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.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Real Cat Webster's Sideways Sunday Selfie

This week, Real Cat Webster decided to share this nice profile for Sunday Selfie. (Okay ... in reality, Webs would not look at the camera at all. He looked up, down, and all around, but never at the camera, and this was the best picture old SoLT could get.)

Real Cat Websters' Sideways Selfie

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

Sunday Selfies Blog Hop--The Cat on My Head

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Caturday Art: Paisley and Her Rainbow Ribbon

Today's Caturday Art features Real Cat Paisley playing with her rainbow ribbon in the rocking chair.

Real Cat Paisley with rainbow ribbon_dry brush

Old SoLT hasn't done much in Photoshop lately, so she decided to mess around a bit and see what she could come up with. She used a dry brush filter and then played with some lighting effects and a frame.

Here is the original:

Real Cat Paisley with rainbow ribbon_original

We're joining the Caturday Art blog hop, hosted by Athena and Marie!

Caturday Art blog hop

Friday, February 16, 2018

Words with Webster: Nap and Catnap, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a sleepy word to share. After that, it’s on to Friendly Fill-Ins!

Words with Webster

Words with Webster
Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “nap.” I think we all know how important naps are to us cats. I certainly couldn’t get through the day without several of them. A nap, according to my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s, is “a short sleep especially during the day.”

I looked in the Oxford English Dictionary, which says that “nap” first appeared in print in the early 14th century. I found this quote from a while later; the original is thought to be from about 1450:
Þan I wakynd of my nappe. (The life of St. Cuthbert in English verse, ed. Joseph Thomas Fowler, 1891)
The Online Etymology Dictionary says that the word comes from the Old English word hnappian, which meant “to doze, sleep lightly.” It seems that no one is quite sure where that came from, but it could be related to the Old High German hnaffezan.

And let’s not forget about the closely related and very important word “catnap.” This word has been around since at least the early 19th century:
I just closed my eyes in order to think the better with myself... It was only some such matter as a cat's nap. (J. F. Cooper, Pioneers II. xiii. 187 [1823])
Obviously people just put “cat” and “nap” together—which, when you think about it, is one of the more sensible wordy things people have ever done!

Real Cat Webster loves a good catnap


Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-InsAnd now it’s time for Friendly Fill-Ins, from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by old SoLT this week, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by Real Cat Paisley, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT’s answers:
1. My Chinese zodiac animal is the Monkey (Earth Monkey, specifically).

2. My zodiac sign is Capricorn.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. Income tax season … well, I don’t care about it because I don’t have any income except for treats and stuff. I don’t have to pay taxes on that, do I???

4. In hindsight, I probably should not have hissed (repeatedly) at Webster yesterday. Then again, he should’ve just left Mommy’s bedroom when I told him to the first time!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Black Cats of Amherst in World War I

Cat Insignia

As part of our ongoing but extremely occasional series on cats in military insignia, today we bring you the story of a group of young men from Amherst, Massachusetts, who volunteered as ambulance drivers for the French army in the First World War. They came to be known as the Black Cats, after the distinctive symbol they chose: a black cat in full-on scary pose, with its back arched and tail pointing straight up. This symbol may have been selected for good luck, writes amateur historian Jim Hamilton. Although in much of the US today, the common superstition is that black cats bring bad luck, let us not forget that cats of all sorts of colors have been credited with (or blamed for) bringing all sorts of luck in different places and times.

The black cat symbol of SSU 539
The black cat symbol of SSU 539.
Used with permission.

So, what kind of luck did the Amherst Black Cats have? Let’s find out…but first we must thank Jim Hamilton, who runs the Amherst Black Cats Twitter account and graciously agreed to tell us a little more about the history of this unit. It was through this Twitter account that we first learned of these young men from Amherst.

The Black Cats answer the call

The group that would become known as the Black Cats got its start on June 6, 1917, when several students and recent graduates of Amherst College, as well as a few others, signed on to drive ambulances for the French army. That summer, the unit headed to Allentown, Pennsylvania, to train at Camp Crane, which was actually on the site of the Allentown Fairgrounds. A photo recently posted on the Black Cats’ Twitter account shows that their barracks was the Bantams and Pigeons building. Their training included driving lessons and medical procedures. On August 6, they boarded the SS San Jacinto for the crossing to Europe, arriving at St. Nazaire, France, just over two weeks later, on August 21.

Entrance to Camp Crane, Allentown, PA, 1918
The entrance to Camp Crane, 1918.
The Amherst volunteers arrived here in summer 1917.
US Army photo.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Black Cats on the Western Front

Officially known as Section Sanitaire États-Unis 539, or SSU 539, the Black Cats were sent to the war’s Western Front. They served with four French army groups:
  • The 47th Chasseurs Alpins
  • The 27th Division Infantry (briefly)
  • The 5th Division
  • The 4th Army (briefly)

Driving Ford Model T ambulances with their unit’s emblem on the side, the Black Cats participated in three major offensives in 1918:
  • the Aisne-Marne Offensive
  • the Oise-Aisne Offensive
  • the Ypres-Lys Offensive

They also participated in a few minor operations. For their actions in evacuating the wounded, often in difficult conditions, the Black Cats were awarded the Croix de Guerre and were also entitled to wear the Fourragère.

Regarding luck, theirs seems to have been good. In the course of their service, only one member of the Black Cats was wounded and three were gassed. They all recovered. One member of the unit said this in a letter home:
We are the original horseshoe section, if there ever was one. Think of having been in a year with only one man slightly wounded! I think it’s the black cat on our cars, although that didn’t prevent a shell from ruining Riefler’s car, just after he was safe in a dug-out. I know it takes a lot of narrow escapes to get a man, but we’ve had an unusual number of them, every one of us.
Ambulance Corps training, Camp Crane, PA 1918
Ambulance Corps training (not SSU 539)
at Camp Crane, Allentown, PA, 1918.
Photo by unknown USAAS photographer.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Black Cats after the war

Following the Armistice that was signed on November 11, 1918, the Black Cats were stationed in Belgium and Germany before sailing for home in March 1919. They arrived back in the US on April 2. On April 23, a group of them marched from the Amherst train station to the college and presented the unit’s flag to the college president. The following year, they published a unit history (Amherst has two copies of it in their archive), and going forward, they maintained a chain letter of news updates for another ten years or so. College reunions provided an opportunity for the men to meet up in person.

Now, a century later, the Black Cats’ history continues to be written, as Jim Hamilton is finishing an early draft of a book that he plans to publish later this year. He will also be participating in a panel called “Amherst at War” at the reunion in May of this year. The Black Cat banner, which resides in the Amherst College archive, is in delicate condition, and he is hoping that it will be restored, a process that may involve some fundraising from alumni and Black Cat descendants.


Our main source, Jim Hamilton, is an amateur historian whose books include “The Writing 69th,” the story of a group of war correspondents, including Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney, who covered the 8th Air Force out of England during World War II. His current research is for a book to be called “The Black Cats of Amherst,” which is about the World War I ambulance unit that his grandfather served in. For more information on Jim and his writing projects, please visit www.greenharbor.com.

Additional sources:
McFeely, William S. “The Black Cats of Amherst.” Amherst Magazine, Spring 2010. https://www.amherst.edu/amherst-story/magazine/issues/2010spring/blackcats

Ginn, Richard V. N. “World War I: The Ambulance Service.” The History of the US Army Medical Service Corps. 1977. http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/HistoryofUSArmyMSC/chapter2.html

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cat of the Week: Snickers

Cat of the Week

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.

Cat of the Week: Adopt Snickers!
Today, please meet Snickers. She is a 12-year-old female who is very affectionate and likes to spend quality time relaxing with her human. Snickers enjoys cuddling, and she is a great conversationalist. She has lived with other cats and has been around kids before. Plus, just look at that beautiful coloring!

Snickers 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, February 12, 2018

Mysterious Monday: Death by a Whisker

Mysterious Monday

On this Mysterious Monday, we are pleased to bring you our review of Death by a Whisker, book 2 in the Cat Rescue Mysteries series by T. C. LoTempio. This series features a big orange-and-white tabby named Toby, and we just love him. But more on him later…

The plot

Death by a Whisker, by T. C. LoTempio
Sydney McCall and her sister Kat run an animal shelter in Deer Park, North Carolina. As the book begins, they are getting ready for a celebrity fundraiser. It seems that disaster has struck, though, when the celebrity suddenly can’t come. But then a new celebrity, a shopping channel star who is a Deer Park native and has recently written a tell-all book, steps in to save the event. Ulla Townsend’s appearance might not be a blessing, though. Sure, she’s got plenty of fans who will line up to have their books autographed, but she’s also got a past. She’s far from the nicest person you can imagine, and quite a few people have well-nursed grudges against her. So, when she suddenly drops dead during the book signing and it looks like she could have been murdered, there is no shortage of suspects.

Syd gets involved in the investigation largely because she just can’t help herself, but also because her friend Maggie is a suspect. Maggie knew Ulla back in high school, and she is so upset about Ulla’s appearance that she refuses to come to the fundraiser. Then, after Ulla dies, Maggie disappears and no one can get in touch with her. Suspicious, no?

But there are other suspects as well. One of them starts leaving threatening notes for Syd to find, warning her off the case. She’s getting too close to the truth for someone’s comfort, but will she figure out who it is before that person decides it’s time to get her out of the way for good?

The cat(s)

Toby is the main cat in the Cat Rescue Mysteries. As I already mentioned, he is a rather large tabby, and of course he is a rescue kitty. In fact, he chose Syd to be his person, so you know they’re great together, because cats are great people pickers. Toby’s hobby is destroying mouse toys (although we actually thought he’d destroyed a real mouse in the book’s opening!).  He also plays a role in solving the mystery, pointing Syd toward clues that she undoubtedly would not have found by herself. In short, Toby is a great cat!

A second cat, ragdoll Annie Reilly, also plays a role in the mystery, but not in quite the same way as Toby. You’ll just have to read the book to find out how!

Our verdict

Death by a Whisker is a fun read. We enjoyed the story, with its mix of old and new grudges against Ulla. There is also a wonderful tension between Syd’s boyfriend detective and his rival for a higher position in the department. And let’s not forget the cats. This is not the sort of mystery that adds a generic cat just for the heck of it. The cats in this book, especially Toby and Annie Reilly, are characters in their own right and are part of the plot, and you know we always appreciate that.


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!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Webster's Sleepy Sunday Selfie

You know what's rude? Someone barging into the room where you're sleeping, yelling out "Who wants to do Sunday Selfie?" and shoving a phone in your face. That is exactly what happened to Real Cat Webster today (Paisley had the presence of mind to run away!). Poor guy ... he couldn't even open his eyes all the way.

Real Cat Webster's sleepy selfie_February 2018

Somewhat reluctantly, Webster is joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head!

Sunday Selfies blog hop, The Cat on My Head