Aby-a-Day- 12 August: Cousins from another mother

When Izaak first arrived, Alfred was polite, but reserved.

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He didn’t seem to connect Zak to Logan at all, despite being only the second Singapura Freddy had ever seen in his life.

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But lately…

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…Freddy has taken a cuddly interest in little Zakky.

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While it is so reminiscent of Freddy and Logan, the “Brothers From Another Mother,” it is different, too.

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So maybe…”Cousins From Another Mother”? Is that a thing? I guess if we can have identical cousins, we can have that!

Aby-a-Day – 8 August: Wordless Wednesday (Imma just help you pack, k?)

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Aby-a-Day – 5 August: MINE (Singapura Sunday)

Recently our nearby pet store started carrying Vaisto Mush frozen chicken necks. This is the same brand that makes the raw balls I feed them, so I thought I would get them to see if they liked them. At the very least, I thought, Alfred will eat them because he loves to chew on bones.

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Well, I wasn’t wrong. Freddy does like them. But I was surprised that Izaak really loved them.

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This is the very first time I gave Zak a chicken neck. Not only did he attack it, but he guarded it, growling and snarling as he ate it.

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Despite being the smallest cat in our household (and this was right after he came to live with us), he managed to keep Jacoby, Lorelai and Freddy at bay. Angel didn’t even try.

Here’s a video of that first encounter with a chicken neck. I hope you can hear the growling!

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Zak is now addicted to these things. Everytime I go near the refrigerator, he yells at me to open the door and give him a neck! I try to limit them, because too many bones can cause constipation. But it’s hard not to give him one when he is so insistent.

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And he is so funny to watch! Even if no cat is around, he growls, snarls and hisses.

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…But if anyone gets too close…

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Look at Freddy! He doesn’t even try to take it from Zak! He knows from past encounters, he can’t win.

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The best he can do is hope for leftovers. Even though he weighs more than double what Zak does (4kg to Zak’s 1.8kg), he just won’t go there.

Here’s a video I made this afternoon showing the stand off. Towards the beginning, Zak hisses with his mouth full of neck. It’s pretty funny to hear!

Aby-a-Day – 4 August: No allen wrench required (Silly Swedish Saturday)

Back in April, I posted about Malt, a Japanese Singapura who loves to drag his favourite toy all over the house.

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It seems Izaak and Malt have something in common.

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Zak absolutely LOVES IKEA mice and rats.

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LOVES them.

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He also loves to carry them around.

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We are always finding them in our bed.

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Apparently, this is the best place to play with them.

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It’s tempting to call his mousies his “friends,” but he doesn’t see them that way. When he picks them up, he tends to go for the backs of their necks. And then he shakes them. So…probably not friends.

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Whatever they are, he loves to carry them around the house.

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What’s funny is, we had a load of mice and one rat that lay around the house for over a year, because nobody ever played with them. The best they could hope for was to end up helping to bury the food bowls when Alfred was done eating. So now, whenever we go to IKEA, we of course have to get Zak some new mousies.

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The last time we went, we got one of each colour mice, plus a black and a grey rat. And a lion, because why not?

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Zak immediately decided he liked the big grey rat the best.

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He picked it right up and carried it off.

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He had a bit of a struggle with it on the balcony floor…

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…and then he carried it into the living room.

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His ultimate goal was this little tent we have set up in the living room.

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There was a little bit of distraction involving a brown mouse from an earlier IKEA trip.

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But in the end, Zak got his rat into his tent.

Aby-a-Day – 29 July: There’s cat proof…and then there’s Abyssinian proof (Swedish Sunday)

I have been regaling you with tales of our balcony/catio. It took a while to make sure it was cat-proof…wait, I mean, Aby-proof. Because protecting something from Abyssinians is a huge step up from protecting a thing from a regular cat. Trust me on this. You would think that a pot of plain pasta left on the stove is of no interest to cats, right? And you would be correct. It is of no interest to a cat. But leave that pot of plain pasta on the stove with Abys around? Yeah…have fun cleaning that pasta up off the floor. Oh, and enjoy your broken pot.

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So testing the cat-netting from the inside was only a starting point. The real test came a few days later.

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We were outside with Lorelai and Izaak. We’re trying to teach them to stick to us outside off leash, so we go out, they run around, but when we call them, they come right to us. It’s the sort of thing I couldn’t teach Jacoby, living in Boston.

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But when Jake heard our voices outside, he ran to join us.

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And he really tried to join us. But thankfully, the netting and chicken wire held.

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Then Angel came to help.

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So now we had two adult Abys actively trying to breach the netting.

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Oh, sure, they pretend to not get along. But they are totally in cahoots. Don’t let them fool you.

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Angel seemed content to simply be near us…Jake, not so much.

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He was still testing the netting, searching for a weak spot.

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And he was trying really hard to find that weakness.

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Angel and Jake tried each end of the cat-netting to see if they could escape.

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Seeing Zak just below only made Jake and Angel try to break through the screen even harder.

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And then, Alfred decided to join the party.

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“Hey, what’re you guys doing?”

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“Oh, breaking through the netting? Did you try gnawing on it?

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Here’s a side view of the big cats on the balcony. That netting is really doing its job!

Aby-a-Day – 28 July: A breath of fresh air (Swedish Saturday)

Ever since I moved here with Jacoby and Angel, we have wanted to put up cat netting and turn the balcony into a real, open-air catio.

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Thing is, the netting is a bit expensive. You probably can’t see the prices on the stickers, but the regular price is 548kr ($62). The box with the red tag is marked down because it’s missing screws…but even so, it’s still 488kr ($55). And it’s difficult to install, especially since our 50-year-old concrete walls are murder to drill into. So we let inertia rule, and made do with the glass windows just barely cracked open. It was a little warm out there when the sun was shining on it, but the cats didn’t mind.

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However, a couple of months ago I had the incredible good fortune to find a complete cat netting set at a second-hand store…for only 25kr (a little less than $3)! We find a lot of great things at the second-hand stores here…but this was one of our best scores.

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The netting sat around for a bit while we tried to figure out how we were going to put it up. As you may have heard, Northern Europe has been experiencing a wicked heatwave this summer, and with the balcony glassed in and closed up to keep the cats in, the temperature on the balcony was getting up to 40°C (104°F). We had real motivation to put up the netting and open the balcony up to whatever breeze we could get.

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Finally, even though it was hot, sweaty work, we finally sucked it up and hung the netting.

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And it was great!

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For about five seconds. Then Jacoby came to take a look and worked out how to escape through the side. Alfred was not far behind.

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So we closed the windows again and went back to the drawing board. Björn came up with a way of reinforcing the bottom section of the net with chicken wire. We fastened that to the lower screw eyes the net was attached to, secured it well at the bottom edge, and then wove wire through both the netting and the chicken wire along the top. Then we opened the windows again and held our breath. Would it stand up to Jake and Freddy?

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Jake tried his old trick to break through the way he did the last time, pushing hard with his head.

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But it held!

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Freddy had a go as well, but even with his method (leaning on it with all his weight till he fell out) the reinforced netting kept him inside.

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Finally, both of them stopped trying to escape and just enjoyed the fresh air.

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Izaak and Lorelai were quick to join them.

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They love it out there!

Aby-a-Day – 27 July: Evolution of a Catio (Fashion Friday)

When I first moved here in 2016, Björn’s balcony was a rather Spartan affair.

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There was only a wooden bench, a makeshift cat tree made from natural tree parts, a basket and…not much else.

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It was pretty barren. Once my things came from the States, we put my redwood burl table out there, and my floor-to-ceiling cat tree bumped Björn’s old cat tree out there as well. The balcony was open to the elements, so we couldn’t keep much else out there, but we put a tarp over the table, and it was fine out there. And so were the cats…until Jacoby taught himself to jump off the balcony. After that, we had to keep the balcony door closed until we could get it glassed in.

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Finally, May last year, we got the balcony glassed in. Jake was out there in a heartbeat.

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So was Pyret. The basket on the bench was her favourite spot…

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…which is one reason we kept her body there until we could get her cremated.

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For a while after it was glassed in, we used it as storage for the chairs until we could get it organised.

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Angel didn’t mind. She had sun and a cushy place to nap. She was good.

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Even now, you can usually find her in one of the chairs on the balcony.

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Either a chair, or the cubby in the cat tree.

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Alfred…well, he tries to fit in there sometimes, too.

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Logan also really loved the cubby.

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Logan loved the balcony.

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He spent a lot of time out there in the sun before he died.

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Jake and Freddy love being out there, too…but they’re usually trying to work out a way to escape.

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We got the basic layout of the balcony done last summer after the glass was installed, and we hung curtains and icicle and fairy lights, which actually give enough light to read by, but this year we have been focusing on really getting it set up to be a catio. I fell in love with this artificial pine tree at IKEA, and I found a reindeer hide for 125kr (around $14, about 1/10 what they should cost) which I love…but which sheds too much to live in the apartment. It looks great out on the balcony, though!

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One of the biggest things we did this year is lay down wooden tiles.

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Those tiles made a HUGE difference in the overall feel of the balcony. It feels warmer and more homey – more like a part of the house rather than “outside.” There was just one more thing we needed to do…and you’ll see what we did tomorrow!