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, May 29, 2015

The Cat Who Beat the Rats…with His Wooden Leg

A short but tall tale told by Miss Cuddlywumps

John the cat before his unfortunate
accident. (It is surprisingly difficult
to find a picture of a cat with a
wooden leg.)
Way, way back in the first half of the twentieth century, there was a ship called the USS Abarenda that sailed the Asian seas. This particular ship had a particular cat, John, who once had an unfortunate accident that left him missing one front leg. But not to worry. John the cat was surrounded by sailors whose natural inclination was to fit him with a wooden leg. (Yes, I know that cats can get along just fine on three legs, but this is a tall tale, so stick with me.)

Now, you might think that a wooden leg would be a hindrance to a ship’s cat in that it would make it harder for him to perform his main job of catching rodents. In this, you would be wrong. John the cat actually found his new leg to be quite a useful tool, as he could use it to beat rats over the head. This he did with glee, until one day he encountered one of the biggest, meanest rats ever seen on any ship on any of the seven seas. John cornered this rat and commenced to beat it with his leg. The giant rat was successfully subdued, but at great cost: John had broken his wooden leg.

But not to worry. The clever sailors soon fashioned him a better leg, a stronger leg—a leg made of iron. Only they failed to take into account the weight of an iron leg. Now John the cat had a stronger leg with which to beat the rats, but he was no longer nimble enough to catch them. What to do?

There is still no need to worry about John the cat, for he had his sailor friends, and they happily caught rats and presented them to him so he could beat them with his new and improved leg. This situation suited John just fine, for it eliminated all the stalking and chasing that had previously taken up so much of his day, giving him more time for sleep and meditation. With all those sailors catching rats, the vermin were soon completely exterminated, and the Abarenda gained the great distinction of being the only ratless ship in the US fleet.

John the cat, with all that free time on his paws, became a sun-puddle philosopher.


This story is retold, with some embellishments, after the tale “The Wooden-Legged Cat” from The Folktale Cat (ed. Frank de Caro, August House Publishers, 1993, p. 144). It was originally collected by journalist Lowell Thomas and published in 1945.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

1880s Tiger Stamp for Playing Cards

Wordless Wednesday

Private die playing card stamp of Russell, Morgan & Co.,
creators of the “Tigers No. 101” brand of playing cards.
For part of the nineteenth century, the U.S. government
taxed playing cards. Manufacturers could create their
own stamps, like this one featuring a fearsome tiger.
Image scanned and processed by A. Sdobnikov
(Personal collection)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.