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, June 29, 2015

Book Review: Downton Tabby

Miss Cuddlywumps reads the latest in the Pampered Pets series from Sparkle Abbey

Carolina Lamont, or “Caro,” as she prefers to be called, has an interesting life. She’s a lovely redhead who drives a silver Mercedes roadster, a former Texas beauty queen, and though she trained as a people therapist, she’s now Laguna Beach’s top pet therapist. Oh, and she’s also the kind of person who has a homicide detective’s phone number in her favorites.

She has to. Because stuff keeps happening.

Caro shares office space with a realtor, a psychic (who says vaguely unsettling things like “I sense trouble” and “Beware of strangers”), an investment advisor, and two young techie types named Cash and Jake. The techies will be the ones causing trouble in this episode.

It all starts one unfortunate morning when Caro begins her day without coffee. Soon enough, one of the techies, Cash, has popped into her office quite pleasantly to ask her to watch his Scottish fold cat while he runs back home for “a jiffy.” Naturally he doesn’t come back, and Caro decides to drop Toria (the cat) off at home (Cash and Jake’s home) so she can get to an appointment on time. But when she gets to their house she discovers Jake dead in the pool, and there is no sign of Cash.

See what happens when you miss your morning coffee?

Soon Caro is thoroughly mixed up in a murder investigation, she’s being tailed by a dark-colored SUV, and her ex-husband is intruding most unpleasantly on her life. This while she’s taking care of poor Toria as well as her own dog and cats and practicing therapy on her clients…er, I mean on her clients’ pets.

And soon we’re worried over Caro’s safety.

I won’t tell you any more of the plot in this highly readable, quickly paced cozy. You really should read it for yourself, if for no other reason than to read the part where Caro finally gives her ex exactly what he deserves. But then you’ll also want to find out what’s up with this Cash character (innocent bloke, spy, secret royal?), the guy in the secret room, the meddling reporter, the unhappy gardener who wants a basset hound, and of course the client who dresses in fancy pajamas for all occasions.

It’s quite a story! Highly recommended!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Dispatch from Social Science: Cat Videos Make People Happy

It's not just videos!
Memes can also induce happiness.
It has finally happened. Social science has discovered Internet cat videos.

Well, I say “discovered,” but what I mean is “taken enough of an interest in to create a survey, the results of which were analyzed for insights into the Internet cat phenomenon” (“discovered” is just so much easier to say). This study, by Dr. Jessica Gall Myrick of Indiana University (who tells us she is actually allergic to cats and is more of a dog person; she has a pug named Biscuit), appears in the most recent edition of the journal Computers in Human Behavior. In case you don’t subscribe to that one, I summarize the important points below.

Why study Internet cats?

First, that is kind of a dumb question. Obviously, cat-related content is the best thing the Internet has to offer.

The researcher did have a more scientific reason, though: to find out what sort of people look at Internet cats, why they do so, and how the experience affects them emotionally.

The supposition is that people might go online to find some cute cat stuff to either lift their spirits if they’re feeling down or keep their spirits up if they’re already happy. Myrick sought to see if this idea is true.

What exactly did the study, study?

With some help from Lil BUB, the study used on online survey that people responded to voluntarily. The survey asked questions about the respondents’ pets, their own personality and well-being, and their Internet cat viewing habits. It also asked how people felt before and after viewing an Internet cat.

Who goes gaga over Internet cats?

What sort of people look at Internet cats? Well, of the 6,795 respondents in this study, 88% were female, 90% were white, and their average age was 38.74 years.

So, if you chuckle and/or squee over cute cat videos, odds are you’re a thirty-something white woman.

Why do people seek out online cat content?

Actually, most of the time they don’t seek it out (or so they say). Cat content seeks them out.

Respondents reported they only went looking for Internet cats about a quarter of the time; mostly they “happened upon it accidentally” while on the Internet for something else (checking the Twitter feed on which they follow 451 different cat-related accounts, perhaps? Not that there’s anything wrong with that—that’s exactly how She of Little Talent gets her near-daily cute-cat fix).

How do Internet cats affect people’s emotions?

Respondents said they felt more hopeful, happy, and content after viewing Internet cats. They also felt less anxious, annoyed, or sad, and they had more energy. They did feel a little guilty if they were online wasting time instead of doing whatever they were supposed to be doing (working), but the cats made them so happy they didn’t care. Basically.

The takeaway

More research can certainly be done on the relationship between Internet cats and human happiness. However, we will go out on a limb and say this:

Try an Internet cat today:
Feel happier, more energetic, and less guilty!*

(*The study and its author have in no way endorsed this statement. We totally made it up.)

Recommended viewing for maximum happiness

Of course you humans all have your personal favorites, but some cat videos are almost guaranteed to induce smiles and laughter. Even Myrick, the researcher who much prefers pug videos (go figure) has her favorite Internet cats, including Lil Bub's Big Show, Patty-Cake Cats (there's this English version and our favorite, the French version), Yass Cat, and the classic Keyboard Cat. She of Little Talent would second all of those and add the web series Cat CATastrophes, as well as the Twitter accounts Cat Food Breath and Texts from Mittens.

Now, please enjoy this Lil BUB video:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Pair of Modern Swedish Cats--in Sculpture

Wordless Wednesday

Bronze and granite sculpture titled “Trygghet”
(Safety, Security) features a pair of very secure-looking cats.
Art by Swedish sculptors Gustav and Ulla Kraitz.
Höganäs, Sweden, 2005.
Photo be Bengt Oberger
[CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons.