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, January 31, 2017

Cat of the Week: Abby 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.

Today we’re introducing Abby, a lovely lady who is front declawed and is really mellow. Abby is a very easy-going gal, but she is understandably uncomfortable in the shelter and would love to find a new home where she can get some head rubs and spend lots of time in a nice, comfy bed. Her previous person got sick and could not care for her anymore. Abby has lived with kids and another cat before.

Wouldn’t it be great to give Abby the loving home she’s looking for? 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, January 30, 2017

Book Review: Haunted Is Always in Fashion

Mysterious Monday button

On this Mysterious Monday (like our new button?), we bring you a quick review of a fun mystery set in the South and filled with fashion, mystery, ghosts… You know, the usual things.

Vintage clothing, murder, ghosts, and a psychic cat

Haunted Is Always in Fashion, by Rose Pressey
Haunted Is Always in Fashion, by Rose Pressey, is the fourth book in the Haunted Vintage mystery series, and it’s the first book in the series we’ve read. The setting is Sugar Creek, Georgia, where we meet our heroine, Cookie Chanel. Cookie owns a vintage clothing boutique called It’s Vintage, Ya’ll, and as the book opens, she is on her way to a meeting with one Juliana McDaniel, an author who wants to interview Cookie for a book on vintage fashion. Well, Cookie and Juliana will meet, but not in the way they’d intended.

See, what happens is, Juliana is killed in an apparent traffic accident while on her way to the meeting. I know… You’re thinking that surely Juliana’s death will completely prevent her from meeting Cookie. Well, I might have neglected to mention that Cookie can see ghosts, and in fact she’s already got one ghost, an earlier murder victim named Charlotte, hanging around with her. Soon enough she also has Juliana’s ghost hanging around, and naturally enough, Charlotte gets pulled into helping find out what really happened to her.

Other characters include Cookie’s detective boyfriend, Dylan; her best friend, Heather, who owns an occult shop; and Wind Song, the beautiful white cat who has a certain facility with a Ouija board. Seriously, when the humans want the answer to a mysterious question, they ask Wind Song, and she spells out the answer on the board. Well, not every time, but they do it often enough that it’s become a habit, and the cat makes some valuable contributions to solving the mystery.

Our verdict

We really enjoyed this book, and we’re not even all that excited about fashion. The plot was pleasingly mysterious, and we liked Wind Song’s contributions. Oddly (and if you could see her current slovenly attire, you’d understand why I chose that word), old SoLT enjoyed the fashion tips at the start of each chapter. “Wearing polyester leisure suits will send you straight to hell,” for example. Indeed. Sadly (see previous parenthetical comment), old SoLT is unlikely to put any of these tips into practice.

If you are into the sort of mystery that includes ghosts and cats, and especially if you enjoy fashion at all, we think you’ll have fun with this series. We will be looking forward to the next Haunted Vintage mystery. Recommended!

Two Paws Up graphic

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!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley Takes a Break

Today we join the Sunday Selfies blog hop hosted by our friends at The Cat on My Head. Real Cat Paisley was helping old SoLT in the office yesterday. She is most helpful when she curls up on the sofa and purrs loudly, as she was doing here:

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Caturday Art: Webster Cubed

Today we're pleased to be joining our friend Athena's Caturday Art blog hop once again. Old SoLT has been having a lot of fun with LunaPic lately, so she went there again this week to create this cube of Real Cat Webster:

This image was created by first applying the Escher art effect and then applying the 3D Cube effect. Here is the original:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Test Your Cat Knowledge, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

The Pet Community Logo
What's furry and fun and online?
The Pet Community!

We have two fun features for you this Friday. First, a little quiz to find out how much you really know about cats. We’ll also introduce you to a new thing called The Pet Community. It’s Facebook for pets, basically. Then, Friendly Fill-Ins. Thanks for reading!

Cat Quiz

How well do you know cats? If you are like old SoLT, this little quiz will reveal that you don’t know half so much as you thunk you did. Clearly, old SoLT should have asked for my help, because … well, she did not fail the quiz, exactly but she is too embarrassed to tell you her final grade. (I will tell you, though. It was 60%. I know, right? And she thinks she’s so smart!)

Nala Cat profile page, The Pet Community
Meet up with Nala Cat on
The Pet Community!
Photo courtesy of The Pet Community.

This quiz was brought to you by the folks at The Pet Community, a worldwide social network for pet people. You know Facebook, right? Well, if you took the best stuff from Facebook (the pets, obviously), you’d have The Pet Community. This is the place to go to meet up with celebrity cats like Nala Cat and, of course, old SoLT and the Real Cats. Okay, the Real Cats are celebrities among a very limited circle (of approximately 6 people, on a good day), but still, it would be fun to be online with them, right?

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins button
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. I have seen nothing on Broadway.
2. My Chinese zodiac sign is Earth Monkey.

Real Cat Paisley's answers
3. Celebrities do not impress me unless they are cats.
4. A good day is having breakfast real early, then going back to sleep for an hour or eight, playing with Mommy in the evening, and scaring the dog.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Flexy Paw Promises to Help You Take Better Cat Photos

Flexy Paws attaches to any phone, tablet, and most cases
Flexy Paws clips to your phone or
tablet. The paw clip holds a toy or treat
up to a half-inch thick.
Photo courtesy of Paw Champs.
It seems so simple. Your cat is adorable and is constantly doing adorable things, so it should be easy to get adorable photos of said cat, right? Right?

Yes, we know how it really goes. Your cat is being adorable, so you run off to find your phone, run back to where the cat is, put in your passcode, find the camera app, open the camera app … and by then the cat has lost interest in whatever adorable thing she was doing. Your cat has also lost interest in you and your little phone thingy. Another cute-photo fail.

Introducing Flexy Paw

Recently we were contacted by the makers of a new product called Flexy Paw that promises to help you take better pet photos. The Flexy Paw is basically a clip that you attach to your phone and then clip a toy or treat into. Having a favorite toy attached to the phone will draw your cat’s attention right where you want it—on you.
Flexy Paw in use to capture a cat's attention for a photo
Flexy Paw in action. The attached toy catches
your cat's attention.
Photo courtesy of Paw Champs.

Flexy Paw is created by Paw Champs and got its start in Los Angeles with a group of friends who wanted to take better photos of their pets (i.e., photos in which the pet was actually looking toward the camera). The product isn’t ready just yet. It’s currently in a Kickstarter campaign, where for a $14 pledge, you can get yourself locked in to receive one of the very first Flexy Paws. We pledged because we really want to try this out on the Real Cats. Because surely a catnip toy will be more interesting to the cats than old SoLT begging, “Look at me. Please look at me.”

Flexy Paw details

Here are a few details on the Flexy Paw:
  • attaches to most smart phones and tablets, along with most cases
  • made of soft plastic, so it won’t scratch your phone
  • bends and rotates 360 degrees to any direction or angle you would want 
  • holds a treat or toy up to half-inch thick and can hold a weight of an apple (about 7 ounces)
  • will retail for $16.99, but you can get it for less on Kickstarter

Flexy Paws photo, kneeling woman takes a photo of a dog
Oh yeah...works on dogs too.
Photo courtesy of Paw Champs.
Note that the photos show the Flexy Paw prototype. The color of the final product will be a high-gloss white.

Oh, and we’ve kept this post cat-centric because, you know, cats are awesome … but I bet you could get a dog’s attention by clipping a treat to your phone.

Check out the video below, and for more information, take a look at the Flexy Paw Kickstarter page.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Cat of the Week: Toby in New York City

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! Adopt a senior cat, and give him or her the best years of their lives.

Today we’re re-introducing Toby, a 12-year-old boy who we think is quite handsome. We featured Toby once before, way back in June of last year, and we can’t believe he’s still waiting for a new, loving home.

Toby had spent his whole life with the same person, and when she died, he became homeless. You can just imagine how distressing this must have been for this sweet, gentle cat. Toby is an easy-going guy and is pretty playful for a cat of his age. He sort of gets along with other cats, but he does have a jealous streak, so he would do best as an only cat.

Check out Toby’s short video here and see just how friendly he is:

Wouldn’t it be great to welcome Toby into your loving home? Learn more about him here.

Can’t adopt but still want to help Randy and other cats at Bideawee? Learn how you can sponsor a pet, become a Bideawee member, or make a donation.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Book Review: As Dark as My Fur

As Dark As My Fur cover
We are in love with this series by one of our favorite writers, Clea Simon. As Dark as My Fur is the second book in the Blackie and Care series, and it fully lives up to the promise of the first book, with a darkness and grit that are engrossing but not overwhelming. These are not the sort of lighthearted cozy mysteries we usually review here. Simon’s characters live hard lives in a bleak setting. There is hope, though, in the way they just keep going, and going, and going.

Where did this cat come from, anyway?

The story is told from the point of view of a black cat (Blackie). He is not a young cat. His body hurts sometimes. He’s maybe not as fast as he used to be, and perhaps he can’t jump as high or fight as hard as he used to. Also, he hasn’t always been a cat. It’s probably best if you don’t think too hard about how the soul or spirit or whatever you call it of a human got into a cat, but that is what happened. The first book in this series, The Ninth Life, largely dealt with the cat figuring out who he is. Now he knows.

He used to be a mentor to this pink-haired girl named Care. He was an investigator of sorts, finding things that have been lost—that sort of thing. Only now he’s a cat, unable to speak, unable to clearly communicate all he knows. But he is devoted to Care, to her protection.

Finding things that have been lost

Care, meanwhile, has taken over her mentor’s old business. She and Blackie are living in the old office and trying to take on paying clients, and if they don’t get some soon, they’ll be evicted from the only safe place they have. Also, food would be nice. Blackie can catch his own food, of course, but Care refuses even the best stuff he brings her. This distresses him, as so many things do.

It is against this backdrop that Care and Blackie find themselves caught up in a complex tale of deception, greed, and murder. While Care works to find out what her new client wants to know, Blackie works to untangle the client’s true intention. Because the cat can smell that there’s far more going on than what Care has been told. And the truth in this case is very, very dangerous.


We found it absolutely mesmerizing to walk along in Blackie’s pawsteps through the streets of this unnamed city, a city whose best years are behind it. We can’t say that there is anything beautiful here. It’s a place where the strong dominate and use the weak, where nothing matters much beyond survival. We feel Blackie’s frustration at not being able to communicate fully with Care as, again and again, he senses something she does not. We feel his confusion at times, and his constant desire to protect Care at all costs. Each night when we curled up to read this book, we found ourselves reading farther than we intended because, as dark as Blackie’s world is, it’s hard to set aside.

As Dark as My Fur is not a book whose sentences go tripping happily along. It is instead a book that grabs you in the midgut area and doesn’t let go. We found this to be a not unpleasant sensation, and one that pulled us to keep reading, reading, reading. And we are so glad we did.

For those willing to face the darkness, we very highly recommend this book!

As Dark as My Fur is set for release on April 1, 2017. It is currently available for preorder.

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, January 22, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley's Face and Webster's Ear

Today we join the Sunday Selfies blog hop hosted by our friends at The Cat on My Head. This week's selfie was taken by Real Cats Paisley and Webster as they played the Cat Snaps game. It's blurry but cute, we think:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Caturday Art: Blue Paisley

Today we're joining Athena's Caturday Art blog hop once again. This week Real Cat Paisley is getting in on the action, with some help from LunaPic and PicMonkey:

Image of Real Cat Paisley with LunaPic filter applied

To get this result, old SoLT applied the Paper Folding effect in LunaPic, applied a color tint, and then did some work with the color changer. Then it was over to Pic Monkey for the frame. Here's the original:

Photo of Real Cat Paisley up close

Caturday Art blog hop button

Friday, January 20, 2017

App Review (Cat Snaps) and Friendly Fill-Ins

Real Cat Paisley's best selfie.
So far.
From the Cat Snaps app.
We have two fun features to close out the work week. First up is our review of an app called Cat Snaps, and then we have Friendly Fill-Ins.

App review: Cat Snaps

 Cat Snaps is an app that lets your cat take his or her very own selfies. It’s basically one of those games that puts a moving dot or other object on your device’s screen, and whenever the cat taps the screen trying to catch the dot, the camera snaps a picture.

Old SoLT downloaded this to try on her iPad, but she was not optimistic because she’s tried iPad games out on the Real Cats before, and they paid no attention whatsoever. This time was different though, as you can see from this video:

And...Real Cat Webster's least-blurry selfie.
From the Cat Snaps app.
Both Real Cats had a ball playing this game, and they collected a bunch of selfies in a very short time. (You can also put the game in “play mode” to let the cats play without taking pictures.) The game makes a squeaking sound that goes along with the movement, and that was what got their attention first. Then they just could not get enough of trying to catch the little dot.

We think Cat Snaps is a lot of fun. The Real Cats played it on an iPad, but it’s also available for Android. The game is free to download, and you can have your cat play with six different-colored dots and take and save photos. You can also purchase a “Critter Pack” for 99 cents. The pack includes three different bugs, three mice, and three balls of yarn.

Highly recommended by the Real Cats!

Friendly Fill-Ins for January 20

Friendly Fill-Ins button
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. Watching TV interviews with young celebrities and having no idea who they are makes me feel old. It reminds me of one time when I was in high school and talking with my mom about a singer who was popular at the time (don’t remember who it was), and Mom said she’d never heard of this person. I could not understand how anybody could not have heard of So-and-so. Now I understand!

2. Laughing makes me feel young.

Real Cat Webster’s answers
3. I have a very loud purr. Everybody loves it.

4. Being brushed is the best thing ever!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Felix the Cat and the Tomcatters of the US Navy

Felix the Cat with Charlie Chaplin; still from "Felix in Hollywood"
Felix the Cat with Charlie Chaplin in
“Felix in Hollywood” (1923).
Public Domain.
 Some cats are cultural icons, and the white-faced black cat named Felix is certainly one of them. Felix the Cat has been around for nearly a century now, and his image has appeared in many contexts, including as a military mascot. Today we take a brief look at Felix the Cat as an emblem gracing the patches and planes of the US Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 31.

Why Felix?

Felix the Cat holding bomb with lit fuse
Insignia for US Navy Fighting
Squadron 6 (later VF-31),
ca. 1935.
National Air and Space Museum.
Felix the Cat first appeared as "Master Tom" in a 1919 short directed by Otto Messmer. Felix went on to star in many more films, using his clever smarts to outwit basically everyone he encountered. The generation that fought World War II knew him as “a courageous feline who would never give up,” Laura Vocelle writes (p. 327). Plus, the word felix in Latin means “lucky” or “successful.” So it is really no surprise that Felix’s image and attitude were adopted for military insignia.

An F4B-4 with Felix the Cat emblem.
An F4B-4 with Felix the Cat emblem.
Photo by Bill Larkins 
[CC BY-SA 2.0, via WikimediaCommons.

Origins of the Tomcatters

The strike fighter squadron now known as VFA-31, or the Tomcatters, began back in 1935 as the VF-1B Shooting Stars. The squadron went through several designations (the US Navy site lists them all), with Felix displayed on the squadron’s planes and patches almost from the beginning. He is shown running while holding a bomb with a lit fuse. Felix the Cat became the squadron’s official mascot in 1946. They became known as the Tomcatters in 1948.

Lieutenant “Butch” O’Hare in a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat,
Lieutenant “Butch” O’Hare in a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat,
with the Felix the Cat emblem visible on the left.
Photograph taken at Naval Air Station, Hawaii,
April 10, 1942.
US Navy. Public Domain.
The squadron was at Pearl Harbor, aboard the USS Enterprise, on December 7, 1941, and was involved in several crucial battles in the Pacific. Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare, the navy’s first flying ace and the first navy man to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II, flew with the squadron.

After World War II, VF-31 was involved in the Korean War and Vietnam War.

F-4J Phantom lands aboard the USS Saratoga, January 8, 1980.
F-4J Phantom lands aboard the USS Saratoga, January 8, 1980.
It's hard to see, but Felix the Cat is about midway along the plane.

By Service Depicted: Navy Camera Operator: Robert l. Lawson
(ID:DNSN8204480) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Into the 21st century

VFA-31 and Felix the Cat have flown over Afghanistan and Iraq during the recent conflicts in those countries. These days, their headquarters is Naval Air Station Oceana, and they’re flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet.

Given their distinguished history, we can’t help but think that the smart, cunning cartoon cat named Felix might have brought them some luck.

Two F/A-18 Super Hornets in flight
Two F/A-18 Super Hornets over Afghanistan,
December 15, 2008. You can see the Felix the Cat
emblem on the tail of the near plane (note the Santa hat).
By Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, U.S. Air Force
[Public domain], via WikimediaCommons.


US Navy. STRKFITRON Three One. “History.” 2013.  http://www.public.navy.mil/AIRFOR/vfa31/Pages/History.aspx

L. A. Vocelle. Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat. Great Cat Publications, 2016.

Wikipedia. “VFA-31.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VFA-31

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cat of the Week: Katy 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.

Today, please meet Katy, a lovely black-and-white girl who is very sweet and enjoys having a nice lap to lounge on. Katy is 8 years old and has an adult cat’s maturity to balance out her playful side. She landed in the shelter because her people had to move and could not take her with them.

Katy is currently at the Humane Rescue Alliance’s Oglethorpe Street adoption center. If you're in the DC area, 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, January 16, 2017

Cat Classics on Film: The Black Cat (1981)

Edgar Allan Poe’s excellent story “The Black Cat” has inspired several film adaptations, including this one from 1981, directed by Lucio Fulci and starring Patrick Magee and Mimsy Farmer. I am going to just tell you straight up that this particular style of horror film (i.e., weird) is not our favorite. We’re also not big fans of blaming stuff on black cats and making them out to be basically evil creatures. That said, we try to give The Black Cat a fair shot.

See, there’s this psychic who controls a cat (sort of)…

Poster for The Black Cat (1981)
The setting is an English village, where a series of odd events is taking place, all tied to a black cat. The movie opens with a cat’s-eye view of a man headed off to go fishing, only to lock eyes with this black cat and then crash his car in rather spectacular fashion. One point for the cat.

Next, we meet an American woman (played by Mimsy Farmer) who is traipsing across the countryside in heels (as you do) taking photographs. She discovers an open crypt with skeletons lying about, chained from the ceiling—you know, the normal sort of thing—and she is not freaked out by this at all.

I sort of forget the order of things at this point, because it was about here that we started to think the whole movie would be a series of weird, tangentially connected events. Anyway, we meet a young couple looking for a quiet make-out spot, only they end up locking themselves in an airtight room in a secluded boathouse (do not try this at home), whereupon the black cat sneaks in and steals the key. He also apparently breaks the ventilation system, so now the room really is airtight, and the couple slowly die. At least they’re together.

We also meet this creepy old guy, Robert Miles (played by Patrick Magee), who is apparently trying to communicate with the dead. He seems to have a hate-hate relationship with the mysterious black cat, who scratches him repeatedly, and it later becomes clear that Miles is controlling the cat (or is he?), for reasons of vengeance (don’t try this at home either).

The American photographer gets roped into taking police photos of a deceased man who was unfortunately impaled on a spiky thing (courtesy of the black cat again). She notices some scratches on his hand, which are exactly like the scratches she’d seen earlier on Miles. This gets her thinking. Could this series of unfortunate events all be related to…a cat?

Killing the cat is not helpful

After yet another death (flaming woman jumps through window), Miles decides to take care of this cat problem, by drugging the cat and then hanging it. But the cat’s death only makes things worse, and now things get really weird, ending with Miles trying to also “take care of” the pesky American by bricking her up in the cellar (yes, she gets rescued).

The question in the end is whether Miles controlled the cat or the cat controlled Miles or… Oh, I don’t know.

If you like weird horror things…

Yes, if you enjoy this kind of weird horror flick, then you might really enjoy this version of The Black Cat. Honestly, it is not our cup of tea. We found the story disjointed and frankly not very enjoyable. The movie uses frequent close-up shots of eyes, human and feline, which just got on our nerves after a very short time. Well, the feline eyes were nice; the human eyes were often just…icky. Still and all, this is a horror film of a certain sort, and icky comes with the territory.

On the bright side, Real Cat Webster really enjoyed watching the rather handsome black cat, especially in the film’s opening moments. Too bad the cat was bent on killing people.

The Black Cat is rated R and has some nudity, adult situations, and people dying in various ways. This is not our favorite kind of movie, but, judging it for what it is, I will give it one paw.

A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good movie; two paws is for a great movie. 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 movie through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley Makes a Donation

Today we're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by our friends at The Cat on My Head. Old SoLT finally got Real Cat Paisley to sit for a portrait recently when she was sorting through some t-shirts to donate. Here is the result:

Have a relaxing Sunday, and check out more great selfies on the hop below!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Caturday Art

Today we're pleased to be joining Athena's Caturday Art blog hop once again. This week old SoLT chose a picture that provides photographic evidence of Resident Dog Layla coexisting with a cat (Real Cat Webster, in this case).

This image was created in LunaPic, with the Van Gogh effect and some work with the color changer. The frame was added in PicMonkey.

Here's the original:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Words with Webster (Melanoailurophobia) and Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two features for you today on this Friday the 13th: a new word from Real Cat Webster, followed by Friendly Fill-Ins. Take it away, Webster!

Words with Webster

Words with Webster badge
Hi, all! Webster here, bringing you another installment of Words with Me. Today’s word is a little bit or completely made up by me and Mommy. We were talking about superstitions (it being Friday the 13th and all), and we wondered if there was a specific word for the fear of black cats. So we asked the Internet in various ways and found nothing, zilch, nada. We did find “fear of cats” (ailurophobia) and “fear of black” (melanophobia), so we just put them together to make our word:
melanoailurophobia: The fear of black cats.
 This word is made from the Greek roots
melano, “black”;
ailuros, “cat”; and
phobos, “fear.”
 Here it is used in a sentence:

Mitch had suffered from melanoailurophobia ever since his sister’s black cat scratched him when he was mean to her.

Black cat on green background
If you're afraid of this cat, you might suffer from
melanoailurophobia: fear of black cats.
Photo by Luliie Lodia via Adobe Stock.
We think it’s a pretty good word, and we’re not sure why it’s not a “word” word (you know, in a dictionary and everything). We even checked the Oxford English Dictionary and didn’t find it. The only place we found it was on another blog, Dances with Dogs.

Whether melanoailurophobia is a “word” word or not, we think it’s too bad that some people might be afraid of black cats. I used to livewith a black cat, and he was really cool and nice, and he taught me a lot. So I sort of hope this word doesn’t catch on, but then you know how superstitious and all some people are.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-ins badgeAnd 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. My guiding word for 2017 is “now.”

2. I’ve never been to a class reunion, but this year will be my thirtieth high school class reunion. Still not going

Real Cat Paisley’s answers
3. Truth be told I am superstitious about keeping a dog in the house. I’m sure this is very bad luck.

4. Lately, I have been sitting at the top of the steps and not letting the dog come up. She is afraid of me. Ha!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Miss Cuddlywumps Converses with Barn Cat Buddies

Black and White cat in a barn (www.BarnCatBuddies.org)
Barn cat, a.k.a. Rodent Control Technician.
Photo courtesy of Barn Cat Buddies.
You know, it’s great being a housecat with a loving home, but not every cat has that opportunity. Not every cat even wants to live in a house with people. Who takes care of those cats? Well, it’s really special people, like our guest today, who step up and volunteer to look after feral cats. Toni Levine is a co-president and member of the board of directors of an organization called Barn Cat Buddies. Let’s get right into our conversation.

Hi, Toni. We’re so glad you could join us today to talk about Barn Cat Buddies. Can you start by telling us exactly what this organization is and what it does?
Hi!!! Thank you for the opportunity to talk about ourselves!!! Our mission is to stop the population of feral cats and to create a safe environment for them while they are waiting on their forever homes. We offer a trap/neuter/return program when funding is available. We sterilize as many cats as we can under this program and pay for the vetting. It includes sterilization, rabies shot, distemper shot, and pain meds. We also tip the ears so that anyone that sees them understands they are vetted and being fed. We have created four sanctuaries that house approximately 300 cats. We provide food and vetting services to these cats until they are placed in a forever home. In addition, we provide food to low income people that are feeding feral colonies.

We already mentioned your roles as co-president and board member. What else do you do for Barn Cat Buddies?
I also am one of the sanctuaries, application processor, and one of the food providers as a food bank.

That sounds like a lot of work! If someone has a barn and needs a cat to patrol it and keep mice away, what is the process for getting a cat from you? Is there a fee involved?
Two Cats greet each other in a barn (www.BarnCatBuddies.org)
Barn Cat Buddies adopts their cats out in pairs. They
work hard to put just the right cats in the right place.
Photo Courtesy of Barn Cat Buddies.
Just go to our website at www.barncatbuddies.org and fill out an application for adoption. There are two applications…one is for indoor friendly cats, which is quite lengthy, and the other is for outdoor hunters/barn cats. We contact the applicant to find out exactly what they want and go to work locating the right cats. We do adopt in pairs, as they are social animals and will tend to stick around better with a “buddy.” We deliver, set up, and instruct as we go. There is no adoption fee for barn cats, but donations are always greatly appreciated. That is how we keep doing what we do.

Wow—it sounds like you really do a lot to make sure these cats end up in a good place. I understand you’re in Virginia. What areas of that state does Barn Cat Buddies primarily serve?
We work closely in Roanoke County, City, Salem, Vinton, Bedford County, Franklin County, Craig County, and Botetourt County, but are not limited to those areas. Our sanctuaries are in Bedford County, Botetourt County and Craig County.

Two cats on rodent patrol (www.BarnCatBuddies.org)
Two cat buddies on patrol for rodents.
Photo courtesy Barn Cat Buddies.
How long has Barn Cat Buddies been around, and roughly how many cats have you helped in that time?
We have been around for a decade but have been a 501C for about five years. I would have to get numbers from our bookkeeper/founder, but I can tell you that we sterilized and vetted well over a 1,000 cats in 2016.

Thank you for helping so many cats! I heard you did not get renewed funding this year for one of your major programs—the Free Feline Fix. What does this mean for Barn Cat Buddies?
Black and white cat on patrol in a barn (www.BarnCatBuddies.org)
A Rodent Control Technician's work is never done.
There's always some part of the barn--or stable or
greenhouse--to be checked out.
Photo courtesy Barn Cat Buddies.
This means that our main mission has been altered. We are not doing any intake in the year 2017 and will gear ourselves to adopting from our sanctuaries so that we can begin to pull from kill shelters and non-thriving or hoarding colonies in the next year. For now, we are concentrating on feeding and vetting (keeping healthy) our sanctuary cats and those colonies that we have committed to prior. We will reapply for our grant this coming year and hopefully will receive it for 2018.

What can people do to help Barn Cat Buddies?
Donate food, money, or items that we can sell at our large yard sales, which help provide a large amount of money for our food and vetting. Our mailing address is Barn Cat Buddies, P.O. Box 111, Salem, Virginia 24153. If someone would like to talk to one of our board members, please feel free to give them my email address, which is barngrama2@hotmail.com and I will be glad to call them.

Black and white cat relaxing (www.BarnCatBuddies.org)
Well, a Rodent Control Technician just needs a break
sometimes, but just their presence can warn pests away.
Photo Courtesy Barn Cat Buddies.
Thank you so much for any attention you can give us. We are ALL volunteers (there are no paid employees) and every dime contributed goes directly to run our program, provide food and vetting, and funds our Free Feline Fix program. 

This has been a really enlightening conversation, Toni. Thank you for joining us today. We have really enjoyed it. Readers, we really hope some of you will chip in however you can to help out the Barn Cat Buddies!