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.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Real Cat Webster's Sideways Sunday Selfie

This week, Real Cat Webster decided to share this nice profile for Sunday Selfie. (Okay ... in reality, Webs would not look at the camera at all. He looked up, down, and all around, but never at the camera, and this was the best picture old SoLT could get.)

Real Cat Websters' Sideways Selfie


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

Sunday Selfies Blog Hop--The Cat on My Head

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Caturday Art: Paisley and Her Rainbow Ribbon

Today's Caturday Art features Real Cat Paisley playing with her rainbow ribbon in the rocking chair.

Real Cat Paisley with rainbow ribbon_dry brush

Old SoLT hasn't done much in Photoshop lately, so she decided to mess around a bit and see what she could come up with. She used a dry brush filter and then played with some lighting effects and a frame.

Here is the original:

Real Cat Paisley with rainbow ribbon_original

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

Caturday Art blog hop

Friday, February 16, 2018

Words with Webster: Nap and Catnap, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins


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

Words with Webster


Words with Webster
Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “nap.” I think we all know how important naps are to us cats. I certainly couldn’t get through the day without several of them. A nap, according to my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s, is “a short sleep especially during the day.”

I looked in the Oxford English Dictionary, which says that “nap” first appeared in print in the early 14th century. I found this quote from a while later; the original is thought to be from about 1450:
Þan I wakynd of my nappe. (The life of St. Cuthbert in English verse, ed. Joseph Thomas Fowler, 1891)
The Online Etymology Dictionary says that the word comes from the Old English word hnappian, which meant “to doze, sleep lightly.” It seems that no one is quite sure where that came from, but it could be related to the Old High German hnaffezan.

And let’s not forget about the closely related and very important word “catnap.” This word has been around since at least the early 19th century:
I just closed my eyes in order to think the better with myself... It was only some such matter as a cat's nap. (J. F. Cooper, Pioneers II. xiii. 187 [1823])
Obviously people just put “cat” and “nap” together—which, when you think about it, is one of the more sensible wordy things people have ever done!

Real Cat Webster loves a good catnap

  

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-InsAnd 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.

Old SoLT’s answers:
1. My Chinese zodiac animal is the Monkey (Earth Monkey, specifically).

2. My zodiac sign is Capricorn.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. Income tax season … well, I don’t care about it because I don’t have any income except for treats and stuff. I don’t have to pay taxes on that, do I???

4. In hindsight, I probably should not have hissed (repeatedly) at Webster yesterday. Then again, he should’ve just left Mommy’s bedroom when I told him to the first time!



Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Black Cats of Amherst in World War I

Cat Insignia

As part of our ongoing but extremely occasional series on cats in military insignia, today we bring you the story of a group of young men from Amherst, Massachusetts, who volunteered as ambulance drivers for the French army in the First World War. They came to be known as the Black Cats, after the distinctive symbol they chose: a black cat in full-on scary pose, with its back arched and tail pointing straight up. This symbol may have been selected for good luck, writes amateur historian Jim Hamilton. Although in much of the US today, the common superstition is that black cats bring bad luck, let us not forget that cats of all sorts of colors have been credited with (or blamed for) bringing all sorts of luck in different places and times.

The black cat symbol of SSU 539
The black cat symbol of SSU 539.
Used with permission.

So, what kind of luck did the Amherst Black Cats have? Let’s find out…but first we must thank Jim Hamilton, who runs the Amherst Black Cats Twitter account and graciously agreed to tell us a little more about the history of this unit. It was through this Twitter account that we first learned of these young men from Amherst.

The Black Cats answer the call

The group that would become known as the Black Cats got its start on June 6, 1917, when several students and recent graduates of Amherst College, as well as a few others, signed on to drive ambulances for the French army. That summer, the unit headed to Allentown, Pennsylvania, to train at Camp Crane, which was actually on the site of the Allentown Fairgrounds. A photo recently posted on the Black Cats’ Twitter account shows that their barracks was the Bantams and Pigeons building. Their training included driving lessons and medical procedures. On August 6, they boarded the SS San Jacinto for the crossing to Europe, arriving at St. Nazaire, France, just over two weeks later, on August 21.


Entrance to Camp Crane, Allentown, PA, 1918
The entrance to Camp Crane, 1918.
The Amherst volunteers arrived here in summer 1917.
US Army photo.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Black Cats on the Western Front

Officially known as Section Sanitaire États-Unis 539, or SSU 539, the Black Cats were sent to the war’s Western Front. They served with four French army groups:
  • The 47th Chasseurs Alpins
  • The 27th Division Infantry (briefly)
  • The 5th Division
  • The 4th Army (briefly)


Driving Ford Model T ambulances with their unit’s emblem on the side, the Black Cats participated in three major offensives in 1918:
  • the Aisne-Marne Offensive
  • the Oise-Aisne Offensive
  • the Ypres-Lys Offensive

They also participated in a few minor operations. For their actions in evacuating the wounded, often in difficult conditions, the Black Cats were awarded the Croix de Guerre and were also entitled to wear the Fourragère.

Regarding luck, theirs seems to have been good. In the course of their service, only one member of the Black Cats was wounded and three were gassed. They all recovered. One member of the unit said this in a letter home:
We are the original horseshoe section, if there ever was one. Think of having been in a year with only one man slightly wounded! I think it’s the black cat on our cars, although that didn’t prevent a shell from ruining Riefler’s car, just after he was safe in a dug-out. I know it takes a lot of narrow escapes to get a man, but we’ve had an unusual number of them, every one of us.
Ambulance Corps training, Camp Crane, PA 1918
Ambulance Corps training (not SSU 539)
at Camp Crane, Allentown, PA, 1918.
Photo by unknown USAAS photographer.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Black Cats after the war

Following the Armistice that was signed on November 11, 1918, the Black Cats were stationed in Belgium and Germany before sailing for home in March 1919. They arrived back in the US on April 2. On April 23, a group of them marched from the Amherst train station to the college and presented the unit’s flag to the college president. The following year, they published a unit history (Amherst has two copies of it in their archive), and going forward, they maintained a chain letter of news updates for another ten years or so. College reunions provided an opportunity for the men to meet up in person.

Now, a century later, the Black Cats’ history continues to be written, as Jim Hamilton is finishing an early draft of a book that he plans to publish later this year. He will also be participating in a panel called “Amherst at War” at the reunion in May of this year. The Black Cat banner, which resides in the Amherst College archive, is in delicate condition, and he is hoping that it will be restored, a process that may involve some fundraising from alumni and Black Cat descendants.

Sources

Our main source, Jim Hamilton, is an amateur historian whose books include “The Writing 69th,” the story of a group of war correspondents, including Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney, who covered the 8th Air Force out of England during World War II. His current research is for a book to be called “The Black Cats of Amherst,” which is about the World War I ambulance unit that his grandfather served in. For more information on Jim and his writing projects, please visit www.greenharbor.com.

Additional sources:
McFeely, William S. “The Black Cats of Amherst.” Amherst Magazine, Spring 2010. https://www.amherst.edu/amherst-story/magazine/issues/2010spring/blackcats

Ginn, Richard V. N. “World War I: The Ambulance Service.” The History of the US Army Medical Service Corps. 1977. http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/HistoryofUSArmyMSC/chapter2.html

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cat of the Week: Snickers

Cat of the Week


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: Adopt Snickers!
Today, please meet Snickers. She is a 12-year-old female who is very affectionate and likes to spend quality time relaxing with her human. Snickers enjoys cuddling, and she is a great conversationalist. She has lived with other cats and has been around kids before. Plus, just look at that beautiful coloring!

Snickers 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!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Mysterious Monday: Death by a Whisker

Mysterious Monday

On this Mysterious Monday, we are pleased to bring you our review of Death by a Whisker, book 2 in the Cat Rescue Mysteries series by T. C. LoTempio. This series features a big orange-and-white tabby named Toby, and we just love him. But more on him later…

The plot

Death by a Whisker, by T. C. LoTempio
Sydney McCall and her sister Kat run an animal shelter in Deer Park, North Carolina. As the book begins, they are getting ready for a celebrity fundraiser. It seems that disaster has struck, though, when the celebrity suddenly can’t come. But then a new celebrity, a shopping channel star who is a Deer Park native and has recently written a tell-all book, steps in to save the event. Ulla Townsend’s appearance might not be a blessing, though. Sure, she’s got plenty of fans who will line up to have their books autographed, but she’s also got a past. She’s far from the nicest person you can imagine, and quite a few people have well-nursed grudges against her. So, when she suddenly drops dead during the book signing and it looks like she could have been murdered, there is no shortage of suspects.

Syd gets involved in the investigation largely because she just can’t help herself, but also because her friend Maggie is a suspect. Maggie knew Ulla back in high school, and she is so upset about Ulla’s appearance that she refuses to come to the fundraiser. Then, after Ulla dies, Maggie disappears and no one can get in touch with her. Suspicious, no?

But there are other suspects as well. One of them starts leaving threatening notes for Syd to find, warning her off the case. She’s getting too close to the truth for someone’s comfort, but will she figure out who it is before that person decides it’s time to get her out of the way for good?

The cat(s)

Toby is the main cat in the Cat Rescue Mysteries. As I already mentioned, he is a rather large tabby, and of course he is a rescue kitty. In fact, he chose Syd to be his person, so you know they’re great together, because cats are great people pickers. Toby’s hobby is destroying mouse toys (although we actually thought he’d destroyed a real mouse in the book’s opening!).  He also plays a role in solving the mystery, pointing Syd toward clues that she undoubtedly would not have found by herself. In short, Toby is a great cat!

A second cat, ragdoll Annie Reilly, also plays a role in the mystery, but not in quite the same way as Toby. You’ll just have to read the book to find out how!

Our verdict

Death by a Whisker is a fun read. We enjoyed the story, with its mix of old and new grudges against Ulla. There is also a wonderful tension between Syd’s boyfriend detective and his rival for a higher position in the department. And let’s not forget the cats. This is not the sort of mystery that adds a generic cat just for the heck of it. The cats in this book, especially Toby and Annie Reilly, are characters in their own right and are part of the plot, and you know we always appreciate that.

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 11, 2018

Webster's Sleepy Sunday Selfie

You know what's rude? Someone barging into the room where you're sleeping, yelling out "Who wants to do Sunday Selfie?" and shoving a phone in your face. That is exactly what happened to Real Cat Webster today (Paisley had the presence of mind to run away!). Poor guy ... he couldn't even open his eyes all the way.

Real Cat Webster's sleepy selfie_February 2018

Somewhat reluctantly, Webster is joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head!

Sunday Selfies blog hop, The Cat on My Head


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Caturday Art: A Valentine from Real Cat Paisley

For today's Caturday Art, Real Cat Paisley wanted to send you all a special something for Valentine's Day. Old SoLt helped her edit her photo by taking it into PicMonkey and using just about every option in the Valentine's Day themes.



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

Caturday Art blog hop

Friday, February 9, 2018

Words with Webster: Vestibular, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

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

Words with Webster


Words with Webster
Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “vestibular.” I got the idea for this word from reading this study about cheetahs’ inner ears (okay, I only read the abstract and part of the introduction; Mommy said she’ll read more later and tell me about it). Turns out, the vestibular system of cheetahs is different from those of other cats, and this specialized system helps cheetahs keep their heads and vision stable while they’re chasing prey.

So what does “vestibular” mean? Well, that stuff about the cheetahs was a clue. According to my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s, “vestibular” means “of, relating to, or affecting the perception of body position and movement.” That is what the word means when we’re talking about anatomy.

Next I went to the Oxford English Dictionary, which says that our word means “of or pertaining to the vestibule of the ear or its function as an organ of equilibrium.” This first showed up in print in the 1830s:
The vestibular part of the membraneous labyrinth…is all that is really fundamental in the structure of an organ of hearing. (Todd’s Cyclopedia of Anatomy and Physiology II.537/1, 1836–1839)
Okay, but if you’re like me (easily perplexed, or just really curious), you’re probably wondering what the heck a vestibule is. I checked that too, and Merriam-Webster’s said that it’s
any of various bodily cavities especially when serving as or resembling an entrance to some other cavity or space: such as a (1) :  the central cavity of the bony labyrinth of the ear.
So basically, it is the structure in your ear that helps you keep your balance. Basically, there are these semicircular canals, some fluid, little hairs, and some other stuff. If you want to find out more, you can check out this video from 2-Minute Neuroscience.

Human Inner Ear Anatomy, via Adobe Stock
This illustration shows humans' inner ear anatomy. The vestibular
system includes the semicircular canals and vestibular apparatus.
Illustration via Adobe Stock.

But where did the word “vestibule” (and “vestibular”) come from? Well, the Online Etymology Dictionary says it is from the French vestible, which is from the Latin vestibulum, meaning “forecourt, entrance.’’ The word entered English in the 1620s and first meant “a porch.”

Next time you almost fall but then catch yourself and remain standing, thank your vestibular system (and remember that even if you're a cat, your system is different from a cheetah’s!).

Three cheetahs running, via Adobe Stock
Cheetahs run and change directions really fast when they're
hunting. They have a vestibular system that is unlike any other cats',
and it helps them keep their head steady and their eyes on their prey.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-InsAnd 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.

Old SoLT’s answers:
1. The Winter Olympics are a lot of fun to watch, even though I don’t usually manage to see much of them.  

2. I think the most romantic movie (or book) is … well, I’m not all that into romance, so I don’t know. Monty Python’s The Holy Grail?

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. Recently, I had an odd experience when the humans put the Christmas tree away and moved a rocking chair to where the tree used to be. It took me a few days to get used to that, but now I like it.

4. I believe that love is awesome, especially when Mommy tells me I’m her special little girl.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Review: Rhubarb (1946)

Cat Classics in Print

Today, we’re pleased to bring you the first post in our new series, Cat Classics in Print. In this series, we’ll explore cat books from the past in many genres. We start with Rhubarb, written by H. Allen Smith (1907–1976) and first published in 1946. This tattered paperback has sat on our shelf for months (okay, a year—but we got to it eventually).

The plot

Rhubarb, by H. Allen Smith
I’m going to say up front that we read this book during the horrible cold snap we had in late December and early January, when old SoLT was dreaming hard about spring and summer and baseball. She really felt like reading about baseball games played on beautiful, sunny summer days, so we were a little disappointed to find that there really isn’t a lot of baseball in Rhubarb, despite the fact that it is about a cat who inherits a professional baseball team.

The book is mostly about Rhubarb and the crazy people around him (and there are a few!). The main person who is close to Rhubarb is Eric Yeager. He’s the press secretary for one Thaddeus Banner, owner of the New York Loons, a down-on-their-luck baseball team. It’s Eric who acquires the feisty yellow cat who is then named Rhubarb after a term for a brawl on a baseball diamond. Rhubarb is known to attack dogs, and he has a habit of “collecting” (i.e., stealing) tennis balls and golf balls. Banner loves him without reservation.

Which is a lot more than can be said for Myra, Banner’s daughter. Banner does not like her at all, and he does not intend to leave his money to her. But what to do with it? Well, Banner gets the funniest idea: He’ll leave everything to Rhubarb, with Yeager as the cat’s guardian. That will make Rhubarb the owner of the Loons. But don’t expect Myra to take that lying down, and when Banner dies and Rhubarb becomes suddenly famous as the cat that inherited a baseball team and a bunch of dough, she lawyers up and challenges the will in court.

Meanwhile, after some initial resistance to playing for a cat, the Loons adopt Rhubarb as a sort of good-luck charm, and they suddenly start winning. In fact, they seem headed to the World Series, with Rhubarb present at every game. And the public simply cannot get enough of this cat. Many of them are even intent on introducing their female cats to him, in hopes of getting a litter of kittens fathered by the wealthy feline. And then there is the, uh, unfortunate incident involving a certain intimacy between Rhubarb and a female cat—the incident that is broadcast live via radio to a large and rapt audience and gives the yellow tom a whole new reputation.

Truly, there are more twists in this plot than I could possibly mention in one short review.

Our verdict

Others have described Rhubarb as zany and bawdy, and it is both. We weren’t bothered by the bawdiness, but some readers might be, so heads up. There’s nothing explicit, but sex is frequently just on the periphery (or on the radio, as in the aforementioned unfortunate incident). We must also mention that this is a book very much of its time (the 1940s), and there is a certain amount of casual racism, sexism, and so on that we did find … oh, let’s call it annoying. Overall, though, we found Rhubarb to be a pretty good, and funny, read. We enjoyed Eric Yeager’s quick-wittedness (a person would have to be pretty sharp to deal with everything he gets drawn into, all because of a cat). We also enjoyed the nutty judge and the even nuttier psychiatrists who try to figure out whether Rhubarb is a normal cat.

We found plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in this book, but some of the humor also fell flat for us. This, we think, is a function of time: some things that were funny 70 years are simply less funny today. Honestly, we think the movie version has held up better over time than the book has … and the movie is more family friendly and has more baseball.

But we still think Rhubarb is worth a read, especially if you’re into fast-paced zaniness with some bawdiness on the side! There is a Kindle version available, and you can also find used copies for under $10.

One Paw up--A Good 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!

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!


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Cat of the Week: Cupcake in Baltimore

Cat of the Week


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: Cupcake, Baltimore Humane Society

Today, please say hello to Cupcake. This easy-going lady is 8 years old, and she really enjoys taking a good nap in a nice, comfy cat bed (hey, don’t we all?). She has also lived with cats and dogs before. In her previous home, Cupcake was said to be quiet and mellow. She looks sweet as a cupcake to us. Perfect for someone looking for a low-key companion!

Cupcake 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!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Book Review: The Cat of the Baskervilles


Mysterious Monday


On this Mysterious Monday, we bring you our review of The Cat of the Baskervilles, the third volume in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series by Vicki Delany. I have still not gotten tired of saying that this is one of our favorite series, and this third book only reinforces that feeling.

The plot

It’s July on Cape Cod, and the famed Nigel Bellingham, formerly a big star, now somewhat of a drunken has-been who nevertheless has a devoted following, is set to star in the West London Theater Festival’s production of The Hound of the Baskervilles. This is big. Really big. Gemma Doyle, a native of London (the one in England) who has senses of observation as keen as those of Sherlock himself, is part owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. She gets roped into helping with a fundraising tea being put on by Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, which is run by Gemma’s best friend, Jayne Wilson. Jayne’s mother, Leslie, also helps, and she seems particularly interested in Nigel. Unfortunately, Sir Nigel disappears after embarrassing himself during the tea, and Gemma discovers his very dead body at the bottom of a cliff.

Now the question is, Did he jump or fall, or was he pushed? And if he was pushed, might Leslie have done the deed as an act of revenge for.… Well, just why would she have done such a thing? And what about Sir Nigel’s long-suffering assistant, or his understudy who takes over the role of Holmes? And how is a series of thefts connected to the murder, if indeed it was a murder?

Gemma has been warned repeatedly by the local police not to get involved in any more investigations, but when Jane’s mother is under suspicion, she can’t keep out of it. And let’s face it: these fictional police need all the help they can get. The real question that must be asked is, Who benefits?

The cat

The cat in this series is a black fellow named Moriarty who is friendly with just about everyone except Gemma. We do wish he would be more involved in the actual mystery part of these books, but he is a great cat even as he appears along the story’s sidelines. Actually, I think we see more of Moriarty in this book than in either of the previous books, so we did enjoy that. We especially appreciated the scene in which Gemma observes him smirking from, appropriately, the “gaslight” shelf of the store (that’s where she shelves books that are not about Sherlock but that are set in his time period; but “gaslight” means something else entirely to anyone who has seen the wonderful 1944 movie starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, and in Moriarty’s case we do not think the double meaning is an accident!).

Our verdict

As I hinted in the opening paragraph, we enjoyed every word in The Cat of the Baskervilles. Vicki Delany continues to impress us with her ability to bring together the many strands of a story in a way that feels completely plausible and is a delight to read. We even enjoy seeing Gemma disparage Sherlock items that we would totally buy, because we love the many versions of Sherlock just as much as patrons of her shop do. We were also delighted to see that the name Lord Peter Wimsey gets a mention in this book (so appropriate, given Gemma’s British background). Gemma herself continues to grow as a character, trying to be less, um, irritating as she casually points out things that people don’t really want to have pointed out. And as she becomes less irritating to others, we wonder just where her relationship with Detective Ryan Ashburton is going, if it is going anywhere. And then there’s Moriarty, who is such a great shop cat—friendly to all the customers, somewhat violent toward Gemma. What will his role be in future books? We cannot wait to find out!

Highly 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 4, 2018

Sunday Selfie: How We Really Live

When Real Cat Paisley sat for this selfie the other evening, old SoLT told her she'd crop out the dog stuff at the top. But Paisley said that was not what she wanted. She wanted everyone to see that messy old dog blankie on the floor, along with the dog toys strewn about, so people would know what she has to put up with.

See that dog blankie?? This is what I have to put up with!

And thanks to our friends over at The Island Cats, we found out how to make these neat Kitten Bowl trading cards! Somehow, the site filled in some pretty accurate details about the Real Cats. They got Paisley's demeanor as skittish (yes) and her nickname as Smackdown (so perfect!). And they made Webs a "fry receiver" (how did they know?) and listed his demeanor as bemused (yes). You can make yours at the Hallmark Channel.


Real Cat Paisley #KittenBowl 2018

Real Cat Webster #KittenBowl 2018

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

Sunday Selfies blog hop

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Caturday Art: Webster the Editor, Plus 20 More Amazing Facts about Paisley

We put together two features for this Saturday. First up is Caturday Art, featuring Real Cat Webster. And then you'll get to learn some more fun facts about Real Cat Paisley!


Caturday Art 

We went kind of old-fashioned and simple for this week's Caturday Art:

Real Cat Webster the editor

This was created in PicMonkey, with the Sepia effect, followed by Fancy Focus and a Daguerreotype frame. Then old SoLT added a Drop Shadow frame and a Simple Edge frame.

The original is from when Webs was helping old SoLT with the first revisions of Medea's Crown, book 6 in the Miss Cuddlywumps Investigates series. He is such a big help in these early-morning editing sessions!


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

Caturday Art blog hop, athenacatgoddess.com

20 More Amazing Facts

And now, Real Cat Paisley shares 20 More Amazing Facts about herself. This is part of the new meme from CK over at the Stunning Keisha blog.

1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? Well, I just ate something I found on the floor, but Mommy doesn't know what it was.
2. Where was your header pic taken? On a computer, ’cause it’s a cartoon image (see also #11 below!).
20 More Amazing Facts, a meme from Stunning Keisha 3. Worst pain you ever felt? I think it was this one time when my tummy got really upset and some REALLY unpleasant things happened on the carpet. I cried and everyone got worried about me, but I got better soon.
4. Favorite place you've traveled? From where I was born in Pennsylvania to my foster home in Maryland to an adoption event at PetSmart to my forever home. It was kind of a complicated trip, with a long layover at my foster home.
5. How late did you stay up last night? We don’t know, ’cause Mommy fell asleep at, like 8:30.
6. If you could move, where to? Move? Why would I want to do that? Mommy dreams of spending winters in Florida, though, so if she did that, I guess I'd go with her.
7. What do you collect? Toys. Mostly wand toys, ’cause those are my favorites.
8. Which of your blogging friends lives the closest? Um, I think it’s Ann of Zoolatry, who lives in Maryland like me (except when she’s in Florida!).
9. Amusement park or concert? I prefer home, please. I create both my own amusement and my own concerts!
10. When was the last time you cried? I try to cry a little just about every day to get Mommy’s attention.
11. Who took your header photo? Well, it’s a cartoon kitty from Adobe Stock that Mommy added some stuff to it so it would sort of look like me.
12. Who's the last person you took a picture with? Mommy.
13. What's your favorite season? Spring, ’cause Mommy opens windows in the sunroom and I can get window whiffies.
14. If you could have any career, what would it be? Professional house cat.
15. Do you think relationships are ever worth it? Sure, but you can’t expect it to just stay the same forever and ever. Me and Webster have a close relationship, but we don't cuddle and stuff as much as we used to.
16. If you could talk to anyone right now who would it be? My foster mom who helped me find Mommy. I would like to tell her how happy I am here!
17. Are you a good influence? Next question please.
18. Does pineapple belong on pizza? I don’t eat pizza, so why would I care what’s on it? (Mommy says no, pineapple does not belong on pizza.)
19. You have the remote, what are you watching? I don’t really watch TV, but Mommy mostly watches British stuff, so sometimes I look at that. And Big Bang Theory.
20. Whom do you think will play along? A lot of our blogging friends have already played. We are, like, a week late ’cause Mommy’s computer got sick.

Real Cat Paisley and old SoLT
The most recent picture of Real Cat Paisley and old SoLT.



Friday, February 2, 2018

Words with Webster: Tortoiseshell, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

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

Words with Webster


Words with Webster
Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “tortoiseshell.” I got the idea for this word because Paisley told me I better do it or she’d whap me. She’s bossy sometimes. Anyway, most of you probably recognize that, in reference to cats, “tortoiseshell” means a certain color pattern or a cat with that pattern:
of, relating to, or being a color pattern of the domestic cat consisting of patches of black, orange, and cream (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed.)
I checked in the Oxford English Dictionary, which says that the earliest known use of “tortoiseshell cat” in print was in 1840:
Oh, what a pretty little kitten! what a beautiful little dear tortoiseshell! (Peter Parley’s Annual, 113)
And did you know that there is a tortoiseshell butterfly too? Our UK friends might know this, because according to UK Butterflies, the small tortoiseshell (Nymphalidae aglais) is a familiar garden butterfly there. They are very pretty, aren't they?

Small tortoiseshell butterfly (Nymphalidae aglais). Photo via Adobe Stock.
Small tortoiseshell butterfly.
Photo via Adobe Stock.

But back to the word. Certain cats and butterflies are called tortoiseshells because their coloring resembles that of ornamental material made from the shell of some tortoises, especially the hawksbill sea turtle. This material was used as far back as ancient times for jewelry and other ornamentation. It is quite beautiful, but its use is obviously really bad for the hawksbill sea turtles, which are critically endangered. Legal trade in tortoiseshell ended in 1993, but illegal trade continues (US Fish & Wildlife, 2015).

Tortoiseshell dragon ornament
Tortoiseshell has been used to make many
beautiful things, like this dragon ornament
from China's Qing Dynasty, ca. 1736-1795.
Photo by Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Photo via Adobe Stock.
But we think tortoiseshell is most beautiful when it
is still on the turtle.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle photo via Adobe Stock.

On a lighter note, we found this kind of fun quote about tortoiseshell from Charles Dickens:
The tortershell would have affected the brain. (Nicolas Nickleby xv.131, 1839)
We’re not sure of the context of this quote, but we do know a certain tortoiseshell kitty who can sometimes affect the brain!

But back to the word again. Of course “tortoiseshell” was originally used to refer to the shell of a tortoise. That usage shows up in 1601, in this quote that is actually a translation from Pliny’s History of the World:
Among the Islands principally in the red sea, they use Tortoise shells…for boats and wherries. (I.ix.x.241, P. Holland, translator)
Obviously our word is a compound of "tortoise" and "shell," so I went to the Online Etymology Dictionary to see where the word “tortoise” came from. This word may have ultimately come from the Late Latin tartaruchus, which means “of the underworld.” Or perhaps it is from the Latin tortus, meaning “twisted” (referring to tortoises’ feet). “Shell” came from Old English sciell, Proto-Germanic skaljo, Middle Low German schelle, and the Proto-Indo-European root skel, “to cut.”

Hmm.… Is “shell of the underworld” an apt description of a tortie cat? Discuss.


Today's word brought to you by Real Cat Paisley--a real tortie for sure!


Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-InsAnd 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. Trust is earned and can be lost. For example, when I am starving and Mommy tries to give me food that is icky, I lose some of my trust in her.

2. I would protest an empty food dish. Oh wait, I already do that at least twice a day!

Old SoLT’s answers:

3. I have been almost constantly cold since December. It is really getting on my nerves!


4. Right now, I hope it’s good and cloudy today so that groundhog doesn’t see even a hint of his shadow. Come on, spring!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Cat Classics on Film: Kedi (2016)

Cat Classics on Film

In Istanbul the cat is more than just a cat. The cat embodies the indescribable chaos, the culture, and the uniqueness that is the essence of Istanbul. Without the cat, Istanbul would lose part of its soul.

Kedi, directed by Ceyda Torun
These are the words that open Kedi, the film about cats in Istanbul that is already a cat classic, although it only came out in the US last year. The film’s concept is simple: follow the daily lives of several street cats in the famous city. Through director Ceyda Torun’s lens, we see the daily comings and goings of several cats while their stories are told by the people who know them.

There’s Sari, the orange-and-white tabby who makes regular rounds of places where she knows she’ll get food, all so she can feed her litter of kittens. There’s the family of cats who hang out at a fish seller’s stall, where they happily eat up scraps of fish. There’s Bengü, another tabby with young kittens. And there are more. Cats, it seems, are everywhere in Istanbul. (We should note that old SoLT visited this wondrous and ancient city quite a few years ago, and she does remember seeing some cats hanging out around cafés and such, but patrons were encouraged NOT to feed them!)

But Kedi is not just about cats (although a movie strictly about cats would be fine with us!). It is also very much a film about the people who care for these cats, who look for a particular cat or two to show up every day for food and maybe some petting. One man feeds some small kittens by hand, another walks a certain route daily, taking food to one group of cats after another. That latter man says the cats give his life purpose; they saved him from what sounds like a serious depression.

That got us to thinking. Just as cats are cats the world over, even with their unique personalities, cat people are cat people the world over (and we’re talking about true cat people here, not just people who happen to have cats). These people are kind and gentle, willing to put themselves out in order to help another living being—a small, furry one. They are the ones who sense the cats’ intelligence, their souls. We like these people a lot. They do not “own” the cats they care for, but still the cats are like friends and family to them.


It might be upsetting to some viewers to see so many cats living on their own on the streets. It was upsetting to us at times. But we are trying hard to understand the culture in Istanbul, the one in which, as one woman in the film said (and we’re paraphrasing), to confine a cat to the indoors is to take something from him, to rob him of his autonomy. Our cultural viewpoint is really different from that, as here in the US, the norm these days is to keep cats inside to protect them from harm. But many places in the world do not share that view.

Our verdict

Our final word on Kedi is simple: If you haven’t seen it yet, you must see it! You will not see much of the more famous bits of the city, but you will get a glimpse into another culture and its cats. You will meet some pretty terrific cats, and we think you’ll be touched by some of the stories. We certainly were.


Very highly 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!