Aby-a-Day – 12 Augusti: The train home to Skövde (Hipstamatic Monday)

When we got back to Sweden from the ferry from Helsinki, we met up with Björn’s ex to get Emma to spend a week with us and the cats.

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We got there a little ahead of them, so we had to chill out in Stockholm Centralen until they arrived.

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Emma loves cats. I am sad that she doesn’t get to live with any.

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If ever a girl deserved to live with a cat (or cats), it’s Emma.

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Emma was amazing with Dash. I think he’s going to miss her when she goes back home.

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Dash also looked out the window at the passing scenery, just like Jacoby and all the other cats who ride trains.

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Finally, the train arrived in Skövde. Emma wanted to carry Dash’s carrier.

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From the train station, a quick taxi ride home.

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Dash was quick to feel at home in our bedroom. And after the long, long, long journey…He was finally home.

Aby-a-Day – 5 Augusti: Just another day at the cat show (Hipstamatic Monday)

I love doing Hipstamatic photos at cat shows.

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The show we did this weekend is no exception.

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From Lorelai being judged…

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…to Rory being BIV, Hipstamatic casts events in a different, interesting, light.

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I love this photo of the two of them with their rosettes.

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And this, of Rory competing for BIV against the other blue Abys in the show. Hipstamatic turns a boring photo into art.

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After a long day at the cat show, there’s still a train ride home to look forward to.

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It’s a train ride made more interesting with Hipstamatic.

Aby-a-Day – 5 Maj: Happy gotcha day, Lorelai! (Swedish Sunday)

One year ago today, Björn and I took a day trip to Stockholm to meet and collect the amazing Lorelai (SE*Backilandets Mercedes von Ekorntorp).

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She was five days shy of three months old, and she was such a curious little thing. She immediately decided that we were her humans, and never seemed to miss her mother or littermates for a moment. Of course, she might have been distracted by my Salmon Poké Yama bowl

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Rory was just the happiest kitten I’ve ever seen.

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She didn’t even mind me holding her on her back and cuddling her.

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She was so tiny, she didn’t fit in the kitten harness I had bought for her, so Björn fashioned one for her out of some cord he had in his bag. Like everything else that day, it didn’t faze her a bit.

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Okay, little Rory…get some rest! You thought it’s been a busy day so far…just wait until we get home and you meet the rest of your family!

Aby-a-Day – 1 Maj: Wordless Wednesday (Last train to Skövde)

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Aby-a-Day – 13 December: Strangers on a Train (Travel Thursday)

Travelling in the pet car on a Swedish train is always interesting.

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You never know with whom you’ll be sharing the car.

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I love how Izaak and Lorelai are not at all fazed by other animals, especially dogs.

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At most, they’re just curious.

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On the train to the show on Friday, we shared the car with a woman and her lovely Japanese Spitz.

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He looked like a fox! It was so much fun watching the cats look at him, completely unafraid and only curious.

Aby-a-Day – 10 December: Evening commute (Hipstamatic Monday)

On the train ride to Göteborg for this past weekend’s show, Lorelai and Izaak were being extra cuddly with Björn.

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Zak insisted on being against Björn’s chest, and Rory…

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…Rory wanted to hug Daddy’s arm.

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Björn was trying to read something on his phone. They were making it as difficult as they could.

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In the cutest possible way, of course.

Aby-a-Day – 18 November: “Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown” (Cinema Sunday)

After collecting Alfred, we boarded our train and got settled in our seats. We folded up the stroller, and Jacoby sat on the seat next to Kalle.

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We set Freddy’s carrier on the table and opened it up.

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“Are you sure about this?”

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Freddy was quick to get out and explore the train and his new humans.

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He was fascinated by the landscape speeding past.

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Then he went to “help” Kalle on his laptop.

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Like, literally on his laptop.

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That’s our Freddy, always helpful, right from the very start.

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Some things don’t change.

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Then he decided to lie awkwardly all over the table, taking up as much space a he possibly could. He’s still really good at this, too.

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Finally, he started to get drowsy…and settled down on my lap to sleep the rest of the trip. Awww…

Here’s a little video I shot of Freddy’s first train trip.

Aby-a-Day – 2 October: Strangers on a train (Cartoon Tuesday)

This is definitely not a cartoon, but a couple of weeks ago, I got this painting sent to me via Facebook Messenger, along with this note: “Hejsan. Träffade dej och din fina katt Jacoby på ett tåg här i Sverige för ca2 år sedan. Hittade visitkortet jag fick av dej häromdagen och målade ett porträtt efter fotot där, Bara för skojs skull, och ville dela med mej av resultatet. Målningen är i akvarell och A3 storlek. Hoppas ni har det bra!”

Maria quickly followed up with an English translation: “I met you and your cat (Jacoby) at a train here in Sweden 2 years ago and i found your card a couple of days ago and felt like making a painting from the photo. It’s aquarell and A3 size.”

This is the card I had given her. But isn’t that wonderful? It’s one of the sweetest, most random thing I think has ever happened because of Jake being Strollercat. I love it. Thank you, Maria!

Aby-a-Day – 16 September: Dogs on a train (Cat Show Sunday)

Still processing everything from the show. On Sunday, neither Lorelai nor Izaak were nominated, so it was a fairly peaceful show day. We just sat and talked to people. I got to talk to Göran, my one-time nurse, and found out an interesting fact that no one bothered to mention before: Not only could I have lost my finger or hand from the infection caused by the cat bite…I could have lost my life! So, everyone reading, please remember: If you are bitten in the hand or finger by a cat and it becomes at all swollen…go to an ER immediately. Don’t waste time at a local urgent care.

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Our train ride home was interesting, though. On Swedish trains, there are special pet compartments that are the only places animals are allowed. In this particular pet car, there were only nine seats…and we had two cats and four dogs! We boarded the train in Göteborg with a very well behaved rescue dog from Greece. He lived with cats and was not at all fazed by Zak and Rory. When a Border Collie got on a few stations later, though, the dog reacted. The Border Collie and his human sat in the doorway. Then in Falköping, we were joined by a Bedlington Terrier and a Chinese Crested!

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Their human was delighted to see a Singapura in person and had to have a photo. She said her friend, who had a Somali, would be so jealous that she had met a Singa.

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Rory in particular was fascinated by the Chinese Crested. She never puffed up, growled or hissed, and she actually got up the nerve to touch the dog’s ear with her nose!

Aby-a-Day – 18 August: “Getting there is half the fun” (Cat Show Saturday)

We’re at a cat show this weekend, but I am still processing the photos I took today, so I don’t have a show report prepared yet.

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So instead, let’s talk about getting to the show, which is a two-hour train ride to Stockholm and then a commuter train to a hotel near the show hall.

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We took the train from Skövde to Stockholm. This was Lorelai’s second train ride with us, and Izaak’s first since I collected him from Arlanda’s cargo department back in June. It’s Rory’s second show, and Zak’s first.

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In our car, there was another animal passenger, a black French bulldog. This was very interesting to Rory and Zak.

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Although perhaps not as interesting as Björn’s sandwich…

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Our first train ride with two kittens was mostly uneventful.

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“Mostly” being the operative word. Zak managed to slip his harness and hide under a seat in another section of the train. That was fun.

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There was also an interesting moment when the Frenchy got off the train.

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It was pretty late when we finally checked into our hotel room (Rory’s second, Zak’s first), but they wasted no time getting comfortable.

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And they were adorably comfortable…

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…until Zak decided he would rather be comfortable with his IKEA mouse…

Aby-a-Day – 15 August: Wordless Wednesday (Home again, home again, jiggity jig)

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Aby-a-Day – 16 July: “No guts, no glory” (Medical Monday)

(This post was written by Björn, as I was so busy helping the doctors I wasn’t as able to record what was going on.)

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Jacoby has been really grumpy for the past few months now. He’s been hissing and growling, lashing out at the kittens (but not hurting them, thankfully) as well as attacking Alfred and Angel. He’s been barfing more than usual, and on top of that, he’s lost a significant amount weight over the past seven months, going from 4.9 kilos in January to 4.1 kilos the first weekend in July (10.8 lbs vs 9.4, or a sixth of his weight). We’ve been mystified by this change, which is so unlike Jake. He used to be a sweet, stable cat, and his current grumpiness has to be an indication that something’s physically wrong with him. He’s been to our local vet a few times; a blood test done in April showed no abnormalities and we tried amitriptylin, Metacam, Feliway, calming collars…everything we and the vets could think of, but nothing helped. While at the cat show a couple of weeks ago, we were talking to our neighbor about cats (of course), and she mentioned a cat of hers that had had similar symptoms because of plastic he had eaten that had stuck in his digestive tract. That set off bells – Jake has always been a plastic eater, to the point where we have to tuck the plastic garbage can liner in carefully so he doesn’t eat the bits hanging out; we just had never made the connection between that and his sudden personality change. We had an ultrasound appointment with our regular vet, but as it’s vacation time right now, the ultrasound technician wouldn’t be back until 24 July. We didn’t want to wait that long now that we had the idea about plastic, so Koshka called the AniCura animal hospital in Jönköping, some 100 km (60 miles) away. They are the same people who took care of poor Logan in his final days, and we know that they are a professional outfit.

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We got up early on Friday 13 July, and took the local bus to the railway station. The train ride was one hour, passing through the fields and woods of a summery western Sweden. We arrived in Jönköping around 10am, and killed half an hour before getting on the bus to the animal hospital.

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Jake visited the local tourist office where he made an impression on the staff.

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Next to the bus stop, there was a pigeon with a death wish, as it strutted about without any regard for the predator in the stroller. Good thing for the feathered fool that Jake was tethered.

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Then we got on the bus, where Jake regaled the bus with the song of his people.

The three of us arrived at the hospital some 20 minutes prior to our appointment. The animal hospital is a well-run operation, with separate waiting rooms for cats and dogs.

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Jake was called up, and it was time for his ultrasound. The ultrasound tech was a friendly Pole named Dr. Wojciech who had 20 years experience in examining animals with ultrasound. He shaved Jake’s belly (the fur would interfere with the readings otherwise),

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applied the gel,

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and began the examination.

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Jake struggled a bit, but he bravely endured the 25-30 minute examination. Dr. Wojciech pointed out the organs to us, like the intestines, kidneys, stomach and so on. It was really interesting to see Jake’s insides.

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He could tell us that there was no signs of any plastic or other foreign bodies, which blew our working theory out of the water. There were signs of some enteritis in the small intestine, but Dr. Wojciech didn’t think that was the reason for Jake’s problems.

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After the ultrasound, we were taken to another examination room while we waited to see the next vet. You may recall from when Koshka took Logan to this vet that they have excellent bird TV.

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Well, this time it was extra excellent.

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A magpie came to eat at the feeder! Jake wasn’t especially impressed, but Koshka got very excited.

Dr. Cecilia arrived, and, like Wojciech, she impressed us with her professionalism.

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She asked us about Jake’s symptoms and problems. As an optometrist, I know about how to do an anamnesis, and I thought she was very thorough.

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Dr. Cecilia ordered a full set of blood tests to be taken, and a veterinary nurse (whose name unfortunately evades me) brought syringes and the other paraphernalia needed.

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Jake got a mild sedative, was rolled into a towel, got his front leg shaved, and his blood drawn. He was very brave about it, not causing any trouble. The vet nurse bandaged his leg.

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Dr. Cecilia wanted a urine sample, which was to be drawn by Dr. Wojciech.

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Jake had to go back to the ultrasound room, where his bladder was located by ultrasound.

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By using a syringe and drawing the urine directly from the bladder, any contamination by proteins from the urinary tract was avoided. Dr. Cecilia returned, as she’d remembered one more thing she wanted to check. She palpitated the base of Jake’s neck, and confirmed a suspicion she had. She noticed that his thyroid was somewhat enlarged on the right side. Jake got a prescription of Royal Canin Sensitivity Control. This diet is to be followed until the vet calls back about the final diagnosis, but if we are lucky, there’s just a problem with his thyroid. That is easily medicated.

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The whole visit took about two hours with very little waiting time between the examinations. The vet bill was about 6000 SEK (about USD $680), but most of that should be covered by the pet insurance. We said our goodbyes to the hospital staff, and took the bus for a quick trip to IKEA.

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Even in his stroller, IKEA would not let Jake in, so we took turns shopping. And, since he had fasted from 21:00 the night before, Jake was ravenous. While I shopped, Koshka let Jake try his new food, and he polished off two packets of the wet version.

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After IKEA, we had a quick visit with my mom, brother and sister, and then, finally, dinner at a new Mexican restaurant in the center of town.

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A long day for all of us, but well worth it.

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 – 23 April: We go out walkin’, out in the moonlight…

(Okay, it wasn’t after midnight. It was about 22:30. But still.)

After we said good-bye to Logan, Alfred and I took the 20:03 train home to Skövde. On the way from the bus stop to our apartment block, I like to let whichever cat is with me to walk home. Jacoby loves doing that. So I let Freddy out of the carrier, and we walked together.

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They are a little blurry, of course, because we were both moving, but I like them anyway.

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Hey! That’s the wrong way!

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I am also happy to report that after he explored the sandpit at the foot of the slide near our building, Freddy did not “use” it.

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Here’s a short movie of Freddy walking. I am very pleased with it because, for the first time ever, I edited a movie in Photoshop! It was very dark before, so I lightened it and tweaked the contrast and colour a little. Just click the image to watch.

Aby-a-Day – 21 April: Last Train to Jönköping

On Wednesday, 11 April, Logan left home for the last time.

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We took a 15:55 train from Skövde to Jönköping to see the Djursjukhuset. Logan loved to look out the window on the train.

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But he loved sitting in my lap even more.

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in Jönköping, there’s even a bus stop named for the animal hospital…how cool is that?

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When we got to the hospital, they showed us into a room. Logan was weighed and had his temperature taken, and he was given a little bed to sit in. This hospital has a colour scheme to rank urgency: Red is life or death; Yellow is not quite life or death, but the nest best thing; Green is well…it might be serious, and it’s good you came in when you did; and Blue is you can come back tomorrow, you’re not dying. They told me that Logan was between Yellow and Green

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They had excellent Cat TV in the room we were in. This nuthatch was one of the actors.

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Logan liked the bed the vets made him…

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…but still…

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…no bed is as good as mummy’s lap.

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Then they came to take some blood samples and put in a catheter port.

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We got some…but poor Logan wasn’t happy about it.

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They put a red bandage on his arm.

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After some more waiting, the transport cage came to take Logan to his hospital enclosure.

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Logan was skeptical, to say the least.

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Poor Logan…all he wanted was the bandage off his arm…if he only knew…

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Eventually, Logan got into the transport cage.

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While Logan was in hospital, the vet staff texted me photos of Logan every morning. This was Thursday morning…

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…And this was Saturday morning, after his biopsy surgery on Friday.

Aby-a-Day – 24 February: Cats on a train (Swedish Saturday)

Since Jacoby has decided he doesn’t like FIFe’s way of showing and has declared himself retired, Logan is the only show cat in the house now. But, when Logan and I are going to a show in or near Stockholm, we take Jake along and he stays with Kalle at Kalle’s mother’s house just outside of Stockholm.

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Jake and Logan have become comfortable travel companions. They don’t always get along at home, but on the road they are the best of friends.

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Train rides are rather lulling. It’s easy to fall asleep to the rhythm of the clickety-clack.

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Until…what could the matter be!?

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A dog! On the train!

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Animals are allowed in only certain cars on Västtraffik and SJ trains, so it’s not unusual to have several cats and dogs in one car.

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I guess someone forgot to alert Logan that his train ride might include non-humans and non-felines.

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I love how upset, offended, even, that Logan is about the presence of a dog on his train. Meanwhile, Jake is like, meh, whatever. Dogs, man, what are you gonna do? They’re everywhere.

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Look at Logan’s tail!

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No, I mean it…Look at it! I’m pretty sure he’s seen dogs before. I guess he just hasn’t ever see a dog on a train.