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. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Were Leopard Cats Domesticated in China 5,000 Years Ago?



Felis silvestris lybica, the
type of wildcat that gave rise
to 
modern domestic kitties.
By Donovan Reginald Rosevear 
(The carnivores of West Africa).  
[Public domain], via 
Wikimedia Commons.
You’ve probably heard a lot about how cat domestication occurred in ancient Egypt. You may also have heard that all modern domestic cats (including that one walking across your keyboard) are descended from the Near Eastern wildcat, known more formally as Felis silvestris lybica. Perhaps you’ve wondered whether the Near Eastern wildcat is the only species of wildcat ever to be domesticated by humans.

Well, I’m not going to answer that question…exactly. Because it still hasn’t been answered…exactly.

Here’s what’s happened: A new study has looked at some 5,300-year-old cat bones found in excavations of an ancient Chinese village, and according to the researchers, those bones belonged to leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis). Whether those leopard cats were actually “domesticated” or were just living near humans for the easy food is still an open question.

Some background on the cat domestication timeline

There’s been a lot of interest in figuring out just where domestic cats came from. In Egypt, 4,000-year-old paintings seem to depict domestic felines, and a cat burial on Cyprus from some 9,000 to 10,000 years ago seems to indicate that humans and cats were at least interacting by that early time, even if the cats were not fully domesticated.

Then a couple of years ago, a study of eight cat bones excavated from the Chinese agricultural village of Quanhucun showed that the cats were feeding on rodents that were eating grain stored in the village. These bones were dated to about 5,300 years ago, and they indicated that at least two cats were present. One of the cats had lived a good many years, so it must have had a relatively safe and healthy life in the village. Another cat ate more grain than you’d really expect a wildcat to eat, possibly indicating that this cat took food from humans.

So cats at least had a commensal relationship with humans over 5,000 years ago. In other words, the cats got some advantage (i.e., food) from the humans, but they weren’t “pets”; there were still wild.

Near Eastern wildcats...or something else?

1896 illustration of a leopard cat, the "Javan variety."
 From Lloyd's Natural History: A hand-book
to the Carnivora. Part 1, Cats, civets, and mungoose

by Richard Lydekker. Wyman & Sons Limited
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
That’s all very interesting, but nobody knew what kind of cats the Quanhucun cats were. The Near Eastern wildcat is not native to that area of central China, so if the cats turned out to be that species (the species that, you’ll remember, gave rise to the domestic cat prancing on your keyboard), it would mean they’d been introduced from outside. That would raise a bunch of other questions (When? How? By whom?).

But if the Quanhucun cats were a whole different species, a local species, that would show that a second species of wildcat was on the road to domestication those several thousand years ago.

The possibilities, and the results

There are four different small wildcats living in the area today: the Central Asian wildcat, the Chinese mountain cat, the Pallas’s cat, and the leopard cat (specifically, the North Central Chinese subspecies of leopard cat). To find out which of these cat species might have lived with humans “back in the day,” the authors of the new paper compared the lower jaws (mandibles) of five “archaeological” cats to modern domestic and wild cats. The archaeological cat mandibles came from Quanhucun and two other sites in the central part of China. The researchers also looked at five archaeological mandibles from Cyprus to definitively identify their species. The Cypriot mandibles had been dated to 9,000–9,500 years old.

The title of this post has already told you the results: The Chinese cats showed “highly significant similarity” to modern leopard cats. This means they were in all likelihood leopard cats; the North Central China subspecies of leopard cat still lives in that area, and the species in general is known to adapt to human environments. In fact, the leopard cat has been bred with a modern domestic cat to produce the domestic Bengal cat.

The Cypriot cats were identified as Near Eastern wildcats, with 94% to 100% probability. That sounds pretty certain to me.

A leopard cat in the Bronx Zoo.
By Stavenn (Own work)
[GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0,  or CC BY 2.5],
via Wikimedia Commons

Domestic or commensal?

Now that we know the ancient Chinese cats were “locals,” we have to ask whether they actually lived with humans (domestic) or just hung around for the easy food (commensal). According to the study authors, “the leopard cat most likely became a commensal species” at the sites where the bones were found. Yes, the extensive wear on the teeth of two mandibles from Quanhucun suggests that the “cat(s) may have been fed by humans.” And then there’s the complete cat skeleton found at a site called Wuzhuangguoliang. The careful treatment of the body could suggest that this cat—and perhaps others—had some kind of closer relationship with at least one human in the village. Also, the archaeological mandibles are on the small side in comparison to modern leopard cats; supposedly, domestic animals tend to be smaller than their wild forebears.

That evidence points to domestication, but… Well, we just don’t know for sure. At over 5,000 years’ distance, it’s hard to know if those leopard cats kept mostly to themselves as they furtively hunted rats in human villages, or if they cozied up to the humans for free food and maybe a nice, soft place to sleep.

Perhaps a new find will answer that question someday.

Source

Vigne et al. (2016). Earliest “Domestic” Cats in China Identified as Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0147295

Read more

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Webster the Real Cat on Blizzard 2016: The Snowplow Incident

The Real Cats


 Hi, friends. It’s Webster the Real Cat, and I’m in the house today to give you a brief report on the most interesting part of the Blizzard of 2016.

Snow is not very interesting. It’s white and it covers everything up outside and your people stay home for a day or two. Yaaawn… Zzzz…

But then the snowplow comes and makes noise and pushes the snow off the street. Now that’s interesting, especially if you’re like me and you enjoy watching noisy trucks drive past your house. I like the garbage truck and the recycling truck and delivery trucks, and I’ve even seen a tow truck and an ambulance before. But I’d never seen a tractor before, and on this past Monday I got to see two tractors, and one of them was stuck in the snow. Cool!

What happened was, an orange tractor came down the street pushing the snow with its plow, and it got stuck. Then a green tractor came behind it. Here I am watching the two tractors:


And here's the green tractor trying to push the orange tractor:


That didn't work, so the green tractor backed up and then came up our street from the other side to push from the front:


That didn't work either. I was getting really tired by this time, so I went to take a nap. When I came back, the tractors were gone, so I know the orange one got loose from the snow, but I don't know how.

And that was the most interesting part of the Blizzard of 2016 for me, Webster the Real Cat.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Now Presenting the Ultimately Irresistible Cat: The Wild Cat Card Winner

Cats deserve awards. Lots of awards. Admit it, every single day your cat does something so irresistible you just want to give him an award. The way she talks to you…the way she lies on her back and observes the world upside down…the way she gently touches your food and then licks the luscious flavor from her paw while you wonder if you should still eat that salmon … You know what I mean.

Seriously, who wants to watch Leonardo DiCaprio being eaten by a bear when you can watch a cute cat instead?

With so many outstanding kitty performances out there,  Meow Mix thought there's no reason why the human actors should get all the glory.  So they created the Cat's Meow Awards, the first-ever awards show dedicated to the one-of-a-kind bond between cats and their humans. (Scooch over, Leonardo—the cat wants a spot on the awards sofa!)

If you’ve been following along as you should, you’ve already seen the winners of the aww-worthy Best Cat Cuddle and the gasp-inducing Best Cat-hlete. Now, I present to you the award for the most irresistible cat moment across any cat-egory... the Wild Cat Card!

With over 25,000 submissions featuring ridiculously cute felines, the judging was purr-ty difficult (kind of like choosing between food and a nap), but the voting committee made up of Meow Mix fans finally came to a decision.

Check out the Cat's Meow Awards clip revealing the Wild Cat Card winner:




Wow, those remarkable displays of adorableness are certainly deserving of an indulgent treat! If you want to score some FREE treats, just submit a photo or video of your cat at irresistiblemoments.com. Meow Mix will send you a bag of their new Irresistibles treats, which are made with real meat and offer a wide variety of flavors, plus both soft and crunchy textures. They're the perfect way to reward your cat for doing something totally irresistible... which undoubtedly happens all the time!




And stay tuned for the next edition of the Cat's Meow Awards! Which new cat-egory would you like to see added next?

This is a sponsored post.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review: The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat (and Pokey!)

Did you know that everyone’s favorite grump has her own comic book? Well, she does, and it is a pretty fun read overall.

I am talking about Grumpy Cat, of course, and the book is called The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat (and Pokey!). In this collection of comic book stories, Grumpy Cat plays herself and Pokey plays her happy, energetic (and therefore often annoying [to Grumpy]) foil. The book includes eleven stories in which the two cats go on adventures ranging from visiting a haunted house to becoming superheroes to traveling in time. They even play with a cell phone and encounter aliens (though not at the same time, though we can imagine a scenario in which Grumpy is abducted by aliens and uses a cell phone to “phone home”—writers, are you listening?).

We really enjoyed the artwork in this book, and we had several moments of turning the page and breaking into laughter at seeing the new situation the cats had gotten themselves into. Some of the scenes are just hilarious. We will probably never forget our first sight of Grumpy Cat in her superhero costume.

And then of course there are the one-liners Grumpy is famous for. We wrote a bunch of them down, but somehow they fall a little flat when taken out of context—and without the accompanying artwork. Speaking of falling, though, there is this line Grumpy Cat utters when Pokey is preparing for an attempt at superhero-style flight: “Maybe you’ll catch the essential forces of nature on an off day.” Ha! Imagine that line delivered in deadpan style moments before an overachieving cat falls off the roof. Ha, ha, ha!

Some of our favorite stories were “Paws of Justice,” in which Pokey and Grumpy become Super-Pokey & Grumpy Cat and take on a pair of criminals; “A Grump in Time,” in which our feline friends go out exploring and end up going a little farther than they’d planned (Grumpy’s parting shot to Tesla is especially funny; if you don’t know who Tesla was, it’s worth boning up on him—and Edison); and “I Know What You Did Last Summer…I Just Don’t Care,” in which the not-so-dynamic duo visit a haunted house and find something truly unexpected (the last panel in this one is just too funny, if you get the reference).

Although this book has lots of hits, there are a few misses as well. For example, we were enjoying the first story, “Treasure Map” (in which Pokey finds a map that indicates treasure is to be found in a haunted house), until we hit the last couple of pages, which give the explanation behind this haunted-house adventure. The explanation was a little too much explanation and left the story with a flat, disappointing ending. There was also one story, “A Grump in Time,” that we wished had been pushed a little further. Grumpy and Pokey returned from their time traveling a little too soon and with not enough of an adventure for our taste. (Nevertheless, this story was one of our favorites.)

Overall, The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat (and Pokey!) is a lot of fun to read. Yes, there are a few moments that didn’t quite work for us, but what we really remember are the funny moments, the panels that made us laugh out loud—Grumpy Cat in stereotypical superhero getup or detective garb. We’ll certainly be reading this one a second time, and maybe a third, just to relive some of those moments.






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!

Friday, January 22, 2016

National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day

The Real Cats


You are looking at a Real Cat with a lot of questions
(but about only one subject).

Today (January 22) is National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day, and since She of Little Talent has barred me, Miss Cuddlywumps, from asking any questions (sounds like someone’s afraid of the truth), I’ve invited Webster the Real Cat in to do the asking. So, Webster, old SoLT has agreed to answer five of your questions. Don’t hold back on the hard-hitting insight!

Webster, Question 1: How come there’s no food in my bowl?

 Old SoLT: Because you ate it earlier, remember? You’ll get more food this afternoon at your dinnertime.

Webster, Question 2: Can I have a bowl of treats to tide me over?

Old SoLT: No.

Webster, Question 3: Does it make you happy to see me starving?

Old SoLT: You’re not starving. You could probably live off water and your body fat for a week. The doctor said you should lose a little weight, remember?

Webster, Question 4: How can you be so mean?

Old SoLT: It’s not mean to look after your health. We’ve talked about the complications you could get from being overweight: joint problems, diabetes…. Trust me, I’m doing you a favor. I’m being a good pet parent. By the way, you know you’ve only got one question left, right?

Webster, Question 5: Why do you hate me?

Old SoLT: Oh, Boo, you know I love you. So, I guess we’re done here. That was pretty easy. I’m going to the office now. You coming?


Well, that was somewhat less insightful than I’d hoped it would be. Never send a hungry, food-obsessed cat to do a well-fed, ingenious cat's job.

Still, I think Webster touched on some important topics: his uncertain food supply, his anxious uncertainty over old SoLT’s true feelings for him… There are obviously some depths to be mined here. Just wait till next year!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Survey Says Calico and Tortoiseshell Cats Are Most Aggressive (Or Are They?)

Aggressive? Who you calling
“aggressive”? Get your hand
away from me…
Photo © Tanor  |
From time to time, I like to report on the most cutting-edge science related to cats, and this, as you may have guessed, is one of those times.

It seems that cats with calico and tortoiseshell coloring tend to be more aggressive than cats of other colors. This according to researchers at the University of California Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (try saying that without taking a breath). These researchers recently conducted an online survey about cat behavior. The survey of 1,200 cat owners asked about cats’ coloring and behaviors, including hissing and biting. The results showed that those more colorful cats were more, um, challenging toward their humans.

Whatever.

I’d like to remind you that data are subject to interpretation, and I can offer the following alternative interpretation of the survey results:

Humans who own calico and tortoiseshell cats are more annoying than your average human, and thus push their poor, aggrieved felines into so-called “aggressive” behavior.

Seriously, have you ever asked yourself why cats sometimes hiss at and bite their humans? It’s because some humans are just so irritating. I have not seen the actual questions on this survey, but I’d bet a week's worth of kibble that they did not include anything like “On a scale of 1 to 5, how annoying are you?” Clearly, they should have.

This is an area that merits further research. I am available to advise future researchers on the kinds of questions they should ask.

Source


Tired of Football? Check Out Some Athletic Cats!

Human sports make us so sleepy...
Photo © Eei_tony | Dreamstime.com
Two Cute Kittens With Toys Photo
If you are unfortunate enough to be a fan of a football team that has already been knocked out of the playoffs, you may be wondering where you can turn to satisfy your craving for amazing feats of athleticism (assuming you’re not excited about watching your football enemies progress toward that big game at the end). Well, I know exactly what you need, and that is a good dose of feline athletic prowess, or as some call it, cat-hleticism. For example:

  • Admire pure speed and leaping ability? The Egyptian Mau can run up to 30 miles per hour and can easily jump from the floor to your shoulder.
  • Need more maneuverability? The Manx can zip through sharp turns and stop on a dime.
  • Looking for endurance? The Bengal can go and go and go and go…


Meow Mix is honoring the year's most incredible displays of feline physical prowess—and all the irresistible moments that make the cat-human bond unique—in their first ever Cat's Meow Awards.  Over 25,000 cat lovers submitted their remarkably talented kitties for an award, and though the contest was close, the voting committee of Meow Mix fans ultimately crowned a winner for Best Cat-hlete (as well as the other awards cat-egories, Best Cat Cuddle and Wild Cat Card).

Check out the Cat's Meow Awards clip recognizing some of the Internet's greatest four-legged athletes:





Wasn’t that amazing? Really, who needs football when you’ve got a cat? That’s exactly why Meow Mix created the Cat's Meow Awards—to help humans appreciate all the little ways cats make life GREAT.

If you've got a cat worth showing off (and really, who doesn't?) submit your own irresistible cat moment at irresistiblemoments.com and get a FREE bag of Meow Mix Irresistibles treats, created to make kitty-human bonding time even more delicious.  With real meat, a wide variety of flavors, and both soft and crunchy textures, there's no telling how quickly your cat will sprint, jump, or pounce to get one.


 And don't forget to check back soon to find out the winner of the third Cat's Meow Awards cat-egory: Wild Cat Card!

This is a sponsored post.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

See the Year’s Best Cat Cuddle


“And the Academy Award goes to…”

Oh, who cares? I haven’t been to a movie in…my whole life. Let’s talk about something important. Like cats. And the Acatemy Awards, otherwise known as The Cat's Meow Awards. These truly important awards are brought to you by Meow Mix and are part of the Mix’s celebration of those irresistible moments that make the human-feline bond so special. (Let’s be honest, though. The bond is probably more special for humans than for cats. When’s the last time you saw a cat stalking a human with a camera, waiting for said human to do something “cute”? Answer: Never.)

The Cat's Meow Awards received more than 25,000 submissions from everyday humans who adore their cats. And though competition was stiff, Meow Mix fans ultimately chose winners in three cat-egories: Best Cat Cuddle, Best Cat-hlete, and Wild Cat Card.

The best news is, you don’t have to sit through hours and hours of an awards show to see the one moment you actually care about. You can see who won the Cat's Meow Awards right now, starting with this clip recognizing the most irresistibly cuddly cats on the Internet:





What a touching performance! I’ve never seen a better cat cuddle. And just think—that could be your cat up there on the silver screen, drawing a big “Aww” while doing something worthy of a tasty treat, one that’s made with real meat and comes in a wide variety of flavors and both soft and crunchy textures. I’m talking about Meow Mix’s new line of Irresistibles treats, of course. To score a FREE bag—and learn more about the Cat's Meow Awards—go to irresistiblemoments.com.




Stay tuned to this blog to see the winners of the Best Cat-hlete and Wild Cat Card Cat's Meow Awards!


This is a sponsored post.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review: Pouncing on Murder

For this week’s book review, we enter the surprisingly dangerous world of librarian Minnie Hamilton in Pouncing on Murder, the latest Bookmobile Cat Mystery by Laurie Cass. The “height-efficient” (i.e., short) Minnie lives on a houseboat in the warmer months in Chilson, Michigan, and lives at her aunt’s boardinghouse when it turns cold. This sounds “pretty cool,” to quote She of Little Talent. In Chilson, Minnie is known as the assistant library director, the driver of the bookmobile, and the owner of a black-and-white tabby cat named Eddie.

Eddie is known for being the very popular and expressive bookmobile cat. He expresses himself by saying “Mrr” a lot. I mean a lot. As in, that’s all he ever says. But Eddie has such inflection, such enunciation… He may only say “Mrr,” but he’s got a hundred ways to say it. Sometimes he doesn’t even have to speak to get his meaning across—his look is enough. One of our favorite exchanges in this book was when Minnie tells someone to pretend that Eddie is a Magic 8 Ball: Ask him a question and then interpret his answering “Mrr.” The only thing we don’t understand about Eddie is why he sleeps so late in the morning. He is definitely not a working alarm cat.

But we should probably get to the plot now—not that we wouldn’t happily devote an entire review to Eddie.

Minnie’s sounds like an idyllic existence (houseboat, bookmobile, cat), but life is rarely so rosy for long. She also has a long-distance doctor boyfriend who’s allergic to cats and can’t seem to make time to come up and see her. Plus, she’s got this huge book fair project on her plate, with a big-name author set to be the main draw (I’ll just leave you to imagine all the catastrophes that can happen with that). And then there’s what happens to poor Henry Gill, a great old curmudgeon who nonetheless manages to be generally well liked.

See, what happens to him is, a tree falls on him in the woods. Doesn’t sound suspicious, does it? Sounds like a tragedy, not something that could turn into a big murder mystery. But…it turns out Henry was not alone when that tree fell, and it soon starts to look like someone set up the “accident.” (We’re not sure how effective this method of murder would be in real life, but whatever.)

Was someone after Henry over his land (a developer, perhaps?), or is it possible that Henry wasn’t the intended victim and that an old grudge against someone else is the motive for the crime? If that’s the case, it could be that the killer is poised to strike again.

Naturally, Minnie soon adds a murder investigation to her list of tasks. And that, of course, puts her and Eddie in grave danger. It’s great entertainment for the reader, though, with a final confrontation between Minnie and the murderer that is truly page-turning—and chilling in more ways than one.

Reading Laura Cass’s cozies feels like sharing a bottle of wine with an adventurous friend as she regales you with the story of her latest escapade. If you’re lucky, you might even get to sing a Monty Python song together when you get close to the bottom of the bottle. And let’s not forget the black-and-white cat who sits close by and says “Mrr” once in a while. The characters in these stories seem like old friends—or new mortal enemies, as the case may be—and it’s those characters that breathe life into the plots and subplots and even make a tree seem like a perfectly plausible murder weapon.


Very highly recommended!



Friday, January 15, 2016

Cats in Early Irish Law: Types of Cats

Cats and legal tracts go together like, um… Okay, I can’t even finish that sentence because, you know, cats are not the first thing you think of when you think of laws. But cats do show up in legal codes (think licensing, anti-cruelty measures, and so on), and they have been showing up in the law since at least the tenth century. Cat laws from back then were not quite the same as modern cat laws, though.

© Celticlit
Today we’re taking a look at something called the Catṡlechta, or “Cat-sections.” This tract on cats is part of an Old Irish legal compilation known as Senchas Már. How old, you ask? Well, it seems that the grouping of texts was compiled in the eighth century, “though individual tracts vary by date,” at least according to Wikipedia. Scholars have translated the fragmentary texts of the Catṡlechta that still exist, giving us some idea of how the law dealt with cats a thousand years ago (give or take a century or two).  One interesting thing is that the law recognized several different types of cats, which I conveniently list for you below.

Types of cats in the Catṡlechta

  • Baircne (barcne or bairccni), “a cat which is on a pillow beside women always,” “a ship-warrior…a strong one, it was brought from the ship of Bresal Brecc in which are white-breasted black cats.” (Sitting on a pillow next to a woman and being a strong ship-warrior don’t seem to go together, at least not to us. In any case, Bresal Brecc may have been a historical figure who was known for overseas raids. Maybe.)
  •  Breoinne, “a wonderful flame in its essence, purring in its essence.” Breoinne may have been an onomatopoeic name, as it sort of sounds like a cat’s purr.
  •  Crúibne, “a cat of barn and mill…a warrior…a strong one, strong from its paw.” Haven’t we all known cats like this, “strong from its paw”?
  •  Folum, “a cat who herds…who is kept with the cows in the enclosure.” In other words, a cowherd’s cat.
  •  Glas Nenta, “a cat…which merits a sét [about half an ounce of silver] for its penalty-fine.” The name also has something to do with green nettle (“under the green nettle”; “from the nettle”). Perhaps this was a cat that crept about in the weedy places, on the hunt for its dinner. Or perhaps a cat with a nettlesome personality.
  •  Íach, “a cat…which is paid half penalty-fine, i.e. a cat which is brought, i.e. from mousing.” A mousing cat that is worth half a penalty fine?
  •  Meoinne, “a pantry cat, i.e. a mew in its essence, or a little mew in its essence, i.e. purring in its essence.” This, we think, would be the friendly little cat who keeps vermin out of the people’s food.
  •  Rincne, “a children’s cat, i.e. for the reason that it torments the small children, or the children torment it.” Poor rincne, unless “torment” in some way means “play in such a way that both parties have fun.”  


Is it our imagination, or would some of these terms make great names for cats? Just think of having a Breoinne by your side, “a wonderful flame, purring in its essence…”

Sources

Murray, Kevin. “Catṡlechta and other medieval legal material relating to cats.” Celtica 25 (2007): 143–159.



Credit


For more on cats in early law, see:







Friday, January 8, 2016

The Pet Blogger Bloopers Round-Up



We're pleased today to be joining the first Pet Bloggers Bloopers Round-Up, where bloggers get to show off the results of photo shoots gone wrong (She of Little Talent has a lot of those). This blog hop is hosted by The Lazy Pit Bull and will take place the second Friday of every month this year.

For this month, we're sharing the result of one of She of Little Talent's Great Ideas. Old SoLT planned a whole post about having Paisley help her assemble some Ikea-style furniture over the holidays, but this the only photo she managed to get that had even part of Paisley in it. Old SoLT even totally fell over once while trying to get cat and tools in the same shot. It was hilarious!




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The Story of the Faithful Cat

A cat tale from Old Japan


Some months ago, we brought you the story “The Vampire Cat of Nabéshima” from a book called Tales of Old Japan. Today, we return to that text for another cat story, one of a family feline who faithfully protected a young lady from a horrible fate. WARNING: This is not a cute-and-cuddly type of kitty story! 


A long time ago, there was a cat from Osaka who seemed to have a strange attraction to the daughter of the family that had reared him from when he was a kitten. This cat constantly followed the girl, who was about sixteen years old, so that he was always at her side, day and night. This bothered the girl’s father immensely. He thought that the cat must have fallen in love with the girl and would certainly cast a spell on her. The only remedy for this, the father thought, was to kill the cat.

Now the cat, of course, was no fool. Having overheard the father planning his execution, he went to the man’s bed that night and whispered the truth in his ear.

“I am not in love with your daughter,” the cat said, in a human voice that the man would understand in his sleep. “I am protecting her from a nasty old rat that is in love with her and wishes to carry her off. I cannot leave her even for a moment, or else he would take her. This rat is far too big and powerful for me to defeat on my own, but there is a very famous cat named Buchi who lives with Mr. Thus-and-Such not far from here. You should borrow Buchi, and together he and I will dispatch the old rat.”

The next morning, the father was excited to tell everyone about the extraordinary dream he’d had. That very day, he set off for Mr. Thus-and-Such’s house to ask if he could borrow Buchi the famous cat. Mr. Thus-and-Such readily agreed to loan out his cat for a short while, and so the father returned home toting Buchi.

That night, the two cats were set to watch for the rat. Not long into the night, the household heard a dreadful lot of growling, snarling, and scuffling. They all ran toward the noise, arriving to find the two cats locked in stalemate with the largest rat any of them had ever seen. The cats had caught hold of the rat, but he had caught hold of them, too, so that none of them could move without giving advantage to their adversary. All three combatants panted for breath and waited to regain their strength for another round of battle. Before that could happen, though, the father cut the throat of the rat, thus putting an end to the threat.

Both the cats had been horribly injured in the fight. The family tended to them, cleaning their wounds and giving them the best medicine, but the cats only became weaker and weaker and finally died. The enormous rat was thrown into the river, while the honorable cats were buried in a nearby temple, and the family’s descendants celebrated their faithful cat for generations to come.

The end (though we do wonder what Mr. Thus-and-Such thought about the loss of his famous cat).


This story has been adapted and slightly abridged. You can find the original in Tales of Old Japan at Project Gutenberg. There are also many versions available on Amazon in print and for Kindle.

Stretching cat illustration © Leonidbord | Dreamstime.com - Cat Is Stretching Photo

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Webster the Office Cat Goes to Work

The Real Cats

What's an office without a cat? A bleak and lonely little room, that's what. She of Little Talent insists that an office without a cat is also much more productive and efficient than an office with a cat. But what does she know?

Anyway, we are being visited today by Webster the Real Cat, here to share some tips on how office cats everywhere can organize their workday to avoid becoming overworked and overstressed.


Upon arriving at work in the morning, flop down right in
the middle of the desk. This will please your employer
immensely. If the boss whines about "I can't get to any
of my stuff," just go to sleep.
At some point, you might have to do some actual work. Here,
Webster demonstrates the proper form for helping your
employer research something in a book. Notice his position.
Again, he's placed himself right in the middle of the desk,
giving his employer a chance to stretch to see the book, thus
helping her relieve the physical tedium of deskwork.

Obviously, you'll need a little nap after that bout of exertion.
Here Webster demonstrates perfect napping procedure.
He is lying on the boss's cell phone, the papers she needs to
write  on,  and the pen she needs to write with.
Nicely done, Webster!


Most important, when your shift ends, just leave. You'll earn
bonus points if you can scatter some papers as you jump off
the desk.


For further office-cat tips, see Paisley's Ergonomically Correct Day at the Office.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Gem of a Cat Waiting for a Home



Cats with a Past


Say hello to Luci. She's eight and a half years old,
a little sassy, and a lot playful. Her main hobby is
chasing crumpled paper.
We’re kicking off the new year of Cats with a Past by introducing Luci, a “Hidden Gem” of a cat at the Washington (DC) Humane Society. Luci is so special that she even has her own office at the shelter. Okay, technically it isn’t her office, but she gets to be in it, and isn’t there a saying about possession being nine-tenths of the law? So really it is Luci’s office; the people just may not know it yet.

It’s nice to have your own office, but what a cat really wants is a loving home, and that is exactly what Luci is waiting for. This beautiful girl is eight and a half years old and is just as sassy and playful as our favorite redhead, Lucille Ball. Her favorite toy is a crumpled-up piece of paper, so you know you won’t have to break the bank buying lots of fancy stuff for her. We do love a cat with simple tastes.

And speaking of love, Luci is not one to give her love to just any old schmo who wanders in and says, “Hey.” You will have to earn her love by being a good friend to her, and maybe giving her a nice scratch on the butt. Once you’ve earned her loyalty, though, she’ll be your pal for life.

Luci is a Hidden Gem who gets to spend extra time with volunteers so she’ll be all ready to move into a new home. The staff have gotten to know her really well during her stay at the shelter, and they would love to hear from anyone serious about getting to know Luci. Also, her adoption fee has been waived, though standard adoption procedures still apply.

Luci is at the Washington Humane Society’s Georgia Avenue Adoption Center. Learn more about her here.