Aby-a-Day – 15 January: When we came home

Pyret was right at the door to meet us. Or, more likely, to meet Björn. Pyret was born in 1999 and was bottlefed by Björn and she is very bonded to him. To meet me on time in Stockholm, he had to stay overnight, so he hadn’t been home for nearly a day. Pyret was hungry and missed him, so she was coming to greet him.

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She certainly was not expecting other cats!

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Pyret has been an only cat since Björn’s other cat, Olivia, died in 2010. I really wonder what she thought when she realised that there were cats in that big box.

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I opened the door…

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…and, curiously, Angel was the first one out. It’s like she knew that the airport and the train weren’t home, but she was home now.

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Jake, of course, was not far behind.

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They both took off in different directions to check out the new digs.

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Angel went to check out the living room and under the sofa, and Jake went to explore everything else.

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Including the litter box. Always a good idea to locate the facilities right off the bat.

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“Okay, litter box sorted. Next!”

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Angel was in there soon enough, though.

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Angel’s big discovery was the old cat tree Björn had in his living room. It’s out on our balcony now, and she still loves to sleep in that cubby.

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She explored the whole tree. And even today, my big tree is primarily her domain.

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Meanwhile, Jake was checking out the new cat fountain in the kitchen.

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And while he was doing that, Pyret was checking him out.

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After only a few hours of being home…this was Angel.

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And this was Jake. Moving to Sweden was so freakishly easy for them!

Aby-a-Day – 14 January: Planes, Trains and Automobiles Part 2 (Swedish Sunday)

When we landed at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, it was 7:something am and I am never at my best at single-digit morning hours. Jacoby and Angel, however, were just fine.

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They were, in fact, eager to get out of that crate. (Click for video) Or, at least, Jake was.

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Apart from the cats, I had a lot of luggage. Since it was a one-way ticket, bought a first class ticket. It turned out to be a wise investment, since my extra bags were actually free.

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We had to wait a bit for our train to Skövde, but hey, we got to see this guy.

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We let Jake out on the train (Angel did NOT want to explore) and he was excited to see his new country.

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To Jake, it was just another train ride.

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The trip from Stockholm to Skövde is a bit over two hours, so Jake had plenty of time to bond with his new dad.

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He also found time to check in on Angel.

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When we got to Skövde, we needed a cab to bring us home to our apartment, because I had so much luggage, and also the cats’ crate. Luckily, we had a very friendly cab driver.

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Finally, it was time to go inside.

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Pyret was ready to greet us.

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What happened when we came inside? Stay tuned..!

Aby-a-Day – 13 January: Planes, Trains and Automobiles Part 1 (Swedish Saturday)

You know that I flew to Sweden with the two Abyssinians, Jacoby and Angel. But I’m willing to bet you are very curious as to HOW we came here. I flew IcelandAir, which, because Iceland is an island and because of rabies concerns, requires all animal passengers fly in a specially climate controlled pet cargo hold. I know many people have misgivings about airline cargo holds, with good reason. But I have had only good experiences with cargo travel (my two Siamese, Harri and Patrick, from San Francisco to Atlanta, and then Tessie from Portland, Oregon, to Boston). It’s actually easier than travelling with a cat in-cabin, especially when you are travelling with more than one!

I started acclimatising them to the crate very early, by leaving it out for them to nap in. Tessie didn’t really need to practice, but she did anyway.

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I also locked Jake and Angel in the crate for longer and longer periods to get them ready for an eight hour trip.

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Although I think Angel wanted to get out.

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Then, days before the big trip, we had a practical practice, I used the crate to take Jake and Angel to the vet for their pre-travel visit.

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It was a perfect opportunity to practice shlepping the crate somewhere.

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Ironically, my vet, South Boston Animal Hospital, changed location from a 10 minute bus ride away to…ACTUALLY IN THE BUILDING I LIVED IN on 1 June. I left for Sweden on 17 June. Sigh.

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They were their usual selves at the vet, and of course, they got a clean bill of health.

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Finally, the day arrived! We went to Logan Airport to start our new life.

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We all went into a back room at IcelandAir and the cats were checked out, to make sure that they were who I said they were, and to make sure that nothing was being smuggled in the carrier.

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The flight went without incident, apart from the souvenir shop being closed, dammit. But I was lucky enough to see Jake and Angel’s crate being loaded onto the next plane at Reykjavik.

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And then, at long last, we were all reunited at Arlanda airport in Stockholm. What happened next? Tune in tomorrow, same cat time, same cat channel!

Aby-a-Day – 5 June: Travelling with a Singapura (Swedish Sunday)

When Björn was in Boston for our wedding in April, my friend Linda (who is also a member of NEMO) asked if we could help her out.

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Linda, along with her husband Chuck, breed Singapuras (their cattery name is Mystiquecats), and she wanted to know if Björn would be willing to help two other Singapura breeders. Pat, of (Sopan Singapuras had a 10 month old girl kitty who needed to fly to live with a breeder in Sweden. And, as luck would have it, Björn was returning home and flying into Stockholm at just the right time!

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Well, naturally we jumped at the chance, not only to help out friends, but because just two months later, I would be making the exact same journey – on Icelandair – with Jacoby and Angel, and what better way to try out the flight accommodations with a cat than to actually take a cat on the flight?

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So, Björn and I met Pat and Naina, the girlcat, at Logan. I know Singapuras are small cats, and Naina was only 10 months old…but she was TINY!

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Pat had sent cats abroad before, and gave me excellent advice on how to outfit the carrier for a long trans-Atlantic flight. From her I learned that a bag of dry food should be attached to the outside of the crate, and the water bowl should be filled with water and frozen the night before, so the bowl would be filled with non-spillable, slowly thawing ice that the cats can lick if they are thirsty.

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After checking in, we got to go behind the scenes with an Icelandair employee. We went into a back room and a TSA employee checked Naina and her carrier to make sure that nothing was being smuggled in with the cat. Then they took her to the plane. On Icelandair, pets travel in a special pet hold rather than in the cabin. This is because Iceland is an island, and has very strict animal import laws and impose a quarantine on imported mammals. Animals need to be monitored by official airline personnel at all times and cannot be on the ground more than three hours. When I booked my flight to Sweden later this month, I had toyed with the idea of having a seven-hour layover in Reykjavik and actually go into the city, but since I’ll be travelling with the Abys, I can’t do that. So, I’ll have just enough time to go through customs, grab a snack, and get on my next plane.

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However, in our case, the cats having to travel in the pet hold is actually an advantage. Two animals of the same species, weighing less than 40 kg (88 lbs), can share one crate, so Jake and Angel will be able to travel together in one carrier rather than me having to manage two separate bags with cats in them along with my laptop and carry-on bag.

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Naina flew like a champ. When Björn landed in Stockholm and picked her up, she was as cheery and relaxed as she had been in Boston. He was impressed that after eleven hours flying and changing of planes, she was just meowing a little, but mostly was just curious about her new surroundings.

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Björn met up with Lisa, of Melur Singapuras, at Arlanda and Naina was swiftly taken to her new home.

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As you can see from these photos Lisa posted on Facebook, Naina settled in almost immediately! She took to being in Sweden right away. Just like I hope that Jake and Angel will!

Aby-a-Day – 18 January: Södermalm (Hipstamatic Monday)

Hipstamatic comes out with what they call “Hipstapaks,” sets of retro “films,” “lenses” and “flashes.”

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They like to name these paks after cities, and not too long ago they released one called Södermalm.

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Södermalm is a neighbourhood in Stockholm known for being especially cool, hip and trendy.

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It also just so happens to be the the part of Stockholm Björn and I stayed in the first few days we were together in Sweden.

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So of course I had to play with the Gotland film and Bruno lens for this week’s post. How could I not? I mean…Södermalm!

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It was awesome, too. My first night, we had one of the best meals as what is now one of my favourite restaurants, Harvest Home.

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We wanted to go back there before we left, but that last night we stayed in an entirely different part of Stockholm and couldn’t get there easily. So we went to a marvelous German restaurant a few blocks from our hotel instead. Amusingly enough, as coincidence would have it, that first night before going to Harvest Home, we considered eating at their Södermalm location…I guess we were destined to eat their food eventually!

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We also went to a great meatball restaurant in Södermalm. I had reindeer and Björn had wild boar. Both were fabulous.

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Meatballs For the People is the kind of place that puts up funny signs on the sidewalk. It was as much fun on the inside, too.

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Of course, Södermalm, like most cool, hip, fun neighbourhoods, is an expensive one to live in, it’s still a lot of fun to visit. I know we’ll be going there again.

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And maybe we’ll even bring Jake with us!

Aby-a-Day – 8 January: The Jólakötturinn (Fashion Friday)

I know this isn’t, technically, an Abyssinian, but I had to share the awesomeness that is the Jólakötturinn. I first learned about the Icelandic Jul Cat from Scandinavia and the World, but it was really amazing to see it in person.

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I flew IcelandAir when I went to Sweden, and changed planes in Reykjavik. And while changing planes, of course, I had to check out the shops. It was hilarious. There were these charming, festive holiday displays full of little red and white tomten (Santa-like creatures), snowflakes, snowmen, angels…

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…and then this big angry black cat. A CHRISTMASSY big angry black cat.

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The legend says that the Jólakötturinn will eat anyone who does not get new clothes for Christmas. Suddenly, Santa stalking you and watching you while you’re sleeping and knowing about you being naughty or nice doesn’t seem so creepy, does it?

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And despite being a ravenous, child-devouring feline, he seems pretty popular. This is a wine bottle coozy in the shape of a Jul Cat.

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There’s also a set of Yule Lads figures that includes the Jólakötturinn. The Yule Lads are sort of elves who leave rewards and punishments (depending on whether you’ve been naughty or nice) in your shoes in the days leading up to Christmas.

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And then, if you didn’t get new clothes, you’re cat chow.

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I suspect the Jólakötturinn tradition was started by a parent who was tired of hearing his kids whine when they got socks and underwear on Christmas morning.

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Don’t get any ideas, Jacoby!

Aby-a-Day – 6 January: Wordless Wednesday (Yay! Mom’s home!)

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