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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cat of the Week: Muggy 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! Adopt a senior cat, and help him or her enjoy the best years of their life.

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Humane Society.
Frame stock image from Adobe Stock. Ornaments stock image from GraphicStock.
Please meet Muggy, a 9-year-old male who has such a handsome orange and white tabby coat. But this cat has got a lot more going for him than just good looks. We understand he’s also got brains, and he can hold his own in a conversation. Plus, he’s quite playful and enjoys string toys and the little red dot. This guy enjoys human company, but he’s not a lap-cat kind of guy. If you’re looking for a cat you can play with and have an intelligent conversation with, Muggy might just be your guy.

Muggy is currently in Baltimore Humane’s cat room. Learn more about him here.


Can’t adopt? You can still help! Check out Sammy’s Cat Necessities Fund, which provides money for everyday and medical needs of cats at the Baltimore Humane Society. You can also make a general donation or sponsor a particular animal on this page. Every little bit helps!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat

Book cover, Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat
I cannot begin to tell you how excited we are to tell you about this new book by L. A. Vocelle of The Great Cat. We have been longing for a book just exactly like Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, but nothing we’ve seen quite fits the bill. In fact, we were starting to think that we would have to spend years researching and writing to create a book just like this, but fortunately, Vocelle has done the hard work, and now we can all benefit from it.

Cats, from prehistory to the present

Revered and Reviled starts way back in time, with the ancestors of the first true cats. But don’t worry—you won’t have to read page after page of things that happened millions of years ago. The rise of the cat family is dealt with in just a couple of pages, and then it’s straight in to domestic cats, their characteristics and history. The chapter on cats in ancient Egypt is one of the best summations we have read on this subject—detailed but succinct, and we think most importantly, easily understandable. Egyptian culture is…well, let’s just call it complex. It’s easy to get confused about which god or goddess did what where when, but Vocelle manages to keep it straight for us.

Next, it’s on to one of old SoLT’s favorite topics, the early Aegean and Mediterranean. Most importantly from our point of view, we have been trying for months to find information on cats and the Phoenicians, and Vocelle delivers some—not a lot, but we suppose that is an indication of how little information there is. From there the book moves on to cats in Greece and Rome, and then into the Dark Ages and beyond. Along the way, the text describes how cats were depicted in works of art, and we learn how changes in religion affected how cats were viewed. We especially enjoyed the section on cats in Islam, a subject we knew very little about. Other interesting and informative sections cover cats in India, China, and Japan.

I won’t touch on every subject or time period Vocelle covers, so let’s skip a few centuries and move on to the 20th century. Did you know that someone attempted to take a cat on an airship crossing of the Atlantic in 1910? (The word “attempted” is a key part of that sentence.) Or that a street cat became the first cat sent into space in 1963? Just some of the little tidbits you’ll take away.

Cat illustrations and so much more

If you’re familiar at all with The Great Cat, you won’t be surprised to learn that Revered and Reviled is richly illustrated. Cats have appeared in art from ancient times through to the Internet age, and through this book, you’ll learn at least a little bit about each period. Yes, you’ll even learn about cats in movies, music, literature…

The illustrations and quotes are terrific, but there is far more of value in this book. I am talking here of the supplemental information: a timeline covering cats in history from 20 million years ago to the opening of the first cat café (in 1998), a list of Theban tombs with cats (so useful!), a list of cat cemeteries in Egpyt, and a reference list (again, so useful!).

Our verdict

Except for some small subset of you, Revered and Reviled is probably not a book that you will sit down and read from cover to cover. Yes, it’s well written, and yes, it’s fascinating, but there’s a lot here to digest. Unless you’re a serious history buff, it can look overwhelming. I’d recommend that you start by dipping in and taking a look at the chapters or sections that most interest you. Do that, and I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be turning the page to find out “What about this…?” and you’ll be staying up way past your bedtime (at least that is what happened to us).

As I said at the start, this is exactly the book we have been dreaming of. It will have a treasured space on our cat-history bookshelf for years to come, and you can bet that it will be well used.


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!

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!

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!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Selfies: Just Another Hot Saturday Night

Today we are pleased to be joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by our friends at The Cat on My Head. If you follow us on social media (and if you don't, what is wrong with you?), you may have seen this selfie before, but since it pretty much sums up life with old SoLT and the Real Cats, we thought it was worth sharing again. Here's old SoLT, at prime time on a Saturday night, on the floor taking selfies with the cat:


Exciting times!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Caturday Art

Can you believe it's already time for Caturday Art again? We have been having so much fun doing art for Athena's Caturday Art blog hop, and here is our entry for this week:


This image of Real Cat Paisley was created through the magic of LunaPic, using the Dreaming filter (I think. Someone whose name is mentioned in the next sentence did not take notes and...well, let's just say her memory ain't what it used to be.) Old SoLT also added a beveled edge. We think Paisley's colors are pretty neat in this one. She looks like she has stripes!

Here's the original photo:



Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

From Miss C, the Real Cats, and of course old SoLT, we wish you all a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. May your belly be full, your heart be light, and your tail (if you have one) be swishy!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cats of the Week: Giselle in Washington, DC

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! Adopt a senior cat, and help him or her enjoy the best years of their life.

Giselle, a calico cat in need of adoption at Humane Rescue Alliance

Today we introduce you to the lovely Giselle, who we’re sure would be so thankful for a forever home. As you can see, Giselle has beautiful coloring (not that I’m biased in favor of calicos or anything!). She is about 10 years old, and she was found on the streets of Washington, DC. She may have had it kind of rough as a homeless street cat, and she needed some special care from the kind staff at the Humane Rescue Alliance. But now she’s all set for a new home. Maybe you’ve got a nice, warm spot in your home where a cat can curl up and be safe and content and know that she is loved? Yes? Then check out Giselle!
Giselle, a calico cat in need of adoption at Humane Rescue Alliance
Meet Giselle! OMC, that face! Meet her in person
at the Humane Rescue Alliance

Giselle is currently at the Humane Rescue Alliance’s Oglethorpe Street adoption center. Stop by and meet her, or learn more about her here.

Can’t adopt but still want to help? Learn how you can sponsor an animal at the Humane Rescue Alliance, or check out this page to learn other ways to donate.

Do you know an adoptable senior cat who’d make a great Cat of the Week? Let us know!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: Cat Got Your Diamonds

Today on Mysterious Monday, we are pleased to bring you Cat Got Your Diamonds, the first book in Julie Chase’s Kitty Couture mystery series. This is a fun read and a promising start to the series, which is set in New Orleans.

Jewelry heists, murder…and leg warmers for llamas

We have never been to New Orleans, but we imagine it to be the sort of place where a pet couture shop would not be out of place. Where such a shop might be in demand, even. In any event, we catch up with Lacy Crocker in her Garden District pet boutique, Furry Godmother, in the midst of a bit of a crime spree. There’ve been two jewelry heists in a week, and the area is a bit on edge. Plus, Lacy has some demanding customers who are counting on her to create just the right thing for their animal companions—I don’t think it would do to call them “pets”—for an upcoming festival. We’re talking about little outfits for Shih Tzus and leg warmers for llamas—you know the sort of thing. She’s just trying to get her shop off the ground, so the business is welcome.

But the local tension ticks up a notch when Lacy is confronted by an intruder in her store. In desperation and in fear for her life, she aims gold glitter spray paint into his face (one must use whatever weapon is at hand in these situations) and gets away. The intruder, though, ends up dead. Now the police are looking not just for a jewel thief but also for a murderer, and they seem to think that Lacy could be the killer. There’s this guy, Detective Jack Oliver, who is just so annoying…and so good-looking…and he likes cats…and Lacy is so lonely…

But this detective seems to be just another of Lacy’s problems as she has to clear her name and save her shop (investors get so skittish about little things like murder) while also trying to get her tabby cat, Penelope, back from her creep of an ex-fiancĂ© and while making all those costumes for various animals.

The cats

Now to the really important stuff… Yes, there are some cats in this book. We hear about Penelope the tabby and keep our fingers crossed that Lacy’s fink of an ex will do the right thing for once and send her, safe and sound, to Lacy. There’s Voodoo, the family’s black cat, and there’s Jack Oliver’s cat, Jezebel. As long as we’re listing animals, I will mention the goldfish (Buttercup) Lacy buys to cure her loneliness (spoiler: it doesn’t work).

The animals aren’t major characters in the book, but we did enjoy their presence. And what with Lacy running a pet boutique, you know that there will be plenty of animals to meet in future installments in this series.

Our verdict

We found Cat Got Your Diamonds to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is funny in places, it has just the right amount of quirkiness, and the descriptions of New Orleans are evocative and sensual—meaning we could almost feel the humidity of a New Orleans afternoon. The only thing we will say about the gripping climactic scene is that we will never think of the song “On the Good Ship Lollipop” the same way again. (I lied a little bit. I will say one more thing, and that is that the scene reminded old SoLT of the time she got stuck on the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World, with the song on a loop that for some reason, the ride operators would not stop. She thought that was torture, but it was nothing like what Lacy goes through. And that’s all I’m going to say on it.)

If you're looking for a good, fun mystery with animals and some complexity but not so much it makes your head spin, give Cat Got Your Diamonds a try.


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!

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!

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!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Caturday Art: Mosaic Paisley

Welcome to our entry into Athena's Caturday Art blog hop. This week, old SoLT used a photo of Real Cat Paisley. She used Photoshop to do some adjustments to the exposure and contrast, and then she applied a mosaic filter and played around with the cell size to get an effect she liked. Next, she went to Selective Color and adjusted the sliders to make the candle (not a real candle, by the way!) look warmer and to add some fall color to the trees.



Picture of cat looking out a window, with mosaic effect

Here's the original photo:

Photo of Real Cat Paisley looking out the window


Friday, November 18, 2016

Words with Webster and Friendly Fill-Ins for November 18

Words with Webster

Real Cat Webster with word histories bookHi, all! It’s Webster, here to welcome you to this edition of Words with Webster. Today I’d like to thank our friend Suz for sharing a link with us that helped us find a whole bunch of cat words—in Irish. I’ll share just a few of them here, but you can check them all out at the Irish Language Blog. The pronunciation is…tricky, but the words look really neat.

First, and I guess most important, the Irish word for cat is…cat. But you don’t say it like you’re used to. It’s kaht. I think you can remember this with this rhyme:

The big Irish cat
Had quite a nice yacht.
What's this cat riabhach
saying? I have no idea.

Stock image by VJ, via Adobe Stock.

Easy peasy, right?

Next, if you want to ask, “Did you feed the cats?” you need to use na cait to mean “the cats.” You pronounce it nuh kwitch. I don’t know a rhyme to make that easier.

Continuing on a food theme, suppose you wanted to say “the food of the cats.” Well, that would be bia na gcat. Again, I don’t have a rhyme.

If you wanted to refer to a tabby cat, you’d say cat riabhach (kaht REE-uh-vukh) or cat breac. Rhyme? Forget about it!

And finally, to say “mancat,” use fearchat or cat fireann, neither of which is pronounced like it’s spelled. I can’t even begin to help you there.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins graphic
And now to Friendly Fill-Ins. from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by old SoLT, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered this week by Real Cat Paisley, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

 Old SoLT’s answers
1. One Thanksgiving tradition I have is … hmm … we’ve never had any specific traditions.

2. Black Friday is something I’ve never gotten into. A couple of times (as in literally twice) I’ve rolled out of bed at the crack of 3:30 a.m. to shop on Black Friday, but frankly I’d rather sleep than shop. Also, it seems like that Friday is not as much fun now that so many stores open on Thanksgiving Day (what’s up with that, anyway??). Now, if a really great bookstore was going to open at some crazy hour on Black Friday, I might be standing in line!

Real Cat Paisley’s answers
3. The best part about Thanksgiving Day is I usually get a little taste of turkey, even though everyone says I shouldn’t have any .


4. One Thanksgiving… Well, really, every Thanksgiving is pretty much like all the ones before it, but that is okay because my people are home all day and there’s that turkey I mentioned above.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Turkish Van: An Ancient and Storied Cat Breed

Photo of a Turkish Van cat.
A Turkish Van. They are strong, active cats with a distinctive
color pattern, and they like to swim.
Photo: Zara-arush at Armenian Wikipedia (Transferred from
hy.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

 Some breeds of cats have been around longer than others, and the breed commonly known as the Turkish Van is one of the world’s oldest. The Turkish Van is, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, an ancient breed that has its origins in central and southwest Asia—think Iran, Iraq, and eastern Turkey. Specifically, these cats are thought to have roots in the Lake Van region of Turkey. When you consider that Lake Van is the largest lake in Turkey, perhaps it’s not so surprising that these cats love water.

What is a Turkish Van?

Turkish Vans are cats with a semi-long coat in a specific pattern. They are mostly white, often with coloring only on the head and tail. Some have a mark of color between their shoulder blades as well. The tail has a ringed pattern, which explains a name once given to these cats—white ringtails (they’ve also been called Russian longhairs). The classic coloring one thinks of is white with reddish tail and head markings, but Turkish Vans can also have cream, black, or blue as their secondary color, and yes, they can display tabby or tortoiseshell markings as well.

Lake Van, Turkey, as seen from space
Lake Van, as seen from the Space Shuttle Challenger
in 1984. The area looks rugged, and it produced a
strong, active breed of cat.
Photo by NASA, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The coat is soft and water resistant, with no undercoat. Some cats will have a thin, shorter summer coat that transforms to a plush, longer coat in winter.

Turkish Vans are known for being active and intelligent. They are strong cats who love to run, and, as we mentioned above, they also like water and will go swimming—on purpose. The CFA describes them as having a “swimmer’s body,” likely to help them catch food in the shallow streams of their area of origin.

And now for the ancient part…

First, a bit of folklore… Legend has it that the Turkish Vans got their color pattern when God blessed them as they left Noah’s Ark. The “thumbprint” some of the cats display between their shoulder blades marks where God touched them as they went by him.

Representations of cats that could be Turkish Vans have shown up in the archaeological record. For example:
  • From ca. 5000 BC, near Hacilar, Turkey, figurines of women with cats have been found (or possibly not cats; there is apparently some dispute over this).
  • From ca. 1600–1200 BC, some Hittite jewelry featured cats with ringed tails.
  • From ca. AD 75, in Armenia, a battle standard from the time of Roman occupation depicts a cat with a ringed tail.

As the story goes, the Turkish Van was first brought to Europe by returning crusaders (ca. 1095–1272). If this is true, it seems that the breed died out in Europe until some 500 years later.

The modern Turkish Van

Armenian postage stamp (1999) showing a Turkish Van cat.
An Armenian postage stamp (1999) showing a
Turkish Van.
From a drawing by Albert Ketchyan,
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
In more modern times, the Turkish Van returned to Europe in the 1950s, thanks to a couple of British photographers. In 1955, Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday were on assignment from the Turkish government: travel the country and create photographs to entice tourists. In their travels, they ended up with two cats who rode around the country with them and even went swimming with them. These two cats (who were unrelated to one another, by the way) were taken to England, where they produced kittens, thus establishing the start of the Turkish Van breed in Europe.

The breed got full pedigree status in England in 1969 and was first taken to America in the 1970s. Today, they remain rare.

Sources

“Folklore and History.” Turkish Van Cat Club website. http://www.turkishvancatclub.co.uk/folklore.html.

Marcus, Diane. “The Turkish Van.” Cat Fanciers’ Association. http://cfa.org/Breeds/BreedsSthruT/TurkishVan/TVArticle.aspx.

Pickeral, Tamsin. The Elegance of the Cat: An Illustrated History. Hauppage, NY: Barron’s, 2013.

 “7 Facts about Turkish Van Cats.” Mental Floss. http://mentalfloss.com/article/83400/7-facts-about-turkish-van-cats.


“Turkish Van.” Cat Fanciers’ Association. http://cfa.org/breeds/breedssthrut/turkishvan.aspx.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cat of the Week: Patchwork 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! Adopt a senior cat, and help him or her enjoy the best years of their life.

Meet Patchwork! Yes, she's got a pretty face, but she's got a lot
more going for her. Check her out at the Baltimore Humane Society.
Photo courtesy of Baltimore Humane Society.
Colorful cats frame via Graphic Stock.
Today, we’re pleased to introduce Patchwork, a very social black-and-white tuxedo kitty who, so they tell us, can talk your ear off! Patchwork is a 7-year-old female who arrived at the Baltimore Humane Society because things didn’t quite work out between her and her former feline housemate. She has also lived with kids before. Patchwork loves attention and getting her head rubbed, and she’s not shy about telling you that you need to do it some more!

And just look at that cute face! Seriously, could a cat be any better-looking? Cute white blaze between the eyes? Check! Tiny white mustache? Check! Adorable white whiskers (or vibrissae, for those who've been paying attention)? Check and double-check!

Patchwork is currently in Baltimore Humane’s cat adoption ward. Learn more about her here.


Can’t adopt? You can still help! Check out Sammy’s Cat Necessities Fund, which provides money for everyday and medical needs of cats at the Baltimore Humane Society. You can also make a general donation or sponsor a particular animal on this page. Every little bit helps!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cat Classics on Film: Cat People (1942)

This post contains spoilers!

For today’s Cat Classics on Film, we are pleased to bring you the 1942 film Cat People, produced by Val Lewton and directed by Jacques Tourneur. This is basically the story of a tortured woman and the man who is unfortunate enough to fall in love with her. We think it’s pretty terrific.

A woman with a strange, evil past

We first meet Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon) at the zoo, where she is hanging out sketching a black panther. Within the movie’s first moments, Irena has met good-guy Oliver Reed (Kent Smith), who promptly begins to fall in love with her. Irena has a dark secret though—one that keeps her from getting too close to Oliver.

Let’s just say Irena is the kind of woman who enjoys hearing the roars of lions and the screaming sound of the panther from the zoo near her apartment. She is the kind of woman who causes kittens to freak out and can send a pet store into pandemonium just by walking in the door. What’s up with her?

Well, she comes from a Serbian village where the people were thought to be evil witches able to transform themselves into large cats. Irena believes strongly in these “cat people,” so much so that she thinks if she even kisses any man, she herself will change into a cat and tear him apart. This fear creates some tension after Oliver and Irena marry. He promises to allow her as much time as she needs to come to terms with this folk tale, but it isn’t long before he begins to worry about her mental health and finds her a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Judd (Tom Conway) also takes the story of the cat people as just a folk tale. Irena lies to Oliver, telling him she is still seeing Dr. Judd when really she has given up, thinking he can’t possibly help her.

Jealousy brings out the beast

Enter the other woman. Actually, this other woman, Alice (Jane Randolph), has been there all along. She is Oliver’s pal at work but is secretly in love with him. Things take a turn when she lets the lid off that secret, even though Oliver at first insists that he loves Irena and will stick things out with her. But as Irena gets crazier and crazier, you have to wonder how long he’s going to last.

This brings us to our favorite scene in the film, when Alice is getting ready to go for a swim in her building’s pool when she hears a panther coming after her. The cat is never actually seen, but it nevertheless frightens her into jumping into the center of the pool and treading water while she’s surrounded by strange noises and shadows that may or may not mean the cat will soon be upon her. It’s an excellent use of the terror of what you can’t see (think Jaws, only with a panther).


Our verdict

If you like dark movies that can be viewed on more than one level, Cat People could be just the thing for you. This film can be viewed as a simple story of a woman haunted by her dark, evil past. Will she kill the man who loves her, or won’t she? Will Alice be a victim of Irena’s animalistic jealousy? But if you like to go deeper (and we do), you can ponder the ancient theme of cats being associated with female sexuality, which apparently is so dangerous it is deadly.

Cat People is a classic horror film, but it is more than that. It is also an entry in the long tradition of stories of people (usually women) who turn into cats (see "The Cyprian Cat," by Dorothy Sayers, for example), and that makes it a great cat classic. We give it an enthusiastic two paws up!


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!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Caturday Art: Tie-Dye Webster

Welcome to our entry into Athena's Caturday Art blog hop. Old SoLT has been having enormous fun with this picture of Real Cat Webster. This week, she tried out Luna Pic, adding a colorful tie dye effect and a blurred edge.




Here's the original photo:

If it looks familiar to you... first, thank you for paying attention, and second, that's because old SoLT as used it before, here and here.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Pet Blogger Bloopers Roundup and Friendly Fill-Ins for November 11

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 we decided to try something a little different and share this video of Real Cat Webster on old SoLT's desk. Old SoLT thought it would be "neat" (yes, that is the word she used) to take video of Webs on the sit/stand desk while she lowered it from a standing to a sitting height. It didn't go as badly as you might think, except Webster got an itchy ear in the middle of the procedure.

Enjoy.

video

Friendly Fill-Ins

And now to Friendly Fill-Ins. from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by old SoLT, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered this week by Real Cat Webster, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT’s answers: 
1. Writing and grammar should be taught in schools. I guess they already are taught, but there seems to be room for improvement. As an editor, I encounter too many people who are college educated but can barely put a sentence together. It saddens me.
2. The last item I donated was money, to the Humane Society. Can’t think of any actual “items” I’ve donated recently.

Real Cat Webster’s answers:

3. My (personal) song is “Roar,” by Katy Perry, because I don’t really know any songs, and this is what Mommy said I should write, ’cause of me being a little tiger and all.

4. Three things I am thankful for this week are: my loving family, my really neato cat tree, and that the dog is finally starting to be friends with me (sort of).

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Book Review: A Pair of Books on New York Cats

We have been pleased to have a pair of excellent books about cats in New York City cross our desk recently. New York is one of the world’s great cities, so you would expect it to have great cats. If the felines in Matilda the Algonquin Cat and Shop Cats of New York are any indication, New York cats are great indeed!

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase a book through these links, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!

We were not compensated for these reviews.

Matilda, the Algonquin Cat


If you have heard anything about famous felines of New York, you have surely heard of Matilda, the current cat-in-residence at the legendary Algonquin Hotel. In this picture book by Leslie Martini, illustrated by Massimo Mongiardo, we learn on the very first page that Matilda is the center of…well, the world, basically. In this fictional story, Matilda introduces us to her life in the hotel and the people who care for serve her.

Matilda is one busy cat, what with guests to greet and luggage to help with. She even does laundry! It is amazing, really, that she ever finds time in her schedule to answer all of her fan mail. This book also includes a short lesson on the history of the Algonquin and its cats. In case you haven’t heard the story, a stray cat showed up in the hotel’s lobby back in 1932 and was allowed to stay, and there has been a cat there ever since. The male cats have all been named Hamlet, and the female cats have all been named Matilda. The current Matilda is a ragdoll who has been in residence since 2010.

Matilda, the Algonquin Cat is marketed as a children’s picture book, and yes, it has a story and illustrations (rather excellent illustrations!) suitable for all the young cat lovers out there, but we think this book will delight ailurophiles of any age. We found the story to be a lot of fun; it’s well written and moves along at a good reading-aloud pace. We cannot recommend it enough! Two paws way up!


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!


Shop Cats of New York

This next volume is a picture book of a different sort. Shop Cats of New York, written by Tamar Arslanian and with photographs by Andrew Marttila, shows us—you guessed it—cats who live in various kinds of shops in the city. We were amazed at the variety of shops represented, from a vegan shoe store to the hectic offices of a courier service and a Pilates studio whose cat may or may not have been a performer in the same building in a previous life. There is even a cat who lives in a glass-blowing studio (and she has a kiln named after her!). And yes, Matilda of the Algonquin makes an appearance, because no book about New York cats would be complete without her.

Arslanian writes that she once felt sorry for shop cats, who have lives so different from what the average house cat is used to. But when she looked deeper into the stories of New York’s shop cats, she saw how much attention these cats get, how so many of them thrive on the activity in their unorthodox homes. For the right kind of cat in the right kind of shop, it’s a perfect life!

The photography in Shop Cats of New York is a joy, as we get to see these cats in their “natural” environment. Actually, old SoLT mostly paid attention to the text on her first time through this book, but when she went back for a second look, she could not stop gazing at the photographs. These aren’t the sort of cat-on-the-living-room-couch or lion-on-the-savannah pictures she usually enjoys, but they show relaxed cats who own their territory, and they are beautiful.


Shop Cats of New York is another winner! Two paws way up!



Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Cats of the Week: Shadow and Tiger in Washington, DC

Shadow, an orange tabby cat, is an 8-year-old female who must be adopted with her sister Tiger

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! Adopt a senior cat, and help him or her enjoy the best years of their life.

Today, we’re introducing two great cats: Shadow and Tiger. No, you’re not seeing double. Shadow and Tiger are two orange tabbies who look almost exactly alike, though you’ll learn to tell them apart once you’ve spent some time with them. These girls are both 8 years old. They entered the shelter when their person could not care for them anymore.

These ladies spent most of their lives in one home, so they’re finding the shelter environment a little stressful, and they’re hoping to find a new home together soon. They enjoy being petted and, once they’ve gotten used to you a little bit, they will eat up the attention you give them.
Tiger is a female orange tabby cat, 8 years old, who must be adopted with her sister Shadow

Shadow and Tiger are currently at the Humane Rescue Alliance’s Oglethorpe Street adoption center. Stop by and meet them, or learn more about them here and here.


Can’t adopt but still want to help? Learn how you can sponsor an animal at the Humane Rescue Alliance, or check out this page to learn other ways to donate.


Do you know an adoptable senior cat who’d make a great Cat of the Week? Let us know!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Book Review: High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides

On this Mysterious Monday, we are pleased to bring you our review of High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides, the latest Happy Hoofers mystery by Mary McHugh. This is book 5 in the series, which sends a group of dancing friends around the world strutting their stuff—and solving mysteries along the way.

Mary Louise has some problems

One of the Happy Hoofers is Mary Louise, and Mary Louise has a problem. His name is George. George is her husband, and he’s not happy with her constant activity—that doesn’t center on him. She is a housewife, as he reminds her in the book’s opening pages, and all this dancing and traveling is interfering with her ability to take care of him. Now the Hoofers are getting ready to dance with the Rockettes—you know, at Radio City Music Hall? In the Christmas show? Yes, it’s kind of a big deal, so I think we can forgive Mary Louise for being peeved with George and his lack of support.

That brings us to Mary Louise’s second problem. His name is Mike. Mike is dreamy. He doesn’t criticize her. He listens to her. He makes her laugh. He’s ready to sweep her up and take her away from that humdrum life she’s living with George.

But is that what she wants? A significant part of this book is concerned with answering that question.

Who’s killing Rockettes?

The other question that needs answering is, who’s killing Rockettes, and why? This unfortunate question comes up after Glenna, the Hoofers’ main ally among the famous dancers, is found dead, mangled in some machinery. Accident…or murder? The same question comes up again after a second death.

Mary Louise is one busy lady. In between rehearsals (in forty-pound Santa outfits—did I mention the Hoofers are not young dancers?) and meet-ups in the city with Mike, she manages to get way too close to the reason behind the murders, she keeps things together with George, and she cooks a lot. Before everything gets straightened out, her own life could be in danger.

Yes, there’s a cat

There is a cat who plays a supporting role in this book. She’s a tabby named Ranger who hangs around the music hall and is sort of the Rockettes’ mascot. Ranger is not a major player in the plot, though she does give the Hoofers a warning at an important point. Purrs to Ranger!

Our verdict

I will tell you right now, if you don’t enjoy reading about relationships and cooking, this is probably not the book for you, because those subjects are a major part of the narrative. If you do enjoy reading about the intricacies of relationships and you like to cook, you’ll probably trip head over heels for this book (and probably the whole series), which also offers cooking tips and recipes.

High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides is also great if you enjoy New York City at all. Having a chance to tag along on all the jaunts through the city was probably old SoLT’s favorite part of reading this book, and it left her longing to return there. Getting a behind-the-scenes look at the Rockettes was fun too—the rehearsals, the costumes, the pressure.

I have to withhold one paw because of the relative lack of cats, but we found High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides to be an enjoyable read with quite a lot going for it besides being a good mystery.


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!

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!

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.



Saturday, November 5, 2016

Caturday Art: Webster Feels November

For Athena's Caturday Art blog hop today, we offer this creation by old SoLT. Don't even dream of asking her how she did this, because she made it several weeks ago and can't find her notes. Let's just say it involved a lot of Pic Monkey, Illustrator, and Pic Monkey again. It reminds us of November, so we have saved it for this week.




And here's the original photo of Webster resting among his little toys:


Friday, November 4, 2016

Words with Webster and Friendly Fill-Ins for November 4

Words with Webster: Vibrissa

Webster (cat) poses with a book.
Real Cat Webster is all aquiver (you might even say he’s vibrating—and yes, this is a joke) over the cat-related word he has dug up for this edition of “Words with Webster.” The word is vibrissa (plural vibrissae), and according to Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, it means “any of the stiff hairs that are located on the face and especially about the snout of many mammals and typically serve as tactile organs; also :  a similar stiff tactile hair growing elsewhere on some mammals (as in a small tuft at the wrist).”

So basically, we’re talking about a cat’s whiskers.

Webster likes the word vibrissa because it’s fun to say; I like it because it has good Latin roots, coming from vibrissae, which refers to the hairs in people’s nostrils, and having its ultimate roots in vibrare, meaning to shake or vibrate. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was first used to refer to animals’ whiskers in the 19th century.

Close up of black and white cat with white whiskers against black background
Check out the vibrissae on this cat!
Stock image by nic_ol, via Adobe Stock.
You may be wondering where the word whisker comes from. Well, turning once again to the Oxford English Dictionary, we learned that whisker first referred to something like a fan or a bunch of feathers that was used for whisking or sweeping. Its first known use was in 1425 (“a wisker waftynge wynde upon hir,” St. Mary of Oignies), and it came to be used for the special hairs on an animal’s face by the late 17th century.

We learned a lot more about whiskers—excuse me, vibrissae—from the University of Melbourne. Old SoLT always thought that whiskers were feelers, and it’s true that cats use them as sensory organs, but it turns out that neither the whiskers themselves nor their follicles contain any nerves, so they don’t actually “feel” things directly. It’s the area around them that is rich with nerve endings and that makes whiskers so valuable to a cat’s sensory life. Besides sensing direct touch, vibrissae can help sense vibration and airflow, letting us cats know where we are in space.

Old SoLT thinks a cat’s whiskers are really cute, but this is obviously beside the point. Vibrissae are sort of a high-tech feline guidance system that you humans should revere and envy. Remember that the next time you’re getting ready to post a #WhiskersWednesday photo to your social media!

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins graphic
And now to Friendly Fill-Ins. from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by old SoLT, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered this week by Real Cat Paisley, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT’s answers:
1. Peace seems elusive these days. This is why I write about cats, to provide a little bit of happiness—for myself and, I hope, for others too.

2. I need to get my car in for an oil change, but I keep procrastinating. Also, time is passing too quickly! I was going to do this in August. How did it get to be November already???


Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. A friend is someone who doesn’t go behind your back and eat your wet food when you fully intended to come back and finish it later. Thus, the dog is not my friend.


4. I always try to play a little bit every day. It is fun for me, and for my mommy too!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Miss Cuddlywumps Converses: with Oliver of the Oliver Poons Children’s Company


Oliver the cat, the inspiration behind Oliver Poons.
Oliver the cat, the inspiration behind Oliver Poons and the
Oliver Poons Children's Company. What a handsome boy! No
wonder he inspired a whole company.
  Welcome to this edition of “Miss Cuddlywumps Converses.” Today I’m excited to be speaking with Oliver, the feline inspiration behind the character Oliver Poons of the Oliver Poons Children’s Company and #YellowHatsforCats.

Hello, Oliver, and thank you for joining us today. We’re very happy to meet you. I understand you are a rescue cat. Can you tell us about how your person, Lauryn, found you and a little bit about your relationship with her?

Oliver the cat reading one of his books.
From kitten in a shelter to being in
his very own book, Oliver has come a
long way!
Oliver: I was a baby kitten at No Kitten Left Behind in East Hartford, CT. I had a meet and greet with Lauryn to see if she met my standards! J Our colors were alike that day as Lauryn was dressed in black and white too! As our eyes met, I knew in an instant, she was the one. We’ve been bonded ever since.

Every day, I used to spend a lot of my time waiting patiently for her to come home from work. Lately, though, things have been different. For the past four and a half years, Lauryn has been home most of the time recovering from Lyme disease. Although this has been rough for Lauryn sometimes, I’ve enjoyed our bond and the lots of extra time we get to spend cuddling. I even have a book named after me now!

Miss C: I am sorry Lauryn has been ill, but it is great that you get to be in a book. I think more cats should be in books. Really, I don't know what else humans have to write about. Tell me, how did your person get the idea to start the Oliver Poons Children’s Company?

Cover of Oliver Poons and the Bright Yellow Hat
Oliver's first book,
Oliver Poons and the Bright Yellow Hat.
Get it in print or as an e-book.
Oliver: I’ve always considered how cute I might look in a yellow hat, and the idea just happened to pop in her head! My friend Orange Kitty and I spied each other through the sliding glass door in the kitchen. I felt the world needed to hear our tale and Lauryn was the perfect one to tell it.

Miss C: You are very cute in a yellow hat! You’re the inspiration behind the character Oliver Poons in the children’s books Lauryn writes. Please tell us briefly about the books and what role Oliver Poons plays?

Oliver: Of course I’m the protagonist and have the lead role! My co-characters, Orange Kitty and Myrtle, offer me much guidance on my adventures. With a little help from friends, anything is possible! You’ll have to read and find out what we’re up to in our two books, Oliver Poons and the Bright Yellow Hat, and Dreaming in Color. Young children are delighted by our whimsy and antics!
Cover of Dreaming in Color
Oliver's next book is Dreaming in Color.
Get it here.

Miss C: What is #YellowHatsforCats all about, and how can we participate?
#YellowHatsforCats is the Oliver Poons Children’s Company’s partnership with animal welfare organizations to which we donate 15% of all online sales. We have a number of different participating groups across the United States, and we’re starting to expand internationally too! Customers can select a participating group of their choice to benefit with their purchase on each of the product pages at oliverpoons.com. A list of all our participating organizations can also be found at yellowhatsforcats.com.

Oliver the cat in a yellow hat.
Oliver in his so-spiffy
yellow hat.
Such style!
Since Lauryn and I are best friends, we wanted to do something a little extra special to help the organizations who help humans find their future best fur-friends! Everyone can show their support for this campaign by posting a picture of their cat in a yellow hat and tagging #yellowhatsforcats on social media. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at instagram.com/yellowhatsforcats and participate! Humans and cats all over the world have started to join in our movement…we even got a post from Antarctica recently! #YellowHatsforCats has officially made it to ALL SEVEN CONTINENTS!

If you know of an animal welfare organization local to you that would like to take part in our campaign, you can have them contact us on social media or using the contact form on oliverpoons.com. We’re limiting groups to no more than three per state in the U.S.A., but the only other requirement is that the organization treats animals in a dignified, compassionate manner.

Real Cat Paisley decked out in yellow hat & scarf.
Real Cat Paisley dons a
yellow hat & scarf for
#YellowHatsforCats.
Miss C: Wow! Your worldwide reach is really exciting, Oliver! Do you have any advice for cats who’d like to inspire their humans to Do Good Things?

Oliver: In my scholarly kitty wisdom, I always like to say, “Bring a smile to a child and a cat and you shall bring a smile to yourself!”

Need your own Yellow Hat?
Oliver's company offers this
Children's Yellow Floppy Hat.
That is so true. You are a very wise kitty, Oliver! Thanks again for being here. It’s been a real pleasure to meet you and learn about your books and #YellowHatsforCats. I hope you’ll visit us again someday! In the meantime, friends, please take a moment to learn more about the Oliver Poons Children’s Company at these links:

Instagram.com/yellowhatsforcats

Real Cat Webster wearing a yellow hard hat.
Real Cat Webster chose a hard hat
for this image of him at work.
How appropriate!



#YellowHatsforCats sticker

All images (except the Real Cats!) courtesy of Lauryn Wendus and Oliver Poons Children's Co.

Product links in this post are affiliate links. If you buy a product through these links, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account.