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, September 30, 2016

Friendly Fill-Ins and Words with Webster

You are visiting our blog on a very exciting day, one on which we are starting two new things that we hope will be a lot of fun.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins ButtonFirst, we are excited to be joining Friendly Fill-Ins for the very first time. In case you’re not familiar with Friendly Fill-Ins, they are basically fill-in-the-blank questions posed by 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read.

This week, the first two fill-ins, answered by She of Little Talent, are from 15andmeowing, and the second two, answered by Real Cat Paisley, come from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT’s answers:

1. Adopt a senior cat! Or sponsor one. You could help a cat enjoy the best years of his or her life!

2. My favorite magazine is American Philatelist, the magazine about stamp collecting from the American Philatelic Society. Other people I know think this is weird, but I love all the stamp-nerd stuff!

Paisley’s answers:

3. Recently, I went all Halloween cat on the dog and scared her. It was hilarious!

4. Even though my family wishes I would get along with the dog, I, well, just NO.

Words with Webster

Cream and white tabby cat with a dictionary
Next, welcome to the first installment of our newest feature, Words with Webster. Let’s just jump in and go to Webster for the explanation. Webs?

Real Cat Webster: Hey, everybody! You know, most people don’t realize that I’m an armchair cat linguist. My hobby is learning new words about cats. Maybe you remember some of my earlier work, seen in the posts “Back to School Vocabulary Word: Pre-Furred” and “What Does Kitty-Corner Have to Do with Cats?” Well, right now I’m doing a project about finding different words for “cat,” and I’m kicking off Words with Webster with four historical cat words. I got them from the Oxford English Dictionary’s Historical Thesaurus. They’re in order from newest to oldest:
Pop Quiz! Would you call this cat
(a) Mog
(b) Pussums
(c) Moggie
(d) Tigerkin
(e) all of the above
(f) none of the above?
Mog: (1926.) A cat. The thesaurus did not say so, but I think this word is pretty obviously short for “moggie” (see below).
Pussums: (1912.) Term of endearment for a cat.
Moggie: (1911.) If you happen to be British or read a lot of British books, you’ll recognize this word for an ordinary domestic cat.
Tigerkin: (1849.) This word could mean a small tiger, tiger cub, or a cat.
I think “tigerkin” is an especially neat word. “Pussums” is fun too. Just for fun, try working them in to your everyday conversations!

Got an interesting cat word you think Webster should tackle? Let us know!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Did Vikings Have Cats? Of Course!

kitten wearing a toy viking helmet
If you follow cats on social media,
you probably saw lots of cats in
Viking helmets late last week. It's
all because of a new DNA study.
Stock image by Chris Brignell, via Adobe Stock.

In case you are not tuned in to the cat news of the week, I will begin this post by telling you about the recent kerfuffle (or should that be kerFLUFFle in this case?) in the ancient-cat world. If you are plugged in to social media and follow cats at all, recently you may have seen your feed flooded with pictures of cats in Viking helmets. That sudden influx of Viking kitties was due to a cat DNA study that got a lot of attention last week. This study, presented at a symposium on biomolecular archaeology, examined DNA from over 200 felines dating from the Mesolithic period (that’s the middle of the Stone Age, before agriculture) up to the 1700s AD. The researchers found that wild cats of a certain lineage were dispersed from the Middle East to early farming communities in the eastern Mediterranean and, much later, cats from Egypt moved into Eurasia and Africa with a lot of help from farmers and seafarers, including Vikings.

I’d like to tell you a lot more about this particular study, but so far I have not been able to lay my paws on anything more than a very brief Nature news bit describing it. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more. (We did learn more. Read the update here.)

Anyway, one fascinating item in the news bit is the mention of cat remains at a Viking site in northern Germany dated to between the 8th century and 11th century. One geneticist is quoted as saying, “I didn’t even know there were Viking cats.” Obviously this person is not an avid reader of The Cuddlywumps Cat Chronicles. Otherwise, he might recall that we have written about Viking cats before (see The Goddess Freya’s Cats).

Who were these Vikings, and why did they have cats?

The Vikings were Scandinavian raiders, colonists, and traders who had their heyday beginning in the 8th century and ending in the 11th century. According to The Viking Answer Lady, the Vikings had cats both to keep rodents in check and as pets. New brides might receive kittens as gifts. We think the kittens would have been both a practical gift to keep mice out of the house and a symbolic gift recalling Freya, the goddess of domesticity and female sexuality.

What kind of cats did the Vikings have?

Calico Norwegian Forest Cat on black background
This is a Skogkatt, or Norwegian Forest Cat. But was the
cat found at that Viking Age site a Skogkatt? Cuddlywumps Cat
Chronicles readers want to know!
Stock image by Summer, via Adobe Stock.
We’d like to just say, “Norwegian Forest Cats,” because that would be so easy, and it makes sense. Called Skogkatt in Norwegian, these are large, strong cats with well-insulated coats (for more, see What Kind of Cat Would Santa Claus Have?). But we don’t have any information that says that the cat whose remains were discovered at that Viking site in Germany was indeed a Skogkatt

Two questions we would love to know the answers to are

1. Was that cat a Skogkatt? and
2. When did cats first arrive in Scandinavia?

Once again, curiosity leaves us with more questions than answers!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cats of the Week: Bonnie and Cordel

Well, it’s happened again. We went to pick out our Cat of the Week and couldn’t decide on just one, so this week we’re introducing you to two senior kitties who have both had some tough times in their past. Bonnie and Cordel are both currently at the Washington Humane Society’s Oglethorpe Street adoption center in Washington, DC. Let’s help them find loving homes where they can enjoy the best years of their lives!

Bonnie is an 8-year-old lady who is quite petite. It seems that she was someone’s pet in the past, but somehow she ended up on the streets, where she had a tough time. A nice lady fed her and some other cats for a while, but Bonnie just wasn’t happy outside. She really wants to be an indoor pet again. Bonnie would do best in a quiet home. After the tough time she’s had, we’re sure she would not mind a little spoiling from a loving human!

Learn more about Bonnie here.

Our second Cat of the Week is Cordel. He is also 8 years old, and like Bonnie, he has spent time living on his own on the streets. Cordel is a handsome, friendly guy who sports a long coat and a little black beard that we think makes him look very dignified.

Learn more about Cordel here.

Can’t adopt but still want to help? Look into sponsoring an animal in the shelter or in foster care. Other donations also make a big difference in the lives of shelter pets!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d

On this Mysterious Monday, it brings us great pleasure to share with you Alan Bradley’s latest Flavia de Luce novel, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d. The book is beautifully written, even in the creepy bits, and it has a cat.

Who is this Flavia de Luce?

If you’re not up on Flavia de Luce, don’t worry. We had never read any of her previous adventures, and we had no trouble at all finding our way through this book. Here’s the rundown on Flavia: She’s twelve, she’s into chemistry (I mean really into chemistry), and she’s rather good at solving murders. She is the sort of girl who names her bicycle Gladys. She is not the sort of girl to be upset by things that would almost certainly upset your average girl. Things like…oh, I don’t know, finding a dead man hanging upside down on a door.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

The story

It’s nearing Christmas, and Flavia has recently returned to England from Canada and Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy (which I’m sure was every bit as dreadful for her as it sounds). Her father is ill in the hospital with pneumonia—so ill, in fact, that she can’t go and visit him. Needing something to do to fill the time and escape her annoying sisters, she agrees to run a simple errand for the vicar’s wife and walks into the most wonderful thing imaginable: a rather puzzling murder scene. The victim, a wood carver named Mr. Sambridge, is (as I have already mentioned) hanging upside down from a contraption on a bedroom door. Instead of screaming and running away (which is what we imagine most twelve-year-old girls would do), Flavia spends time examining the scene for clues as to who would have installed the old man in this device of torture.

It’s at about that time that a tortoiseshell cat wanders onto the murder scene, apparently unconcerned with the man hanging dead on the door. This cat makes another appearance later in the book. The cat is important, but not a major character—we are telling you this so you won’t be disappointed if you pick this book up expecting there to be cats on every page.

The verdict

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d is beautifully and evocatively written, with sentences that grab hold of you and wrap themselves around you in the most pleasing way. The climactic scene is truly creepy, brought to bold life as it is by Bradley’s writing. When we imagine scenes from this story, we see everything tinged slightly gray, sometimes in a dreary way, sometimes in more of a silvery shimmer that says, “Here, look at this!” We feel as though we’ve found a new friend in Flavia de Luce, and we love seeing her mind at work, the way she connects and connects and connects…and is sometimes wrong. No, this is not the kind of cozy mystery we most often review here, but this is exactly the kind of book that makes us wish we could set aside everything else in life and read.

Very highly recommended!

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!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you buy the book through this link, Miss C and old SoLT may get some change for their piggy bank.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Caturday Art: Webster Gets Framed

Welcome to our entry in Athena's Caturday Art blog hop. This week old SoLT chose a photo of Real Cat Webster resting among his toys (and by the way, resting among them is about all Mr. Lazy Bones ever does with toys). She went for a painting effect, which she achieved by applying an oil paint filter in Photoshop. She placed the result in a fancy frame from GraphicStock, and voila!

Here's the original:

Friday, September 23, 2016

Why the Cat Lived Inside and the Dog Lived Outside

A tale from Ireland, retold with some minor alterations by Miss Cuddlywumps

Stock photo of gray tabby cat lying near a fireplace
The cat had it made, spending her days
warming herself by the fire.
Stock image by wip-studio, via Adobe Stock.

Once there was a cat.  Once there was a dog. The cat lived in a man’s house, where she liked to warm herself by the fire and play with fun little toys the man brought for her. The dog lived outside the house, in all kinds of weather—though he could go huddle in the barn to stay dry, so the cat really didn’t see what the big deal was.

Anyway, the dog wanted to be inside where it was always warm and dry, and on one particularly wet and miserable day, he told the cat, “You think you’re so smart, being in there all the time, but I’m going to ask the man whether I can be inside instead. Then you’ll be out in the barn, and we’ll see who’s smart.”

Stock photo of a dog wearing a yellow rain coat in a muddy field
The dog, meanwhile, had to stay outside. We're
pretty sure he didn't actually have a rain coat,
but we thought this picture was kind of cute.
Stock image by Sabine Schönfeld, via Adobe Stock.
Now, the man overheard this conversation (this being back in the time when humans listened to their fellow earthlings—though why a man who could converse with a dog would then leave the poor dog outside in the cold and wet is beyond me). The man wanted to decide the question of which animal should have the privilege of lying in front of the fire, and he proposed a race: The next morning, the cat and dog would start out five miles from the house, and whichever of them made it home first would be allowed to live inside. (Why they couldn’t both live inside is, again, beyond me. Purrsonally, I’d rather live with a dog than with a man who leaves one of his pets out in all sorts of weather. But I digress.)

Morning came, and the cat and dog started out on their race. As they ran for home (the story is curiously silent on how, exactly, they got five miles from home so they could race back, but again I digress), the dog pulled ahead of the cat, owing to his longer legs. Then, the dog came upon a beggar who, seeing this great shaggy beast bearing down on him, thought he was being attacked. Quite smartly, the beggar raised his walking stick and gave the dog a good whack, whereupon the dog got totally distracted and started barking at the beggar and generally making a big fuss.

Meanwhile, the cat ran right past this rather disgraceful scene and reached home long before the dog. When the dog finally returned to the house, it was to find the cat installed in her usual comfortable place in front of the fire. “Now,” she said to the dog, “we see who is smart, and we see who will rest before the fire forever.”

And there the cat has been ever since.

The end

And in the end, the cat wound up right back in front of the fire.
Stock image by wip-studio, via Adobe Stock.

This story has been adapted from the story "The Cat and the Dog" as it appeared in Frank de Caro (ed.), The Folktale Cat (Little Rock: August House, 1992), 32-33.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review: Angel Catbird

I come to you today with mixed feelings. First, I am excited to be reviewing a new cat-themed graphic novel called Angel Catbird, written by Margaret Atwood, illustrated by Johnnie Christmas, and with colors by Tamra Bonvillain. I can’t wait to tell you about the story and the art. But…

Well, let’s leave the “but” for the moment and get straight to the good stuff.

The story

Angel Catbird is the story of Strig Feleedus, who is just your ordinary genius until—through a combination of tragedy, spilled top-secret serum, and genetic weirdness that could only happen in the comics—he becomes part human, part cat, and part owl. Suddenly he realizes there is a whole secret world of “half-cats.”  Yes, the half-cats are a combination of human and cat; some of them can appear as full humans, and others as full cats. They hang out at a place called Catastrophe.

This would all be well and good, if not for the rats. They’re controlled—and I do mean “controlled”— by one Professor Muriod, who also happens to be Strig’s boss. Muroid has an evil plot to use his rat minions to take over the world. Part of this plan involves destroying all cats and half-cats. Unknown to Strig and his new friends, Muroid also plans to capture our hero’s love interest and torture her until Strig reveals the secret to the serum that will transform the world’s rats into half-rats (and you thought your boss was a rat!). Obviously he must be stopped, and this is what Strig and company resolve to do. In true comic fashion, the end of the book leaves us hanging, waiting for the next episode.

The good

Okay, if you’re not into comic books, Angel Catbird is probably not going to be your thing. But if you are into comics, if you love the combination of words and bold art to tell a story, then give this one a try. We found the story line and art compelling. We wish we could run out today and buy the next book, because we really can’t wait to find out what happens.

Perhaps you haven’t thought about this yet, but Strig’s new existence as part cat and part owl leaves him with a dilemma: Are birds friends or food? And this brings me to the “but.”

But…the dilemma

In the introduction to Angel Catbird, Margaret Atwood reveals that she has read comics avidly since her childhood, and she’s even drawn a few in the past. She’s been a cat person for most of her life, but she’s also involved in bird conservation. Angel Catbird was born out of the tension between the cat and bird worlds, and the book carries a strong conservation message. The gist of this message is that pet cats should not be free-roaming, for both their own safety and for the safety of any birds in the neighborhood.

We honestly cannot argue with that. In her life of having cats, old SoLT has had two indoor-outdoor cats killed by cars, and another returned home one day with a rear leg so badly mangled that it had to be amputated. Today her cats are indoor-only, and that’s the way it’s going to stay.

Old SoLT is also a bird watcher. She loves birds. But the cat lover / bird lover combination (which is more common than you might think) puts her in an uncomfortable position, sort of like Strig’s “Should I save this little bird, or should I eat it?” dilemma. And it makes parts of Angel Catbird…well, let’s say awkward.

See, there are some numbers out there, repeated in this book, that are said to be conservative estimates of how many birds are killed by cats each year. In the United States, the estimate is in the billions. We’re not here to argue about whether these numbers are accurate. We’re not here to argue over the recommendation to keep cats indoors or let them out only in controlled circumstances such as catios and leash walking. The thing that gets under our skin is the unfortunate fact that some people read those numbers as license to kill free-roaming cats as pests. Some want to round these cats up and euthanize them; some are perfectly happy to put arrows through the cats’ heads. Even cats in well-managed colonies that aren’t near any kind of sensitive bird habitat could be targets, and we have a problem with that.

The verdict

I want to be absolutely clear and say that Angel Catbird does not advocate harming cats in any way. The message Atwood gives is one of keeping pet cats indoors for their own health and safety. That’s a message we happen to agree with.

 We enjoyed Strig’s story so much, and we want to read more of it, but can we wholeheartedly recommend Angel Catbird to our cat-loving readership? This is where we get stuck, because there are aspects of this book that many cat people just won’t be comfortable with.

So, we recommend Angel Catbird for its story and its art. But if you are a cat person, and especially if you disagree with the indoor-cat philosophy, be prepared to be challenged.

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!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cat of the Week: Emmy in Westhampton, New York

Each week in this space, we feature a senior cat in need of adoption or sponsorship. Please remember all the great older cats in shelters. They make great companions, and they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! If you can’t adopt but still want to help, look into sponsoring a cat in the shelter or in foster care. It all adds up!

Wouldn't it be great to have a cat relaxing in your
window? Emmy thinks so too!
Photo courtesy of Bideawee.
Today, say hello to Emmy (and yes, we did pick her for Cat of the Week because the Emmys were on this past Sunday). Emmy is a big 10-year-old girl who likes being around people. She needs some time to get used to someone new (and really, who doesn’t?), but after that brief adjustment period, she’ll eat up your love and attention. Emmy would do best in an adult-only home where she can get all the attention. Just look at her--she deserves all the attention!

Emmy is currently at Bideawee’s Westhampton, New York, location. Learn more about her here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Meow Like a Pirate Day 2016! Aaar!

Today's post is inspired by Meow Like a Pirate Day (or Talk Like a Pirate Day, if you happen to be human). Since history is  one of our themes, the Real Cats wanted to try out life as pirates from those days of yore when people said "Aaarr" a lot. We do not know if pirates had cats, or if they did, what those cats might have said. (Meeaarr? Meeaarow? These guesses are nothing more than careless speculation.)

At any rate, for today Real Cat Webster has taken over the body of Edward Teach (c. 1680-1718), otherwise known as Blackbeard, while Real Cat Paisley is experimenting with Anne Bonny's (c. 1698-1782) body. As usual, Webster worries about appearances, and Paisley focuses on what's really important: her stuff. I ask you, who makes the more convincing pirate?

We hope you'll take some time to say "Aaarr!" today for no other reason than having a little fun. Also feel free to use the verb "be" completely inappropriately, as in

"Today be Meow Like a Pirate Day! Aaarr!"

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Caturday Art: Paisley and Webster Go Old-School

Welcome to our entry into Athena's Caturday Art blog hop for this week.  Old SoLT was playing in PicMonkey again, this time adding some old-timey effects to a picture of Real Cats Paisley and Webster:

She started with Fancy Focus to sharpen the focus on Webster in the background. Then she added a Daguerreotype effect, followed by Dark Edges, a Smudge texture to get the sort of grainy papery feel, a Daguerreotype frame, and finally a Museum Matte frame.

Here's the original:

By the way, our winner of last week's Name This Space Thingy Caturday Art Contest was old SoLT's dear friend Carolyn, with her entry "The Hare of the Dog." Special mention goes to Alasandra, the Cats and Dogs, who suggested that the artwork looked like a Tribble. Thanks for playing!

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Revealing Interview with the Cats of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum

Edgar and Pluto pose outside the Poe Museum
Pluto and Edgar, museum cats of the Poe Museum.
Photo courtesy of the Poe Museum.
We are very excited to welcome two distinguished feline guests to the blog today. Edgar and Pluto are joining us from Richmond, Virginia, where they have the great good fortune to be “museum cats” at the Museum of Edgar Allan Poe, otherwise known as the Poe Museum. Let’s get right into the interview!

Miss C: Hi, Edgar and Pluto! Thank you for joining us today. Being museum cats sounds so interesting. Can you tell us how you ended up at the Poe Museum?

Edgar: We were born in the alley behind the Poe Museum. One morning the human who cuts the grass found us under a crate and took us into the office.

Pluto: After they found us, the food providers put us in a box and took us to a mysterious place where other humans poked and prodded us until they said we could return home. Now we get to play in the Poe Museum all the time.

Miss C: I’ve been to that place where you get poked and prodded. It’s always nice to get back home after that kind of experience. So you got to go back to the museum and take up your official duties. Tell us, what exactly are your duties as museum cats?

Pluto: I’m the official greeter and tour guide. The humans rely on me to show them around the museum. They’d be lost without me.

Edgar: I am his supervisor. Pluto may have the looks, but I’m the brains of this operation. He thinks you have to follow humans around to get their attention, but you really just have to get in their way and wait for them to come to you.

Miss C: Fascinating… You have two completely different philosophies for interacting with humans. I’m guessing that means you find some parts of your work more enjoyable than others. What is your favorite part of being a museum cat?

Pluto: I love to meet all the humans and to get my back rubbed.

Edgar: I like finding new places to stretch out for a nice long nap.

Pluto, a black cat, with a book
As the official greeter and tour guide, Pluto has to
"know his Poe," so to speak. Here he is studying for work.
Photo courtesy of the Poe Museum.
Miss C: I’m with you, Edgar. A long nap in a perfect place…Purrrr… But let’s not get distracted right now. Just a couple more questions. As museum cats at the Poe Museum, you must be familiar with Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Do you have a favorite story or poem of his?

Pluto: I like the story with the cat named after me.

Edgar: I like the one about the hero cat who helps the police apprehend the murderous human.

Miss C: Lots of cultured cats dream of living at a museum. Do you have any tips for aspiring museum cats or those who just want to live like museum cats?

Edgar: If you are not lucky enough to have been born at the Poe Museum, you could try finding some other historic site, preferably one that has a nice, warm room in which you can spend the night. Just be sure not to sit on the old furniture. The humans get very uptight about that.

Miss C: I’ll keep that tip about old furniture in mind, Edgar. Humans do get excited about the strangest things, don’t they? Pluto, do you have any tips to share?

Pluto: Humans are very strange. They carry little flat boxes in their hands and point them at you. Just humor them for a moment, and they will get back to petting you.

Pluto and Edgar on a stone bench at the Poe Museum
Edgar and Pluto keep watch over things at the Poe Museum.
Visiting humans can pet them and take their picture, but no
feeding is allowed!
Photo courtesy of the Poe Museum.
Miss C: Yes, humans are so easily distracted by their little toys, but they always come back to the cat eventually, don’t they? Our time is almost up, but is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the museum?

Edgar: The humans will be having a Poe Film Festival on September 22, 23, and 24. In honor of me, they will be showing a movie called “The Black Cat.”

Pluto: Visit me and my brother at the Poe Museum. We’re on a special diet, so you can’t feed us. But you can give us lots of back rubs, and you can help our food providers and poop scoopers take care of us by donating to the museum’s black cat fund.

Miss C: Thanks again to Pluto and Edgar for joining us today. This has been fascinating and insightful look into the life of a museum cat.

If you’d like to visit Pluto and Edgar in person, you can find them at the Poe Museum at 1914–16 East Main Street in Richmond, Virginia. Check here for hours and admission details. You can also find the Poe Museum on Twitter and Facebook.

And when you go, remember to pet the cats, but don’t feed them!

Pluto and Edgar crouched on a brick wall
Always something interesting to watch when you're a museum cat.
Photo courtesy of the Poe Museum.

Want a little more Poe? I wrote this post about "The Black Cat" a couple years ago. It's the excellent Poe story that features a black cat named Pluto.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

App Review: Pet Vet Doctor: CATS Rescue

Pet Vet Doctor: CATS Rescue icon

We had high hopes for this app that promises you will be able to care for virtual sick kitties. Our hopes were somewhat fulfilled, as the game has several good points.

How to play

Screenshot of tabby cat being examined with stethoscope
Using the stethoscope to diagnose a cat.
Here are the basics: You choose a cat to care for. Unless you buy the full version ($7.99) or buy individual cats ($1.99 each), you can choose from a black cat or a seal-point Siamese. Your task is to examine the cat to see what is wrong with her. You have four ways to examine the cat: a glove, a magnifying glass, a stethoscope, and an x-ray machine. You use each of these to check the cat, and when you find the problem, you’ll get a little message saying you’ve diagnosed him with a cut, a broken bone, high blood pressure, or what have you. Then you get to treat the injury with disinfectant and a bandage, or pills, or a cast. Once the cat is taken care of, you give him a little gift and take a picture, which you can share to Facebook, e-mail to someone, or just save to your device.

It's fun, as far as it goes

Now, I’m not going to say that this isn’t enjoyable, because it is. The first few times you do it, it’s fun to examine the cats and learn the different ways to treat them. After those first few times, though, you’ll figure out that you’re seeing the same two cats over and over (yes, the names change, but I know you’re pretty smart, so you will not be fooled by that). Yes, you can get the full, ad-free version for eight smackaroos, but purrsonally I think that is a bit much for a game that seems to offer no challenge beyond treating the same few injuries on the same few cats over and over. The game would be better if there were some way to advance to do gradually more difficult things.

Game screenshot of Siamese cat with red bandage on abdomen
A cat we healed. She had a broken rib.

An app for young aspiring vets

That said, we think Pet Vet Doctor could be a good app for a younger person who wants to be a vet. It’s neat how you hold the stethoscope over the cat’s chest and feel the heartbeat, and putting bandages on is fun. The graphics are good, and we got a kick out of the balloon release for each cat you heal. For a kid who’s going to play this game a lot, the price tag might be reasonable. They might enjoy having access to many more gifts to give the cats and filling up their device with pictures of cats they have healed. Old SoLT herself would have been totally into this when she was 12 or so. But at 40-something, not so much.

Pet Vet Doctor: CATS Rescue is available for iPhoneand iPad.

Mildly recommended.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cat of the Week: Lola in Baltimore

Each week in this space, we feature a senior cat in need of adoption or sponsorship. Please remember all the older cats in shelters. They make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains!

Lola, an orange and white cat
Hey, you need some help with that camera?
Lola is a friendly, 8-year-old lady who is ready to help you out.
She'll also talk your ear off!
Photo courtesy of Baltimore Humane Society.

Lola, an orange and white cat
Lola has beautiful markings, no?
Photo courtesy of Baltimore Humane Society.
This week, we introduce you to Lola, a colorful senior lady currently at the Baltimore Humane Society. Lola is 8 years old, a domestic shorthair kitty with brilliant orange coloring. Are you ready to have a lot of conversations with a cat? Yes? Then Lola could be your gal, because she is a talker. She is really friendly and even enjoys belly rubs. Some of her other favorite things are food, a comfy bed, catnip, and laser pointers. She has lived with another cat before, so she could be a good addition to a multicat home.

Learn more about Lola here.

And if you're in the Baltimore area, be sure to check out Dogfest, coming up on Saturday, September 17! You don't need a dog to attend, and there will be opportunities to meet adoptable animals. Don't miss it!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Book Review: A Spell of Trouble

On this Mysterious Monday, we travel to the happy hamlet of Silver Hollow, New Hampshire, courtesy of A Spell of Trouble, the first book in a new cozy mystery series by Leighann Dobbs and Traci Douglass. There are some cats in Silver Hollow, though not as many as we’d hoped, and there are also some toads and salamanders, and even a Venus flytrap, all of which help make this book a fun ride.

A quiet place that’s different

As you might guess, Silver Hollow is a nice, quiet place. There’s a hairstylist who will give you exactly the right cut. There’s a great little pet store, Enchanted Pets, where you can get a parakeet or goldfish or hedgehog or, if you happen to be a witch, a kitten raised to be a familiar. If you have the cash and the inclination, you can also pick up something called a solstice toad, which reportedly has saliva that can make spells more powerful. If you mean to use any of these creatures for dark purposes though, forget it, because owner Isolde Quinn (“Issy”) won’t sell to you.

Okay, so there are a few things about Silver Hollow that are, um, different. The main thing that’s different is that lots of paranormals (vampires, witches, warlocks, and so on) live there. Issy herself is a witch, as are her many cousins, and there’s a deputy, Dee Dee, who is a very nice werewolf. For the most part, the paranormals live quietly alongside the ordinary humans, trying to keep a low profile so as not to attract the attention of “the committee” (a mysterious body that keeps the paranormals in line) and worst of all, the FBPI (think FBI, only with a special mission to pursue paranormals).

The day Louella Drummond dies

All is more or less well in Silver Hollow…until the day Louella Drummond drops dead outside Issy’s shop, with Issy standing over her, following an argument with Issy. Oh, and an argument with Issy’s cousin Gray, the town’s hairstylist with a magical touch.

You’re getting the feeling this is going to be a problem for Issy? Well yes, it will be…and in more ways than one.

Although the humans might think Louella suffered an unfortunate heart attack, it is apparent to all the paranormals that the woman was killed by means of dark magic. Soon enough two FBPI agents are snooping around. One is a goon out for paranormal blood; the other is a total hunk. Total hunk.

Somehow, Issy and her cousins have to figure out who killed Louella, and why, before that FBPI goon manages to pin it on one of them. This will mean confronting someone who is practicing some powerful dark magic—something Issy has faced before, with terrifying results.

Oh, and that hunky FBPI guy? Yeah, he and Issy are really into each other, though they both try to resist it.

Cats and other familiars

Of course, we picked this book up hoping for cats, because witches and cats go together like chocolate and peanut butter, right? Well, there are some cats—for instance, there’s Brimstone, a dark gray cat who doesn’t really belong to anywitch. We thought of him as more of a freelance cat. He is not a constant in the plot, but he shows up at important points.

For the most part, though, the witches in this book have other familiars—a Pomeranian, a cockatoo, a Venus flytrap. To say this is a disappointment would be wrong. Come on, who doesn’t want to read about a witch with a Venus flytrap for a familiar? If you dip into A Spell of Trouble looking for lots of cats, be warned that you will only find a few, and they won’t be major players.

Still, we think there is plenty in this book to like. We like Issy, for one, because she has that cool pet shop. We like her cousins and that hunky FBPI guy. I’ll mention the Venus flytrap again…just because. We like the tension between the human world and the paranormal world. We like how little bits of magic are just a normal part of life in Silver Hollow (unless you’re human and don’t know that magic exists).

I have to hold one paw back because of the relative lack of cats, but A Spell of Trouble is a very enjoyable read despite that. Recommended!

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!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Caturday Art Contest: Name This Thingy

Today we are pleased to be joining Athena's Caturday Art blog hop once again. This week we add our own twist, in which we ask you to help us name the thingy She of Little Talent created. We're calling it a "contest," but there is no prize to win. Trust me, I understand if you prefer not to get involved in this weird endeavor, but old SoLT is so hoping that at least one reader will respond with a name for this creature:

Old SoLT has come up with nothing more promising than Psychedelic Space Thingy. Obviously, she needs a little help here. If you have any ideas, please add them in the comments section.

In case you're wondering, yes, this is cat art. Old SoLT started with a picture of Real Cat Webster and went into PicMonkey, where she applied a Mirror effect, rotated the result, applied a Frost effect (in blue), followed by a Space texture, and finally a frame. Here's the original photo:

Please, someone take PicMonkey away from her before more nice photos get hurt!

This is a blog hop! Hop on over to Athena's site for more arty kitties!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Pet Blogger Bloopers Roundup: September

We have been having a lot of fun this year sharing She of Little Talent's awful photos on the Pet Blogger Bloopers Roundup, a blog hop hosted the second Friday of every month by The Lazy Pit Bull. (Finally, a pet blogging event celebrating pure ineptitude--old SoLT has been waiting her whole life for this!)

This month's blooper stars Real Cat Paisley. Old SoLT caught Paisley taking a bath a few nights ago, and she (Paisley, not old SoLT) had left one of her back paws sticking straight up in the cutest way--like, in a way that would look fabulous in a blog post or on Instagram. After a subdued scramble for the smartphone (subdued so as not to disturb the cute bathing kitty), this was the resulting photo:

At least you can almost sort of tell that the big blurry thing on the right is a cat!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Baltimore Humane Society’s Dogfest is September 17, 2016!

Layla the Resident Dog
Resident Dog Layla takes
over the blog, just for
one day.
Well, friends, it’s come to this. I have been convinced to turn The Cuddlywumps Cat Chronicles over to…GASP…COUGH…BLECH…a dog. So, just for today, please give a warm welcome to Resident Dog Layla. Take it away, Layla. (But please don’t take it too far.)

Layla’s announcement

Thanks, Miss C! Gosh, this is really exciting. I’m here to announce a totally cool tail-wagging event coming up next Saturday, September 17. It’s the Baltimore Humane Society’s Dogfest Walk & Festival, a dog day extravaganza for pets, kids, pet owners, and pet lovers that benefits animals in need of care and refuge at the 365-acre no-kill shelter.  This Family Fun day takes place on the grounds of Baltimore Humane Society at 1601 Nicodemus Road in Reisterstown, Maryland. 

Dogfest banner

Woman with dog on agility course
Agility looks like a blast!
Photo courtesy Baltimore Humane Society.

It's going to be fun, pawesome, and amazing!

You won’t believe how much fun stuff they’re going to have: a walk (I love walks!), games, contests, swimming for your dog, demonstrations, and lots of food (I love food too)! Plus, you can meet adoptable dogs, cats, and rescue groups (I came from a rescue group!).

There’s stuff just for kids too: crafts, face-paint, Moonbounce, and all new Brick Bodies Obstacle Fitness course and Marshy Point Nature Center Animal Program.  And your dog can bowl a game of 10 pins, play hide ‘n’ seek, create you a paw painting, run agility courses, and much, much more! 

A dog gets some help in the swimming pool
Your dog can take a dip in the pool! Splash!
Photo courtesy Baltimore Humane Society.
You can also watch some really cool agility demonstrations! The Department of Public Safety & Corrections Services K-9 Unit CDS Detection Dogs are always a big hit.  See if your dog qualifies for the AKC Canine Good Citizenship Award, or enter your furry friend in a contest to be judged by local celebrities, like Best Kiss, Best Costume, Best Trick, and Best Dancer.  Kids and dogs can also run through the Bubble Chase, which sounds like so much fun!

woman and dog in look alike contest
They say people and their
dogs start to look alike,
but I've never seen it go
this far before!
Photo courtesy Baltimore Humane Society.
Don’t forget to visit the many dog rescue groups and unique vendors.  They expect thousands of attendees, so don't miss it! Beat the lines and get a discount when you buy your tickets online at http://dogfest.org$10 per person & kids under 12 free! Tickets at the door will be $15.  Kids 6-12 will be $10. Kids age 5 and under and dogs ALWAYS FREE!

Fun, Fun, Fun!  Don’t miss it!  Woof!

Here’s the details:

Date: Saturday, September 17th
Place:  Baltimore Humane Society
Address:  1601 Nicodemus Road, Reisterstown, MD  21136
Time:  10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Walkathon: 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. with rolling start times
Admission: $10 & Kids under 12 free when purchased online; $15 at the door & $10/kids 6-12; Kids age 5 and Under and Dogs ALWAYS FREE
Free Parking, Rain or Shine
For tickets, walk registration, and more:  http://dogfest.org

Girl hugging dog
Photo courtesy
Baltimore Humane Society.

To really get a taste of Dogfest, head on over to Facebook to see lots of great pictures from years past, and check out this totally pawesome video:

About the Baltimore Humane Society

The Baltimore Humane Society, founded in 1927 by Mrs. Elsie Seeger Barton, is an independent, non-profit, no-kill animal shelter, which offers low-cost veterinary care to the public, and a pet cemetery with grief support services. We receive no operational funding from the local or federal governments, or any national animal welfare organizations.  For more information about BHS, and how you can contribute, volunteer, adopt, or foster, please visit www.bmorehumane.org.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Cats of the Week: Theodore and Faraday

Each week in this space, we feature a senior cat in need of adoption or sponsorship. Please remember all the great older cats in shelters. They make great companions, and they (probably) won’t climb the curtains!
string of photos of Theodore and Faraday
Theodore and foster brother Faraday are both very sweet kitties in need of special homes.
Theodore enjoys cuddling, and Faraday enjoys getting drinks out of the bathtub.
Photo courtesy Laura Fortner. Polaroid string background from GraphicStock.
This week is extra-special because we have two great cats to share with you. One of them, Theodore, you may remember from when we featured him in June. We have a pretty big soft spot for Theodore and we’d love for him to find a forever home, so we’re featuring him again, only this time he’s accompanied by his new foster brother, Faraday. They’re both in foster care through the Washington Humane Society.

Meet Teddy

Teddy, a gray and white cat
Theodore ("Teddy") is a very sweet boy who just
needs some special care from a special person.
Photo courtesy Laura Fortner.
The boys’ foster mom says that Theodore, or “Teddy,” ended up in the shelter in April 2015 after his person passed away. She started fostering him soon after that, and a few weeks later they learned that he had stage 2 chronic renal failure. Poor Teddy! He got some fluid, medication, and special food to get him feeling better. He continues to need some special care, getting twice-daily injections of fluid, and he eats special wet and dry food for his kidneys. (Trust me when I say that giving fluids is not as big a deal as you might think. She of Little Talent used to give fluids to her Darya, and if she can do it, anyone can.) Teddy’s foster mom says that he is very tolerant of getting the injections, which makes it really easy.

Ten-year-old Theodore is a talker, greeting his foster mom in the evening to tell her all about his day—and to remind her to feed him. He loves—LOVES—to cuddle. He sleeps curled up in his foster mom’s arm (can I get an “Aww”?), and he also likes to curl up in a convenient lap. If he’s not with his person, he’s probably in one of his other two favorite places: the bathtub or his nest bed under a chair. Teddy is definitely a cave kitty, not so much a tree kitty. Sometimes he goes for short trips into the backyard (supervised, of course) to warm up on the concrete. After that, he’s pretty much ready for a nap.

Learn more about Theodore here.

 And then there’s Faraday

Faraday, a black and white cat
Faraday likes his alone time, but he's happy to see
his  foster mom when she comes home.
Photo courtesy Laura Fortner.
Faraday, 8 years old, is a totally different kitty. He came to the shelter from the streets, and shelter staff think he had been a stray his whole life. He was all covered in mats when he first came, and he does not enjoy being held. Their foster mom says he’ll give a little growl when he’s ready to be left alone. Faraday is a scared little guy who may have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). He got treated with pills for a couple of weeks and is on special wet and dry food.

While Faraday has some challenges, his foster mom says he is worth being patient for. When she comes home, Faraday is quite happy to see her, rubbing on her and waiting for pets and kisses. He has also started jumping on the bed with her, and he enjoys how she talks to him and rubs his little head every time she passes him.

Just like his foster brother, Faraday enjoys water from the bathtub. But, while Teddy wants some water on a plate, Faraday enjoys the running water. He always gets his chest and front paws wet. Adorable, right?

Learn more about Faraday here.

Can’t adopt? You can still help!

Teddy and Faraday in the bathtub
The boys enjoy their tub time!
Photo courtesy Laura Fortner.
Even if you can’t adopt them, you can help these special boys (and lots of other cats) through sponsorship. Both Teddy and Faraday are medical fosters, so the shelter pays for their medical needs (including the prescription diet), and the foster mom covers the rest. Your sponsorship makes a big difference in the shelter’s ability to provide quality care for all the animals. You can also give more general donations of money and/or food, toys, and accessories to help the foster and shelter animals. And of course you can always jump in and become a foster parent to a great cat (or other pet)!

If you’re not in the Washington, DC, area, we encourage you to contact a shelter near you to find out what you can do to help homeless pets in your neighborhood.

Know an adoptable senior cat who needs some extra attention? Let us know!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Book Review: Till Death Do Us Tart

On this Mysterious Monday, we are taking a quick look at a delightful cat cozy in the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series by H. Y. Hanna. Till Death Do Us Tart is the fourth book in the series, but it’s the first one we’ve had a chance to read. As you might have guessed, this series is set in Oxford (the one in England), and there are tasty pastries involved. That’s because the main human character, Gemma Rose, owns a place called the Little Stables Tearoom. She also has a tabby cat named Muesli, and she (Gemma, not Muesli) has a penchant for getting involved in murder investigations.

The story

Till Death Do Us Tart has Gemma’s mother entering Muesli in the Cotswolds Cat Fancy Club Show at the Meadowford village fair. Things go weird when a rather odd woman accuses Gemma of trying to poison her cats. Then this odd woman also accuses the rude and snooty Dame Clare Eccleston of trying to poison the prized cats, whereafter Dame Clare Eccleston drops dead. Heart attack, as the doctor quickly proclaims, or…murder?

Gemma’s mother and her band of friends involve themselves in trying to solve the murder, and of course Gemma gets drawn in too, despite the protests of her detective boyfriend, Devlin. Will they be able to convince anyone in authority that a crime was actually committed, or will they just spook the culprit into killing again?

The verdict

We found this to be a totally enjoyable and very funny read. With the odd murder and touch of humor in an Oxford setting, this book is sort of like Midsomer Murders meets Inspector Lewis, only with tea and cats. (That sentence will only make sense to you if you are addicted to British mysteries on PBS, which if you aren’t, what on earth is wrong with you?) We add the Oxford Tearoom mysteries to the series we want to read from the start and give Till Death Do Us Part a very enthusiastic Two Paws Up.

Highly recommended!

(Note: The ad below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, we get paid a little tiny bit!)