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.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Announcing Important Dates for The Mythmakers

The Mythmakers cover sneak preview
Here's a sneak preview of an early draft of the cover of The Mythmakers.


Old SoLT and I have been hard at work on the latest book in the Miss Cuddlywumps Investigates series, and we are finally ready to announce some Dates When Things Will Happen.  We have arbitrarily decided to make things happen on the 15th day of each of the three coming months, as follows:
September 15, 2017: The Mythmakers cover reveal
October 15, 2017: The Mythmakers first chapter available for preview
November 15, 2017: The Mythmakers release date
Just in case you have not caught on yet, the book is called The Mythmakers. It is the fifth book in the series, and it picks up a few months after the fourth book left off.

You do not have to read the books in order, but we think you will enjoy the series more if you do. (For example, there is a character in The Mythmakers whom you will understand better if you have read Book 2: The Ides of October. No, we’re not going to tell you who it is.) If you want to catch up, you can find the print books at the Cuddlywumps Publishing website (yes, we sell them for a little less than Amazon does—plus I will purrsonally pawtograph your books if you like, at no extra charge). And of course we have Kindle versions available from our Amazon page.

We look forward to welcoming you to the little town of Brooksford, Maryland. It is a lovely setting for a murder...

Miss Cuddlywumps Investigates mystery series

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cat of the Week: Starlord in Baltimore

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Each week in this space, we feature an older adult or senior cat (7 years +) in need of adoption or sponsorship. Mature cats make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt an older cat, and help them enjoy the best years of their life!






This week, we are excited to introduce Starlord. He is a 12-year-old large black Domestic Shorthair/Mix. His name might sound kind of intimidating, but Starlord is a really laid-back guy who loves attention. He also loves a nice, comfy bed. And check out those cute little fangs! We are a little bit in love with this cat. We are already picturing Starlord as a blogging/Instagramming star (pun intended). Or he could simply be the furry star of his new forever home. All he needs is some special human to fall in love with him and take him in (and provide a really comfy bed!).

Starlord is currently at the Baltimore Humane Society. Learn more about him here.





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

Are you a dog lover? (It’s okay; we understand if you are—sort of.) Well, if you love dogs and are in the Baltimore area, make plans now to attend DogFest 2017 on Saturday, September 16. You can get discounted tickets online through September 14.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Remembering Miss Darya

Today is Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, and we are taking a quiet moment to remember old SoLT's companion of 18 years, the spunky, feisty tabby cat named Miss Darya.

Remembering Miss Darya on Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day

Darya was adopted from a shelter. With old SoLT, she had quite the adventurous life. She enjoyed catching crickets at night and letting them loose in the bed, and once she caught a mouse and let it loose in the bed. (Old SoLT adds: If you want to wake up in a hurry, just have a mouse run over you while you're sleeping. Way more effective than coffee!) She had a complicated way of getting on the roof of the empty neighboring house (jump on top of a box, jump onto an old door, walk across it, climb into a hole in the ceiling, walk a short way, climb out of another hole onto the roof). She and old SoLT enjoyed napping on the sofa together on Sunday afternoons. Old SoLT was not allowed to fold warm laundry until after Darya was finished napping on it. She hated going to the vet, and when they took her in the back for blood work, she would scream like they were killing her (she had a flair for the dramatic).

Miss Darya was outspoken, in your face, and had an opinion on everything. She would have loved blogging!

She was also a pretty terrific companion, and we honor her today.



We thank Deb Barnes of Zee and Zoey’s Cat Chronicles, author of Purr Prints of the Heart and founder of Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, for creating this special day to remember our beloved companions.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Selfie: No We Won't Look at the Camera!

Sometimes you get a great idea for Sunday Selfie, but it doesn't quite work out. Like this week, when old SoLT found both of the Real Cats on the cat tree at the same time (kind of a rare occurrence). She thought it would make such a cute selfie, but here's what really happened:


"Hey, guys, let's take a picture for Sunday Selfie! Look this way!"

The Reat Cats on cat tree_1

"No, guys. Look this way. Over here!"

The Reat Cats on cat tree_2

"No, this way!"

The Reat Cats on cat tree_3

"Guys?"

The Reat Cats on cat tree_4

"Oh, forget it."


We're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head.

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Caturday Art: Not a Cat

We have done a rare thing in our Caturday Art this week. We have used a picture of a ... (cough) ... dog. This is because today is National Dog Day, and Layla the Resident Dog has been begging and begging and begging (you know how dogs are) to please, please, please (ahem) be on the blog today. So here she is:

Layla_Daisies effect_National Dog Day

Old SoLT took a photo of Layla from last July 4th and applied the Daisies effect in Lunapic. She then went to PicMonkey and applied the Dark Edges effect and a frame and text. Here's the original:

Layla in patriotic scarf

We're happy to be joining Athena's Caturday Art blog hop today!

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Words with Webster: Meow, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a real cat word to share. After that, it’s on to Friendly Fill-Ins!

Words with Webster badgeWords with Webster


Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster, welcoming you to Words with Me. I think I picked a really good word this week. It’s one that we all know and use a whole lot: "meow." I’m pretty sure we all know what a meow is, but to get an official definition, Mommy helped me look in my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s. In there, it said that “meow” means “the cry of a cat” (yeah, we knew that), but it also means “a spiteful or malicious remark” (I never heard that one before; why do people use cat words to say something mean, anyway?). The word can be spelled a whole bunch of different ways too: miaow, miau, or meaow.

Next, we looked in the Oxford English Dictionary, where we learned that “meow” as a verb first appeared in print in 1632. It was in Robert Sherwood and Randle Cotgrave’s A dictionarie of the French and English tongues... [and] A most copious dictionarie, of the English set before the French (not the catchiest title I’ve ever heard, but I guess they did things different back then). The quote is
To meaw, or meawle (as a cat), miauler.
I was surprised that the word appeared that late (and it wasn’t used as a noun until the 19th century), so I asked Mommy to click the link for “mew,” a word that is related to “meow” and seems to have appeared about 300 years earlier.  We’re looking at the verb again, with the following meaning: “of a cat: to make its characteristic cry.” The word appeared in about 1325, in the Glossary of W. de Bibbesworth:
Chate mimoune, mewich.
I read that and said, “Huh?,” so we found this other quote from Shakespeare:
Thrice the brinded Cat hath mew'd. (Macbeth, IV.i.1 [about 1616])
There, that's better. By the way, that quote is also the title of an excellent book Miss C reviewed last year.

We know that forms of the word "mew" have been around since way before 1325 though, because "miu" or "mii" was the Egyptian word for cat.

Cat writes "meow" on a chalkboard
Kittens learn "meow" in their first days of kittengarten.
Image via Adobe Stock.

Regardless of how it’s spelled or anything, the word “meow” seems to come from people trying to imitate the sound a cat makes. I can understand how hard this must be for you humans out there, because we cats make lots and lots of different sounds. Most of you don’t sound anything like us, but hey, thanks for trying! One other thing about the “meow” sound that’s really interesting is how similar the word is in different languages. You can learn more about that in our post “30 Ways to Say Meow.”

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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 old SoLT, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
1. Being a dog is a waste of time. All our dog does is eat my food when I’m not looking and sit around looking dumb. What’s the point?

2. My favorite app is the one Mommy uses when she walks the dog, because it means the dog is leaving the house for a little while. (Mommy Old SoLT adds: It’s Walk for a Dog, by WoofTrax).

Old SoLT’s answers:
3. My first car was a 1991 Nissan pickup. I loved that little truck!

4. The best car I ever owned was is my Volkswagen Beetle, because it is just so much fun to drive.

Old SoLT's Beetle

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cat Classics on Film: The Cat Returns

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We don’t watch much anime, but we do make an exception for movies with cats in them, like The Cat Returns, a Studio Ghibli production originally released in 2002 in Japan as Neko no ongaeshi. We found that this film has plenty of delightful moments and some pretty good characters—and all the best characters are cats.

The plot

The Cat Returns (2002)
The movie opens with this quote:
If you find yourself troubled by something mysterious or a problem that’s hard to solve, there’s a place you can go where you’ll always find help. You just need to look for it.
So you know you’re about to meet someone who is or soon will be troubled by something mysterious or a problem that’s hard to solve. That person turns out to be Haru (voiced by Anne Hathaway in the English version), a schoolgirl whom we meet as she is waking up late for school. Haru gets to class only to be laughed at by everyone, including the cool boy she has a crush on.  Devastating. Later that day, Haru heroically saves a cat from being hit by a truck (we found this to be the most dramatic scene in the film). Afterward, the cat unexpectedly rises up on two legs, bows, and speaks, thanking her.

Haru thinks the talking cat was kind of odd, but that is nothing compared to what happens that night, when a whole procession of cats walking on two legs comes up her street and straight to her house. With them is a fat, scruffy-looking cat who turns out to be the groovy-talking Cat King (I mean he literally says things like “Groovy, babe”; clearly, this fellow has hit the nip too hard). That cat Haru saved earlier? He was actually the son of the Cat King, and Haru is about to be handsomely rewarded for her actions.

The Cat Returns Picture Book
The story of The Cat Returns is also told in this
picture book, available here (affiliate link).
Great, right? Well, not exactly. You see, cats (at least according to this movie) are terrible gift givers, because they give things they would like, such as pretty little boxes filled with mice. Oh, and the opportunity to marry the prince whom she saved earlier. Marrying a prince is every girl’s dream, right? Um, no … and certainly not when the prince in question happens to be a cat. But the prince is sooo cool, the king’s messenger tells Haru. She’ll see when they come to take her to the Cat Kingdom.

And now we’re back to the something mysterious and the problem that’s hard to solve. How is Haru going to get out of this—or should she just go along with it? Enter the Cat Bureau and the Baron (voiced by Cary Elwes), a dapper little cat in a well-cut suit and top hat. This Baron is actually a cat figurine that came to life in the earlier movie Whisper of the Heart (which has just gone on our Netflix list). He and his friend Muta (a slimness-challenged white cat voiced by Peter Boyle) will help her. But this turns out to be far more difficult than anticipated, because this Cat King reveals himself to be the worst sort of ruler—the kind who’s groovy on the outside and cruel and controlling on the inside. How will Haru ever escape his twisted kingdom and stop herself from becoming something she is not?

Our verdict

We enjoyed The Cat Returns a lot, and we really did not expect to. Anime films we’ve seen in the past have been … um, not really our thing. They just didn’t intrigue us, either visually or in terms of plot. But this one was a winner on both counts. We enjoyed the animation and the story. The characters of Muta and the Cat King also caught our interest. Muta is the perfect sidekick to the Baron; he’s sort of the Oscar to the Baron’s Felix (that’s an Odd Couple reference, in case you didn’t catch it). And the Cat King…we just love how twisted he is.


Recommended!


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!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cat of the Week: Cinnamon in Baltimore

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Each week in this space, we feature an older adult or senior cat (7 years +) in need of adoption or sponsorship. Mature cats make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt an older cat, and help them enjoy the best years of their life!


Adopt Cinnamon! 7-yr-old female Maine Coon/Mix, Baltimore


Today we’d like you to meet Cinnamon, a 7-year-old female Maine Coon/Mix. As you can see, Cinnamon is a lovely orange and white tabby. She enjoys getting attention, and she is known to be talkative. She’s also quite easy going and loves being held and cuddled (sounds great, doesn’t it?). She has lived with kids and another cat before.


Cinnamon is currently at the Baltimore Humane Society. 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!



Are you a dog lover? (It’s okay; we understand if you are—sort of.) Well, if you love dogs and are in the Baltimore area, make plans now to attend DogFest 2017 on Saturday, September 16. You can get discounted tickets online through September 14.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review: Cat About Town


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On this Mysterious Monday, we bring you our review of a page-turning series debut by Cate Conte, whom you may also know as Liz Mugavero, author of the Pawsitively Organic mysteries. The new series, Cat Café mysteries, begins with Cat About Town, a book with an excellent cat, a solid mystery, and some pretty good laughs.

The plot

Cat About Town, a Cat Cafe Mystery by Cate Conte
First, I have to tell you that the description of the book on Amazon is not quite accurate. Wethinks whoever wrote it was more interested in slipping in cutesies like “frisky,” “purrfect,” and “cat’s pajamas” than in finding out what is actually in the book. Second, I will tell you that what is actually in the book is a lot more interesting than the description would indicate.

And now we begin, with one Maddie James, who has come home to New England and the small, touristy Daybreak Island to mourn the death of her grandmother. Maddie has a life on the other side of the country now, in San Francisco, where she and a business partner own a successful juice bar. So she’ll be on the island for just a little while. Only, she meets this cat, and then she finds out her grandfather is in some kind of trouble, and then she and he become suspects in a murder…

But I should back up a bit.

Maddie’s grandfather was once the chief of police. Now he’s retired, and times are not so easy. The old house needs major repairs that he can’t afford. A slimeball named Frank O’Malley wants to buy the house—or rather, wants to force Grandpa to sell. Maddie, good granddaughter that she is, gets riled up about this and arranges a lunch meeting with Frank, during which she says some angry things to him. Next thing you know, her new cat runs off among the tents of the town’s annual Food Stroll while the vendors are still setting up. Maddie chases after him, and he leads her into one particular tent … and right to Frank O’Malley’s extremely dead body.

Not bad for a cat who doesn’t even have a name yet, right? (See “The Cat,” below, for more on this.)

Anyway, finding the body of a person you had sort of a little bit threatened earlier is one sure way to make yourself a murder suspect. That is what Maddie becomes, putting her in close contact with her old flame Craig, who is now on the police force. Perhaps not the best way to rekindle an old romance. Having another hot guy potentially in the picture (one who loves animals, is in a band, is hot—oh, did I mention that one already?) also complicates things. Plus the fact that Maddie doesn’t even plan on sticking around. She’ll be back to San Fran as soon as all this mess is cleared up, right? The fact that someone keeps leaving her articles about cat cafés is just some weird, random thing, right?

The Cat

The cat is an orange tabby whom Maddie first meets in the cemetery during her grandmother’s funeral. He seems to be seeking Maddie out, as though knowing she will care for him. She does not name him right away, choosing instead to call him Orange Guy. (“Orange Guy”? Really, Maddie? That’s like calling me “Splotchy Girl.” Not a good name for a cat of quality.) But she does eventually name him JJ (better—much better). JJ actually becomes something of a celebrity, as he is called a “hero cat” for finding the body, thus alerting authorities to the murder. JJ takes right away to walking on a harness and leash, and he becomes a wonderful companion for Maddie. We love how, instead of having the robust meow one might expect, JJ squeaks. How endearing! (The orange cat whom JJ is based on was interviewed by our friend Mudpie. Check it out if you haven’t already!)

Our verdict

We have tried really hard, and we cannot think of anything about Cat About Town that we did not like. Maddie is a fun character to get to know, and we fell in love with JJ right away (that squeak!). The mystery kept us guessing with plenty of potentially guilty people, and the book’s climax is appropriately thrilling. We can’t wait to see how the cat café turns out in future installments.

Two paws way up!

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, August 20, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Real Cat Webster Plays Bridge

Yesterday, Real Cat Webster pretended to be a puma for our eclipse Caturday Art; today in his Sunday Selfie, he is playing bridge. Not the card game--he's pretending to be an actual bridge:

Real Cat Webster Plays Bridge

He is in the living room, bridging Side Table Gorge. Very brave, Webster!

Webs thought you might not be able to tell from the first selfie that he is actually a bridge, so he asked old SoLT to take this profile shot too:

Real Cat Webster Playing Bridge, profile


We're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Caturday Art: Webster Eats the Sun

For this week's Caturday Art, we chose to provide a cultural and educational message in our art. It is about the coming eclipse, or any eclipse really, as you can see:

Real Cat Webster Eats the Sun--eclipse 2017

Earlier this week, old SoLT learned that some people who lived in the Andes region of South America had a totally different name for the constellation we know as Gemini, or the Twins. They called it Puma Yunta, or Two Pumas. They said that sometimes, one of these pumas would jump up and try to eat the sun (many cultures explained solar eclipses by saying an animal was eating the sun). So we thought it would be fun to have Real Cat Webster play the puma in our illustration.

The "constellation" we made is not meant to illustrate the actual Puma Yunta. We just thought it would be fun to put some stars on Webster.

The source for the Puma Yunta story is Art, Nature, and Religion in the Central Andes, by Mary Strong.

We're pleased to be joining the Caturday Art blog hop, hosted by Athena and Marie!


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Friday, August 18, 2017

Words with Webster: Eclipse, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a sunny word (or should I say, sunny with a chance of sudden darkness?). And then we have Friendly Fill-Ins.

Words with Webster: Eclipse


Words with Webster badge
Hi, everybody. It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “eclipse.” If you live in the United States like I do, then I bet you have heard this word a lot lately. That’s because next Monday, August 21, there will be a total solar eclipse that crosses the country from Oregon to South Carolina. Mommy is disappointed that we won’t get a total eclipse where we live. I told her she could probably see it on YouTube, and she said that’s not the same.

Now about the word. “Eclipse” means “the obscuration of one celestial body by another,” according to my favorite dictionary, Webster’s. This means that one thing out in space gets in the way of our view of another one. This word has been around for a very long time, since at least 1374 or thereabouts, when Chaucer included this sentence in his translation of Boethius’s De consolation philosophiae:
When the moon is in the eclips.
Later, in 1608, Shakespeare wrote in King Lear,
These late eclipses in the Sunne and Moone portend no good to us. (ii.103)
Let’s hope that the coming eclipse portends something good, like people getting along with each other and not being mean.

2017 Solar Eclipse Across America--Adobe Stock image
The path the eclipse will take across the continental US.
Adobe Stock image.
Anyway, our English word comes from Old French eclipse, which comes from the Latin eclpīsis, and ultimately from Greek εκλείπειν, which means literally “to forsake its accustomed place, fail to appear.”

That is all very interesting, but I’ll bet you’re wondering what eclipses have to do with cats, right? Well, according to what Mommy and I found online, not a lot (but come back tomorrow for our Caturday Art to see one thing we did find!). Your cat probably won’t even notice that anything is different, other than the humans are acting all weird, putting on funny glasses and going outside to stare up at the sky. (Seriously, your cats will probably be fine; they’ll just think that you have finally gone off the deep end.) BUT … (cue ominous music) … during the 2015 eclipse across the UK, at least one person tweeted that the animals, including her cats, were “going nuts.” Other people reported their dogs acting weird (as if that’s news, right?). Those reports seemed isolated though, but we’d be interested to know if any of you cats out there get any strange feelings or urges during the eclipse.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins badge
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 old SoLT, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Real Cat Paisley's answers:

1. If someone were visiting my area, I would recommend a visit to the cat tree in our sunroom. It is really neat and provides a perfect view of the backyard. (Old SoLT adds, You must see the monuments in Washington, DC, if you have never been, whichever parts of the Smithsonian most interest you, and in Baltimore, the Inner Harbor and National Aquarium.)

2. My favorite room in my home is the sunroom, obviously.


Old SoLT's answers:

3. Back-to-school time makes me think of getting spiral notebooks and office supplies on sale.

4. My favourite year of school was none of them, because, oddly, although I’m really curious and love learning new things, I never enjoyed school much. Fourth-grade recess was pretty fun, I think. I remember playing basketball a lot and also running through the middle of the boys' dodge ball game. Good times!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Black Cat Appreciation Day 2017

Today, August 17, is Black Cat Appreciation Day, and we wanted to take a moment to remind you why black cats are terrific. We have written a fair amount about black cats in the past, so we'll be sharing links to some of those posts.

Black is beautiful--Black Cat Appreciation Day 2017First off, a black cat is really just a cat who happens to have a black coat. We don't know why some people have such a "thing" about them. Oh, sure, there's the old "black cats bring bad luck" issue, but in plenty of places around the world, black cats are believed to bring good luck. See our posts on Black Cat Superstitions and A Guide to Cats, Colors, and Luck for more on black cats and luck.

We think black cats are some of the most beautiful cats around. Their dark coats complement any decor and go with any outfit. Also, holding a black cat is very slimming (note: this is a made-up "fact" that may or may not be true). The basic beauty of black cats makes us wonder why they get passed over at animal shelters. We wrote about that in Black Cat Syndrome May Be Real.

Finally, old SoLT has known one black cat whom she thought was pretty extraordinary. We wrote about Jack last year for Black Cat Appreciation Day.



Let's all take some time today to cherish the black cats in our lives, remember those black cats we've known in the past, and celebrate black cats everywhere!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cat of the Week: Midnight Moon in Baltimore

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Each week in this space, we feature an older adult or senior cat (7 years +) in need of adoption or sponsorship. Mature cats make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt an older cat, and help them enjoy the best years of their life!



Cat of the Week: Midnight Moon in Baltimore
Today, please meet Midnight Moon. He is nice, quiet guy who is 7 years old. Midnight Moon is a Maine Coon mix, but he is not one of those giant Maine Coons you see on the internet; he’s described as a medium-sized cat. He is a brown tabby with a stylish white ruff on his chest (he even has some ear furnishings!), and he enjoys getting head and neck rubs. He also enjoys gazing out the window. Midnight Moon (we love that name!) has lived with kids before. He also lived with his sister Cinnamon, a 7-year-old orange & white tabby also available for adoption. Seriously, if old SoLT’s home wasn’t already at maximum cat capacity, she would drive over to meet these guys today!


Midnight Moon is currently at the Baltimore Humane Society. Learn more about him here.





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


Are you a dog lover? (It’s okay; we understand if you are—sort of.) Well, if you love dogs and are in the Baltimore area, make plans now to attend DogFest 2017 on Saturday, September 16. You can get discounted tickets online through September 14.

Monday, August 14, 2017

App Review: Simon’s Cat—Crunch Time

Simon's Cat--Crunch Time
Today we bring you our review of a relatively new match-3 game: Simon’s Cat—Crunch Time. We love Simon’s Cat, so we have been looking forward to trying this game. Turns out it is really cute and very easy to learn, but on the levels labeled “Hard,” they are not kidding!

Easy to start…

In Crunch Time, you are basically taking a trip through a series of backyards and fields. To progress through the levels, you solve match-3 puzzles by connecting strings of colorful cat treats. The puzzles present different scenarios. In one scenario, your object is to feed the cats by collecting a certain number of each kind of treat. In another, you match treats to collect the fish crackers hidden underneath them. There’s another where you feed a dog, and one where you collect acorns to throw at a squirrel.

Of course it starts out super-easy. But pretty soon you reach the levels that allow you only a certain number of moves to complete your objective. If you run out of moves before you’ve fed all the cats or whatever, you lose a life. (You start with four lives; if you use them all up, they will regenerate over time.) You can also do a “Level Rush,” in which you try to complete a certain number of levels within a time limit. And of course you can compete with other players, but we aren’t into all that, so we don’t pay any attention to it. C’mon, we mainly want to see the cute cats and have something to do during commercials while we’re watching TV, right?

Old SoLT made this video of herself playing one of the early levels. Looks easy, right?

video


But then it gets more difficult…


Simon's Cat--Crunch Time_screen shot 1
This is a shot of the early part of your journey, when things are
pretty easy. We love the little scenes you come across as you
advance through the levels.
There are boosters you can use to help you clear a level (by clearing a whole row for you, for example), but be careful how you use them. Old SoLT squandered her boosters on some levels just because she wanted to get through them quickly, but now she is stuck on level 53 and has no boosters to help her (there are videos on YouTube about how to get past level 53, so she is not the only person who has this problem). She also doesn’t have enough coins to buy any more, and it is really not that easy to get coins. You get them for achieving certain things (“complete level 50,” for example), but these don’t come along too often, and they will typically get you only two, three, or maybe five coins. A booster costs 70 coins. Yes, you can use real money to buy things, but we rarely do that in games, at least not this early into a game. You can also earn coins and boosters by watching ads—1 coin or 1 booster per ad, but everything you want to buy costs 70 coins (thought that was worth repeating!).

But we didn’t come here to talk about money. Our real point is that if you want to get very far in Crunch Time, you need to pay attention to what you’re doing. You need a strategy. This is a simple game to learn, but on those levels labeled “Hard,” be prepared to put your little gray cells to work. (BTW, “little gray cells” means your brain cells—just in case you’re not familiar with Poirot, or brains.) And if you get to a point where you are out of boosters and low on coins, well, you are pretty well stuck with playing that level over and over until you either get it or give up.

Our verdict

Simon's Cat--Crunch Time_screen shot 2
At a much higher level than we're at now, you'll come
across this neat crop circle along your journey.
This is a fun game and we do enjoy playing it—we love the graphics!— but we think it could be tweaked to enhance the fun factor. We like that Crunch Time is challenging—it would be boring if there were no challenge to it—but we wish you could accumulate coins more quickly so you’d at least feel like you had a chance of being able to buy boosters when you need them. We feel like we’re being pushed into buying stuff to continue with the game, and that annoys us. That’s often THE thing that makes us stop playing a game. We’d like to go back and replay some of the lower levels to earn coins (that's what we do in other games), but that’s just not how this game works; we’ve been playing lower levels for a few days now and have earned exactly zero coins.

So, we regret that we can only give Crunch Time one paw up. This saddens us, because we wanted to love this game, but the deal with the coins is just too annoying. (While writing this review, old SoLT has used up all four of her lives—again—on level 53. Each time, she is just one or two moves away from getting that stupid mole!)

Details


Simon’s Cat—Crunch Time is published by Strawdog and is available for iOS and Android devices. We played on an iPad. The download is free, and you can make in-app purchases. 

One Paw Up--a good app!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley Strikes a Pose

This week, our Sunday Selfie comes to us courtesy of Real Cat Paisley, who was kind enough to strike a pose in the sunroom while old SoLT was in there with the good camera. Thank you, Paisley!

Real Cat Paisley in Sunroom, August 2017

We are joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Caturday Art: Find the Kitty!

We are sharing our Caturday Art today, even though the blog hop unfortunately had to be cancelled this week. If you haven't already, we hope you'll send a message of cheer and best wishes to Athena and her person, Marie.

In today's first artwork, we have accidentally created a challenge for you. There is a (highly stylized) cat in this picture. Can you find him--without scrolling down to see the original? (If you need a hint: It's not a little tiny kitty cat hidden amongst the swirly bits, so don't go looking for your magnifying glass. Just look for something that resembles a face.)

Real Cat Webster with Jeweled Bird effect

Did you find him? We didn't think it was too hard, though you do have to use your imagination. Here's a different artified version of the same picture. It's Real Cat Webster, sitting in a pet bed. He looks sort of glowy in this one:

Real Cat Webster with Irises Effect

Both of these pictures were created in Dreamscope. The top one is the Jeweled Bird effect, and the bottom one is the Irises effect.

 Here's the original:

Real Cat Webster in brown cat bed



Friday, August 11, 2017

Friendly Fill-Ins

Today we have just one fun Friday feature for you. Real Cat Webster has a word all picked out for Words with Webster, but old SoLT said something about having “entirely too much work,” whatever that means. Anyway, she says she doesn’t have time to help Webs look up his word or type it all out for you. Next week, she says!

Friendly Fill-Ins badge
We are pleased to have 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.

Old SoLT’s answers:
1. Blind dates—never been on one, never want to go on one!

2. Thirty years ago, I graduated from high school. I know it’s been that long because my class just had a 30-year reunion, and people keep posting pictures of it on Facebook. I recognize exactly two of my former classmates.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. I admire tigers because they are big and fierce and beautiful. I’ll bet no one tells a tiger, “No, honey, it’s not time to eat yet,” or “Here, you can have four of these little, tiny treats”!


4. Our dog makes me think evolution went wrong somewhere. Dogs are so clearly some sort of horrible mistake, like that movie "The Fly," where the guy turns into a fly? That's how we got dogs, I'm pretty sure!

Real Cat Paisley in her thinking bowl

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Getting Ready for Remember Me Thursday

Remember Me Thursday--September 28, 2017
This is what we got from Remember the Rescue to help us help them
spread the word about Remember Me Thursday, on September 28, 2017.
When we were at the BlogPaws Conference in Myrtle Beach a few months ago (has it really been that long?), we met a really nice lady from the Helen Woodward Animal Center. She told us all about Remember the Rescue and Remember Me Thursday, which happens on September 28,  2017.  This year will be the fifth year for this event, which focuses on highlighting pet adoption and remembering all those terrific pets who are stuck in shelters. Unfortunately, many of those pets will die before they find a home.

Years ago, when old SoLT was in high school, she volunteered one summer at the local animal shelter. This was back before “no-kill” shelters were a thing. Every week at this shelter, animals—most of them beautiful, adoptable animals—were picked out to be euthanized because space needed to be made for incoming animals. Sometimes the rationale for euthanizing a cat was, “Well, you’ve been here a week and haven’t caught anyone’s eye. It’s time to give someone else a chance,” or “There’s another cat in intake that looks just like you. Let’s give him a chance.”

Heartbreaking does not begin to describe it.

We want to emphasize that this was not some horrible, dark place where animals weren’t well cared for. This was a shelter where the staff and volunteers really cared about the animals who ended up there. But the reality was, there was limited space and there was no rescue organization (at least so far as old SoLT knew) that would swoop in and take pets who were in danger of being euthanized simply because the shelter needed to make room.

I write to save lives--Remember the Rescue--September 28, 2017
That’s why we’re so proud to be participating in Remember Me Thursday this year. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that on most Tuesdays, we feature a mature adult or senior cat who needs a forever home. We do that in honor of the older cats we’ve known who have been so special to us. We do that because we know there are many older cats who lose their home and aren’t lucky enough to land in a no-kill shelter. Perhaps they were someone’s beloved pet for years and years, but when their person died or became unable to care for them, to the shelter they went. Too many of them will never know what it is to be loved again because, even though they may have years of life left in them, they will never make it out of that shelter. This is intolerable. No pet deserves to die because they have lost their home, or have never had one.


We want you to be ready to take a moment, or longer, to remember all those pets in shelters on Remember Me Thursday, so we’re announcing it today, to give you time to get ready. You can find out a lot more at remembermethursday.org. Plan to light a candle in honor of a rescue pet who has touched your life, and in honor of the shelter pets who are just waiting for a chance to touch someone’s life. Then commit to helping those pets in any way you can: financially, with your time—or by adopting one!

Save the date!
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Wherever you are, light a candle for a rescue pet & all those who are waiting!