A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Cat Classics in Print: Warriors Book 1: Into the Wild


classic cat books


Old SoLT has been wanting to read this series since it first started in 2003, but somehow she has never gotten around to it before now. We sort of wondered if the first Warriors book, Into the Wild, can truly be considered a classic when it’s only 15 years old, but considering the sheer number of novels, novellas, “super editions,” manga, and guides it has spawned (not including box sets, we count well over 50 books on the Warriors website; we can’t be more accurate because we lost count twice and didn’t want to start over again), we decided Into the Wild is definitely a classic. And worth waiting for.

The plot

Warriors: Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter
Into the Wild introduces the world of the Warrior Cats through the eyes of a young housecat—or “kittypet,” as the wild cats call them. Rusty ventures from his home with the Twolegs (humans) into the nearby woods and has his first encounter with Clan cats. He performs well in the ensuing fight, and he ends up being invited to join ThunderClan as an apprentice. He takes up the challenge and soon enough is living a tough and exciting new life with a new name—Firepaw.

Firepaw learns to hunt and fight and follow the warrior code. But all is not well in the territory of the four Clans. Each Clan has its own territory where they can hunt, but lately ShadowClan has been up to no good, demanding that the other Clans allow its cats to hunt basically wherever they want. They have already forced one clan into an agreement and pushed another clan off its territory, and now they’re eyeing ThunderClan’s forest. A big fight is brewing, and it will not be pretty.

Meanwhile, the leader of ThunderClan has taken in a disgraced former medicine cat from the hated ShadowClan. But this cat brings with her a reputation for being dangerous. Will she betray her new Clan when the battle comes?

And where should Firepaw put his loyalty? He soon learns that danger doesn’t always come from outsiders.

Our verdict

We raced through this book, repeatedly saying “Just one more chapter” until we were saying, “Almost done! Might as well keep going now.” We will tell you up front that Into the Wild is about a cat learning to be a warrior, so of course there is fighting between cats. Some of the cats are treacherous and cruel, and some cats die. But the book is written for the 8-to-12-year-old set (thus hitting old SoLT’s mental age perfectly!), so nothing is horribly graphic. We found it dramatic but not upsetting (okay, that is a lie—the part where one of our favorite cats died was upsetting, but we have recovered). We know some of you are especially sensitive to any sort of violence involving animals, though, and we wanted to be clear about the content.

Probably our favorite thing about this book is the richness of its world. Having spent just a little time in that world, it is easy to understand how the series has grown and grown. The Clans have their own history, mythology, and traditions. They have ways of honoring the dead, of seeking guidance from StarClan (when a cat dies, he or she goes to join StarClan in the night sky). Their medicine cats know what plants to gather to heal wounds and illness. Yes, it would be easy to get so caught up in the Warriors series that you’d need a guidebook to keep track of everything.

By the way, if you’re wondering (as we were) how in the world author Erin Hunter has managed to write so many books in less than two decades—she does it by actually being six people. It was quite a relief to learn that, because we’d imagined some kind of super-writer who never sleeps.

We recommend Into the Wild 100%! Just be prepared to be sucked in to a whole new world.


Two Paws Up! A Great Read


A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Selfie: Webster on a Rainy Saturday

Real Cat Webster paused on yesterday's rainy morning to take this selfie:

cats, selfies, cat blogs


We're joining the Sunday Selfies Blog Hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head!

The Cat on My Head: Sunday Selfies Blog Hop

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Caturday Art: Paisley with Bokeh Gone Wild

This week's Caturday Art is--finally--from Dreamscope. It's one that we started a while ago and finally got back last week:

Caturday art

Old SoLT tried the Bokeh Treats effect,and we think it came out looking pretty cool, although we do wish it hadn't softened Paisley quite so much.

We're joining the Caturday Art Blog Hop, hosted by Athena and Marie!

Caturday Art Blog Hop

Friday, May 18, 2018

Happy Gotcha Day, Layla!

In honor of Resident Dog Layla's 2nd gotcha day, she and the Real Cats are having a beach party. As you can see, it's going well so far.

Happy Gotcha Day, Layla!


Layla did the Friendly Fill-Ins this week too! Ellen of 15 and Meowing came up with the first two questions, and the next two are from Lorianne of Four-Legged Furballs.

1.Happiness is being with my family and getting treats.

2. Ten years ago, I wasn't born yet. I'm 7 years old.

3. Treats are the best medicine. Cuddles are good too.

4. Most people don’t know that I am originally from South Carolina. I had to come all the way to Maryland to find my forever family!

Friendly Fill-Ins

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Egyptian Cats, According to Herodotus


Cats in History


Have you heard about how ancient Egyptians shaved their eyebrows when the house’s cat died? Ever wondered how we know that? Today we’re going to tell you, by taking a quick look at what Herodotus, a Greek who lived in the 5th century BC, had to say on the Egyptians and their cats.

#AncientEgypt #catsinEgypt
Photo via Adobe Stock.

Herodotus who?

Herodotus was a Greek born in ancient Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum, Turkey) in about 484 BC. He is considered the first historian and has been called “the Father of History”—or “the Father of Lies” by those who think he mostly made up his stories. Those stories are collected in The Histories, a work that includes accounts of important battles as well as descriptions of the places he traveled to and the peoples he encountered. One of those places was Egypt, and Herodotus is one source for information about the Egyptians and their cats.

The behavior of tomcats

Herodotus (II.66) noted that the domestic tomcats in Egypt had a habit of snatching kittens and killing them. Why? “The result is that the females, deprived of their kittens and wanting more (for their maternal instinct is very strong), go off to look for mates again. Herodotus calls the toms’ behavior “ingenious,” but it seems pretty brutal to us.

Saving cats from a burning house

The historian says, “What happens when a house catches fire is most extraordinary.” That’s because the people wouldn’t try to extinguish the fire. Instead, they would concentrate all their efforts on keeping the cats safe. The people would stand in a row around the structure, trying to keep cats from running or jumping past and “hurl[ing] themselves into the flames,” an outcome that “cause[d] the Egyptians deep distress” (II.66). This story doesn’t sound quite right to us. What cat—except a mother cat trying to save her kittens—would deliberately run into a fire?


Herodotus
Herodotus
Photo © Marie-Lan Nguyen /
Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.5.

When a cat died

And now we come to the eyebrow-shaving portion of our tale. It was when a cat died naturally that “all the inmates of a house … shave[d] their eyebrows.” But when a house’s dog died, the people shaved their whole bodies, including the head.

Cats were taken to Bubastis after death to be embalmed and buried. Bubastis was the city where the cult of Bastet (goddess of cats, the home, domesticity, fertility, and childbirth) was centered. Dogs, on the other hand, were buried in whichever town they’d lived in. Other animals (Herodotus mentions field mice, hawks, and ibises) were, like cats, buried in specific cities.
  
Perhaps you are wondering what happened when someone killed a cat in Egypt. Well, Herodotus doesn’t tell us (which we find a little odd since he specifically mentioned the eyebrow shaving for cats that died naturally). It was a later historian, Diodorus Siculus (1st century AD), who wrote that anyone who killed a cat, even accidentally, was condemned to death.

We wonder why Herodotus did not mention this. Was he unaware of it? Did he forget to ask what the penalty was for killing a cat? Did he lose his notes on that topic? Did Diodorus get hold of some bad information? All questions we can’t answer.


Sources

“Cats in Ancient Egypt,” Ancient Egypt Online, https://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/cat.html.

“Herodotus,” Wikipedia, 15 May 2018 (last edited), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodotus.

“Herodotus on Cats in Egypt,” Ancient History Encyclopedia, 18 January 2012, https://www.ancient.eu/article/88/herodotus-on-cats-in-egypt/.

Quotes from Herodotus, The Histories, translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt, new edition (Penguin Books, 1996).

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cat of the Week: Iysis

#adoptablecats


Each week in this space, we feature an older adult or senior cat (7 years +) in need of adoption or sponsorship. Mature cats make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt an older cat, and help them enjoy the best years of their life.

#adoptablecat #baltimorehumanesociety 
Today we are pleased to introduce Iysis. She is an 8-year-old ladycat with lovely gray and white coloring. Iysis is a bit shy with new people and feels a little overwhelmed in the shelter environment. Hey, it can be scary in there! She is a terrific cat, though, who just needs a chance to warm up to someone. Surely somebody out there will give this girl a chance!

Iysis is currently at the Baltimore Humane Society. Learn more about her here.

Can’t adopt? You can still help! Check out Sammy’s Cat Necessities Fund, which provides money for everyday and medical needs of cats at the Baltimore Humane Society. You can also make a general donation or sponsor a particular animal on this page. Every little bit helps!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Book Review: Magick Run Amok


Mysterious Monday



On this Mysterious Monday, we are thrilled to bring you our review of the latest book in the Abracadabra mystery series by Sharon Pape. Magick Run Amok keeps this fun series going with a perplexing series of murders, a little magic, a famous sorcerer who’s seriously in the wrong time zone, and of course a clowder of cats.

The plot

Magick Run Amok, by Sharon Pape
We return to New Camel, New York, and meet up with Kailyn Wilde, owner of a magick shop called Abacadabra. Her aunt Tilly has had a premonition of a murder—another murder—and soon Kailyn’s love interest, local TV reporter Travis, tells her that his friend Ryan is missing. Then Ryan is dead, apparently the victim of an unfortunate car accident. Then Travis reveals that Ryan was not just a friend; he was an adopted brother. And he was murdered, probably because he’d been investigating a string of earlier murders that had been passed off as unrelated deaths from various causes. Travis is going to investigate Ryan’s death and all those others. Does Kailyn want to help?

Dumb question, right?

So Travis and Kailyn begin interviewing victims’ family members, trying to find out what all those deaths have in common. Kailyn’s abilities in spell casting and teleportation come in handy, and the investigative duo starts to form some theories. But as they get closer to the truth, it starts to look like one or both of them could be the killer’s next victim. It’s a good thing Kailyn has cats! (See next section to find out why.)

We can’t review an Abacadabra book without mentioning Merlin. Yes, the Merlin. King Arthur, Knights of Round Table, etc., etc. The famous sorcerer has been pulled out of his own time and is stuck in the modern world—not that this is totally a bad thing. He loves ice cream, television, pizza, and getting into mischief. In Magick Run Amok, he tries a run for the town board (not a good idea, since he’s not a citizen and can’t reveal where he’s really from), transmutes himself into a duck and can’t undo it (so funny!), and puts a little glamour on Kailyn so everyone thinks she is a certain King of Rock ’n’ Roll (too bad she still can’t sing). He is quite the character!

The cats

Kailyn has a whole clowder of cats, headed by Shashkatu, a senior who spends most of his time sleeping in the shop. There are five other cats, plus Tilly’s Maine coon. Shashkatu and his underlings play an important role in saving their people from a dangerous jam. Bad guys in your house? Send in the cats! We enjoyed that scene, and we especially enjoyed the little wink Shashkatu gives Kailyn when it’s over. Yeah, he planned it all. The cats are mostly side characters in this book, but they sure do show up when needed.

Our verdict

We love this series. We still haven’t read the first book, but we are anxious to get to it and find out how everything started. That said, you can enjoy Magick Run Amok even if you haven’t read the previous books, although we suspect you’ll enjoy it more if you have read the earlier volumes. The mystery is well constructed and is truly mysterious. It is no wonder no one connected the dots earlier, and if not for Kailyn, Travis, and friends, a killer would remain free. The action and suspense are relieved by healthy doses of humor, and the characters are some of our favorites in the world of cozy mysteries. The magic is more complicated than the “I’ll just whip up a little spell and everything will be fine” variety; it’s helpful, but not foolproof (quack quack!). And the cats are excellent. We do love a cat who saves the day.

If you haven’t tried the Abacadabra books yet, you should. We think you’ll love them as much as we do!

Highly recommended!


Two Paws Up! A great read



A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!