Aby-a-Day – 6 Maj: Cat Scanner app (Thursday Things)

Yesterday in one of my Facebook cat groups, someone posted about an app, Cat Scanner, that claims to identify what breed your cat is from a photograph. So of course I had to try it out.

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It worked great with the Abyssinians.

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It even identified Angel correctly.

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And it got Markis pretty well, too.

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I was disappointed with how it did with Tessie. I was expecting perhaps a Burmilla…but I guess at least it could tell she’s a tortie?

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And then…there was Izaak. Complete and utter fail. I was expecting a Singapura to be a fairly easy ID…at worst, maybe a Burmese or Aby…but a Bengal!? Seriously? Well, you know I clicked that “Am I right?” link to tell them they weren’t. And the explanation was…the app only really works with FIFe-recognised breeds.

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Um….what!? Singas have been recognised in FIFe since 2014…SEVEN YEARS!

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Which, naturally, I felt the need to tell them. Haven’t gotten a response yet, but I can’t wait to see what they say.

Aby-a-Day – 5 April: Thanks for the memories (Monday Memory)

Facebook gave me some wonderful memories this morning. The first was the time a shirty MBTA conductor made me miss my stop to meet Meg for a cat show.

The second was of Tessie, happy with a box. Facebook can be evil…but it’s good for something, at least.

Aby-a-Day – 11 Februari: King Kong (Thursday Things)

A few months ago, Dashiell started over grooming himself. We think Lorelai being in heat may be stressing him out on some level, although their interactions are fairly normal and they play chasing games along with Izaak and Alfred every day.

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He started in on his belly. I tried giving him Amitriptyline (which I had on hand for Angel in case she has urinary issues), but the process of catching him and getting the pill down his throat once a day seemed to only cause him more stress, which seemed to defeat the purpose. Same with spraying his belly with Bitter Apple, plus I ended up getting the stuff on me, too (FWIW, it really does taste vile).

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I also tried the ThunderShirt, but he just over groomed parts of his body the shirt didn’t cover, like his arms.

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After careful observation, I determined his over grooming wasn’t likely caused by internal belly pain (when Tessie over groomed her belly, it turned out she was constipated and she was trying to make it feel better), especially after he started in on his arms. Out of ideas, I asked on my new Facebook Aby/Somali group, and several people suggested I try Zylkene, which is given as a powder in food. Dash’s licking lessened after a week or so, but it didn’t stop completely.

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Zylkene takes a few months to really take effect, according to other Aby owners who have used it, so I added the cone of shame, which he tolerates quite well. He isn’t able to reach the places he was over grooming, but he can wash the bits he needs to. I put his cone on upside-down, like a cape; Dr. Natalie at South Boston Animal Hospital suggested that for Tessie, so the cone would bother her less and to avoid whisker fatigue. He’s been wearing the cone for a few days now, and I think we’re finally getting some results!

Aby-a-Day – 10 Januari: The second day at the Swedish CFA show (Swedish Cat Show Sunday)

The second day of that Swedish CFA show was as much fun as the first, both for us and for Jacoby.

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We had a lot of judges come over from the US. At this point, I had only been in Sweden for six months, so it was fun to see some familiar faces and hear some familiar accents.

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This judge, Albert Kurkowski, was one of the few non-American, non-CFA judges; he was from Poland, and he was a guest judge from the World Cat Federation.

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I really enjoyed watching him handle Jake.

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There was a really pretty little Burmilla girl who was frequently benched next to us during judging.

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She reminded me a bit of Tessie.

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This judge, Inga Balciuniene, was also a WCF guest judge from Latvia.

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Pam DeLaBar is a CFA judge who lives in Finland. I actually hadn’t ever seen her at a show in the States. It’s nice having another ex-pat in the cat fancy.

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And our friend Russell Webb was there, too. He was always Jake’s lucky charm.

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Jake was Second Best cat in Premiership in Russell’s ring.

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As we did Saturday, when Jake got a little antsy we went outside to play in the snow. This time, I didn’t bother with the harness and leash. I figured, how far is he going to get in that deep snow.

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Famous last words.

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He started making off towards a little house. He went pretty far really quickly, too! I was surprised how hard he was to catch.

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I finally caught him, though.

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The cats we have now are awesome, and a lot of fun to show…but I still miss going to shows with Jake.

Happy 17th birthday, Tessie!

Today is Tessie’s 17th birthday! Can you believe it? Apart from her eyesight, which seems to be failing, she’s very healthy and happy back in Boston. I miss her, but she’s with her BFF Kylie. Happy birthday, Tessie!

Aby-a-Day – 10 Juli 2020: A hot day in July (Friday Flashback)

Today this memory came up in my memories on Facebook. I wasn’t even on Facebook in 2005, but okay. But it reminded me of that apartment I had in Somerville. It wasn’t the best, but I loved it.

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It was SO hot in that apartment in summer, though. The middle room was the coolest, because I had a window air conditioner…but it was still hot.

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Tessie turned two a month and a half after we got Kylie. Kylie loved her and copied everything she did.

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And here they are now, last week. They are still BFFs and have been for fifteen years. Tessie will be 17 next month. I do miss them, but they are so happy where they are.

Aby-a-Day – 20 Juni 2020: Happy Gotcha Day! (Special Saturday)

Two years ago today, I travelled to Stockholm to collect our little Izaak.

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His harness was almost too big for him, even adjusted to the smallest size..

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He was so tiny…

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Zak and Lorelai bonded over leftovers. This is the day after he arrived.

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Two days after that, he had his first outside adventure.

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He quickly discovered his favourite, IKEA mice. This was his fifth day with us.

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The day after that…

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…we had our first trip to the vet…

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…our first visit to DjurMagazinet…

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…and our first walk home. Little Zak did a LOT in his first week with us!

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But it isn’t just Zak’s Gotcha Day. Fifteen years ago today, we answered a Craigslist ad and brought Kylie home from Quincy. We had to stop at Petco on the way home to buy a carrier!

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This is her and Tessie today, back in Boston. I can’t believe she is 15! And, in a month and a half, Tessie will be 17!

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But wait, there’s more! 29 years ago, today, I got Harri, my very first Siamese. We were on our way to an SCA event, and we picked him up on the way.

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He camped with us for his first several days with us before we got him home. That’s probably why he was such a good traveller.

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He was 14 years old when we got Kylie…but he was very fond of her. Seems that 20 June is a good day to get a kitten!

Aby-a-Day – 5 Juni 2020: Has it been four years already? (Friday Flashback)

As you probably remember, four years ago this month, Jacoby, Angel and I moved to Sweden.

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The movers came on 31 May. Angel was remarkably chill.

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The movers coming in and packing everything up didn’t faze her one bit.

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Jake, of course, was very helpful.

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Tessie wanted to keep the scratching posts.

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But mostly, the Abys just napped whilst the movers worked.

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I was quite impressed watching the movers watching the movers wrap up the big cat tree.

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A week and a half later, it was our turn to go.

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We travelled to Sweden on IcelandAir, which requires all animals to travel in a designated animal area in the cargo hold due to Iceland’s quarantine laws. I was lucky enough to see Angel and Jake’s carrier transferring to our plane during the layover.

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We arrived in Sweden just fine.

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And we made it home to our apartment in Skövde. And here we are, four years later, living our happily ever after.

Well…except we no longer have Jake…but still.

Aby-a-Day – 12 Maj 2020: Behind the scenes of a classic (Cartoon Tuesday)

I know you’ve all seen my version of Tessie, Kylie, Angel and Jacoby as the main characters of Frozen. I wish I had the Photoshop file with all the layers…but somehow, all the PSD files of my cartoons after number 80 have disappeared.

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When I got the idea, it started as Kylie being Elsa and Jake being Kristoff…and it just took off from there.

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Elsa (Kylie) and Anna (Angel) went through a few test sketch ideas, but Jake’s Kristoff and Tessie’s Sven were pretty much set from the beginning.

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This sketch is where I finalised Angel’s Anna pose.

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Not wanting to waste paper, I would do pencil sketches and final inks on the same page. This is one of those.

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I worked on getting Kylie’s arms just exactly right. A LOT.

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I also drew Kylie separate from her clothing (Jake and Angel were always drawn with their outfits on). I wanted to be sure her body looked right under the translucent costume layer.

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When I was inking Jake’s face, I did a few trials before settling on his final face. In some ways, it’s way easier to draw on the iPad than it was to draw on paper!

Happy birthday, Kylie!

Today is Kylie’s 15th birthday! She and Tessie are both healthy and happy back in Boston.

Aby-a-Day – 3 Mars 2020: Catatonic 2 (Cartoon Tuesday)

You may remember, six years ago, I made this wonderful cartoon with Jacoby, Angel, Kylie and Tessie as Kristoff, Anna, Elsa and Sven the reindeer from Frozen.

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Well, of course, Frozen 2 came out last November, which made me revisit my original cartoon. Of course, Kylie and Tessie still live in Boston, and Dashiell can take Jake’s place as Kristoff…but it occurred to me that I now have the perfect cat to play Olaf! Izaak! Of course, Olaf should be a Singapura! I started with a sketch and then a rough ink on my iPad in ProCreate.

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Then I did a clean ink outline.

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Switching to the laptop and Photoshop, I did a flat colour layer.

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On a separate layer, I added the whiskers and eyeshine.

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Then I switched to the background. I took a generic Frozen 2 background (there are plenty of wallpapers available online) and painted over it, the same way I created the background of the Zakdalorian.

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Then I added a swirl of windblown leaves, to give it the feel of the film.

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Then I painted the ticking and Zak’s other markings with my fur brushes.

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Finally, I gave Zakolaf a little shadow, to ground him in the scene. I wish this was a little brighter, but that’s just the way this scene is; it’s not as bright as the snow scenes, because it’s autumn. Can’t do much about that.

Oh, and don’t worry…I have characters for Lorelai and Alfred to play. Stay tuned…

Happy Sweet Sixteen, Tessie!

I can’t believe it, but Tessie is sixteen years old today! She is still very healthy and happy, although she has got a bit of arthritis. I miss her so much…but I know she is happy with Kylie back in Boston. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TESSIE!

Aby-a-Day: June’s over? Julying! (Fashion Friday Flashback)

Four years ago, I posted about how Canadian-born Jacoby tended to get a little confused about what to wear the first few days of July.

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To prove this point, I dressed him up in an Uncle Sam hat along with a maple leaf bandanna and Team Canada sweater.

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He was such a legend at posing with outfits on.

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And his eyes…so expressive!

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And then…someone came and photobombed our little modelling session. Jake knew it immediately.

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“Tessie’s right behind me, ruining my photo, isn’t she..?”

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“Tessie, do you mind? I’m kinda doing a thing here.”

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“Right. Let’s get back to the posing.” I’m just sorry I never found a Sweden jersey for him to pose in.

Aby-a-Day – 28 May: Reliving history (Cartoon Tuesday)

The 2019 Stanley Cup Finals started yesterday, and they are quite exciting. The Boston Bruins are in them, of course, and if they win they will be the THIRD Boston team to win a championship in a year…and they’re already up one game. They face the St. Louis Blues, who haven’t been in the finals for 49 years. And even more interesting, in 1970, the team the Blues faced was…the Bruins!

Ray Lussier took a now-iconic photograph of Bobby Orr celebrating scoring the winning goal against the Blues in 1970. This image is such a part of Boston’s culture that there is a statue commemorating that moment in front of the Garden, and it has been reproduced on T-shirts for 49 years.

My ex found me an unofficial playoff shirt (the kind that can only be found in Boston) with the Bruins Bear recreating Orr’s flight (modeled by Tessie), and it kind of inspired me.

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Using a photo of the moment, I did a sketch of Jacoby as Bobby Orr.

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I did a first ink, but I didn’t like the pen I used; it was too thick and clunky. So, using that ink as a reference, I made a second inking.

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That inking turned out so much better! I’ll colour it in and finish it for next week…the day after Game 4.

Aby-a-Day – 20 Januari: Catching up with Tessie and Kylie

When I moved from Boston to Skövde, only Jacoby and Angel came with me. Kylie was always my ex’s cat, and Tessie, who was, in part, a 40th birthday present from my mom, helped raise Kylie and taught her how to cat. As much as I love Tessie, leaving her with Kylie was the best decision.

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Clearly, you can see that was the right decision. They are bestest best friends.

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Tessie is now 15 (and almost a half) years old.

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To look at her, you would never guess she was that old!

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I mean, here she is five years ago…she must have a little kitty portrait in her attic!

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She still loves boxes.

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And warm laundry.

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I can’t believe she’s 15.

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Kylie turned 13 last April.

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She, like Tessie, does not look as old as she is, and is quite healthy.

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She is still the only cat of ours who was born in Boston (well, Quincy). Tessie was born in Oregon, Angel in California, and Jacoby in New Brunswick. Only Kylie is a native New Englander.

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(Not gonna lie…I do miss that view…)

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Kylie is still as pretty as ever, too.

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Right from the start, Kylie and Tessie were besties.

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Thirteen years later, nothing has changed.

Aby-a-Day – 11 Januari: 12 years ago this week…(Friday Flashback)

12 years ago this week, on 7 January 2007, I posted about Gun-Hee’s first visit to Petco.

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He was quite impressed with the mice.

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The birds…not so much.

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Those were always more Tessie’s thing.

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And Jacoby’s, too.

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I’m just glad that nobody tried to buy him for $3.99, though!

Aby-a-Day – 19 October: Come on kitties now…Everykitty get together (Flashback Photoshop Friday)

This morning, Facebook greeted me with a reminder of a post I made four years ago. I was challenged to post five photos of my cats, and I decided to post five group photos. Getting a photo of all the cats in the house together at the same time is harder than some might think. So, because of the reminder that Facebook sent me, I decided to post all the “family photos” I have been able to capture over the years.

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The oldest is this, of Sigrid, Harri, and Patrick cuddled together on my sofa. This was taken in autumn 1997. It looks cuddly, but actually Sigrid and Tricky were sleeping there, and Harri decided to squeeze in between them. Still cute, though.

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This is after I’d moved to Boston. Harri and Patrick had been joined by Tessie and Kylie. This is the first photo of all of them together.

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This is my favourite photo of this group. I even used it as a Christmas card.

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…And this would be the outtake of that photo…

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This was Christmas 2006. Harri had died in August and we had just adopted Gun-Hee.

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This photo is less posed, but more my favourite. Love Kylie’s arm!

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Another photo of Gun-Hee with Patrick, Kylie and Tessie, this time all gathered on our bed.

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This is another shot from that session, “arted up” in Photoshop.

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One evening, all the cats lined up on the back of the sofa.

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I had this shot…but Gun-Hee moved his head.

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Thanks to Photoshop, I was able to replace Gun-Hee’s head and make this into a usable image.

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This is another “art” composite photo. All of them were on the tree together, but this is multiple shots combined so each cat looks good.

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Food and the kitchen is a great way to get everyone together. Here we have (anticlockwise) Jacoby, Angel, Tessie and Kylie.

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However, they did have other motivations to gather together.

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After we moved to Sweden, the kitchen was more a gathering point than ever. Here we have Alfred, Jake, Angel, Logan and Pyret.

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And then, suddenly…our five cats became Jake, Freddy, Lorelai, Angel and Izaak.

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A collection that was also easier to gather in the kitchen.

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But they also gathered spontaneously on our bed! No Photoshop required.

Happy 15th Birthday, Tessie!

It’s hard to believe that Tessie turns 15 years old today! She is still doing well in Boston.

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She’s slowing down a little and she can’t jump the way she used to. She also has a little limp, which may be arthritis. And the brown spot on her right eye (which she has had for at least 10 years) is getting bigger. Apart from all that, she is very healthy and active!

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Happy birthday, Tessie-bell!

Aby-a-Day – 21 June: Glad Midsommar!

We have a Singapura in our family again!

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As you saw in yesterday’s post, I went to Stockholm to collect Joy Minimali*PL, called Izaak.

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I decided on the name Izaak for him (Zak for short, of course) because one of the Polish words for “joy” is “zachwyt.” Which is close enough to Zak for me! I didn’t like any of the variations of Zachariah…but when I discovered that Zak could also be a short form of Isaac/Izaak…well, it was a no-brainer. It’s also has a completely different sound from all the other cats’ names, which is good. I had wanted to have a cat named Lennie (after Det. Lennie Briscoe), but with AngeL, ALfred, Lorelai, and Logan, it was a lot of L’s in the family aLready. Besides, with him already being named Joy, it seemed fitting.

Actually getting Zak was an experience. He came to us from a Polish breeder who happened to have two boys available in June. There were no Swedish kittens available…so we decided to go abroad. At first, we thought we might go to Poland to get him, but the timing didn’t work out for us to travel. Anna regularly ships kittens worldwide, so she sent him to us via air cargo. I’d done this before, when I got Tessie, but she was only sent from Portland, Oregon to Boston, not from another country. I thought it was hard to find the cargo area at Logan Airport…but as you can see from the above map, it was quite an adventure collecting little Zak!

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First I had to get from Skövde to Stockholm. Booking a train to Stockholm is a bit like booking a flight, depending on when you choose to travel, the trip can cost as little as 195kr (around $22) and as much as 885kr (around $100) or more. You also reserve your seat, and seats at tables are very popular. Seats at tables in the (very limited space) pets-allowed cabin are even harder to get. Also I had to take into account that Zak’s arrival time was 09:30. So I booked a trip that left Skövde at 07:12. As most of you know, I am not a morning person and don’t really wake up until at least 10:00. I had to get up at 05:30 in order to catch that train. From Stockholm Centralen, I then had to take a bus (a 45-minute trip) to Arlanda Airport Terminal 5.

Then I had to take a Stockholm city bus #583 out to the Cargo City stop (second-to-last on the Märsta line). The bus drops you off at at one of those little shelters that looks like it’s in the middle of a quarry next to a prison with some parcel warehouses off to the side, and there’s absolutely no indication of how one might find the Cargo Center (nor was there a clear walkway). Luckily, the cargo place had called me to tell me that they had a cat for me whilst I was on that second bus, so I had their number and called them to ask how one might walk to their location.

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But here’s the really fun part. Once I managed to find Cargo City, I had to take Zak’s papers and passport and take them to Tullverket (Customs) to be reviewed, approved and stamped, and then go back to Cargo City to actually collect Zak. One would think, this being a common thing to need to do (pick up paperwork, go to Customs, and then come back and get your cargo), that the two buildings would be conveniently located somewhat adjacent to one another. But as you can see from the above map, you would be utterly and completely incorrect. I had to take the 583 bus back to Terminal 5, and from there take an airport shuttle to where the Customs building was located. And as you can see, when the bus dropped you off, it wasn’t immediately obvious where the entrance was.

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At Customs, whilst waiting in the queue, I met an Australian woman, Zia, who was on the same mission I was, trying to collect a large suitcase sent to her from home. She hadn’t yet been out to Cargo City; she went straight to Customs because her emailed instructions were vague. She still had to go out there to collect her suitcase, though. Knowing what I did about finding Cargo City, and needing to go back there myself, I waited for her so we could go out there together. It made the return trip so much easier!

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And, as it happened, Zia loves cats. She was completely charmed by little Zak.

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We ended up going back to Stockholm Centralen on the Märsta train, which turned out to be so much faster and easier than taking the airport bus. Definitely need to remember that the next time!

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Back at Centralen, Zia and I parted ways with a hug, and I had about an hour to kill before my train left. So, I grabbed lunch and did a little shopping.

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Zak was a huge hit at Lush! Both the shop clerks and customers just loved him.

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We made friends on the train, too. An older woman from Göteborg and a guy from Romania were at our table, and we talked most of the trip back to Skövde. So much for Swedes not talking to strangers! The woman was the one who started talking to both me and the Romanian, and I am glad she did…it was a fun conversation.

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Zak slept in my lap for most of the trip. Which was fortunate; he was going to need to be awake when we got home and he met his new clan.

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Alfred was the first to greet the carrier.

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We took it into the living room and Lorelai was next to see who was inside.

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We let the youngsters sniff a bit before opening the door.

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I wonder what Freddy thought when he saw a Singapura who wasn’t Logan?

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Even though Zak is an older male, Rory is still bigger than him.

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…Um, Freddy?

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The point is to meet the new kitten, not eat the food in his carrier!

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Rory was delighted to see Zak! Someone her own size to play with!

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She tried to play with him right away.

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Zak…wasn’t so sure. But I think they’ll end up being fast friends. I think he and Freddy will, too. But I am afraid poor Freddy won’t ever have the kind of bond he had with Logan with any other cat. But maybe Rory and Zak will have something like that as they grow up together.

Aby-a-Day – 11 May: Remembering Gun-Hee (Friday Flashback)

Lorelai has been with us for a week now, and it’s like she’s always been here. She’s feisty, trusting, playful, curious and just…perfect. Jacoby growls at her, she doesn’t care. She pushes Angel and Jake away from their leftovers if she’s still hungry. She holds her own with Alfred even though he’s nearly 10 times her size. She’s had no litter box issues, no eating problems…nothing. She just integrated herself right into the cat family.

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Kind of like another Aby kitten I know. Gun-Hee was a lot like Rory. Jake, Freddy and Logan were somehow not as easy. They all had giardia as kittens, and, I don’t know. It just felt like it took a lot more work managing those three as kittens compared to Rory and Gun-Hee.

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We got Gun-Hee on 15 December 2006, the day before he turned three months old.

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We tried to keep him separated from Tessie, Kylie and Patrick when we first brought him home. That lasted about five minutes. He would have none of it. The older cats were…not the most welcoming at first.

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Gun-hee didn’t care.

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He just stood his ground.

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For some reason, Patrick was his particular favourite. Patrick was still missing Harri, who had died four months earlier.

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Gun-Hee eventually wore him down.

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He loved Patrick.

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Kylie was the closest to him in age (she was only 17 months older than him), so they also became friends rather quickly.

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Tessie was a little slower to thaw.

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But Gun-Hee eventually melted her, too.

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He also loved the floor-to-ceiling cat tree in my old apartment.

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He loved being on the top, epsecially.

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Rory takes on that same floor-to-ceiling cat tree and, if she falls off, she just climbs back up. As I am typing this, she’s at the very top of it, trying to touch the ceiling. Gun-Hee was like that, too.

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Another thing they have in common is shoulder-riding. Neither Jake, Angel, Freddy or even Logan have ever been able to stay on a shoulder. Jake is particularly bad at it; I say it’s like he has magnets on his feet that are the opposite of the ones on people’s shoulders and he just can’t stay on. It’s nice to have a shoulder-riding kitten again.

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And Gun-Hee could be cuddly, too. Just like Rory. It’s a little eerie how much she reminds me of him.