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.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Caturday Art: Notepaper Webster

For this week's Caturday Art, old SoLT had a little time (for the first time in almost a month, she wasn't double-booked!) to mess around in Photoshop. She took a picture of Real Cat Webster and applied a blur filter to really blur out the background and then used the Notepaper filter to get this:


We thought that looked pretty cool, so I told her to try the Solarize filter:


That's cool too, but we still like the first one best. And here's the original photo:

#cats #RealCatWebster

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins
And now it’s time for Friendly Fill-Ins, from 15andmeowing and The Four-Legged Furballs. Old SoLT answered the first two, and Real Cat Paisley did the next two.

Old SoLT’s answers:
1. Fireworks are pretty, but they’re not as much fun for me as they used to be. These days, I can’t help thinking of how scared so many animals get because of all the noise.

2. My favorite 4th of July picnic food is potato salad, especially the Lancaster potato salad we get from the Amish market. Although to be total honest, I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. I begin every day with a really good stretch, and then I start waking up my Grandma so she can feed me. It is not an easy thing to do on an empty stomach!

4. Anything is the best thing since sliced bread. I’m a cat. What do I care about sliced bread?

Don't Forget!


There is still time to join this month's Pet Photo Fails Blog Hop. Just post a not-quite-right pet photo (aka blooper) and link up with us to get in on the fun.

The Linky stays open until 11:59 p.m. Monday (eastern).

Don't have a photo fail to share this month? No problem! Save some of your upcoming photo fails (we know you'll have some) and join us on Friday, July 27, for the next Photo Fails Blog Hop. All pets are welcome!

Caturday Art Blog Hop

Of course today we're joining the Caturday Art Blog Hop, hosted by Athena and Marie!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Pet Photo Fails: June

She of Little Talent (aka old SoLT) had some super photo fails this month. She even managed to get a video fail, in slow motion, no less. We'll kick things off with this exciting video of ... Resident Dog Layla walking away:

This is a fail for so many reasons. First, just look at it (yes, that big pink thing is old SoLT's finger). Second, she did not intend to take video at all, much less slo mo. All she wanted was a nice close-up picture of the dog. The only good thing about this video is that it is bookended by meows from Real Cat Paisley.

Here is an attempted selfie of Real Cat Webster. Don't recognize him? That's okay. We're not even sure which part of him this is:


And what would Pet Photo Fails be without some blurry tortie action? Here, Real Cat Paisley does ... something:


Now it's your turn! Just post your not-quite-right pet photos and link up here to join in the fun. All pets are welcome. The Linky will be open until 11:59 p.m. Monday (eastern time). We can't wait to see those photo fails and laugh at them commiserate with you over how hard it can be to take a good pet photo.

Not ready for this month's hop? No problem! Mark your calendar for next month's hop, which will be on July 27.



Thursday, June 28, 2018

Think Before You Wish, or, Let Your Cat Be a Cat

Have you ever wished your cat could be someone else? First of all, why on earth would you wish for something like that? And second, you should be careful what you wish for, as the old widow in this US folk story found out the hard way.

Old woman sleeping in chair with her cat

Once upon a time, there was an old widow woman whose only companion in life was her faithful cat. Woman and cat spent hours every day in their comfortable chair near the fireplace, the woman reading and the cat curled on her lap, purring. They so enjoyed this spot that they often spent not only the day but also the night alternately reading and dozing before the fire.

And that is where they were late one night, the woman snoring contentedly as the final embers of the fire faded, when suddenly the cat stood up, arched his back, and hissed. The woman stirred herself awake and was startled to see a short but lithe figure standing between her and the fire.

“Who are you?” the woman demanded, reaching for the cane she kept propped against her chair.

“Greetings! I am your elf,” said the figure.

The woman’s fingers brushed against the cane but only succeed in knocking it to the floor.

“Let me get that for you,” the figure offered, stepping closer.

“No! You stay where you are, you … you.… What did you say you are again?”

“An elf. I’m your personal wish elf, come to grant you three wishes. Whatever you want, just name it, Granny.”

The cat hissed. The woman laughed. “No such thing as elves,” she said.

“And yet here I am,” the elf replied quite reasonably. “Come on, just tell me your wishes, I’ll grant them, and we’ll both be happy. I’ll be that much closer to making my monthly wish quota, and you’ll get some stuff you want. What can it hurt to wish?”

At this point the woman realized she must be having a dream. This elf—or whatever it was—was right. What could it hurt to wish?

“All right,” she said. “First, I wish I were rich. And not just a little bit rich—I want to be filthy rich. Second, I wish I were young again, and beautiful. Third, I wish my cat here were a handsome young man. But not too young. Something Channing Tatum-ish. You got that?”

“Sure, Granny. Wealth, youth, pretty plaything. This is all standard stuff. You’ll have it when you wake in the morning. If you’re not completely satisfied, call 1-800—”

“Oh, get out already!”

With that, the elf vanished. Chuckling at the mere thought of a “personal wish elf,” the woman dozed off again.

The next morning, the woman woke to find herself in a luxurious bed in the most extravagantly furnished bedroom she could imagine. Seeing a mirror on the wall, she slipped out of bed—without any pain or creaking joints, she noticed—and hurried to look at herself. Her hair was once again long and blond, her wrinkles and age spots were gone, and—she smiled and then opened her mouth to be sure—yes, she had a full set of her own teeth! If all this had happened, then the cat …

She turned to see a shirtless Channing Tatum lounging on a chair, staring seductively at her.

“Darling!” she squealed and ran to him, squeezing herself into the chair with him.

He put his arms around her and kissed her passionately. It was perfect—everything she had wished for.

Then Channing said, “Now don’t you wish you’d never had me fixed?”

Adapted from the story “Three Wishes” in Frank de Caro’s The Folktale Cat (August House, 1992).

Illustration via Adobe Stock.

The Pet Photo Fails Blog Hop happens right here tomorrow! So get out those not-quite-right pet photos and be ready to hop and have some Friday fun.

The Linky will open at 12:01 a.m.

All pets are welcome!



Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Cats of the Week: Sampson and Mittens

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.

Adopt Sampson and Mittens This week we have not one but two great cats: Sampson and Mittens. They are a bonded pair and must be adopted together. 

Sampson is the senior kitty of the pair. He is an 8-year-old male and has a lovely medium-length coat. Mittens, a black-and-white female, is younger—just 5 years old. They both enjoy joining their peeps for an evening of watching TV. They also enjoy looking out the window to watch whatever’s happening outside. Sampson and Mittens are both front declawed. They just can’t wait to find a new family to call their own!

Learn more about Sampson here and Mittens 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, June 25, 2018

Book Review: Claws of Death

Mysterious Monday

On this Mysterious Monday, we are pleased to bring you our short review of Claws of Death, the second Cat Lady mystery from Linda Reilly. We missed the first book in this series, but we had no trouble at all getting right into this book, which features a small cat shelter, a retired actress, and a mysterious ghostly cat that only one person can see.

The plot

Claws of Death, by Linda ReillyThe action happens in Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, where Lara Caphart and her aunt Fran run a cat shelter, and where famous but aging Hollywood star Deanna Daltry has decided to retire. Deanna adopts two adorable kittens—Noodle and Doodle—from the shelter. That’s terrific, but Lara has misgivings about the housekeeper, Nancy, who doesn’t like cats. Her misgivings tick up several  notches when she discovers a murdered man on Deanna’s property. Could he be connected to Deanna’s past somehow, or perhaps to Nancy’s past? Has Lara unwittingly adopted two innocent kittens out to a murderer? Everyone tells her not to get involved, but she can’t help herself, knowing that the kittens could be in danger.

Fortunately, she has help (see next section).

The cats

The main cats in this story are of course Noodle and Doodle and the cats at the shelter. We won’t introduce all of them here, but there’s Frankie, who wants to be an only cat; Ballou, a feral who’s learning to be more comfortable around humans; Bootsie, who’s been waiting forever to find a home; and Munster, the shelter’s unofficial greeter.

And then there’s the real main cat, Blue. She is a ghostly Ragdoll who appears at will but only to Lara. Blue has a talent for pointing out clues by pushing important papers and such in Lara’s direction (not that Lara always pays attention at first). And though she can’t be seen by others, Blue can influence them by moving objects to get their attention. The object-moving thing works for distracting crazed killers too!

Our verdict

So basically, we want Blue to come visit us (wouldn’t that be so cool?). And we want to go to Whisker Jog and visit Lara’s cat shelter. We would try to plan our trip for when they’re not having a murder, though, because it sounds like there are some dangerous people in the area.

What I am trying to say is that we loved Claws of Death. The plot is excellent and kept us guessing right up to the end (and no, we did not figure out whodunnit before the killer was revealed), and the characters are people (and cats) you really want to spend time with. We loved seeing the cats at the shelter meet their new families, even though things don’t always turn out as planned. And of course we loved seeing how the cats touch people’s lives, even if those people don’t like cats.

Claws of Death has just the right mix of charm and mayhem, and we highly recommend it!

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, June 24, 2018

Sunday Selfie: Paisley Dominates

Real Cat Paisley has a lot to meow about in her Sunday Selfie this week. That's because her selfie also works for Cat World Domination Day since it shows something she dominated just for the occasion.

#CatWorldDominationDay #SundaySelfie

That big green thing in the background is old SoLT's latest balance-ball chair (RIP), and the selfie was taken moments after Paisley punched a couple of holes in it, making it slowly deflate. (The claw marks in the picture aren't to scale, or else the ball would have quickly deflated!)

Paisley's philosophy is this: You don't have to dominate the whole world all at once. Just deflate it a little at a time. Use the Power of the Claw.

We're joining Summer for Cat World Domination Day, and of course we're joining the Sunday Selfies Blog Hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head!

Cat World Domination Day 2018

Sunday Selfies Blog Hop

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Caturday Art: Paisley in Purple

This week in Caturday Art, old SoLT turned Real Cat Paisley into something purple:

#caturdayart #lunapic

She did this in LunaPic, with the Daisy art effect (51%) and the Monster art effect (64%). We like the wavy parts it put in Paisley's fur!

And here's the original:


And now it's time for Friendly Fill-Ins, brought to us by 15 and Meowing and Four-Legged Furballs! The first two are answered by old SoLT this week, and the next two by Real Cat Paisley.

Old SoLT's answers:
Friendly Fill-Ins

1. My favorite scent is the smell of fresh garlic hitting olive oil when I'm cooking.

2. I hope to get some rest this weekend. I've ended up being double-booked for the past three weeks, and while it's great to have the work, it's wearing me out!

Real Cat Paisley's answers:
3.The sound of the pull tab on a can of cat food being opened is music to my ears.

4. Home is where my mommy is. And where my food is.

We're also joining the Caturday Art Blog Hop, hosted by Athena and Marie!

Caturday art Blog Hop

Friday, June 22, 2018

Words with Webster: Pard

We have one fun Friday feature for you today, as Real Cat Webster shares a really old wild cat word. And then we have a reminder for you about next Friday!

Words with Webster

Words with Webster

Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “pard.” This is sort of like last week’s word, “manticore,” because I got the idea for it when Mommy was typing the heraldry post for Miss C. Anyway, “pard,” according to my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s, is an archaic term for a leopard. The Oxford English Dictionary says it can mean a panther, a leopard, or “an animal resembling these.”

This word has basically been around since the days of ye Olde English, which was before the year 1100. Here is one of the Old English quotes listed in the OED:
Ofer ealle þa niht ðe we ferdon þæt us symle leon & beran & tigris & pardus & wulfas ure ehtan. ([tr.] Alexander’s Letter to Aristotle, 16.234)
Besides the pards, this quote also has lions and tigers and bears. Oh my! (And it has wolves too.)

It was really exciting to see a Shakespeare quote for “pard”:
Then, a Soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the Pard. (about 1616, As You Like It (1623) ii. vii. 150)
And I’m adding this 19th-century quote just because I like it:  
With the tread of the velvet-footed pard when he creeps upon his prey. (1845, J. H. Ingraham, Scarlet Feather ix. 58)
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “pard” comes from the Latin pardus and Greek pardos (both meaning “a male panther”). And those could come from a possibly Iranian source that also led to the Sanskrit prdaku-s (“leopard, tiger, snake”) and Persian palang (“panther”).

Leopard mosaic Roman
This leopard is leaping in a Roman mosaic from Cyprus.
Photo via Adobe Stock.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did look up “leopard,” but it was so interesting I decided to save it for my next column, which will be right here on July 6!

Pet Photo Fails

And now here is your friendly reminder that the Pet Photo Fails Blog Hop happens next Friday! So get your not-quite-right pet photos ready to share, and come hop with us. All pets are welcome!

Pet Photo Fails Blog Hop

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Story of the Key Marco Cat

Key Marco Cat
The Key Marco Cat.
Artifact Catalogue No. A240915, Department of Anthropology, NMNH, Smithsonian Institution.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Have you ever heard of the Key Marco Cat? Chances are you may have seen an image of this famous Florida artifact, even if you didn’t know what it was. The Key Marco Cat is a human/feline figurine about six inches high. It was carved from buttonwood by an artisan of the Calusa culture. According to notes from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the figure is dated to AD 1400–1500 or AD 700–1500.

Where is Key Marco and who were the Calusa?

Key Marco is the name of an archaeological site near Marco Island, a city on Florida’s southwest coast. According to the city’s official website, the Calusa people arrived in Florida “at least 4,000 years ago” (or about 2,000 BC). Besides being a “tall, handsome people … known for their fierce and warlike nature,” they were skilled woodworkers, as evidenced by the artifacts that were found in an 1896 excavation.

The Calusa lived on shell mounds and in huts raised above the water. They weren’t welcoming toward European explorers, and in 1521, an expedition led by Ponce de Leon landed in the area and was attacked by Calusa warriors. Ponce de Leon was wounded in the thigh (by a spear or poison arrow—accounts vary) and later died in Cuba.

The Calusa themselves were wiped out by diseases brought by Europeans.

The area of Florida where the
Calusa lived.
By Bryan Strome (www.firstnationseeker.ca)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Key Marco Cat

The 1896 excavation we mentioned was the Pepper-Hearst Expedition, led by an anthropologist named Frank Hamilton Cushing (the expedition was named for its sponsors, Dr. William Pepper and philanthropist Phoebe Hearst).  Cushing excavated at a small muck pond he called the Court of the Pile Dwellers. There he found the remains of buildings, woven mats, pottery, utensils such as spoons, and carved masks and figures, including an alligator head, a deer head, and of course the now-famous cat. Many of the wooden objects had still-vivid paint colors when they were first brought out of the wet conditions that had preserved them. But this was before archaeologists had good conservation techniques for wooden objects, and the painted colors soon faded.

The Key Marco Cat is a kneeling figure that appears to be half-human and half-feline. The feline part has been called a cougar or mountain lion, but it seems more likely (to us at least) that it was based on the mountain lion subspecies known as the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi). It was carved with shell scrapers and a shark’s tooth and was then “rubbed with a protective layer of animal fat,” (Smithsonian NMNH).

Interestingly, some Native peoples of the North American Southeast have oral histories of underwater panthers who rule the lower world and thunderbirds who rule the upper world. Could the Key Marco Cat be a representation of one of these underwater panthers? That is a question that may never be answered for certain. The figure is believed to have had religious significance to the Calusa, though.

Where the cat is now and where it’s going

1989 US Airmail stamp of the Key Marco Cat
This 1989 US Airmail stamp featured
the Key Marco Cat.
Copyright United States Postal Service.
All rights reserved,
The Key Marco Cat is now at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. But later this year, the figure is expected to return to Marco Island along with several other artifacts for “an extended visit” (Naples Daily News) to the Marco Island Historical Museum. The cat will be featured at a grand opening in January 2019.

Meanwhile, in the absence of the actual artifact, the museum has displayed a reproduction by artist Peter Sottong. It will be nice to see the Key Marco Cat go home, even if only temporarily.


Harriet, Howard Heithaus, “The Year of the Cat: Key Marco Cat Returns, This Time to a Home Built for It,” Naples Daily News, April 21, 2018, https://www.naplesnews.com/story/entertainment/arts/2018/04/21/year-cat-key-marco-cat-returns-time-home-built/523476002/

“History,” Key Marco Cat—Calusa Art Reproductions, https://www.keymarcocat.com/history.html.

“Key Marco,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_Marco

“Old Marco Island,” City of Marco Island Florida, http://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/index.aspx?page=207

“Pepper-Hearst Expedition,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepper-Hearst_expedition

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Cat of the Week: Iris

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.

#adoptablecat #baltimorehumaneToday we’re pleased to introduce this lovely gray tabby with white bib and socks. Her name is Iris, and she is 8 years old. She’s kind of shy and was scared in the shelter environment, but now she’s at Charm Kitty Café, where we hope she’ll meet lots of great people who can help her feel less scared so she’ll be ready for her forever home. Iris will need a patient adopter to give her time to adjust and feel comfortable in a new home. Could that be you?

Learn more Iris about 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, June 18, 2018

Cat App Review: Cat Condo

Cat Condo

Today we’re pleased to bring you our brief review of a cute app called Cat Condo.

In this game, you start off with a small cat condo with a little white kitty cat on each of its platforms. You combine two white kitty cats to create a gray kitten. Then you combine two gray kittens to create a sneaky cat, two sneaky cats to create a Japanese bobtail … and so on, combining cats at higher and higher levels to create new breeds. As you progress, your condo grows with the addition of more and more platforms to accommodate all those cats.

Here are just some of the 40 cats you can unlock in Cat Condo.
The condo grows as you reach higher levels.
Empty platforms will automatically fill with cat carriers holding white kitty cats, and sometimes you’ll get a surprise cat—a sneaky cat, say, instead of the white kitty cat. If you watch an ad, you can upgrade your surprise cat. You also earn coins that you can use to buy higher-level cats so you can progress to the new breeds more quickly. But each time you buy a cat, the price of that type of cat goes up. And of course you can spend real money to make the game go faster.

Cat Condo is a lot of fun at first, as you get to the new breeds quickly. But then it starts to take a long time to create the high-level cats needed to unlock even higher-level cats, and honestly, combining tons of white kitty cats into gray kittens into sneaky cats and so on and so forth gets old after a not very long time. There are 40 cats you can unlock, and after about three weeks of occasional play, we have only gotten to number 15 (a really cute American bobtail).

At least as far as we’ve found, there isn’t much strategy or challenge to this game, so it doesn’t take a lot of concentration. That makes it good if you want something cute and easy to occupy your hands while you watch TV or whatever (since you humans can’t seem to do just one thing at a time these days). But if you want something more engrossing, this is not that game. Still, Cat Condo is mildly distracting, and old SoLT finds it relaxing to check in for a few minutes in the evening to work toward unlocking the next cute cat. Maybe someday, far in the future, she’ll unlock all 40!

Cat Condo is available for iOS and Android devices. We played on an iPad.

One Paw Up! A good app

A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good app; two paws is for a great app. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Selfie: Webster Upside Down

This week, Real Cat Webster wanted to try doing his selfie upside down. We think it turned out pretty good:

#SundaySelfie #catselfies

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


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Caturday Art: Paisley in an Abstract World

This week's Caturday Art was a bit of a surprise to old SoLT, as she started this in Dreamscope several weeks ago and just got the results this Friday. She was surprised (a) that it was there at all and (b) that she likes it, because the last one we waited and waited for we didn't even like.


We don't know which filter it is. Heck, old SoLT isn't even sure which original photo it's from--so obviously we won't be showing you the original this week!

We're joining the Caturday Art Blog Hop, hosted by Athena & Marie!

Caturday Art Blog Hop

Friday, June 15, 2018

Words with Webster: Manticore, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a fantastic 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 “manticore.” At first this word doesn’t sound very catty, but a manticore is a
legendary animal having the head of a man often with horns, the body of a lion, and the tail of a dragon or scorpion. (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, online)
The Oxford English Dictionary describes it a little differently:
A fabulous monster having the body of a lion (occasionally a tiger), the head of a man, porcupine's quills, and the tail or sting of a scorpion.
I first learned about this word when Mommy was researching for our heraldry post a few weeks ago. In heraldry, a manticore is
a monster represented with the body of a beast of prey, the head of a man, sometimes with spiral or curved horns, and sometimes the feet of a dragon. (Oxford English Dictionary)
A manticore as depicted in the Rochester Bestiary,
late 1200s.
British Library, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Well, whether a manticore does or does not have a dragon’s tail and/or porcupine’s quills, it certainly does have the body of a big cat, and that’s what’s important (unless you happen to encounter one in the wild and want to put a name to it, but I really wouldn’t recommend taking the time to do that).

This word has been used in English since at least the 1300s. I found this excellent quote from the 1500s:
The mantycors of ye montaynes Myght fede them on thy braynes. (J. Skelton, Phyllyp Sparowe, sig. A.viii ?1545 [first composed ca. 1529])
That quote also explains why you shouldn’t hang around a manticore trying to figure out exactly what it is.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “manticore” comes to English from the Latin manticora, which is from the Greek mantikhoras, which seems to be a corruption of martikhoras, which could be from an Iranian compound meaning “man-eater”: mar-tiya-khvara.

According to folk etymology, the word comes from a combination of “man” + “tiger.”

Purrsonally, I think the “official” etymology is more convincing; plus, it gives you yet another hint that if you happen upon an actual thing that might be a manticore, you should quietly vacate the area!

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins
And now it’s time for Friendly Fill-Ins, from 15andmeowing and The Four-Legged Furballs. This week old SoLT did the first two and Real Cat Paisley did the second two.

Old SoLT’s answers:
1. My favorite Disney character is Mickey Mouse. But my favorite cartoon character is Bugs Bunny. By the way, I’m currently listening to a great podcast called Drawn: The Story of Animation. I recommend it for anyone who loves animation.

2. If I could stay any age for life, I would choose to be age 25 in body and 49 (current age) in mind. Sometimes I think if I could just get my 25-year-old body back, I’d be all set!

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. Bending everyone to my will is my not so secret talent.

4. Life is like a variety pack of canned food. You never know what you’re going to get.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Real Cat Paisley’s Basepaws Report

The results are in! We received the first report (the Alpha Report) from Real Cat Paisley’s Basepaws DNA testing just over a week ago, and boy, are we excited. This report includes information on how similar Paisley is to 16 wildcats and 27 domestic cats. In this post, we’ll share our experiences with the process and of course Paisley’s results.

Basepaws results

 Collecting the sample

Basepaws sends you a kit to collect fur from your cat; if you have a hairless cat, you get a swab to collect cheek cells. They also provide a postage-paid box to return your sample. You collect the fur with two pieces of clear tape that you stick onto your cat’s back and leave on for a few minutes. Paisley kept trying to reach around and get the tape off, so old SoLT had to hang on to her until the time was up. You then gently peel the tape off and join the sticky sides of the two pieces together to capture the fur between them. This process is not supposed to be painful for the cat, and Paisley didn’t seem too bothered by it, other than not enjoying having tape on her back.

When we ordered our kit, they were still sending cheek swabs for all cats, so we had to do this part as well. Paisley did not appreciate having that swab put in her mouth, and she did a lot of wiggling (a LOT of wiggling!). Old SoLT did the best she could, but she didn’t rub the cheek as thoroughly as the instructions said to. We suspect that a cat who is used to having their teeth brushed would accept this part more easily.

After you package everything up and send it off, you sit back and wait for the results.

What Basepaws does with your sample

When Basepaws receives your sample, they extract your cat’s DNA and sequence it. Just like humans, cats get their DNA from their parents, who got their DNA from their parents, and so on. DNA is pretty cool stuff. It is made up of building blocks called “bases,” and the order these bases appear in determines the genetic code. When Basepaws “sequences” your cat’s DNA, they’re figuring out the specific order of those bases.

Then they compare your cat’s sequence with the sequences of other cats. Over 99% of the sequence will be the same from cat to cat, so Basepaws is really looking for the tiny parts that set your cat apart.

Once they have done all the scientific work, they prepare a report that you can access through your account. Our Alpha Report included Paisley’s Breed Index (telling us what kind of cat she really is) and her Wild Cats Index (telling us what wild cats she shares a bit more DNA with). Basepaws is constantly refining their process, and they promise periodic report updates as they learn more.

Paisley’s Breed Index

We’ll admit that we hoped for a little surprise in Paisley’s breed, but the results show that she is as we truly suspected: a domestic shorthair. But there are a few breeds that she has a little more in common with than others, genetically speaking. Her top three matches are Maine Coon, Tennessee Rex (a breed we honestly had never heard of), and Tonkinese. So Paisley might have a teeny bit more in common with these breeds genetically, but the markers on her report fall squarely in the “Domestic” range.

Basepaws report
The result from the Maine coon portion of Paisley's report. She might have a little more in common
with this breed than with most others, but the blue marker falls squarely in the Domestic range--
so she's not a Maine coon! The narrow marker indicates a lower degree of certainty.
Of the 27 related breeds in the report, Paisley apparently has the least in common with the Peterbald.

Basepaws report
On the Peterbald portion of Paisley's report, the marker is wide and falls way down on the Less Likely end.
This means there is high certainty that she's not a Peterbald.

Paisley’s Wild Cats Index

On the wild side, Paisley’s top matches were the snow leopard (100%), the ocelot (100%), and the flat-headed cat (99%). Basepaws explained to us that a percentage above 50% means your cat shares more DNA with that wild cat than the average domestic cat does. This is probably due to random chance—it doesn’t mean that Paisley is a direct descendent of a snow leopard or ocelot! Paisley also has fairly high matches (above 80%) with the clouded leopard, Eurasian lynx, and leopard cat.

Paisley's snow leopard match
The snow leopard was one of Paisley's highest wild cat matches. This means that she has slightly more in
common genetically with snow leopards than the average domestic cat does. The similarity is probably
due to random chance and doesn't mean that Paisley has a snow leopard somewhere in her family tree.

Of the 13 related wild cats in the report, Paisley’s lowest matches were the serval (3%) and puma (1%).

Our reaction

We are immensely pleased with our experience with Basepaws. It took a few months longer than we expected to get the results, but Basepaws kept us updated with periodic emails to explain the delay (they were refining their process). Old SoLT is pretty patient about things like this and wasn’t bothered by it, but some people might be.

Besides the information in the report we received, we like knowing that this is just the first one; there will be more information to come as more cats have their DNA sequenced. Health, Traits, and Wellness reports are still in the works.

Another big plus is the customer service we received from Basepaws. The couple of times we had to ask questions, we got prompt and helpful answers, which we really appreciated.

And we appreciate knowing that Paisley is not secretly descended from an exotic breed, an heiress to a cat fortune of some sort. Honestly, old SoLT would not know what to do with an heiress. And you don’t have to be exotic to have an interesting ancestry. This process has made us think about how similar all cats really are. Within their DNA, all cats have an essential “catness” that comes from a long-ago ancestor, and we can’t stop thinking about how cool that is. Old SoLT is saving up to get a kit for Webster later this year.

Highly recommended!

We highly recommend Basepaws if you’re curious about your cat’s background. It could be especially interesting if you suspect your rescue kitty is part [insert suspected breed here]. We like knowing that Basepaws testing is not a one-and-done deal. You will find out even more about your cat in the future as new reports become available.

The kit is $95, and shipping is free in the US.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cat of the Week: Ronak

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.

Adopt Ronak, our Cat of the Week!Today we’re featuring a great cat we’ve introduced you to once before. Ronak is a 9-year-old gentleman who is front declawed. He has gorgeous black-and-white coloring, and such a handsome face! He enjoys getting attention, especially head rubs, but he is not shy about telling you when he’s had enough. He likes to hang with his peeps while they watch TV or whatever. Ronak also enjoys playing with toys like feathers and wands, and he has lived in a home with a young child before.

We understand he was a little shy when he first arrived at Baltimore’s Charm Kitty Café, where he currently is. But thanks to all the visitors he’s met since then, he’s become even more playful and ready for his new forever home (this according to Charm Kitty’s Instagram account). This is a reminder to all of us that visiting cat cafes isn’t just fun for you—you’re also helping socialize the cats so they’ll be ready to wow their potential adopters.

Now, where is Ronak’s new family?

Ronak is adoptable through the Baltimore Humane Society, and a donor has sponsored his adoption fee. 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!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Cat Classics in Print: Space Cat

Cat Classics in Print

Today’s Cat Classic in Print is one for you fans of cats and space—and cats in space. It’s the children’s book Space Cat, written by Ruthven Todd and illustrated by Paul Galdone, and first published in 1952. This thin volume has recently been released in a new edition by Dover and will be followed by three more books in the series (Space Cat Visits Venus, Space Cat Meets Mars, and Space Cat and the Kittens), to be released over the coming months. We enjoyed this book both because it has a cat in a spaceship and because it offers a glimpse into the fantastical world of space as envisioned by humans nearly a decade before they actually left Earth’s orbit.

#catclassics #catsinspaceA teeny little bit about Ruthven Todd

We suspect not a lot of you have heard of Ruthven Todd (we certainly hadn’t). Well, Todd (1914–1978) was an Edinburgh-born poet and novelist who was also an artist, an amateur botanist, and a William Blake scholar. He began to publish his poetry in the 1940s. Also during this time, Todd wrote detective novels under the name R. T. Campbell. These novels feature a botanist who is also a sleuth. In 1947 Todd moved to the US, and he became a citizen in the 1950s. He died in Spain as a result of chronic lung disease. (Source: ScottishPoetry Library)

A teeny bit more about Space Cat

Space Cat is the story of a gray tabby cat who is possibly the most fearless feline ever. We first meet him as a kitten who manages to get himself onto an airplane, where he meets a man who turns out to be Captain Fred Stone, a pilot and soon-to-be first man on the moon. The captain names the kitten Flyball, and soon enough the adventurous little cat has taken over the experimental station where lots of military types are working on spaceflight. He sneaks onto a rocket for a test flight, after which the captain decides Flyball should accompany him to the moon. Over the objections of the Head Guys in Charge, the cat is fitted with a pressure suit (complete with an appendage for his tail), and a little hammock is created for him in the rocket. Then off to the moon he and the captain go.

The moon that Flyball lands on is very little like the one Neil Armstrong stepped onto in 1969. It is covered with fluffy dust that Flyball and the captain sink deep into, and there is life on it. A weird sort of plant-like life, but life nonetheless. Flyball is the one who discovers the life forms, and when the captain falls and gets a leak in his helmet, it is Flyball who saves him with help from some of those life forms. Hero!

Our verdict

This is such a fun little book! Both the story and illustrations are delightful (our favorite illustration shows the captain walking toward the rocket, carrying Flyball in his little pressure suit).

Space Cat was published 9 years before the first human ventured into space (Yuri Gagarin, 1961) and 17 years before the first moon landing. That means a couple of things. First, the illustrator and author could really put their imaginations to work in creating the world that Flyball enters. Second, we felt some dissonance between that fantastical world and the real one. Old SoLT just couldn’t stop herself from thinking about all the little ways the fantasy didn’t match up to the reality. But we think this just means you can read the book on more than one level. And old SoLT has to complain a little bit about the complete lack of female characters. Interesting comparisons could be made between Space Cat and the more recent CatStronauts series, which (a) has more real-sounding sciency stuff and (b) depicts females in prominent positions. How life has changed in 66 years!

As we said, Space Cat is a fun book that you can turn into something more serious if you are so inclined. Or you can do what Todd and Galdone probably meant for you to do: read it, look at the pictures, and enjoy it.


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!

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!