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.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley's Attempted Selfie

Today we join the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head. Real Cat Paisley was determined to have a good selfie this week. As you can see, she had a bit of trouble:

 Wrong angle.


Too close.


Framing is okay, but Paisley's blurry.


And where is the perfect selfie, you ask? Well, there is a reason this post is titled "Paisley's Attempted Selfie"!

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Caturday Art: Spacey Webster

Today we join Athena's Caturday Art blog hop with the following spacey offering featuring Real Cat Webster:

Real Cat Webster_space effects_2017

Old SoLT would really like to tell you exactly how she did this, but, well, it was one of those days where she just tried a bunch of filters in LunaPic and then tried a bunch more filters on the picture that already had the first filter applied. Then it was over to PicMonkey for some Radiance and Lens Flare effects, and for the frame. Here's the original:

Real Cat Webster face_April 2017


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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Did Dental Disease Turn Tsavo Lions into Man-Eaters?

Warning: Today’s post has some rather gruesome parts to it, as we bring you the story of two of our wild cousins who were famous for all the wrong reasons. You’ve been warned.

The Tsavo man-eaters


 Every once in while, you hear of a “man-eating” lion, but why do some lions choose to hunt humans instead of the four-legged hoofed animals that are their usual prey? A new study recently published in Scientific Reports looked at “dental microwear” to see what they could learn about lions' eating behaviors from evidence left behind on their teeth. The work suggests that at least in some cases, the answer to "Why?" could be dental injury and disease.

The "Tsavo man-eaters" today, in a diorama at the Field Museum
in Chicago. The skins were sold to the museum for $5,000 some 25 years
after the lions' death.
By Superx308 Jeffrey Jung, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Two of the lions whose teeth were examined were the famous Tsavo man-eaters of 1898. These were maneless male lions that, according to the most spectacular estimate, killed up to 135 people. The actual number has been shown to be much lower, about 35 people, but that is still a lot. The victims were Indian members of a construction crew building a railroad bridge over the Tsavo River in Kenya. The terror at the railroad workers’ camp began in March 1898 when, shortly after their arrival, men started to go missing. Searches turned up mutilated bodies. Efforts to protect the camp with thorny barricades failed, as the lions found a way through the barriers. One worker wrote that the lions’
“very jaws were steeped in blood. Bones, flesh, skin and blood, they devoured all, and left not a trace behind them.”
Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Patterson, an engineer and leader of the expedition, wrote of hearing the cats crunching the bones of one of their victims, purring as they did so.

The first Tsavo lion killed by Lt. col. Patterson, 1898
The first of the two Tsavo man-eating lions (FMNH 23970)
shot by Lieutenant Colonel Patterson, 1898.
 By Field Museum [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Patterson would eventually kill both of the lions, the first on December 9, 1898. That lion was over nine feet long from his nose to the tip of his tail, and it took eight men to carry him to the camp. The second lion, killed three weeks later, was of similar size. Both lions had injuries to their skin from the thorns that were used to try to protect the workers’ camp. Patterson kept the skins as trophy rugs for some 25 years, before selling them to the Field Museum in Chicago for $5,000. They were stuffed and placed on display, and they can still be seen there.

(The 1996 movie The Ghost and the Darkness, starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer, dramatized the events in the construction camp.)

What the teeth say

Although Patterson wrote of hearing the lions crunching their victims’ bones, the evidence left behind on the cats’ teeth tells a different story. The authors of the paper in Scientific Reports used something called dental microwear texture analysis to determine what the lions were eating. The results suggest that, in the period just before their death, the Tsavo man-eaters were not consuming the bones of their prey and were instead consuming only the softer tissues.

second Tsavo man-eater shot by Lt. col. Patterson
The second Tsavo lion shot by Lieutenant Colonel Patterson.
This lion is now known as FMNH 23969.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
The teeth also showed a possible reason the lions became man-eaters. One of the cats had a serious dental injury, a broken lower tooth, and the pain from that may have made it impossible for him to kill normal prey in the usual lion way, through suffocation. That could have prompted him to pass up his usual prey in favor of something softer, slower, and easier to catch, like people. The other lion also had dental injuries, but his were less severe. Interestingly, for the second lion, humans made up a smaller part of his diet than for the first lion—13% versus 30%. And those numbers, by the way, also show that humans still made up a relatively small part of both lions’ diets.

We think it’s worth noting that it seems that, even for the “man-eaters,” humans were not at the top of the menu. The lion with the severely injured tooth may have turned to the workers’ camp for prey because he was in too much pain to routinely catch and kill other prey. The second lion may have been a true copycat, learning from his companion how to take easy prey from the camp.

If you have about nine minutes, this video is well worth a look. It's from before the most recent paper was published, but you can see researcher Larisa DeSantis demonstrating how molds of the lions’ teeth were made. Interesting!



Sources

Larisa R. G. DeSantis and Bruce D. Patterson, “Dietary Behaviour of Man-Eating Lions as Revealed by Dental Microwear Textures,” Scientific Reports 7, April 19, 2017, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-00948-5, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-00948-5

J.H. Patterson, The Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo and Other East Africa Adventures, 1907.


Paul Raffaele, “Man-Eaters of Tsavo,” Smithsonian, January 2010, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/man-eaters-of-tsavo-11614317/

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cat of the Week: Buttons in DC

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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 this handsome tabby named Buttons. Buttons is a 7-year-old male, and we are told he is very social and likes to have a  good time. He likes to play, but he’s also easy-going and enjoys just napping in a sun puddle. Buttons gets along with other cats and could be a good companion for another cat.

Buttons is currently at the New York Avenue NE Adoption Center of the Humane Rescue Alliance. Find out more about him 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.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Review: Mrs. Pargeter’s Public Relations


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This book is the eighth in a series by Simon Brett, and it is the first one we have read. In fact, this is the first we have heard of the series, but now that we’ve read book 8, we wish we had time to go back and read the series from the start.

Mrs. Pargeter's Public Relations, by Simon BrettThe action takes place in England and Greece. The titular Mrs. Pargeter is a wealthy widow whose husband had many associates who…well, let’s say they’re a little shady and perhaps not always on the right side of the law. They are fiercely loyal to Mrs. Pargeter though, and that is what really matters. Also, they are not the mean and evil sort of criminals—or reformed criminals, or whatever they are. They are actually rather nice.

You’ll be wondering where the cats come in. Well, being wealthy, Mrs. Pargeter gets invited by various people in various ways to give up bits and pieces of her money in support of various causes. One such cause is the cat charity—PhilliPussies—run by a sort of friend of hers. The charity takes feral cats from Greece, spruces them up, and “repatriates” them to England for adoption. It is at a fundraiser for this charity that Mrs. Pargeter is accosted by the sister-in-law she never met and whose existence she had been 100 percent unaware of. In ensuing days the sister-in-law, who is really not a very nice sort of person, begins making veiled threats.

And then…the body of an old woman associated with the cat charity is discovered in a shallow grave in Epping Forest (“London’s go-to destination for burying bodies in shallow graves”). Mrs. Pargeter and her, um, associates do some investigating on their own, including taking a trip to the Greek island where the cats are collected from. Just what is the deal with this charity?

Which brings me back to the cats. We don’t really get to know any cats in this story. We see a lot of cats in  cages, either being transported or waiting to be transported, but they are not major players. So if you read this book, just don’t expect there to be cats on every page. We did not find this disappointing though, as the story is excellently told. The climactic scenes are gripping, and there is something James Bond-ish about the way Mrs. Pargeter’s associates use their various skills to get out of tense situations. And Mrs. Pargeter…well, I can’t say we liked her, exactly. But we did respect her. She is the best Mrs. Pargeter we can imagine.


Mrs. Pargeter’s Public Relations is a very entertaining book, well worth a read. 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, April 23, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Talk Like Shakespeare Day

We're doing something a little different for today's Sunday Selfie blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head. Today is also Talk Like Shakespeare Day, and Real Cat Webster has prepared a little something special. We hope you enjoy it!


(We used this Shakespearean Insult Kit for Paisley's line.)

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Caturday Art: Webster in Oils

We join Athena's Caturday Art blog hop with this picture of Real Cat Webster resting atop the cat tree:

Webster on cat tree_landscape_2017

Old SoLT kept it simple this week. She just applied a Landscape filter in Lunapic and then added a frame in PicMonkey. Here's the original:



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Friday, April 21, 2017

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

We have two fun features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a new cat-related word for you. And then it’s on to Friendly Fill-Ins. Webs, take it away!

Words with Webster

Words with Webster badge

Hi, friends! Today on Words with Me, I have a really neat word for you: kneazle. Kneazles are creatures from Harry Potter. They look like big cats with spotted fur, large ears, and a lion’s tail. They can be aggressive. They are also very intelligent and can guide their owners home. You need a license to legally own a kneazle, so keep that in mind if you're thinking of getting one!

Cat/kneazle hybrids are possible, and it has been suggested that Crookshanks, Hermione Granger’s cat, is part kneazle. Please enjoy this video of an animatronic kneazle at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park:



Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins badgeAnd now it’s time for 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 this week,  are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by Real Cat Paisley,  are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.


1. The most interesting museum I have been to is the Freer|Sackler Galleries, part of the Smithsonian. They’re undergoing renovation now, and I look forward to visiting in the fall when everything is open again.

2. The most interesting historical place I have been to is the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. This is a 6th-century cistern near the Hagia Sophia. Part of Dan Brown’s Inferno takes place there.

3. Pollen is back! Mommy is sneezing a lot.

4. I was surprised that my family has kept the dog they brought home last year. I was sure they would listen to me and take it back.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cat News Brief: Look Into Cat Mummy Reveals Something…Smaller Than Expected

Researchers at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen got a small surprise when they used a CAT scan to take a peek at what was inside an ancient Egyptian cat mummy in their collection. Instead of a full-grown cat, what was inside the mummy’s wrappings was actually just a kitten. Its neck had been broken. While we may think of the Egyptians mummifying their dear, departed pets, there also existed an industry that bred cats specifically to be mummified and sold to worshipers as temple offerings, possibly to Bastet. In this case, the seller might have made more money from a large cat than a kitten, so he likely bulked up the mummy to charge a higher price.


However, Jaromir Malek* has written that, judging from the evidence of other cat mummies, it wasn’t unusual for young cats to be killed and mummified, most likely for sale. So it isn’t clear to us that the seller was cheating the buyer in this case (though he may well have been).


*The Cat in Ancient Egpyt. Revised edition. London: British Museum Press, 2006.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cat of the Week: Carmella in Baltimore

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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’re pleased to introduce Carmella, a really sweet, laid-back girl with lovely long fur. Carmella is 8 years old and is medium-sized. She loves to have her beautiful fur brushed every day. She also enjoys being held and just spending quiet time with her special person. Carmella has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. She is getting insulin shots and has special food to eat. She needs to find a new person who will be diligent about continuing her care so she stays healthy and happy.

Wouldn’t it be great to give Carmella 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, April 17, 2017

Cat Classics on Film: Rhubarb (1951)

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It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to baseball…the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, a cat named Rhubarb. Okay, that last one might not make everyone’s list, but it sure makes ours. Who could forget the story of the scrappy yellow cat who went from living under a bush to owning a Major League Baseball team? I am referring, of course, to Rhubarb, the 1951 film directed by Arthur Lubin and based on the book by H. Allen Smith.

The cat and his golf ball collection

Brooklyn Loons owner T. J. Banner (played by Gene Lockhart) has a problem. His team stinks. The team’s manager (played by William Frawley; I Love Lucy, anyone?) and publicist Eric Yeager (Ray Milland) think they need some better players, but Banner knows better. What they really need is some spirit, some fight. They need the same kind of fight exhibited by a certain yellow stray cat who steals rich men’s golf balls right off the green. “Get me that cat,” Banner tells Yeager, basically.

And so the cat who comes to be known as Rhubarb goes from managing his golf ball collection to inspiring a baseball team owner. (By the way, a “rhubarb” in baseball is a dispute on the field. We never knew that before watching this movie.) When Banner dies, he leaves his fortune and his team not to his scheming, selfish daughter but to Rhubarb. Yeager is named as Rhubarb’s guardian. All well and good…well, except for the daughter…and except for the players, who threaten to quit because they’re being made fun of over their new owner. Good thing for Yeager they’re all a bunch of “superstitious screwballs.” All he has to do is convince them that Rhubarb is their good-luck charm, and they’ll love him.

An allergic fiancée, a disinherited daughter, and a catnapping!

Once the Brooklyn Loons have been thoroughly convinced that all their good luck is down to Rhubarb, the cat becomes an indispensable part of the team. He has  a special seat at the ballpark, where each player gives him a few pets before going to bat. He is pursued by, well, I guess you’d call them feline groupies. With the team (now known to one and all as the Rhubarbs) on their way to the World Series, things are definitely looking up.

Success can breed trouble though, and Rhubarb has plenty of that. First off, Yeager’s fiancée seems to be allergic to the cat. And let’s not forget the millionaire’s daughter, who contends in court that the cat currently living in *her* mansion is not the real Rhubarb. Then, worst of all, Rhubarb is catnapped by bookies who are about to lose their shirts betting against the Loons. Will the team get their good-luck charm back in time for the pivotal game of the Series?

Well, it is a comedy, so basically, yes. But only after Rhubarb escapes and runs across the Brooklyn Bridge to get to the stadium.

Another masterful performance from Orangey

Rhubarb is played by Orangey the cat (whom you may also remember from his brilliant performance in Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Orangey does a fantastic acting job in this film. He is convincing as both the down-and-out stray with the golf ball collection and the spruced-up millionaire. He is at once fierce and endearing. Orangey won his first Patsy award (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year) for his work in Rhubarb.



Our verdict

We did get quite a few laughs out of this film. I will say it was not side-splittingly funny, but there are plenty of hijinks, mainly related to people trying to catch Rhubarb. It was fun seeing him jump from one place to another, often with a bumbling human a step behind. The story is good, with a variety of characters and a nice bit of drama (though you know things are going to turn out okay in the end, which we think is a plus when you're looking for light entertainment). We especially liked how Yeager and his fiancée proved that Rhubarb was Rhubarb. And we enjoy Ray Milland, so seeing him holding a handsome orange tabby for much of the film was a big plus. (And did you spot Leonard Nimoy in the clip above? He looks so young!)

Rhubarb is a fun film. We recommend watching it on some quiet Saturday night or on a rainy afternoon when your favorite baseball team has been rained out. Make popcorn!

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, April 16, 2017

Sunday Selfies: Webster and His Card

Today we're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head. This week's selfie comes courtesy of Real Cat Webster, who wanted to pose with his new greeting card, which he appears on the front of (find it on Zazzle!). Old SoLT agreed that this would be a good idea, so she put the card on the floor next to him.

He was just getting a good look at the card, when Real Cat Paisley showed up.


Is that a tortie sticking her nose into the picture?

Then Paisley showed up more. It was at about this point that the dog also showed up, but that happened so fast, old SoLT couldn't get a picture of it.

Paisley pushes in on Webster's photo shoot

Finally, everyone except Webs cleared out, and he got the shot he wanted:

Real Cat Webster posing with his greeting card


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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Caturday Art: Happy Easter!

Today we join Athena's Caturday Art blog hop with this Easter card that captures the moment a chick hatches on Real Cat Webster's head:

The Real Cats 2017 Happy Easter card

Old SoLT took a not very good photo of the Real Cats, messed with it in Lightroom to improve the exposure, applied a filter in LunaPic (she doesn't remember which one), and then used Illustrator to add the lettering and graphics from Adobe Stock.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: Star Trek Cats

Before we really start this post, please take this short quiz:

  1. Do you like Star Trek?
  2. Do you like cats?


Star Trek Cats, by Jenny ParksIf you answered “yes” to both questions, then have we got a book review for you! We were excited recently to discover the small book Star Trek Cats, by illustrator Jenny Parks. What it is, is a collection of illustrations of scenes from the original series, with cats standing in for the actors. Before you go off and start thinking this is weird, let me just tell you…Captain James T. Kirk is such an orange tabby!


We were a little bit disappointed to find that there is no actual story in this book, but we still have had plenty of fun looking through the pictures. Jenny Parks’s illustrations are so well done, it is hard to stop looking at them. We keep going back through the  book and finding details we missed the first or third time through. Cat lovers who are also fans of the show will enjoy recognizing certain moments: Spock’s mind meld, everyone falling down during a red alert, McCoy insisting he’s “just an old country doctor.”

And yes, there are tribbles.


Highly recommended for that segment of our readership who passed the quiz at the start of this post!


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!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Korat: An Ancient Cat Breed from Thailand

Korat illustration by bullet_chained, via Adobe Stock
The Korat is a blue cat that originated in Thailand,
where they are considered to bring good luck.
Illustration by bullet_chained, via Adobe Stock.


The Korat is a handsome and ancient breed of cat from Thailand (formerly Siam), where they are considered to bring good luck. They are sometimes called Si Sawat in Thailand, meaning “color” and “good fortune.” In fact, pairs of Korats have traditionally been given to newlywed couples in Thailand to bring the marriage good luck. I don’t know about luck, but anyone with a Korat has a blue-coated cat that tends to be playful, affectionate, and loyal.

A coat like pampas grass

The Korat’s blue coat has a silvery, shimmery quality to it that results from the effect of thousands of  individual hairs, each lighter colored at the root and darker near the tip, which is silver. Large green eyes complement the blue coat, giving the Korat a particularly striking face. In a 20th-century copy of an old Thai text, the Korat is described like this:
The cat Mal-Ed has a body color like “Doklao” [dok meaning “flower, and lao meaning “lemon grass” or “pampas grass”]. The hairs are smooth, with roots like clouds and tips like silver. The eyes shine like dewdrops on the lotus leaf.

Korat cat photo by Mikkel Bigandt, via Adobe Stock
A Korat, showing the beautiful silver-tipped blue coat.
Photo by Mikkel Bigandt, via Adobe Stock.

The five hearts of the Korat

There are said to be five hearts associated with the Korat:
  1. The face forms a heart, which you will see if you look at the cat straight on.
  2. The top of the head forms a heart, which you will see if you look down on it.
  3. The nose forms a heart.
  4. The cat’s chest shows a heart shape when the cat is sitting down.
  5. And of course there is the cat’s actual heart.


An ancient breed

The recorded history of the Korat goes back to a book called Cat Book Poems, which was made sometime between 1350 and 1767 and is now in the Bangkok National Library. It describes 17 “good luck” cats, including the Korat. This book was copied sometime in the 19th century, under commission from King Rama V (1853–1910). This copy, called Smud Khoi of Cats, is also in the national museum. Then there is the 20th-century copy quoted above. You can see the 17 lucky cats on this page from Korat World (the Korat is the fifth cat).

The Korat was named by King Rama V. When the king was asked where the cats came from, he answered that they were from the Khorat region, which is in the country’s northeast. It is thought that the cat’s coloring provided good camouflage among the granite rocks common to that region.

Superstitions and stories associated with the Korat

Korat cat face, by Mpc92, via Adobe Stock
Korats have large emerald-green eyes set in a face that suggests
the shape of a heart--one of the breed's "five hearts."
Photo by Mpc92, via Adobe Stock.
  • Traditionally, Korats could only be given as a gift; they could not be bought and sold.
  • It is said that when Thai warriors charged into battle on elephants, some carried their fierce male Korats with them.
  • The Korat’s fur represents wealth and good fortune.
  • The cat’s green eyes are like the green of young plants, representing a good harvest.
  • The cat’s coat is like rain clouds, and rain brings a good harvest.
  • A Korat with a kink in its tail is thought to be especially lucky.


The Korat comes west

It seems that a Korat was exhibited at a cat show in 1896 at Holland House in London. This cat, named Nam Noi and owned by Mrs. B. Spearman, was described as “a blue cat from Siam.” Mrs. Spearman contended that the cat was a Siamese, but it was disqualified from the Siamese class because of its unusual coloring. However, the cat placed first in the “Russian or Any Other Blue” class. A report on the show said this:
Siamese were plentiful. Raheng was a really good male. Nam Noi, a Blue, was entered as a Siamese, and very possibly came from Siam; but that does not make him a Siamese any more than an English cat coming from Persia would be a Persian. To my thinking, Nam Noi was an undoubted Russian. The pick of all the Siamese, however was Rimo and when fullgrown he ought to figure well and be a credit to that excellent studcat, King Kesho. In Russians Nam Noi in its right class won.
Although there do seem to have been a few Korats in the country much earlier, the first of these cats to “officially” arrive in the United Kingdom came in 1972, when a female and two males were brought in. The breed had arrived in the United States several years before, in 1959, when Jean Johnson, owner of Cedar Glen cattery, was given two Korats. Other breeders also imported Korats to establish breeding programs.

Today Korats remain rare, so count yourself lucky if you’ve seen one!




Sources

Coleman, Cheryl. “The Korat.” Cat Fanciers’ Association website. http://cfa.org/Breeds/BreedsKthruR/Korat/KoratArticle.aspx

Lacey, Jen. “Was This the First Korat to Be Shown?” Korat World. http://www.koratworld.com/namnoi.html


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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cat of the Week: Daisy in Westhampton, New York

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

Adopt Daisy! She's a diva in need of a loving home. Westhampton, NY. www.bideawee.org
This week we are reintroducing Daisy, who is now nearly 11 years old and who has been with the kind humans at Bideawee for almost a whole year. Daisy is a beautiful, medium-sized tabby girl. She is described as a diva who would do best in a “loving, cat-savvy home with sass and humor.” Sound like your place? Daisy’s ready to come in and take over!

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


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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Book Review: Elementary, She Read


We love Sherlock Holmes, so we could not wait to read Vicki Delany’s new book that is set largely in a bookshop devoted entirely to the fictional detective. It is really too bad that the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium is a fictional place, because we would like to go there. Right now.

A Sherlock emporium

Elementary, She Read, by Vicki Delany
The shop is located at 222 Baker Street in the touristy town of West London on Cape Cod. It is co-owned by Gemma Doyle, an Englishwoman who may be a distant relation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Surprisingly, Gemma is not a Sherlock fanatic. This is surprising both because of where she works and how she notices…everything. Not many details escape her attention: the exact location of every item in her shop, a frayed collar, a recently cut hangnail. She is really very Sherlockian in her ability to notice these little things and deduce explanations from them. 

A valuable magazine and a dead body

Things take a turn for the weird in Gemma’s life when a tour group descends upon her shop and a mysterious woman leaves something behind. What she leaves is not something you’d just stick in the lost and found. It is instead a very valuable magazine, possibly the most expensive magazine in the world. It is something a well-heeled Sherlock collector might, um, kill to get their hands on. We’re not talking People here.

The turn for the weird continues when Gemma and her best friend, Jayne, track the mysterious woman to a local hotel, only to discover her very recently murdered body. Why did the woman leave the magazine hidden in the shop, and why did someone kill her? Naturally, the police have the same questions, and Gemma goes right to the top of the suspect list. This despite the fact that the lead investigator, Ryan, is an old flame of hers. It doesn’t help that the female detective with him zeroes in on Gemma in a really unpleasant way. Talk about tense.

Moriarty the catand a cocker spaniel

And that brings us to the important part of the book, the cat. His name is Moriarty (which might sound rather ominous if you are familiar with the Sherlock Holmes stories). He is a black cat who lives in the shop. He loves and is loved by everyone—except Gemma. With nearly everyone else, he’s friendly, jumping into laps, letting people pet him. But if Gemma gets close to him, he might just take a swipe at her. You know, just for kicks.

Although Moriarty is a constant presence in the shop, he remains mysterious. What motivates him? We’re not sure, but we got some valuable insight into his character in this interview he granted our friend Mudpie over at Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries & Meows.

Oh, there’s also a dog, a cocker spaniel named violet who lives in Gemma’s home.

Our verdict

We find Elementary, She Read guilty…of making us stay up too late reading, of making us get emotionally involved with a fictional character. We like Gemma Doyle immensely. She is abrupt, abrasive, and annoyingly clever. She would be a difficult person to have as a friend, and yet we would love to have tea with her, just to see her amazing mind at work. Also, old SoLT would like to try to pet Moriarty.

Vicki Delany’s writing is excellent, and the plot is exquisite. We loved the glimpse this book gave us into the world of Sherlock Holmes. It was fun to see books we’ve read and movies and TV shows we’ve watched get mentions, however brief. We did wish for a bit more cat. Maybe in the next book.

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, April 9, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Webster Chillin'

For today's Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head, we offer this snap of Real Cat Webster just, you know, chillin':

Real Cat Webster takin' it easy


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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Caturday Art: Greek Vase

We are pleased to be joining Athena's Caturday Art blog hop with this picture:

Real Cats in the window, with Greek vase filter from Dreamscope applied

Old SoLT did this in Dreamscope with the Greek vase filter. We just love how it turned out. Sort of a modern take on a Greek vase. The frame is from PicMonkey.

Here is the original. It's an older picture of Real Cats Webster and Paisley, from several years ago, but it's one of old SoLT's favorites of the two of them together:

Real Cats Paisley and Webster in the window


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Friday, April 7, 2017

Words with Webster, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun features for you this Friday. First up is Words with Webster, in which Webs shares some information about eyes. This is followed by Friendly Fill-Ins.

Words with Webster

Words with Webster
Hi, all! Real Cat Webster here. Today in Words with Me, I’ve picked a really interesting word. It’s tapetum (plural tapeta), and it means the reflective layer behind the retina in the eye. My cousin Merriam-Webster says that tapetum is
any of various membranous layers or areas especially of the choroid and retina of the eye; specifically :  a layer in the choroid chiefly of nocturnal mammals that reflects light and is made up of several layers of flattened cells covered by a zone of double refracting crystals.
 Whatever. Basically, it’s what helps us cats see so well at night. Some light that comes into the eye misses the retina’s receptor cells, and the tapetum reflects that light back toward the retina so it has another chance to hit a receptor cell and get “seen.” The tapetum is also what makes our eyes shine in the dark when you point a flashlight or something at us.

Pretty cool, huh? I mean, I’m twelve years old, and all this time I never even knew I had a tapetum!

Friendly Fill-Ins

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And now it’s time for 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 Real Cat Paisley this week,  are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by Real Cat Webster,  are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers
1. I don't understand why sleeping late on weekends is so popular. C’mon, human. Five a.m., time to feed the kitty, even on Sundays!

2. My in-case-of-emergency person is Mommy.

Real Cat Webster’s answers
3. There is so much napping to be done! It’s hard to keep up, actually.


4. I would be lost without my family. And my tapeta.