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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Cat Sailed to Cyprus

About 9,500 years ago, a cat sailed with some people to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. We know the cat did not get to Cyprus on its own, because what cat would swim or raft across 40-some miles of ocean? Answer: No cat would do that. I, Miss Cuddlywumps, certainly would not, though I would not turn my nose up at a nice Mediterranean cruise aboard a luxury vessel with feline amenities.

This cat of 9,500 years ago was a special cat and belonged to a person of special status. The cat kept the person’s home free of mice, and the person fed the cat and gave it little toys to play with. The person delighted in the cat’s playfulness and purring and appreciated its skill as a mouser. (I am making this part up a little bit, but I think it cannot be too far from the truth. Who doesn’t enjoy watching a cat play and hearing it purr? Who wouldn’t appreciate a mouse-free home?)

We know all of this (except the part I made up a little bit) because in 2001 some archaeologists working on Cyprus discovered the skeleton of a cat buried very near the skeleton of a person. The person’s grave contained polished stone, axes, ochre, and flint tools. These offerings tell us that the person had special social status. The cat had been deliberately buried just over a foot away from the person. It was larger than today’s typical housecat and was about eight months old when it died. (Possibly the cat had been killed so it could be buried with its person. I suppose it is unlikely that the person was killed so they could be buried with the cat, although that arrangement makes perfect sense to me.)

According to the authors of a Science article about the find,* this burial shows there were spiritual links between humans and cats even at this early stage in human-feline relations. This is not surprising at all, because we cats are nothing if not creatures of great spirit.

[She of Little Talent is in the corner muttering about how the cat found in the burial could be a descendent of cats that sailed to Cyprus and so it would not have made the voyage itself. Possible, but I think it is much more fun to imagine that this particular cat sailed to Cyprus as a kitten, so that is what I choose to imagine.] 

* J.D. Vigne et al. “Early Taming of the Cat in Cyprus.” Science, 9 April 2004, p. 259.

Friday, January 24, 2014

5,000 Years Ago, a Dog Chased a Cat

Let me begin this post by saying I am not anti-dog. I am sure dogs are wonderful creatures, underneath their barking, drooling, stinky exteriors. Really, you almost have to feel sorry for the poor things, when you consider all their undesirable attributes. Almost.

Personally I, Miss Cuddlywumps, do not feel sorry for dogs, for one very specific reason: Dogs chase cats. They cannot help it; chasing cats is just something dogs do, and they have been doing it for thousands of years. I have evidence.

Exhibit A: An ancient mud brick, 5,000 years old, excavated at a Harappan town called Chanhudaro near the Indus River in modern Pakistan. The brick has two pawprints preserved on its surface. The first print belongs to a cat, the second to a dog.

Interpretation of evidence: Five thousand years ago, a person formed a brick from mud and left it to dry in the sun. Before it dried, a cat running for its life dashed across the wet brick, leaving a pawprint. Moments later the vicious dog that was chasing the innocent cat also dashed across the wet brick, leaving its print over the cat’s.*

Conclusion: Dogs have been chasing cats forever. Thus, cats should not feel sorry for dogs.

(*She of Little Talent is in the corner muttering about how we cannot know for certain that the dog was in fact chasing the cat. Old SoLT foolishly suggests that the dog might have been following the cat on a pleasant stroll. You see the kind of nonsense I must put up with. Also, old SoLT wants me to tell you we found this evidence in John Bradshaw’s excellent book Cat Sense, which we recommend highly.)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Agatha Christie–Inspired Names for Mysterious Cats

Why do you humans have such a difficult time naming cats? Here is a hint: “Kitty” and “Fluffy” are uninspired names.* We cats deserve better, and so I, Miss Cuddlywumps, am here to help you. I have located a place on the Internet that has a whole list of potential cat names inspired by Agatha Christie characters. Aside from the obvious “Hercule,” “Poirot,” and “Miss Marple,” here is a sample of my favorite names:

  • Mitzi (from A Murder Is Announced)
  • Lexie (from Mrs. McGinty’s Dead)
  • Japp (Inspector Japp from the Poirot stories)
  • Clancy (from Death in the Clouds)
  • Biggs (from One Two Buckle My Shoe)

Visit Cat Names HQ for even more ideas. Give your feline companions the dignified names they deserve. Please.

(*She of Little Talent hastens to add: Miss C means no disrespect to cats named Kitty or Fluffy. We’re sure they are wonderful cats who are loved by their humans.†)
(†Miss Cuddlywumps hastens to add: Cats named Kitty or Fluffy are more than likely embarrassed and a little bit depressed. They would be better named Daphne or Jinny.)