Aby-a-Day – 24 Februari: “Some chicken, some neck!” (Cinema Sunday)

Izaak loves his chicken necks.

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I mean, he really loves them. He only gets one a day, though, because too many raw bones can cause constipation…but if he could have it his way, he’d eat five or six a day.

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I generally feed the cats at noon and midnight, and Zak gets his neck around 8pm. He knows this, so starting around 6pm, every time I get up, he tries to lead me into the kitchen. If I am in the kitchen, he leaps up to the counter next to the refrigerator and yells for his neck.

Of course, still photos cannot express how funny he is when he is doing this…so I made a video of a typical trip to the kitchen chez Hellqvist.

Aby-a-Day – 16 Februari: Alla hjärtans dag (Very Aby Holidays)

Just in time for Valentine’s day, Björn found a package of chicken hearts in the “Ät Snart” (past date meats) bin at our loval ICA. He thought the cats might like them…

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…Gee. Raw meat. What’s not to like? We served them to the LunaTicks on Valentine’s Day (of course). So I rinsed the hearts off…

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…And served them to our feline family.

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Angel, Alfred and Izaak, not too surprisingly as they are our biggest raw food eaters.

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Still, Jacoby and Lorelai joined in to eat some hearts.

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Angel gets nervous eating close to the other cats (probably something to do with someone stealing her food in her foster home), so she took her heart a little ways away to eat it.

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Not that anyone was looking at her specific heart. There was enough for everyone.

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I think it’s safe to say that everyone enjoyed their Valentine’s Day hearts.

Aby-a-Day – 6 Januari: Flying food from Flying Tiger (Cinema Sunday)

About a year and a half ago, Skövde got a Flying Tiger store. If you haven’t gotten one of these near you (there are something like 900 stores in the world and counting), you have missed a treat. Flying Tiger stores are filled with awesome things you never knew you needed. It doesn’t help that everything costs 10kr/$1/€1 – 40kr/$4/€4…

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So, of course, I had to buy one. I stashed it away and ended up putting it in Jacoby’s Christmas stocking. Today, I brought it out.

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It was a thing full of dry cat food. What’s not to like?

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Of course, it attracted an audience.

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Including Izaak, who doesn’t eat dry food and only eats raw.

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Jake cottoned onto the system pretty quickly. Instead of chasing the pellets being shot from the gun, he sent straight to the source.

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He basically went up to the crunchy gun, licked it, and tried to open it. That’s my boy.

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Lorelai especially loves to hunt and catch the dry pellets. We have played “chase the dry food” many times, but it’s way more fun to use the gun.

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At least we had a better response to it than this Sphynx blogger in Finland had with her cats.

Here’s a video of everyone chasing little bits of kibble all over our kitchen.

Aby-a-Day – 1 February: I chew, chew, chews you

Alfred likes to chew things.

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He will chew plastic, like Jacoby, but unlike Jake, Freddy’s chewing is more…forceful.

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Freddy chews not just to get inside a plastic bag (although, if it has food in it, Freddy will chew it), but he also chews for the sake of chewing.

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He chews like dogs do. Nom…nom…nom…

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I’ve started giving him bones. I mean, real, serious, dog-bone bones.

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We had a smoked lamb leg after New Year’s. When we got all the meat off the bone, we let the cats pick the remainder of the meat off the bone.

It was basically the “Freddy and whoever can stand to fight him for it” show.

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Freddy is pretty possessive of his bones.

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Here’s a video of Freddy and Jake chewing on the lamb leg bone (click image for video).

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Be sure you have the volume up to hear Freddy’s possessive growling (again, click image for video).

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It’s gotten to the point where I am buying Freddy dog chew sticks to gnaw on.

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And what’s worse is, he actually chews on them.

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This is my first Aby with an oral fixation. I hope that, at least, it means he’s going to have awesome teeth.

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Here’s a video of Freddy chewing on a meat-covered rawhide stick I got him from an awesome pet store in Örebro (click image for video). There’s no growling in this one, mainly because nobody else wanted to share it!

Aby-a-Day – 4 February: A rare treat

Angel doesn’t always hate Jacoby.

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There are times when they are bonded in their Abyness.

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And treat time is one of those times.

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When food is involved, they’re definitely a united force!

Aby-a-Day – October 29: National Cat Day

Today is National Cat Day!

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According to the National Cat Day website, this holiday was canonised 10 years ago, in 2005, “to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of cats that need to be rescued each year and also to encourage cat lovers to celebrate the cat(s) in their life for the unconditional love and companionship they bestow upon us.” So let’s toast our bond with our feline buddies with a treat!

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What do you think, Jake from State Farm? Would you like a treat for National Cat Day?

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I guess that’s a yes.

Aby-a-Day – October 10: “Auburn” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Auburn.”

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Angel is a red/sorrel Abyssinian. I suppose you could call that “Auburn.”

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She needed to visit our friends at South Boston Animal Hospital a couple of weeks ago as she had a little bit of a UTI, too. We think it was brought on by the stress of her recent dental work.

It should be noted that Angel does not like anything done to her mouth. That includes giving her pills. Usually, she’ll eat a pill pocket. But not always – which is weird because she LOVES treats. And then you have to give her the medication the usual way. And this is what happens. Bear in mind…I had just clipped her claws two days before. This is why I never really tried to brush her teeth…

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Even though she’s impossible to pill…everyone loves Angel!

Aby-a-Day – March 9: Treat madness (Hipstamatic Monday)

I know Angel tends to be cast in the role of the shy, retiring wallflower, but that’s not entirely true.

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When the treat bag comes out…

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…Angel turns into a brave tigress.

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She will stop at nothing when it comes to treats.

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She waits impatiently as one of the other girls is given their treat…

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…but if her own treat is too slow in coming…

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…Angel is not afraid to reach out and take it!

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Fingers are at genuine risk in the face of her eagerness.

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This is also a reason we keep her claws trimmed.

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It’s fun to watch her dance around, though.

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Seriously, you would think that the treats were her only source of sustinence!

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Despite appearances, Angel has already had a full meal.

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She gets so impatient for her turn while the other girls are getting their treats.

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By the time it is her turn, she’s so wound up she practically attacks the hand that feeds her!

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She never takes her eye off the prize.

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Jump…

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…and GRAB!

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You see what I mean about having to watch your fingers, though…she bites my husband at least once a treat session!

Aby-a-Day – February 14: “Cherished” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Cherished.”

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No question who is cherished in our house.

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I do believe it’s a two-way street, though. I think Jacoby cherishes me, too. He’s always by my side, helping.

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A recent article in The Huffington Post about the way felines and humans interact says, among other things, that the dynamics of cat-human relationships are very much like human-human bonds.

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“Researchers concluded cats do indeed attach to humans — especially women — as social partners, and not just because they want to keep their food bowls full.”

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One part of the article I really liked: “The researchers established that cats and their owners heavily influence one another, often to the extent that they control each other’s behaviors. Extroverted women with young, active cats seem to be the most in tune with each other. The kitties in these pairings only have to give subtle cues – for example, a single upright movement of the tail — to let their owners know they’re looking for friendly attention…cats also seem to remember human kindness and return the favor later. If an owner fulfills her feline’s wish to interact, the cat will often comply with the owner’s desire for contact at other times.”

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This right here, I believe, is why Jake is so good-natured about dressing up and posing for photos. I always tell people he does these things “because I ask him to” and, apparently, I was dead-on correct. He’s indulging me because I indulge him. Quid pro quo.

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I’ve always thought that interacting with a cat was like interacting with a small, non-verbal human. Seems I was onto something.

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We already know that cats recognise certain words (my Siamese Harri knew “Go on the bed and lie down” among other things), and that they invented meowing as a way to try to communicate with us on our terms.

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Cats also chose to live with us as opposed to humans deciding to domesticate them. Cats alone of all domesticated animals, researchers think, chose to enter into a partnership with humans.

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Dogs may be man’s best friend, but man is cat’s best friend.

Aby-a-Day – December 5: Not Vogue-Worthy (Fashion Friday)

Saturday at the World Show was a very cold day. It was 25* in the morning! It stayed cold all day long, too. After we were done with all of our rings and we were waiting to go, I dressed Jacoby up in his bomber hat and jacket.

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The guys from Vogue were taking photos over in Ring 9, which was right across from where we were benched. They saw Jake in his coat and they grinned…

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…but they took photos of our friend Pat taking photos of Jake instead!

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Poor Jakey. No Vogue magazine for you.

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Suzie Kidder, an Aby breeder from Northern California (Abyko is her cattery name), felt sorry for Jake because people were laughing at him in his nice warm coat, so she gave him some Whole Life freeze-dried meat treats. These are commonly referred to as “Kitty Crack.”

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This particular one was the Turkey. Of course, Jake doesn’t care what flavour it is – it’s a treat!

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Can you see the little crumb of turkey on his mouth?

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Here’s a better view.

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That’s good, Jake. Get that crumb, it’s just there…

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…Okay, I think you got it.

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Mmmmm…yummy!

Aby-a-Day – November 13: The vast unexplored frontier of under the bed

We have dozens of good napping spots in our new apartment. But what’s the best place of all? The one place you’re not allowed to go, of course!

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And for Jacoby, that forbidden frontier is the right-hand drawer under our bed.

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It’s hard to open from the front, because my bedside table is next to it, so we don’t keep stuff we need to get at in that drawer. And there’s just enough room for a naughty Abyssinian to fit.

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This weekend, my husband rearranged the boxes under the bed to make them cat-proof on the open side where there are no drawers. Eventually we’re planning to put some plywood there to cover it properly, but for now, boxes will work to keep Jake from hiding under the bed in general, and in that one drawer especially.

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Because when Jake does get in there, it’s really hard to get him out unless he wants to come out.

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So, naturally, we ply him with delicious treats he doesn’t usually get to have because of his UT issue.

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He wants to get the treat without leaving his hideout. But oh, those crafty humans have placed it just out of reach…

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“C’mon Jakey…don’t you want it? Don’t you want the treeeeeeeat?”

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Oh, he wants it, all right.

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He just wants it without having to leave his lair.

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He’s no fool…he knows that if he comes out to get the treat, we’ll grab him and block up the hole and he won’t be able to get back into his fort.

And of course, he’s absolutely, 100% correct. That’s exactly our plan.

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Eventually, the siren song of the tasty treat proves to be too much for our hero, and he succumbs to its seduction.

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Nom nom nom…

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*gulp*

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And here’s the tiny window where Jake could actually go back into hiding. But he never does…because he’s greedy.

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“Hey, are there any more of those!?”

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And then this is when I grabbed him and dragged him out of there…because as cute as he is in there, under the bed is off limits. There are enough officially sanctioned hideouts in the apartment, thank you very much!

Aby-a-Day – November 3: Morning Routine (Hipstamatic Monday)

Jacoby just loves to help me get ready in the morning.

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See? He’s combing his own chin on the Furminator! Such a helpful boy!

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“Oh, wait. Are those treats?”

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“I need to step back and examine this situation.”

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“Oh look! Flowers!”

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“Come on, Jake – focus! Do you remember getting treats out of this container before?”

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“Yes! This is definitely the Bathroom Treat Container.”

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“And…yeah. I can’t open it. I remember that, too.”

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“Hey, Mom…a little help? Since you’re standing right there, I’m pretty sure I can’t try the “knocking-it-off-the-counter-and-see-if-it-opens” trick…so be a love and use those thumbs for something other than putting on make-up? You look great, by the way…”

Aby-a-Day – October 20: Are those treats? Can I have them? (Hipstamatic Monday)

Angel may be a skittish, easily intimidated little Aby most of the time, but bring out the treats and she becomes fearless!

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She is extremely food motivated.

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She will do anything for a bit of food. She’ll stand up to Tessie, she’ll climb up your leg, she’ll even stand up on a cat tree (which isn’t as easy for her as it sounds, since she’s a little balanced impaired with her compromised depth perception).

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This is what she does when I offer her little hard, dried, crunchy treats.

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Just imagine what she does when I have raw meat, sushi, cocktail shrimp or anything else that’s really tasty!

Aby-a-Day – May 3: “Jiffy” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Jiffy.”

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Do you need an Aby in a jiffy?

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Treats work!

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You might even get two!

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Aby-a-Day – April 20: Egg hunter

Happy Easter, everyone!

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I made a little kitty Easter basket with plastic eggs from the grocery store filled with UT treats and dry food.

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Plastic eggs these days have little holes in the bottom, which is great, because cats can smell the treats through those holes. They also have hinges so the tops and bottoms stay together. Yes, there has been vast improvement in plastic egg technology since I was a kid!

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Jacoby was instantly interested in the basket of eggs.

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Most of the eggs were filled with Royal Canin UT dry, but in the greens ones I put his special UT Support treats.

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Naturally, Jake opened the green eggs first.

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It was a lot of fun watching him root around in the basket to find the eggs with the “good” treats in them.

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Jake loved his Easter basket.

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I mean, he really loved it.

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Happy Easter, everyone!

Aby-a-Day – February 9: Suomalainen vaihto

One thing I absolutely love is things from foreign countries. Since my mother’s family all lives in Canada, I’ve always known people outside of the States, and I’ve had good friends in Canada and Sweden for decades. I’ve always been fascinated by the everyday things that are just different from the things we have in the States. Sometimes better (like coloured money and tomato sauce in plastic tubes like toothpaste), sometimes worse (like public toilets that cost money) but just…different.

When I went to visit my friend Björn in Sweden, he asked me what I wanted to do, suggesting museums, castles, monuments…and I said I wanted to go to a grocery store. I love just shopping at ordinary places in other countries: pet shops, drug stores/pharmacies/chemists (not at all the same thing depending on where you go), supermarkets, places that tourists tend not to go. Some of my best experiences travelling have been the pet store in Tokyo, the supermarket in Seoul, the homegoods department in Amsterdam, and the Saturday Björn and I spent at the IKEA in Jönköping.

I’ve also been fascinated by Finland since I was in high school. My “internet name,” Talonväki” was originally my “household name” when I was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism; it was a bit of a joke since “talonväki” means “household” but looks and sounds so very exotic.

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So when my Abyfriend Sanna-Leena complained about the dearth of good cat toys in Finland and discovered my love for Finnish rockabilly music, we swiftly concocted an exchange. I sent her some great American cat toys, some Boston souvenirs (especially Boston Bruins stuff because Tuukka Rask is Big in Finland, but some Red Sox souvenirs found their way in there, too) and some other things that you just can’t get over there…and she sent me a wonderful box of similar goodies from Finland. We spent months collecting cool things we thought the other would like before sending our boxes to each other towards the end of December.

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I got my box from her this week, and it was so exciting!

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Of course I had help opening it…

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…although I’m not sure “help” is really the right word.

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Jacoby was actually more interested with the toys than with the treats, for a change.

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(Which doesn’t mean he was entirely oblivious to the crunchy treaty goodness that Sanna-Leena sent, of course.)

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Jake was fascinated by all the cat toys…

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…but was love at first sight when he found the “flat cat” (aka the “pelt”) toy, though.

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This was clearly his favourite thing in the box.

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My favourite thing? So hard to choose! There was Finnish candy, gum, rye nachos, CDs (I now will be requiring every annual copy of the Iskelmä Gaala CD, I’m afraid, and Anssi Kela is wonderful), a Moomins book, and a fabulous Aby/Somali calendar published by her cat club.

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Sanna-Leena took some of the photos and her two boys appear in the calendar, too!

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Sanna also included a little pedestrian reflector, something I fell in love with when I was in Sweden but which are virtually unheard of here in the States. Pedestrian reflectors were actually invented in Finland in the 1960’s, and the Scandinavian countries have the lowest per capita rate of traffic accidents involving pedestrians. Since I don’t drive and walk a lot, I love this.

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The fact that she included this packet of buttons amused me endlessly; I’ve only recently discovered that Angry Birds is a Finnish invention (and it makes so much more sense now)!

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One of the very best things Sanna-Leena sent was two leather cat harnesses by Arja’s Art. These things are works of art – gorgeous leather, great design (including reflective piping)…and they are so inexpensive! Only €17,50, which is around $25 in US or Canadian dollars.

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And the leather is sooooo soft. Like butter. Only softer.

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Jake’s is metallic copper, and he was only too happy to model it.

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Angel’s is peralised purple, and it’s just the perfect shade for her red fur.

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She was slightly less happy about modelling it, though.

Sanna-Leena has three Abys: Ruddy Kossi, Fawn Sketsi and Red Kiipa. You may remember Sanna-Leena from her marvelous Aby tattoo featuring her two boys. Jake’s actually distantly related to all three of them through some common ancestors, notably Tinbat’s Morgan’s Passing, whose daughter, Mellowmews Tia, went to Finland.

Since Finland gets a bit cool in the winter, one thing I sent was hats…

one for Sanna-Leena

and one for Sketsi. I think she liked her hat better than he did his!

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But thank you, kiitos, Sanna-Leena, Sketski, Kossi and Kiipi! We loved everything – and we should do this again sometime.

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Jake especially wants to thank you for the pelt…

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Sheesh! Get a room, you two!

Aby-a-Day – September 26: Shopping locally

We’ve had a Foodie’s Urban Market up the street from our building for a couple of months now, but I hadn’t had a chance to check it out until recently.

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It’s a little pricey (think Whole Foods pricey), but they specialise in both exotic imported food and locally produced items, which makes it quite a lot of fun to shop.

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I splurged a bit and got Buffalo burgers, a fantastic NY strip steak, Brie and Roquefort cheese from France…

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(which Jacoby was very interested in)

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…extra-sharp Cheddar from Australia, shaved Parmesan from Italy, Cape Cod Ice Cream, Pumpkin ravioli and a packet of freeze-dried duck treats from Polka Dog Bakery.

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They have a photo of the “Make Way for Ducklings” statue in Boston Common on the label, so you know they’re local; they’re made in South Boston. And despite the “dog” in their name, the ingredients are just duck liver, potato flour and honey, so I figured they’d be good for kitties, too.

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Jacoby certainly agreed with that!

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He really liked them!

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Angel liked them, too.

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She just wasn’t as grabby about it.

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Instead, she ate her share at a polite distance.

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I don’t know if PolkaDog actually makes any treats specifically for cats, but they might want to consider it. They’re certainly a hit in our house!

Aby-a-Day – April 13: “Scrumptious” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Scrumptious.”

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Treats are scrumptious.

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Treats are very scrumptious.

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Truly scrumptious.

Aby-a-Day – June 5: Did somebody say the “T” word? (Cartoon Tuesday)

Cats are smart. They decided to domesticate us, they manipulate us with their purrs, and they learn to do things by watching us. They can also understand our language…and they can spell, too.

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It’s also pretty amazing that they have supersonic hearing when you don’t want them to hear you…but then, when you want them, they suddenly become deaf.

(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – May 23: Wordless Wednesday (Stop thief!)

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