Aby-a-Day – 15 Augusti: A quick visit to the cat show

On Sunday, we spent some time at the cat show in Lempäälä (near Tampere) that Russell and Carol, along with my friend Pam, were judging. Because we had to catch the ferry back to Sweden at 16:45, and it was a long drive from the show hall to the ferry terminal, we couldn’t enter Dashiell in the show – it didn’t matter, pointwise, because he’s still a kitten, and exhibitors aren’t allowed to leave until the show’s posted closing hour. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t drop by for a visit.

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It was a very small show, held in a shopping mall (which was actually rather cool). One-day shows in CFA aren’t common, but they happen; however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with only three rings!

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My friend Anne set us up with a small pop-up tent and a litter box for Dash. While in Sweden, people mostly use the metal show cages and spectators view the cats on the same side of the cage as the exhibitors, in Finland, people use SturdiShelters and pop-up tents with a clear back, and the spectators view the cats from the back whilst the exhibitiors sit with their cats by the cages’ doors. It feels a bit strange, not really being able to interact with the people coming to see the cats except over the top of your cage.

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Dash has been to shows before, so he knew what to do.

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He was very interested in this one little boy who stopped to see him.

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Dash wanted to make friends with the kid, but it’s hard when you’re behind plastic.

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If it had been a metal cage, Dash would have reaching out to touch the boy.

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I think both kitten and child were equally fascinated with each other. It was adorable.

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We were only able to stay for about an hour and a half (the show, being so small, didn’t start until 11), but it was nice to hang out with Meg and Anne a little bit more. I also managed to get a photo of Anne’s stunning tattoo…isn’t it lovely?

Aby-a-Day – 16 Juli: In memory of Jacoby Stealin’ Home (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, I got my memorial tattoo of Jacoby.

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Whilst in London, I realised that the Red Sox logo needed to be a part of his tattoo, because the Red Sox were such a part of who Jake was. I mean, his name and identity was based upon an event in Red Sox history.

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This is the photo that the tattoo was based upon…The time we went out in the courtyard and played in the snow five years ago. It’s one of the most iconic photos I ever took of Jake.

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Linus started with the Red Sox logo and then worked on Jake’s parka.

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Then Jake himself was filled in.

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The parka’s fur ruff was the last to be done.

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Here it is, almost finshed, where you can see how it looks on my calf.

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And this is Jake, finished.

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Linus made a little video of the tattoo. Click on the image above to view it in Flickr.

Aby-a-Day – 6 July: Poetry in Paris (Special Saturday)

On one day of our trip to London, we took a daytrip to Paris on the Eurostar.

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We were only in Paris for nine hours. Not long; just enough time to see some sights, grab a bite (about which more later), and wander the streets looking for adventure. At one point, we came upon Shakespeare and Company, the famed English bookstore and sister store to San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore (you can see a tribute to the SF store above the door). I used to walk down Jack Kerouac Alley, alongside City Lights, when I was living in SF and swing dancing almost every night. So seeing this bookstore kind of resonated with me.

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They have interesting snippets from news articles written on chalkboards on either side of the storefront. This was my favourite.

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But the best thing about the bookstore was this guy outside with his manual portable Remington typewriter. His name is Leo, and as you can see, he would write you a poem upon request. Leo only asked that you decide to pay what you think it’s worth only after you’ve read the poem. So I asked him to write a poem based on my tattoo of Gun-Hee and Logan. He was impressed with the concept, and only asked what the breeds of the cats were, and confirmed that the plants were maple leaves and pussywillows. Then he thought a moment and started typing.

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This is what he wrote:

singapore, abyssinia
maple leaf and pussy willow

meeeeeoooooow

stare into these eyes
deeper than the wisdom
collected through the course of
nine lives
wider than the stream of
time into which so much is
washed away

meeeeeeoooooow

we are they who traverse
the limits you imagine

we are they who were once
worshipped and are glorified
still, have you discovered
why, in the course
of your one
life?

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Leo signs the back of every poem he types.

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Of course I loved it, and I paid him 10€ for his work. I also explained the story behind the tattoo, how these two boys died ten years apart from the same awful disease. About a year or so ago, I found an awesome antique glass frame that I’ve been saving for the perfect thing to put into it. I think I finally found what the frame has been needing.

Aby-a-Day – 1 Juni: A birthday frame-up (Swedish Saturday)

Today is my birthday! Not a very eventful one (that’s next year), but a birthday nonetheless.

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Most of the “celebrating” will be done next week, as Björn has to work this weekend, but next weekend we’ll be at a cat show. But I did get a gift: Björn had my magpie print framed! It’s an unusual size, so he had to have it done custom.

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A bit of backstory, now, since apparently I never really posted about the magpie tattoo that was my introduction to my fabulous artist Linus. When I went in for the very first consultation, I was hopeful that the person I met with could really do magpies with Japanese maple leaves really well. Well, walking up to the house, the first thing I saw was a gorgeous red Japanese maple tree planted in the yard. Then, I went inside, and saw a trio of gorgeous prints, including the magpie at the top of this post. Then I met Linus, and when I mentioned that I loved the magpie print, he proudly told me that he had drawn it!

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Well, needless to say, I knew I had found my artist! Here is the finished tattoo…these are actually Yellow-Billed Magpies, which are only found in the Sacramento/San Joaquin valley of Northern California, where I grew up. Everywhere else, magpies have black beaks. This is similar to my Western Grey Fox tattoo, which is also a native California species.

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Whilst trying to capture my newly-framed print, of course somecat had to come investigate…

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Okay, I think the frame is Singapura approved!

Aby-a-Day – 30 April: Jacoby’s tattoo (Cartoon Tuesday)

Yesterday, I went to see my tattoo artist, Linus, about my next tattoo…Jacoby’s memorial. I had settled on two photos of him that I love. One is the almost iconic photo of him in the snow, wearing his amazing United Bamboo fishtail parka. I absolutely love this photo. It is the epitome of Winter Jake.

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But I also love this photo of Jake on the 4th of July in a bunch of pink flowers in our favourite little grassy spot behind the welders’ next to Rolling Bridge Park. It’s just…the perfect photo of Summer Jake.

I couldn’t decide (I was thinking maybe both of them blended), so I left it up to Linus. And he thought the best tattoo would be…

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Winter Jake!! I’ll make the appointment sometime next month.

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 – 15 January: Tattoo foxers (Cartoon Tuesday)

This is only tangentially related to Abys, or even cats, but I thought you might find it interesting.

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I had this snake tattoo…and I really didn’t like it. I got it for the wrong reasons, it hasn’t aged as well as most of the other ones I have, and it really doesn’t go with the other tattoos I have.

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So I finally decided to do something about it. I decided to get the snake covered up with a traditional Japanese fox design.

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Today was the first session. We got the outlines done, and then we coloured in the fox. I am not going to lie…this was the most painful tattoo I have ever gotten.

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Instead of a red fox, though, I wanted a North American grey fox. I have always loved the grey and orange colouration of these foxes.

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Also, the colouration of the grey fox is quite similar to Alfred’s…I call him my grey fox.

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When I got home, I was drained and exhausted. I was lying on the sofa and Jacoby instantly came and lay on top of me…and on top of the tattoo. But it was nice, actually. Soothing. We’ll finish this tattoo up next month.

Aby-a-Day – 16 October: “People are proud of their tattoos. It’s like a modern coat of arms” (Cartoon Tuesday)

On Friday, Linus finished my tattoo honouring Gun-Hee and Logan

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This is just after the shading on Logan was finished. Linus worked hard to find just the exact right shades of brown.

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He really captured Logan’s expression and cute slight underbite.

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Here we are checking it out in the mirror.

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The green in Logan’s eyes should deepen as the tattoo heals.

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Because it’s hard to get the whole tattoo in one photo, Linus made a short video as well. I asked him to take one with my phone, so you can see it “live” by clicking on the image above.

Aby-a-Day – 25 September: My new tattoo (Cartoon Tuesday)

Today we started work on my memorial tattoo of Gun-Hee and Logan. Yesterday, Linus, my artist, sent me the above outline drawing…

…and this complete drawing- I was blown away. Linus thought that just their heads worked better as a tattoo than showing their whole bodies…and he was right.

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These are the photos Linus used as a reference.

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Here is the tattoo after the lines were done.

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Linus working. He wanted to make sure he looked “ugly” before I took the photo.

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Here is Gun-Hee and his leaves coloured in.

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And here is Gun-Hee’s part done completely with blue shading. On 10 October, Logan will get coloured in and it will be finished.

Aby-a-Day – 10 July: The Girl with the Aby and Singa Tattoo (Cartoon Tuesday)

You might recall a few weeks ago I was about to go in and get a magpie tattoo on my arm and plan my next tattoo with Linus, my new tattoo artist here in Slövde. Linus is amazing, and tomorrow I am going to get it coloured in. I can’t wait! Since the 21st, I’ve had a half-done, just black lines and shading. It’s going to be amazing to finally have it finished.

In the meantime, I have worked up two better-coloured versions of my original sketch. The one above was coloured in on my iPad Pro using pencil and an incredible app called Art Set which works well…except it hasn’t got layers. So I did more colouring using Photoshop…and the result is above.

Then I thought my rough-sketched maple leaves, pussy willows and cherry blossoms were kind of…lazy. So I found some Photoshop brushes and line art and created a better background. At least I have something to show Linus tomorrow during my appointment.

Aby-a-Day – 19 June: A tattoo for FIP (Cartoon Tuesday)

I have wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate Gun-Hee for years, but I never came up with a design. And then I got Logan, and he also died because of FIP. So my tattoo idea changed. It needed to include both Gun-Hee and Logan. So I came up with the above sketch. I am actually getting a tattoo on Thursday by Linus at Magic Man Tattoo here in Skövde…not cats, but magpies. I have always loved magpies, and I had one on my SCA arms (sable, on a maple leaf argent, a magpie displayed gules, marked and breasted argent (or, in other words, a black shield with a white maple leaf with a red magpie on it).

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It looks like this…this is an enamel piece I made in university, sometime around 1988. But I digress. When I go in for my magpie tattoo, I want to talk to Linus about my next tattoo…the one I have wanted since Gun-Hee died.

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This is my first colourised version of the sketch; I want to make a second version before I see Linus, but I’m not sure if I’ll have time to do it before Thursday. I can’t decide about the banner; I want to have something about FIP, but I don’t know if I like the location of the banner no matter where I put it. I want to have it done on it on my right calf. I am really pleased with the way Logan’s profile turned out, and Gun-Hee looks like Jacoby…but still looks like himself (it’s hard to explain). I can’t wait to hear what Linus says about it!

Aby-a-Day – 24 April: Tattoo you (Selfie Sunday)

I have several tattoos, but I wanted to get one to symbolise and commemorate my marriage to Björn. Many years ago, he gave me a silver necklace based on Bronze Age rock art from Sweden with a design of a man and woman kissing. The couple is known as “the Lovers,” “the Bridal Couple” or “the Holy Wedding.” It’s become something of a talisman of ours.

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So on 1 April, I went and got myself another tattoo of it!

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I added a cat-like creature from other rock carvings to the pair…if you look closely, you’ll see that the cat has a darker stripe along its back and a darker tipped tail! Just like an Abyssinian!

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While Björn was here for our wedding and honeymoon, he got a matching tattoo by the same artist, Deirdre at Redemption Tattoo in Cambridge – and she is awesome, by the way. If you need a tattoo and happen to be near Porter Square, look her up.

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Here are both of our tattoos together. Björn’s is about 2/3 the size of mine (I needed to balance out with the octopus on my other shoulder) and is feline-free. We are already planning on a trip to see the original rock carvings, which are conveniently located in Western Sweden, not far from where we will live. If we can, we want to get a photo of our tattoos and the original art…we’ll see how that goes.

Aby-a-Day – 15 January: Sanna-Leena’s new tattoo (Fashion Friday)

Our friend Sanna-Leena has an fabulous tattoo featuring her two boy Abys Sketsi and Kossi.

This week, she got a new tattoo featuring her red/sorrel girl Aby Kiipi! I love her eyelashes! Check out the video on Sanna-Leena’s Instagram to see the rest of this amazing tattoo done by Ravi-Lassi in Oulu, Finland. Well, I know where I’m getting my next tattoo!

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You may remember the gorgeous Aby tattoo I saw at the TICA show in Providence last year.

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Earlier this week, my friend Sanna-Leena Santapakka posted a photo of her new tattoo to the Abyssinian Cat Club on Facebook this week. Just check this out:

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She explained “Haven’t seen many tattoos with Abys on them, so I thought I should share my one. It has my boys, ruddy and fawn in it. My tattoo artist said he hasn’t ever coloured any tattoo so carefully as he did with them 😀 The tattoo artist is from Pitbull Tattoos in Oulu, Finland, and he is called Ravi-Lassi.”

Now I really want to get a tattoo of Jacoby…

Aby-a-Day – March 10: The wonderful world of TICA

I also wanted to share the TICA experience. It was, as I said, different. Different breeds of cats, a slightly different style of showing, and a slightly different overall personality. Not bad, just different. Kind of like when you live in either the US or Canada and go to the other country; we speak the same language (apart from that whole “couch/chesterfield” thing), we watch the same television shows, but we use different money and do our everyday things just a little bit differently.

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I like different. I’m a Gemini; different is awesome.

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It was also a lot of fun to see Munchkins, Bengals, Savannahs and Toygers, since those aren’t recognised by CFA. Savannahs, in fact, on January 28th 2012, TICA accepted the Savannah as a championship breed, so this was actually one of the breed’s first “real” shows.

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Animal Planet has a new episode of Too Cute Kittens with Savannah kittens, and it aired for the first time on the Saturday night of the cat show. I was talking to a woman with Savannah kittens on Sunday, and it turns out that those are her kittens on the program. So now I’ve met two of the breeders who have been featured on Too Cute! Kittens, the Abyssinians who were bred by Instincts (breeders of Jacoby’s mother Catalina), and now I’ve met the Savannahs, too.

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This is Janet with one of her kittens. As I’ve been telling the Pouponette’s Number 1, my camera has been having issues lately…the good photo I took of her wasn’t saved by the camera, unfortunately, so this is the best I have.

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This is an adult Savannah named Jordache.

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He and his human were wearing coordinated outfits!

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This is one of the Toygers that was at the show. I’d never seen a Toyger in person before.

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But last weekend, I got to see two!

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I never saw a Bengal in person, either. This was a Champion Bengal next to a really pretty little fawn Aby girl.

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She was adorable!

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There were also two ruddy Championship Abyssinians in the show.

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And this incredible Silver Cinnamon Somali.

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He was so gorgeous.

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And good-natured!

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This Siamese was actually a Household Pet.

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Every time I saw this little Japanese Bobtail, I was reminded of Eyebrow Kitteh. His people actually hadn’t seen Eyebrow Kitteh…I’m sure they thought I was strange.

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Dexter’s person had the most spectacular tattoo of her red/sorrel Aby…it’s certainly gotten me to thinking!

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And we also saw this little lilac European Burmese. It was funny, because Jacoby saw her first and he just kind of stared at her. I’m sure he thought she was Tessie at first, and he was just fascinated with her. It was really funny.

As I said yesterday, there was also a Pet Expo going on (the cat show was a part of the larger Expo), and we had a lot of spectators coming through both days. Everyone was really well-mannered, for the most part; people asked sensible questions and the children were polite. Sometimes when there are a lot of what we used to call “Mundanes” when I was in the SCA walking around, I get nervous for my belongings; the more people who pass by your encampment, the more likely it is that something of yours may evolve legs and walk away. But I didn’t hear of any missing belongings either of the two days, which is wonderful!

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We had a lot of attention around Jake’s house, because we were benched next to the only Sphynx at the show, and the kids all loved Sally.

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Her people, Laurie and Michael, let the kids touch her so they would know what a hairless cat felt like.

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I actually had to take her up to a ring while they were at lunch! I’ve petted Sphynxes before, but I’d never shown one…that was an interesting experience. I said it was like driving someone else’s car; I was familiar with the process, but everything was just slightly off.

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I like having little kids (and older girls) come by to see Jake. I always talk to them and let them pet a real live show cat; I was just like them when I was their age, and I would have been over the moon if I’d have been allowed to touch a real show Aby when I was 12. I would have been too shy to even ask, so I really enjoy talking to kids about the cat show, Jake, and the whole show experience because I see myself in those kids. I found an article for cat show exhibitors on a Persian and Exotic breeder’s website which, personally, says everything I want to say and more; it’s a brilliant essay.

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I also have Jake’s TokiPoki cards, and tiny “rock band buttons” with his name and photo on them that I give away to the really good cat-crazy kids. Those are very popular; sometimes the parents want one, too! A lot of the cat people at shows can be a little preoccupied and a lot of us deal better with cats than with people (myself included), so I always try to remember what I felt like when I just came to look at cat shows, before I was actually involved with them.

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The Expo itself had a lot of booths with all sorts of pet-related products. I bought a totebag with “I Love My Abyssinian” on it (and it had green handles, too!) from Klondike Stuff embroidery, and the owner came over to me and said, “Thank you for buying a totebag.” I grinned and said, “Thank you for having a totebag with an Aby on it!”

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I also got this little grey hand towel from her. It’s supposed to be a “Yoga Cat,” but I think she looks like a fawn Aby.

Another cool thing about Expos like this is that you get introduced to new products, like the new walnut-shell litter that Blue just came out with. The Northeast sales rep himself (I think his name is Greg) came around to all of us exhibitors and extolled the virtues of this new litter – and also gave us a bag to try out!

I haven’t tried it yet, but apparently nut shells in general, and especially walnut shells, have amazing ammonia gas and odor-neutralising properties. During WWI, they were used in gas masks because walnut shells were super-effective against mustard gas. According to Greg, this was discovered by accident when gas masks were stored in a shed that was broken into by squirrels, who stored walnuts inside the gas masks. When they were testing the gas masks for effectiveness against mustard gas, the men who had gas masks with walnuts in them were fine, but those without the walnuts passed out. And, as anyone who’s ever read a label on a bottle of bleach or ammonia knows, mustard gas is ammonia-based, just like cat urine. So it should work really well on cat box odor, and I’m very interested to try it!

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I’m sure Jake is, too. I just hope he doesn’t try to eat it like he did the corn-based World’s Best Litter!