Catland Gate in forest: Cat plays fiddle on mountain "Looking skyward I thank whatever being it is,
whose atoms burn as stars, for creating this old cat...
who, despite nature's endless turmoil, folds her paws
and purrs and is content"

from "This Old Cat"
by my late and great friend,
James J. Brinkman


Cat Facts... and More

Part 1... History of the Cat

Scientists believe that the earliest cat was probably an animal called Miacis which lived about 55 Million years ago. Fossils indicate that the Miacis looked somewhat like a weasel.

The cat's grace and beauty have inspired artists since ancient times. About 4,000 years ago, ancient Egyptians carved wooden figures, furniture and jewelry in the shape of cats. They were probably responsible for taming the first cats that lived with man. They called their cats "miaw" and adorned them with jewels and gold earrings. They worshipped cats as Gods and believed that the Goddess Bast represented the life-giving heat of the sun. If someone killed a cat, the punishment was usually death. When a pet cat died, its Egyptian master shaved off his eyebrows as a sign of mourning. The Egyptians mummified their dead cats and buried them along with mummified mice and saucers of milk in special cemeteries.

In the 13th century, the first witchcraft trials were held, and Egypt's beloved cat suffered greatly. The pagan religions held that witches turned into cats. Cats were blamed for everything from souring the beer to spreading disease. It was commonly believed that their teeth contained venom and that their breath caused disease and infection. Any cat that was seen in the company of an old woman was assumed to be a witch's associate. Hundreds of unfortunate cats were burned alive by people who believed they did the work of the devil.

By the 17th century, the cat once again gained favor by virtually saving Europe from the ravages of the great plague by controlling the rat population. Much has evolved since then. But the question is "where does Egypt's beloved cat stand today?"

It is estimated that today there are over 60 million cats in America, alone. More than 70,000 cats and dogs are born each day due to uncontrolled breeding. Many cats have never experienced the luxury of a warm lap and lead hard, cruel and short, tortured lives as strays. Of cats placed in shelters, 75% are euthanized because there is no room or funds to care for them. Maybe they are the lucky ones in light of animal abuse and laboratory experiments that take a toll on countless numbers of cat lives and inflict pain and suffering beyond our comprehension. While we cannot guess at the fate of the cat a thousand years from now, perhaps we can aid in shaping their future world.

star While you are reading these pages, thousands of cats are being euthanized across the United States daily because no one wants them and there isn't enough money for the shelters to care for them. Many of these cats once enjoyed a home and were someone's adored pet... just like yours. Spaying and neutering your pets is the most important thing you can do to end the suffering and to save lives.

Part 2... Legends, Folklore, Fables

Animated cat eating cookie Why Cats Don't Wash Up Before They Eat

As legend goes, the cat once caught a mouse and was about to eat the tasty little morsel when the mouse chided the cat for her bad manners. "What?" cried the mouse, "You're going to eat me without first washing your face and hands?" The mortified cat immediately dropped the mouse and began washing, and the clever little mouse promptly scooted off. Ever since, cats have not washed up before dinner.

Cat and vase of Pussy Willows How Pussy Willows Got Their Name

According to an old Polish legend, many springtimes ago a mother cat was crying at the bank of the river in which her kittens were drowning. The willows at the river's edge longed to help her, so they swept their long graceful branches into the waters to rescue the tiny kittens who had fallen into the river while chasing butterflies. The kittens gripped on tightly to their branches and were safely brought to shore. Each springtime since, goes the legend, the willow branches sprout tiny fur-like buds at their tips where the tiny kittens once clung.

cat in treeThe Fox And The Cat

The fox was boasting to the cat of his clever devices for escaping his enemies. "I have a whole bag of tricks which contains 100 ways of escaping my enemies," he said. "I have only one," said the cat, "but I can generally manage with that." Just at that moment they heard the cry of a pack of hounds coming towards them, and the cat immediately scampered up a tree and hid herself in its branches.

"This is my plan," said the cat. "What are you going to do?" The fox thought and thought as he looked in his bag of tricks, and while he was debating the hounds came nearer and nearer. At last the fox in his confusion was caught by the hounds and soon killed by the huntsmen. Miss Puss, who had been looking on, said: "Better one safe way than 100 on which you can not reckon."
Animated dressed mouse smoking cigar Belling The Cat

All of the mice met in council to discuss the best way to secure against attacks of the cat. After several suggestions were debated a mouse of experience and standing got up and said: "I think I have hit upon a plan which will ensure our future safety." We will fasten a bell around the neck of our enemy, the cat, which by its tinkling will warn us of her approach." As the proposal was being applauded, a mouse who was even wiser stood up on his feet and said: "It is easy to propose impossible solutions. I agree that it is an admirable plan, but who is going to bell the cat?"
Sign with cat and bird: All creatures are precious The Starfish Story

A young child spotted a small girl walking along the shore. She would bend down every few feet, pick something up from the sand, and toss it into the ocean. The child walked up to the young girl and asked her what she was doing. "I'm saving starfish," the little girl replied. The young child looked at her, and in amazement, asked: "What are you going to do ... spend all day and night here tossing starfish back into the ocean? You'll never save them all. And, anyway, they are just starfish and it doesn't matter if they live or die." The little girl bent down and scooped another starfish up from the sand. She considered it briefly, and then hurled it into the ocean. "It mattered to that one," she replied.

Dressed Puss and BootsPussy Willow Fairy *The Cat And The Fairy Forest

Some say that the forest was dense with catnip, while others are convinced that the cat was just being a cat.....

"It is said that in a land long ago and far away there existed a very green, very magic forest. So magical this forest was, that mythical beings were etched into its tree trunks, and crimson sun-ripened berries clung to its branches year-round and perfumed the air. The forest was inhabited by song-birds and faeries..."

Read The Cat and the Fairy Forest in The Cat Cafe.
*An original illustrated tiny cat tale with a moral © Diabella.

Part 3... Cat Facts

  • The heaviest cat on record was an Australian cat named Himmy who weighed 45 lbs, 10 oz's. Himmy held the title of "Official World Heavyweight Champion in the Guinness' Book of World Records in 1986.

  • Perhaps the oldest known female cat was Ma, from Devon, who was 34 when she died in 1957.

  • If your cat is 5 years old, he or she is 36 years old in human years. See our Age Comparison Chart in The Cat Cafe.

  • A cat's hearing capability is five times greater than that of a human. However, at about 5 years of age, this capability lessens somewhat. A cat can rotate its ears 180 degrees and can locate the source of a sound ten times faster than the most capable watchdog.

  • A cat can not see directly under its nose. This is why it sometimes can not quickly find treats thrown on the floor.

  • A cat can sprint at 30 miles per hour and jump 7 times as high as its tail. When cats jump their footpads absorb the shock of landing.

  • A cat can be either right-pawed or left-pawed.

  • A cat will almost never meow at another cat. Cats use this sound for humans.

  • Cats have about 100 different vocalization sounds. In comparison, dogs have about 10.

  • Declawing a cat is the equivalent of cutting a human's fingers off at the knuckle. DON'T DO IT!

  • A cat will spend nearly 30% of its life grooming itself.

  • Cats bury their feces to cover their trails from predators.

  • The first signs of predatory behaviour occurs when kittens are around 4 weeks old. See our Kitten Growth Chart in The Cat Cafe.

  • A cat's brain is more similar to a human's brain than that of a dog.

  • Cats are known to sleep from 16-18 hours a day. While cats are sleeping they remain alert to the slightest stimuli.

  • After being handled, cats lick themselves to smooth their fur and get rid of the "human" smell. Licking is also thought to produce a calming effect.

  • A female cat can begin mating when she is between 5 and 9 months old.

  • A male cat can begin mating when he is between 7 and 10 months old. Please spay and neuter to save lives.

  • The length of a cat's pregnancy is from 58-65 days.

  • A cat's heart beats at 110 to 140 beats per minute, twice as fast as a human heart.

  • A cat's tail held high means happiness. A twitching tail is a warning sign, and a tail tucked in close to the body is a sure sign of insecurity.

  • In relation to their body size, cats have the largest eyes of any mammal.

  • If your cat is in the habit of rolling over and exposing his stomach, you can be sure he feels perfectly safe with you. It's also a way of demonstrating his pleasure in your company.

  • A large majority of white cats with blue eyes are deaf. White cats with only one blue eye are deaf only in the ear closest to the blue eye.

  • A cat's jaws cannot move sideways.

  • All cats are born with blue eyes.

  • Calico cats are nearly always female.

  • Both humans and cats have identical regions in the brain responsible for emotion.

  • Cats have more bones than humans. Humans have 206 bones whereas the cat has 230. About 10% of a cats bones are in its tail. The tail is used to maintain balance.

  • The cat does not have a true collarbone and can therefore squeeze its body through most spaces that its head fits through. Whiskers act as radar and help the cat gauge the space it is contemplating to walk through.

  • Ailurophobia is the fear of cats. Julius Caesar, Henry II, Charles XI, and Napoleon all suffered from this and would nearly faint in the presence of a cat.

  • Tests done by the Behavioral Department of the Museum of Natural History conclude that while a dog's memory lasts about 5 minutes, a cat's recall can last as long as 16 hours.

  • According to tests performed by Donald Adams, D.V.M., the cat possesses a surprisingly high level of intelligence and can remember problem solving strategies and use insight to "think" their way out of situations. Their curiosity stems from their intelligence and they will work endlessly and desperately to obtain the results they want.

  • Chemicals can be absorbed through a cat's paws. Floor waxes and cleaning solutions pose a particular danger.

  • Human painkillers such acetaminophen (Tylenol) are highly toxic to cats.

  • The majority of aerosol sprays contain poison and should never be sprayed near a cat's food.

  • Coins can choke a cat and should never be left around. Pennies minted after 1982 pose an added danger as they contain zinc which is toxic.

  • Plastic dry cleaner bags can cause suffocation.

  • If you suspect that your cat has ingested a poisonous substance, for a small charge to your credit card you may save the life of your pet. Please add this telephone number to your address book now: National Animal Poison Control Center .... 1-800 548-2423

Cat asks granny for food   FEEDING KITTY
  • Cats prefer to dine in a quiet spot, at the same time and in the same place each day, and from clean bowls free from the residue of detergents and the previous meal.

  • Cats do not like their whiskers disturbed while dining, and many will refuse to eat from a bowl whose sides touch their whiskers.

  • Cats can not taste sweets.

  • Chocolate is toxic. As little as as few ounces can kill a cat. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is.

  • Most adult cats are lactose intolerant and drinking milk will give them diarrhea. Otherwise, milk is a nutritious snack. Cream is even better than milk -- most cats can handle the butterfat just fine and it's good for them. A small serving of cream will satisfy the cat more than a saucer of milk and contains less lactose.

  • Do not purchase canned cat food that appears to be very red. The red coloring is due to the addition of sodium nitrate, a carcinogen. Pet food manufacturers are not required to list this chemical on their labels.

  • Taurine is needed to prevent blindness. Make sure it is listed among the ingredients of the cat foods you choose.

  • Cats should not be given raw or undercooked meat, or raw eggs. E-coli, salmonella and toxoplasmosis are not just people diseases.

  • Although this varies from cat to cat, the average hunting 10-lb cat would consume about 10 mice per day. This amounts to about one cup of dry food or 10 ounces of canned food. A cat over 10 lbs would require a bit more.

  • Get down to the level of your cat or place your cat on a high piece of furniture.

  • Avoid direct eye contact or aggressive moves... especially if your cat is shy or timid.

  • Capture the cat's personality by throwing him a catnip stuffed toy. Don't hesitate to click while he is in mid-air. Cats in action make for some of the best photos.

  • For a regal photo, place the cat on a decorator pillow and get down to his level.

  • Always move in close. The cat should take up at least half of the picture.

  • Make sure that there is plenty of light directed at the cat's face.

  • A neutral background is best when photographing a black cat. A dark background will make the entire photo too dark. A white background will provide too much contrast thereby increasing the blackness and lack of details.

  • If you are using a flash don't snap a black cat against a wall. If the cat is too close to the wall the shadow behind him will blend into his body.

Dressed flea waits for catALL ABOUT FLEAS
Fleas are the equivalent of miniature vampires and can be deadly. They were responsible for the bubonic plague. Fleas infected with the disease passed it on to rodents who, in turn, passed it on to humans. Here are some flea facts:

  • Flea eggs may survive more than ten years under optimum conditions. Carpets are the ideal environment for eggs and pupae to survive long periods of time.

  • There are four distinct stages in the life of a flea: the egg, the larva, the pupa (or more commonly called "cocoon"), and the adult.

  • Two out of three fleas are female.

  • A female flea can consume 15 times her body weight in blood daily.

  • Four female fleas feeding four times a day for 100 days will bite your cat 1,600 times.

  • There are thousands of species of fleas.

  • Fleas dined on dinosaur blood 180 million years ago.

  • Catnip is known botanically as Nepeta Cataria. The plant is in the mint family and grows in temperate climates around the world. Not all catnip is the same. Because the plant is affected by its growing conditions, many different types of catnip are available and each type has a different taste.

  • In the 17th and 18th centuries catnip tea was believed to have medicinal powers and was often prescribed by doctors in Europe and the Unites States for various ailments.

  • It is believed that the cat's response to catnip is in the feline genes. With the exception of the tiger, the big cats have the same reaction to catnip as pet cats do.

  • The effects of catnip last for about 6 minutes, with the first few minutes being most intense. Cats of reproductive age are more sensitive to catnip than cats that are very young or very old. Generally, males have more of a reaction to catnip than females do. Cats under 6 months old show no interest in catnip.

cat bandaged like mummy WANT YOUR CAT TO LAST FOREVER?
Not our cup of tea, but had to include this one...

You can have your cat mummified by a company in Salt Lake City, Utah. Having discovered this company while doing research for this page, and finding it hard to believe, we telephoned them. This is what we learned:

Summum Mummifications holds a funeral directors' license. They mummify cats and also "do" humans. The cost to mummify a cat is $4,500.00. An updated version of the ancient Egyptian method is used. They have developed the process and hold the patent on it.

Since 1978, advertisements for the company have been placed in over 10,000 periodicals and newspapers worldwide including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine and People Magazine. Famous personalities have used their services but they are not at liberty to disclose names. Their web site is included among the top 1000 sites on the web and it gets an average of 100,000 hits per day.

Summum Mummifications
Salt Lake City, Utah
Telephone: 1-800 355-0137

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