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, February 28, 2014

A Craftsman, a Cat, and a Gazelle Go into a Cemetery …

Ha! You thought I was going to tell you a funny joke in this post, but I, Miss Cuddlywumps, am instead going to educate you a little bit more on the history of cats. It will be fun; trust me.

A cat for company in the

In the middle part of Egypt there is a site called Mostagedda that was excavated in the 1920s. The excavations included a cemetery in which archaeologists found the grave of a man who’d been buried over 6,000 years ago ( before ~4000 BC) with some tools that seem to indicate he was a craftsman. The bones of a gazelle and a cat were found at the craftsman’s feet. Those cat bones are among the earliest remains of cats ever found in Egypt and give evidence of early interactions between humans and cats.

But why a gazelle and a cat?

And a gazelle for food?
My guess is that the gazelle was to provide food for the man and the cat was his pet and was killed and buried with him to keep him company in the afterlife. It makes so much sense that this craftsman would want to have his little cat with him forever. It makes a little bit less sense to kill the poor kitty just because its person died, but you humans have very strange ideas sometimes.*

[*Speaking of strange ideas, She of Little Talent is in the corner muttering about how we cannot possibly know this cat was a pet. She thinks maybe the cat was some kind of symbol or was buried with the craftsman to keep pests away. She thinks this particular craftsman had a phobia about mice and that is why they buried a cat with him. I think she is an idiot who will not let me have any fun.]

[Old SoLT wants me to tell you that this information is from the excellent book The Cat in Ancient Egypt by Jaromir Malek (Rev. ed. 2006, p. 45). She also wants me to tell you that the grave in question is Mostagedda Tomb 330.]

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Latest Stunning Scientific Discovery: Dogs Have Brains

Miss Cuddlywumps Investigates the Minds of Dogs

Incredible but true: Dogs have brains.
I, Miss Cuddlywumps, am stunned. Absolutely stunned. I could not be more stunned. Why? Because this morning She of Little Talent informed me of this latest scientific discovery:

Dogs have brains.

Hard to believe, I know. But wait.… Not only do dogs have brains, dogs also have a “voice area” in their brains just like humans do. Apparently this voice area helps dogs recognize voices and understand the emotion behind the voice. So a dog can tell, just by how you sound, whether you are happy, sad, or in distress. Incredible.

The scientists learned all this by convincing some dogs to lie still in an MRI machine and have their heads scanned. Some humans also agreed to lie still and have their heads scanned. This fact alone will tell you that dogs and humans are “on the same page,” so to speak, and are willing to do silly things just because someone gives them bacon.

Cats are not like this. If you told a cat to lie still and have her head scanned, she would vehemently refuse. Blood would be spilled (yours). We cats prefer to lie still on a comfy couch and do our own scanning, thank you very much. Do not even dream of trying to scan a cat, because we are far too busy to participate in your silly endeavors. Besides, even a very average cat has enough brain power to break your expensive scanning machine, and we do so hate to see you cry when your toys break.

You are curious now about whether cats have a “voice area” in their brains like dogs and humans do. I am telling you now this question is irrelevant because we do not need a voice area. We cats gather vital information by psychic intuition. We do not need to hear your voice to know whether you intend to feed us soon. We do not need to hear the dog bark to know the dog is rather stupid.

So there.

[She of Little Talent hastens to add: We love dogs. Dogs are great companions, and very smart.]

[Miss C hastens to add: Do not listen to old SoLT, for her brain is no better than a dog's. Poor old SoLT.]

Monday, February 24, 2014

“The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag” by Dorothy L. Sayers

A literary review by Miss Cuddlywumps

First, let me reassure you that no cats are harmed in this story. There are in fact no actual cats in the story, though there is a motorcycle with a “feline shriek” and a “voice like a pleased kitten.” (Dorothy L. Sayers enjoyed riding motorcycles and had an affair with a biker which resulted in the birth of her illegitimate son. But that is a whole other story.)

“The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag” is a Lord Peter Wimsey story, and if for some unfortunate reason you are not already acquainted with Lord Peter, you probably will not enjoy the story quite as much as if you were. (Also, what is wrong with you? Please get yourself a copy of Whose Body? and begin an acquaintance with Lord Peter.)

The story opens with a thrilling motorcycle chase that ends when a constable steps into the road and signals the two riders to stop. We then learn that the second rider has been chasing the first in a well-meaning effort to return a “small, stout bag” he had seen fall from the back of the first motorcycle.

Things get interesting when a split seam reveals something rather gruesome inside the bag and both riders immediately claim complete ignorance of the bag’s contents. I will not tell you what the item is; just know that it is something you do not want to find when you open a strange bag.

Enter Lord Peter, who just happens to be searching for a similar bag, only the object of his search is filled with stolen jewels. This sounds at first like more confusion, but Lord Peter, because he is who he is and he does what he does, quickly puts the pieces together to understand what has happened.

“The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag” is quick-paced short read, perfect for when you need a little shot of Wimsey, though if you are hoping for a story about a cat, you will be disappointed. You can find the story in the Dorothy L. Sayers mystery collection titled Lord Peter Views the Body.