A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cat of the Week: Lyla 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.

Adopt Lyla, 8-yr-old Tortie female, Humane Rescue Alliance, Washington, DC
This week, please meet Lyla, a lovely 8-year-old tortie girl. Lyla’s previous person passed away, and now she is in need of a new person to give her lots of love. She is a young senior who has a lot of years to live and a lot of love to give. She is very affectionate, greeting people at the door and sitting near you while you work or watch television. She also enjoys head scritches. Lyla can also look after herself while you’re at work, so no worries about that!

Lyla is currently in a foster home through the Humane Rescue Alliance. 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, February 27, 2017

Book Review: For Whom the Bread Rolls

Mysterious Monday


On this Mysterious Monday, we return to Wildwood Cove, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, for the second book in Sarah Fox’s Pancake House mystery series.

Pancakes, red paint, and murder

For Whom the Bread Rolls, by Sarah Fox
Marley McKinney is the owner of a pancake house called the Flip Side, which she inherited from her cousin (you should read the opening book in the series, The Crepes of Wrath, if you want to know how that happened). It’s tourist season in Wildwood Cove, and business is humming, but one morning Marley arrives at work to find that someone has defaced the building with red paint. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and Marley knows immediately who the culprit is: Ida Winkler.

This Ida person is what some of us call a nasty piece of work. She blames Marley for her nephew being in jail, and she is pulling these little pranks to get back at her. Next comes a series of prank calls to the Flip Side. This gets Marley upset enough that she decides to go pay Ida a little visit, just to try to talk some sense into her (good luck!). But when she gets there, she finds Ida dead—murdered. This is extremely inconvenient, because Marley becomes a suspect. What does one do in a situation like this? One sets out to find the real killer, of course.

Along the way, Marley bumps up against Ida’s neighbors (who clearly have their own issues), illegal dumpers, blackmail… All this while she’s worrying that her business might be ruined by the negative publicity, and she’s struggling over her relationship with handsome landscaper Brett. Will Marley be able to set her fears aside and let herself get close to him?

The cat named Flapjack

Good thing Marley has a cat to keep things in perspective. The cat in this case is an orange tabby named Flapjack. Marley inherited him, along with the house they live in, from her cousin. Flapjack is not a crime-solving cat, though. He’s more the company-keeping sort. He is there for Marley in those lonely, uncertain times when she just needs someone to listen and purr. Cats are so good at that.

One glaring error Marley makes (from a cat’s point of view) is that she insists on taking a shower and getting herself ready in the morning before she feeds the cat. This is clearly backwards. The correct order is cat first, then the rest of your life. Perhaps Marley will learn this in future installments of this series. One can only hope.

Another winner!

For Whom the Bread Rolls is a really enjoyable read. We especially liked the descriptions of Wildwood Cove, and the beach in particular. We could almost smell the ocean. Plus, the story is nicely done and very believable. The tension Marley feels over her relationship with Brett adds an undercurrent of discomfort that gives us one more reason to keep reading (as though we needed one).


Recommended!

Two Paws Up, a Great Read!

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, February 26, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Webster, Interrupted

Today we're joining our friends at The Cat On My Head for the Sunday Selfies blog hop. Our entry is this black & white seflie of Real Cat Webster, taken when old SoLT disturbed his nap. Not nice, old SoLT!

Real Cat Webster on the pet bed




Saturday, February 25, 2017

Caturday Art: Old-Timey Paisley

We kept things very simple for Athena's Caturday Art blog hop this week. Old SoLT took a new photo of Real Cat Paisley that she likes a lot and did some old-timey things to it in PicMonkey. First she did a Daguerreotype effect, followed by a Daguerreotype frame, followed by a Sketchedy frame. That was it! Simple, but we think the effect is to really focus attention on Paisley's face, and especially her eyes.

Paisley (tortoiseshell cat) in daguerreotype-style photo.

Here's the original:

Portrait of Paisley, tortoisehell cat



Friday, February 24, 2017

News: Having Cats Does Not Cause Mental Illness

Cats: lovely, friendly, and unlikely to make you psychotic.
Photo via Adobe Stock.
Last year, there were some brouhahas and kerfuffles over the subject of cats and mental illness. Specifically, research suggested that people who have cats are more likely than others to become psychotic because they are exposed to the parasite Toxoplasma gondii (see "Blaming Cats for Human Aggression"). But a new study has found no link between cat ownership and psychosis.

The new study was published in Psychological Medicine. It followed about 5,000 people from when they were born in 1991 or 1992 until they were 18. The researchers also had data on whether there were cats in the house during the subjects' childhood or while their mothers were pregnant with them. The study found no link between the presence of a cat and the development of psychosis. This study is considered more reliable than previous studies because it looked at a larger population over a longer period of time.

And the millions upon millions of people who have lived their whole lives with cats without becoming psychotic say, “We told you so.”


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Science Says Cats & Dogs Need Each Other to Scare Off Rodents

Dog and cat lying side by side
A recently published study suggests that it takes both dogs and cats
to keep rodents away.
Photo by Michael Pettigrew, via Adobe Stock.
Most of us think that having a cat around will keep mice and other vermin-style critters under control. But is that true? Until recently, no one could say for sure, as all we had to go on was anecdotal evidence—people say that having a cat will keep mice away, so we tend to believe it. Well, a study recently published in PLOS ONE concludes that cats alone have only a small effect on rodents. If you want mice and rats to avoid your homestead, the study says, you’d better have cats and dogs.

Hunting styles of cats and dogs

I know, it’s distressing, right? Cats have owned the trophy for vermin-killing for centuries, and now suddenly we might have to share it? Almost unthinkable!

But the study authors point out that cats and dogs have different hunting styles. Cats are solitary, ambush-style predators, whereas dogs hunt in packs in the wild and chase prey over long distances. Both cats and dogs are known to eat small mammals such as mice and rats, but dogs are more likely to feed on trash than on those tasty little creatures. (And here I shall refrain from making a rude comment about dirty, trash-eating dogs. Oops! That just slipped out. Sorry, dogs.)

Cats, dogs, and rodents on rural homesteads


Map of Africa, showing location of Swaziland in southeast
That little dot inside the circle is where
Swaziland is. The study was carried
out on 40 rural homesteads there.
Map by Alvaro1984 18
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

The study was conducted in four villages in Swaziland (that’s in southeast Africa). Forty rural homesteads were selected: 10 homesteads with cats, 10 with dogs, 10 with both cats and dogs, and 10 with neither. Homesteads with domestic cats and/or dogs typically had one or two cats and between one and four dogs, all of which were free to roam around the buildings and fields.

The researchers needed a way to measure rodent activity at the different homesteads. They decided on white ceramic tiles that were blackened with soot. These tiles were set out at night, and when rodents walked on them, they left little footprints behind. The more footprints on a site’s tiles, the more rodent activity at that site.

White ceramic tiles were blackened with soot and
set on the ground overnight to measure rodent activity.
(a) tile blackened with soot; (b) marked with rodent footprints.
The more footprints, the more rodent activity.
Photo via PLOS ONE.
The results showed that homesteads with just cats or just dogs had less rodent activity compared to homesteads without cats or dogs. But—and this was shocking to me—the difference was not really significant. The places with greatly reduced rodent activity were homesteads with both cats and dogs. Perhaps, the authors suggest, when rodents come across a homestead with two different kinds of predator, they decide that place is just too dangerous. They would rather leave behind whatever food is there because there’s too great a chance that they will be eaten while they are eating. The cats and dogs together create a “landscape of fear” for the rodents.

We wonder if a similar study would produce the same results in, say, Nebraska. As a cat, it is embarrassing to think that we might need the help of dogs to give rodents a really good scare. One can only hope that future studies will show that it’s the cats who are doing all the real work, right?
  

Source

Mahlaba TAM, Monadjem A, McCleery R, Belmain SR (2017) Domestic cats and dogs create a landscape of fear for pest rodents around rural homesteads. PLoS ONE 12(2): e0171593. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0171593

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cats of the Week: Sadie and Sarah 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.

This week we bring you a bonded pair of cats looking for a new home near Baltimore. Sadie is 11 years old, female, and laid back. She is on hyperthyroid medication. Sarah is 9 years old, female, and has such beautiful calico coloring! These kitties are both friendly and affectionate. They had to come to the shelter because of their person’s health. They’ve lived together for their whole lives, so they must be adopted together. We just know there is some terrific person in the Baltimore area who is looking to add some beauty, affection, and meows to their home.

Sound like you? Learn more about Sadie here and Sarah 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, February 20, 2017

Cat Classics on Film: The Cat from Outer Space


Some movies are just fun. The Cat from Outer Space (1978) is one of them. This is the kind of wacky Disney movie that’s fun to watch from your sofa while eating a large bowl of extremely buttered popcorn. Let me be clear … this is not a great movie, but part of the fun is in its not-greatness.

See, there’s this cat in a spaceship…

The Cat from Outer Space opens with a UFO making an emergency landing in a farmer’s field. The spacecraft’s door opens, and out steps … a cat. Soon enough the military is involved, taking over the craft but not noticing the cat, who hitches a ride to a base called Hopscotch. There, a security-conscious general (played by Harry Morgan) rounds up a group of scientists to try to figure out the craft’s mysterious propulsion system. They briefly bring in a visiting scientist, Dr. Frank Wilson (Ken Berry). I say “briefly” because Frank is quickly thrown out when he starts talking about electromagnetism and biofeedback and such things. The cat follows him back to his office.

And just like that, Frank is befriending the alien cat and taking him home, where, not surprisingly, the cat begins to talk to him. Well, not “talk” exactly. It’s thought transference. At least that’s what the cat, now named Jake, says … or thinks. Jake also tells Frank that he has just 36 hours to fix his spaceship so he can get flying again and meet up with the mother ship. Frank agrees to help, but their plans hit a major snag when it turns out they’ll need $120,000 worth of gold to fix Jake’s spaceship. In today’s dollars, that would be … a lot.

See, the cat has this collar…

How do you raise 120 grand in a hurry? Well, if you happen to have a neighbor who’s a gambler (McLean Stevenson), you make a really big bet on three football games. Then you have the cat with the collar that lets him move objects or people influence the outcome of the games. Just mentally nudge the ball a little bit this way, and your team wins. Easy peasy.

Was the cat actor sedated?

And this brings us to the part of the story where a well-meaning but misinformed vet sedates Jake at a critical point in the gambling scheme. With Jake temporarily out, there’s no way to control the game, and the big bet is lost. We were left wondering whether the cat actor was actually sedated for these scenes. (The part of Jake was played by two Abyssinians, by the way.) He looked sedated as the actors held the sleeping, very still cat. We haven’t been able to find any information on this, so we can’t say for sure. But we can say that sedation would be a crappy, not to mention potentially dangerous, way to get a cat actor to do what you want him to do. We hope that this particular cat actor was just really good at pretending to sleep.


Hokey but fun

As I said above, The Cat from Outer Space is not a great film, but it is fun. The story is preposterous, the special effects are hokey—wires are pretty clearly visible when people are “flying,” and the stuffed stunt cat used in the airplane shots does not come close to looking like an actual feline. But for us, seeing the hokeyness is part of the fun.


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. Thank you!




Saturday, February 18, 2017

Caturday Art: Paisley in Oils

For this week's Caturday Art blog hop, hosted by Athena and Marie, old SoLT did some experimenting in Photoshop, followed by more experimenting in PicMonkey. It's hard to get the different colors in Real Cat Paisley's coat to show up nicely in photos. But if you change them to different colors, sometimes the contrasts pop a little more. That's what happened in this picture, which we are quite pleased with:


In Photoshop, old SoLT first bumped the brightness and contrast way up. She then played around with the channel mixer until she had colors she liked. She decided on blues and greens. Next was a Solarize filter, followed by some adjustments to hue and saturation. Then she applied the Oil Paint filter. She then took the resulting  picture into PicMonkey, where she applied a Chill effect and decided to crop it so the focus would really be on Paisley. Finally, she added two frames: a drop shadow and a museum matte. By the way, no, she did not plan this; she just kept saying, "I wonder what happens if I...?"

Here's the original photo:




Friday, February 17, 2017

Words with Webster (Resorption), Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two features for you this Friday. First up is Words with Webster, and then it’s on to Friendly Fill-Ins. Let’s get right to it with Webs’s kind-of-serious word.

Words with Webster: Resorption

 Hi, all! Webster here, with a new cat-related word for you. This week’s word is in observation of Pet Dental Health Month. The word is “resorption.” This is when the dentin (the hard, bony part) of a tooth erodes and is eventually destroyed. It is a very common condition in cats. The Cornell Feline Health Center says that 20–60% of all cats and almost 75% of cats at least 5 years old have some resorption. No one is really sure what causes it. Resorption can become very painful. A common first sign is when a cat starts eating differently, not chewing her food, or chewing on only one side of the mouth. Tooth extraction is the only effective treatment.

I remind you to take care of your cat’s dental health this month. Teeth are important! 

Take care of your cat's dental health all year
but especially during Pet Dental Health Month.
Image credit: Rasulov, via Adobe Stock.

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 Paisley, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT’s answers
1.Snow was a lot more fun 30 years ago (when I might get a day off school) than it is today (when I have to shovel it).

2. My favorite kind of soup is Maryland crab soup, followed closely by corn chowder.
  
Real Cat Paisley’s answers

3. When no one is around, I take lots of naps. When I’m awake and alone, I plot different ways to scare the dog.

4. My mommy is my best friend, because she picked me out from all the other kitties at that adoption event.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pop Quiz! Do You Know Your Cat Breeds?

Do you think you know cat breeds pretty well? Are you ready for a little quiz on that topic? Thanks to the folks at The Pet Community, we have just such a test for you today. Old SoLT took it and, thanks to some lucky guesses along with her actual knowledge, she scored 80%. She's proud of that, but I say it leaves 20% room for improvement.

Have fun with the quiz, and let us know how you did in the comments (especially if you outscore old SoLT, because I would really love to hear about that!). And be sure to visit the Real Cats at The Pet Community. They'd love to see you there!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cat of the Week: Meatloaf in Westhampton (NY)

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.

This week we’re introducing Meatloaf. This handsome guy has been through some terrible times. He lived with a person who overfed him, causing him to become so morbidly obese he could not walk on his paws. Then his person had to go into a nursing home, and the family did not take care of him. Some real estate agents found him in the home and threw him outside. (Hiss!) He wound up in a shelter, but it wasn’t until the kind folks at Bideawee came into the picture that Meatloaf was really safe. (Yay!) They took him in and put him on a special diet, and he has lost two pounds already.

Meatloaf is 8 years old. His size is listed as “XL,” and the lucky family who adopts him will have to continue his special diet so he can trim down further. Despite how some people have treated him, Meatloaf is still a very gentle guy and is very affectionate. He just needs someone to love who will love him back. Maybe you?

Meatloaf is currently at Bideawee’s Westhampton location. Learn more about here.


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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I Heart You, I Hurt You: A Valentine from Tortie Troublemaker


Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! We so appreciate you all for spending a few moments of your day with us. Today we’re very pleased to welcome Tortie Troublemaker (a.k.a. Real Cat Paisley) to the blog. It seems she has written a poem for Valentine’s Day. We think any of you whose feline companions get “prickly” (a.k.a. “scratchy” and/or “bitey”) will be able to relate. It's titled "I Heart You, I Hurt You."




You pet me, you stroke me, you tell me I’m great.
I heart you.
You sleep in, you dawdle, my breakfast is late.
I hurt you.
You scoop out my box and make it all clean.
I heart you.
You try a weird litter. “Improved”? No, it’s mean.
I hurt you.
You sit still for hours, I sleep in your lap.
I heart you.
You “have to go pee” and disturb my nice nap.
I hurt you.
You bring me fun toys, like feathers and balls.
I heart you.
You have a big fit if I scratch up the walls.
I hurt you.
You gave me a home, keep me happy and safe.
We play “catch the feather,” and around the room we race.
You tell me I’m special, that I’m number one.
Whatever we do, we always have fun.
I know that you love me, even when I scratch.
Of all the humans in the world, you’re my perfect match.
I heart you! I heart you! I heart you!

Candy Hearts photo, "I heart you"
Photo credit: Jason Stitt, via Adobe Stock.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cat Classics on Film: Breakfast at Tiffany’s



Breakfast at Tiffany's DVD box
I will open this post by saying, if you have not seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s, something is missing from your life, and that little hole could be filled completely if you would just spend about two hours watching this film. Not because of the romance or the comedy or because you could look at Audrey Hepburn for a very long time and never get tired of it. No, it’s because of the masterful performance given by Orangey the cat in his pivotal role as Cat in this 1961 adaptation of a Truman Capote novella.

Holly Golightly has issues … and a cat

The scene is New York City, where we meet one Holly Golightly, an attractive young woman who is discombobulated, outrageous, unsettled and, yes, a little nuts—but in the most charming way. She's an escort, basically, and she's also unknowingly passing information from a convict in Sing Sing to his "lawyer." Let's say Holly's life is ... interesting.

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly
in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Holly also has a thing for Tiffany’s. I mean “a thing.” When she gets a case of the “mean reds” (when you’re afraid but you don’t know what of), a visit to the high-end jewelry store, where everything is always perfect, makes her feel better. If she could just find another place that made her feel like Tiffany’s does, she’d buy herself some furniture and give her cat a name.

Which brings me to the cat, who is called, extremely unimaginatively, Cat. But the fact that she hasn’t bothered to name her cat is just one more bit of evidence for Holly’s inability or unwillingness to face life as it is, her insistence that she not own or be owned by anything or anyone. So much better to party, to search for a rich, eligible bachelor or some other means of making her fortune so she can move to Mexico and raise horses with her beloved brother, Fred.

Orangey the cat with Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's
Orangey as "Cat" with Audrey Hepburn
in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Which brings me to Fred—not Holly’s brother, but her new upstairs neighbor. He’s actually a struggling writer named Paul Varjack (played by George Peppard) who is currently being kept by his “designer.”  I mean “kept” as in the designer deposits some cash on the nightstand when she leaves his apartment. Anyway, Paul reminds Holly of her brother, and so she insists on calling him Fred. They do some fun things together, and Paul naturally falls in love, while Holly … well, she continues to be Holly.

More about Cat

But let’s get to the important stuff: the cat. Cat is played by the handsome orange tabby named Orangey. He does all sorts of things in this film: he kneads Holly’s back, jumps on men’s shoulders, wanders along high places during a party, rests in the kitchen sink. Orangey also plays in two very dramatic scenes: one in which Holly has a breakdown and Cat gets tossed against the wall (unhurt, thankfully), and the climactic rain scene, in which he gets all wet. Truly, this is a cat devoted to his craft.

Sure, you can watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s for its romance, its comedy, its tear-inducing finale. But you should really watch it to see Orangey at work. What a cat! His performance in this film earned him and his assistant (well, okay, technically his “trainer”) Frank Inn a PATSY* award in 1962. (*Performing Animal Top Star of the Year.)


Some details

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, directed by Blake Edwards, is unrated and was released in 1961. We’d give it a PG rating—there is kind of a lot of drinking, smoking, and general partying, but nothing terribly gross, violent, or naughty. Well, a little bit naughty, but you can probably handle it.


Recommended!

Two Paws up, A Great Movie!

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. Thank you!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley Takes Control

This week for the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by our friends at The Cat on My Head, we have this shot of Real Cat Paisley helping out with the blog recently. In fact, she was helping out while old SoLT was putting a different picture of her on the blog for a Sunday Selfie. So you might say that this picture is a selfie of a selfie.

Paisley, tortoiseshell cat, on desk in front of monitor



Saturday, February 11, 2017

Caturday Art: Paisley's Valentine

For Today's Caturday Art, Real Cat Paisley wanted to send you a slightly early valentine. She got some help from old SoLT to make this picture, which we are entering in Athena's Caturday Art blog hop:


Old SoLT made this in PicMonkey. Well, first she imported the original photo into Lightroom to crop it, adjust the exposure and lighten the shadows. Then it was over to PicMonkey, where she applied a Soften effect, followed by the Ombre Amour and Bokeh Hearts effects, a Frost effect, and more Bokeh Hearts. Then she added the text and a drop shadow border.

Here's the original:




Friday, February 10, 2017

Words with Webster: More Ways to Say “Cat” Historically, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

Words with Webster


Hi, everybody! Webster here, with a brand-new installment of Words with Me. Today I’ve collected a bunch more old ways to say “cat.” This list continues the much shorter list I started last year in thispost. Once again, the terms are from Oxford English Dictionary’s Historical Thesaurus, and they’re arranged in order from newest to oldest:

Pussy: (1699) A colloquial term for a cat. Also used as a proper or pet name.
Pussycat: (1698) A cat.
Miaower: (1632) Also miauler, meaning a cat.
Grimalkin: (1630) Used as both a proper name and a common term for a cat. Applied especially to older female cats. Also used as contemptuous term for a jealous old woman.
Tibert: (1616) Used as both a proper name and a common term for a cat.
Mewer: (1611) Meaning an animal that mews, especially a cat. Also mewler.
Puss-Cat: (1529) Meaning a cat or a person who was like a cat.
Baudrons:  (1500) A Scottish name for the cat.
Gib:  (1400) A familiar name given to a cat. “To play fy gib” (to say “fie” to the cat) meant to threaten someone. Later, “gib” meant a neutered male cat. The word has also been used reproachfully, especially when referring to an old woman.
Bad:  (1325) Meaning a domestic or wild cat.
Cat: (800) Meaning a domestic feline.

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 Paisley, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT’s answers
1. My favorite kind of cookie is chocolate chip with walnuts.

2. I have no idea who would play me in a movie about my life. I think my life is more suited to a comic book than a movie.


Real Cat Paisley’s answers

3. Love is having a nice person who feeds you and everything and whose lap you can nap on.

4. For Valentine's Day, Mommy is helping me write a very lovely poem, but you’ll have to wait till next week to read it.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cats in Space: Cat’s Paw and Cat’s Eye Nebulas

People name all sorts of things after cats, and not all of those things are on Earth. At least two of those things are way out in space: the Cat’s Paw and Cat’s Eye Nebulas.

The Lobster Nebula and Cat's Paw Nebula. Image credit: ESO
This image from the ESO’s Very Large Telescope Survey
Telescope shows the Cat’s Paw Nebula (NGC 6334) in the
upper right and the Lobster Nebula (NGC 6357) in the lower left.
Image credit: ESO.

Cat’s Paw Nebula (NGC6334)

Chart of constellation Scorpius, showing location of Lobster and Cat's Paw Nebulas. Image credit: ESO/IAU and Sky & Telescope
Chart showing the constellation Scorpius,
with the Cat’s Paw and
Lobster Nebulas indicated with red circles.
Image credit: ESO/IAU and Sky & Telescope.
The Cat’s Paw Nebula is something called an emission nebula (basically, a big cloud of ionized gas that emits light). It is in the constellation Scorpius, near the tip of the tail. This nebula is 50 light-years across, and is about 5,500 light-years from Earth. It is what they call a “stellar nursery”—an area of active star formation. The Cat’s Paw Nebula could have tens of thousands of stars in it. The “toe beans” are actually gas being lit up by the newborn stars. Perhaps not as cute as your cat’s toe beans, but still pretty impressive!

This nebula was first spotted by British scientist John Herschel in June 1837. He didn’t call it the Cat’s Paw Nebula though, partially because the telescope he was using wasn’t powerful enough to show the full shape.

The Cat’s Paw Nebula came to my attention last week, when  the European Southern Observatory released a new, very large image of it. When I say large, I mean 2 billion pixels. That will not quite fit on this blog!

(By the way... don't tell the astronomers, but old SoLT thinks this nebula looks more like a mouse than a cat's paw. Go figure.)

Cat’s Eye Nebula

The Cat’s Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) is a planetary nebula located in the constellation Draco. It is 3,300 light-years from Earth and was discovered by William Herschel in 1786. He called it a planetary nebula because it looked like a planet, but actually it is a shell of ionized gas ejected from an old star. The Cat’s Eye Nebula is one of the most structurally complex nebulas known. It is made up mostly of hydrogen and helium.

The Cat’s Eye Nebula, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA/ESA, public domain
The Cat’s Eye Nebula, as seen by the
Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA/ESA, public domain, via WikimediaCommons.

You may be at least a little bit familiar with the Cat’s Eye Nebula from the spectacular images taken of it by the Hubble Space Telescope.


Watch this space

These two nebulas are not the only things out in space that have something to do with cats, so watch this space (pun intended; sorry, but old SoLT made me do it) for more cats in space!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Cat of the Week: Snow White 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.

Snow White is a 14-yr-old British Shorthair in need of a home
Today, say hello to Snow White, a beautiful white British Shorthair who looks like she stepped out of a fairy tale tail. Snow White is 14 years old, and she is a little shy, but she is so loving. Her person could not care for her any longer, and so she ended up at the shelter. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to give this sweet lady a happy home?

Snow White 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, February 6, 2017

Book Review: Murder Go Round


On this Mysterious Monday, we bring you a brief review of the latest book in the Witch City mystery series from Carol J. Perry. It’s called Murder Go Round, and it has so much going for it, it’s hard to know where to start. So I’ll start with the basics.

A scryer, a storage locker, and a Russian princess

Lee Barrett is a young widow who lives in a pretty terrific house in Salem, Massachusetts, with her aunt Ibby. Her boyfriend is police detective Pete Mondello. In Murder Go Round, Lee and Ibby “win” an abandoned storage locker at one of those auction thingamies (just like on TV). Inside they discover some fascinating things: an old wooden carousel horse, a samovar, a cuckoo clock. So far so good. But things soon take a turn for the weird.

You see, Lee has a certain ability that she’s not always thrilled about but that she’s learning to live with. She can see things, and I don’t mean the regular sorts of everyday things. She’s a scryer, otherwise known as a gazer. Give her a shiny, reflective surface, and she’s likely to have a vision, and in this case, the vision she has is of a dead man. Before long, there is a real dead man to deal with, and Lee and Ibby get all involved in the investigation, because it all seems to have something to do with that stuff from the storage locker.

It also seems to have something to do with Czar Nicholas II, as well as a group of Russians who fled to America in 1915, each carrying something very valuable. This would explain why a supposed long-lost Russian princess is acting all weird about the storage locker. Or would it?

Don’t forget the cat

This series also features an excellent yellow striped cat named O’Ryan, who used to belong to a witch and may have been her familiar. In any case, he is familiar with solving mysteries by providing little clues. The trick, as always, is getting the humans to (a) notice and (b) understand the clues. Not an easy task, but O’Ryan and the other “special” cats of Salem are up to it.

Our verdict

As I mentioned earlier, Murder Go Round has a lot going for it. Of course we love the cat in this series, but we also enjoy the humans and their relationships. We’ve read the Witch City mysteries from the start, and Lee Barrett now feels like a good friend we get to visit once a year or so. This book provides a healthy dose of two of our other favorite things: world history and family history. Lee and Ibby spend a fair amount of time tracking down what happened to that group of Russians from a century ago. It is all just so interesting and juicy … I am salivating just thinking of it. And as always, Perry’s writing is just a joy to read, and the plot is perfectly structured.

If you haven’t the Witch City series, you are really missing out.

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!

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, February 5, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Webster at Work

We're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop today, hosted by our friends at The Cat on My Head. Real Cat Webster actually showed up for work a few times this week (he's semi-retired now and only shows up when he's "in the mood"). One time he stayed long enough to take this selfie:






Saturday, February 4, 2017

Caturday Art: Aqua Acid Paisley

Today we're joining the Caturday Art blog hop, hosted by our friend Athena. Old SoLT kept it simple this week, choosing the first effect in LunaPic (Acid) that she liked and then hopping over to PicMonkey to add a frame. We like how Paisley's fur came out:



Here's the original: