does.

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I know he remembers Iris Zinck, and he’s seen Russell so many times I’m sure he knows him.

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This was Boxborough, and Russell placed him Second in his ring (which I believe was an Allbreed ring).

At the first Nemo show, Russell again named Jake his Best Cat in Premiership, this time in a Specialty (shorthairs only) ring.

(These photos were taken by Bille Axell – I love them!)

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Then, last year at Seacoast, we ran into Russell again.

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And, once again, Jake did well in his ring.

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He was Second Best Allbreed Cat in Premiership! He was also Second Best Shorthair Cat in Premiership at the second Nemo show, but I seem not to have gotten any photos of that.

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It was a pretty busy show.

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Which brings us to the most recent Seacoast show. You can tell Jake and Russell are old pals by now.

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Notice Russell’s hands-off presentation.

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I just adore watching Russell describe Jake and Abyssinians. I actually love watching him describe all the breeds.

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I think they’re both superstars!

Aby-a-Day – May 10: Happy Mother’s Day to me…(Selfie Sunday)

Jacoby is having another UT flare-up.

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I’ve never considered myself a maternal person. I was Daddy’s little girl, a complete tomboy, and I hated dolls.

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I had a stuffed kitty. I dressed her up and put her in the doll stroller. And yeah, I was seriously hating that pink dress.

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I have always been a cat person. Always. And I do feel like a cat mom. It’s not the same as being a human mom. In some ways, our relationship is more that of being partners or equals than being a parent and a child. But when they’re sick…

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…I feel like a mom.

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Jake started showing his classic UT symptom, going back and forth between the boxes and squatting in other places, at about 6:50 on Thursday night. Our vet closes at 7pm, so I wasn’t able to take him right in, but I was able to make an appointment first thing the next morning.

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We went in, and they did the usual things, took a urine sample, and gave us all the usual medicines.

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We took the bus home. On the way Jake was being so cute riding so nicely on the seat, that I had to take some selfies.

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They didn’t really turn out that well, but I like them. I think they capture how we both were feeling.

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And speaking of capturing a feeling…this is Jake after his first dose of Buprenex, which we keep on hand in case he has a flare up. Jake likes Buprenex!

So, if you consider yourself a cat mom…Happy Cat Mother’s Day!

Aby-a-Day – May 9: “Impressive” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

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

Jacoby started showing late in life compared to most show cats. He started showing when he was almost 2, and now he’s 6 years old. At the Seacoast show last weekend, he made four out of ten finals, placing 10th, 8th and 3rd best Allbreed and 5th best in a Specialty Shorthair ring.

Some would say this is impressive. Most show cats retire by the time they're 2 years old.

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However, Jake is nothing compared to a Siamese in the North Atlantic Region. GPD, NW, RW Minghou Native Dancer of Tayohme, a seal-point Siamese neuter, is almost 11 years old, and he is still a regular fixture at cat shows.

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Seen here with his owner, Sandra Hogan (in blue), and his breeder, Pat Muise, Danny has been at least a Regional winner, if not a National winner, in CFA every year he’s been shown. He is the first Siamese to earn the “Grand of Distinction” title.

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When a judge comes to take Danny out of his cage, Danny goes right for the shoulder and hugs the judge as he’s taken out. Here he is with Russell Webb.

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Even though he’s 11, he’s really clear and his body is really light for a Siamese. As Siamese age, they tend to get darker, and their body colour tends to blend with their points. Danny has managed to keep a pale body. He’s also managed to keep his boyish figure all these years.

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(Notice who’s in the background, waiting his turn!)

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At the show last weekend, Danny had a cake in his honour, because he was a national winner for the last CFA show season.

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Like any celebrity, Danny was asked to put his pawprint in the frosting of his cake.

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I think he really enjoyed that.

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It was really cute, too. I don’t know who got that piece of the cake – probably his owner.

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Both his owner and his breeder are really proud of him. And I think his breeder is really happy to be able to see him all the time.

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Danny is an impressive Siamese, and an impressive Grand Premier. Some people think Jake is too old to show…but if an 11 year old Siamese can keep showing – and making finals – why shouldn’t Jake? His colour has only gotten better as he’s aged…although I don’t take him to enough shows to earn a Regional or National CFA title, at the age of 6 he still holds his own in the show ring.

Aby-a-Day – December 21: A visit to St. Nicholas

Last week, Jacoby went to see Santa at Petco.

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This is something I’ve wanted to do with him forever. I used to take my Siamese, Harri and Sigrid, to see Santa back in San Francisco.

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So when I learned Petco was doing photos with Santa I leapt at the chance.

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Luckily, it was a nice warm day, in the 40’s. I bundled Jake up well, but really, it wasn’t that cold at all.

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It’s been a while since we went anywhere in Jake’s stroller. I think he was happy to go out somewhere.

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We actually went to an Unleashed by Petco store. This one just opened on Washington Street in the South End back in July, and it’s so close to where we live! It was less than a mile’s walk, closer than the Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller Center. We’ll definitely have to come back more often.

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The staff is awesome. And they were thrilled to see a cat come to shop.

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The manager, Jim, was playing Santa. He left his post to come meet Jake.

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Now, that’s special treatment, when Santa comes to see you.

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I’m not sure who enjoyed the petting more, Jake or Santa!

Aby-a-Day – August 29: The NEMO Costume Contest (Fashion Friday)

NEMO is actually becoming famous for its costume contest – which is a good thing.


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Not only was a photo of Jacoby and I featured in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, but our friend Linda told me that she came back to the show this year just because she had so much fun entering the costume contest last year.

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And I’m pretty sure she’d been working on her costume since last October, too. It was awsome.

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Linda was General George E. Pickett, wounded confederate soldier, and Pippi was Clara Barton, wartime nurse.

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They. Were. Incredible. Seriously. I’m so entrenched in the realm of pop culture that something like a Civil War general would just never occur to me.

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Linda also pays incredible attention to detail. Her crutch was a tree branch with sheep’s wool wrapped around the top. But everyone really stepped up their game this year.

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Amelia and Timbuka the Burmese dressed as Hiccup and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.

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I wish you could see it better in this photo, but Timbuka has a little tailflap thing tied to his tail. And he kept it on through the entire contest, too.

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Amelia’s mom, Stacie, dressed as Little Bo Peep with Bella the Burmese as her sheep.

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I didn’t get this family’s name, but they, along with their HHP and their Ocicat, dressed as a family vet clinic.

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My friend Charlotte was awesome, too. She was Galadriel, while her two Siamese Colorpoint Shorthairs Phoenix (the cream-point) was Legolas and Arwen (the tortie-point) was, well, Arwen. Charlotte had a stroller for the two of them, and she even dressed that up to match!

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Arwen had a little headdress and a gorgeous blue gown. Legolas had a little tiny bow and quiver full of arrows.

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They looked awesome.

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Iris and Harold didn’t enter (they were the emcees), but Iris was a Native American and Harold (a Siberian) was an early crosser of the Bering Land Bridge. Our costumes aren’t only clever, they’re educational!

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As you can imagine, the competition was pretty stiff. I don’t know how the two judges ever made up their minds. Linda and Pippi took second place, and the winner was…

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Geri and Little Miss Muffet the Himilayan! They were dressed as a cocktail and a can of beer. Geri won last year, too, with a different Persian as Harry Potter and Hedwig the owl.

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Jake and I are already brainstorming what we’re going to do for next year’s contest, and I’m pretty sure everyone else is, too! Not sure what I’ll do to top Marilyn, though…

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!

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 – April 4: Feline Diversity

One of the best things about going to cat shows is you get to see a lot of different breeds. The show in Stamford was especially good; of the 40 breeds recognised by the CFA, 27 were present at the show we attended.

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The first breeds to be shown in the 1800’s in the UK were the Persian, the Siamese, and the Abyssinian. All the breeds have changed over the years, but two have changed significantly.

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Take the Siamese, for example. When I was a kid, they were shaped more like Abys! Now, they’re very slender, sleek cats with dainty, refined features.

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Compare these guys to Pyewacket in Bell, Book and Candle and you’ll see what I mean!

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Technically, this guy isn’t a “Siamese,” but a Colorpoint Shorthair.

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All that means, really, is that he is NOT one of the Original Four point colours (Seal, Blue, Chocolate or Lilac) but is either Red-, Cream-, Tabby-, Tortie- or Torbie-pointed.

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A rose by any other name…I think the CFA is the only breed registry that still separates Siamese this way.

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The Cornish Rexes have become almost as elongated as the Siamese.

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Compare this little girl’s head to the Oriental Shorthair in the background.

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I am utterly fascinated with the rex gene. It’s a different gene in each of the Rex breeds (Cornish, Devon and Selkirk) and they aren’t related at all. Three separate curly-haired genes!

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Aren’t they cute?

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At the other end of the feline spectrum we have the Persians.

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Look how flat Persians’ faces are!

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And then, of course, the Siamese and the Persian were bred together to create the Himalayan which was once its own breed but which is now a colour class of the Persian breed. There’s little left of the Siamese side of the family besides the points nowadays.

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Then there’s the Burmese, which seems to be well on its way to becoming almost as round as the Persian.

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These are very stout, very round, very muscular, solid cats.

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It’s hard to believe they originated from the same part of the world as the Siamese!

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Russian Blues are a very moderate breed. They’re neither very long nor very round. They’re just cat-shaped.

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They’re a little more stocky than the Abys, though.

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That’s probably due to the fact that they originated in Eurasia while Abys originate from either Africa or Southeast Asia, depending on which story you believe.

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Climate plays a big role in how animals’ bodies evolve. Just look at the difference between the Arctic Fox and the Desert Fennec!

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A rare shot of Jacoby in the traditional “Show Cat Stretch.”

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If you want to see what a cat really looks like, though, you have to look at the Sphynx.

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There’s no fur to hide behind on a Sphynx. What you see is what you get.

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They are wonderful cats to study if you want to learn cat anatomy.

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This little blue and white girl is still just a kitten!

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Some people think that Sphynxes are kind of…well, creepy. I think they’re beautiful.

Aby-a-Day – July 25: Wordless Wednesday (Bad Influence)

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Aby-a-Day – September 14: Wordless Wednesday (Classic Match-Up)

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Aby-a-Day – September 11: The smell of the bay rum, the roar of the ring announcements

Two-day cat shows are a lot of fun, but they’re also a lot of work, and they pretty much dominate your whole weekend.

The second day of this show began with a moment of silence for that other September 11, 10 years ago; being in Connecticut, we were rather closer to Ground Zero than we would have been at home. It was a somber way to start our morning.

As I tweeted, the first ring, judge Lorraine Rivard’s Shorthair Specialty ring, the Premiers came down to a classic match-up between Pellburn Jacoby Stealin’ Home, the the ruddy Abyssinian, and Chocolado’s Madeline of Tayhome, the Seal-Point Siamese…and in that ring, the Aby was awarded the Best Shorthair Premier ribbon.

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Later, in judge Gary Veach’s Allbreed ring, the two best Shorthair Premiers came down to the exact same pairing…but this time, the Siamese was the Best Allbreed Premier. In that ring, Jake was awarded 2nd Best Shorthair Premier, 2nd Best Allbreed Premier and 9th Best Cat in Premiership.

I loved that out of all the breeds entered in the show, in two different rings it came down to a Siamese and an Abyssinian, two of the featured breeds that were shown at the storied first show at the Crystal Palace in London in 1887. Classic, classic Shorthair Rivalry (kind of like two eastern American League baseball teams I can think of).

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I was thrilled he did so well in Gary Veach’s ring, since back at Jake’s first show in February, his advice to me was, “He’s stunning..get the weight off. I haven’t worked out how many points he earned this weekend yet (I think he’s got 66, but I am not at all sure if I’ve done the math right), or how close he is to his Grand, but he did respectably well.

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I’m so proud of him! And I’ll have many, many photos coming in the next few days, too.

Oh, and a special PS to Sparkle: Toby the handsome Grand Premier Somali placed in the finals in all 10 rings, which just goes to show you how impressive Abys’ longhaired cousins are!