Cat Project Archives for December
5, 2016 - "The key to a successful new relationship
between a cat and human is patience." - Susan Easterly
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Togetherness
Mewvie: Ducky kittens
Pinceloup de la Grange", by Jean-Baptiste
cat's tongue has got us this time.
by Brian Mastroianni
Anyone who’s ever watched a cat patiently licking away at its fur
knows that the scratchy feline tongue makes for an efficient grooming
tool. It rakes right through tangled manes even better than a hairbrush.
Now, some scientists are trying to harness that natural ability for a
range of surprising uses, from enhanced robotics to medical devices to
new types of hairbrushes.
Studying cat tongues might not seem like a promising jumping off point
for new innovation, but for Georgia Institute of Technology doctoral
candidate Alexis Noel, a life spent around the feline companions led
to inspiration for her current research.
Noel and her team honed in on the surprisingly complex surface and function
of cats’ tongues, filming their movements in incredible detail
with high-speed cameras as the animals moved cat food around on a fur
mat. The film revealed how tiny, claw-like spines that line a cat’s
tongue can dig into objects, like clumps of fur when a cat licks itself,
and similar to Velcro, grip onto objects and rip them away.
The researchers ended up making a 3D-printed model of a cat’s tongue — four
times greater than life-size — to experiment with the tongue’s
Ultimately, this deep dive into cat tongues could pave the way for the
development of new technologies that mimic its natural Velcro-like function.
Noel and her colleagues presented their research on Nov. 21 at the meeting
of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics in
Portland, Oregon. In an email to CBS News, she explained how this unusual
research project got its start.
“My whole life I have grown up with cats as household pets. I was home
for a few days of break, watching TV with the family cats. Murphy, a 3-year-old
male cat (short-haired breed, with tan stripes), decided that the couch blanket
smelled tasty, and decided to give it a good lick. When I was done laughing at
this curious cat, the scientist in me began to question how a soft, wet tissue
could stick to something so easily,” Noel wrote. “After a few seconds
of struggle, he figured out that he could detach his tongue by simply pushing
his tongue into the blanket rather than pulling (de-hooking the blanket loops).
During this time, I had been studying how saliva affects taste, and I had noticed
a variety of mammals (cows, deer, tigers) having sharp spines on the surface
of mammalian tongues. Once I got back to campus, it was an easy transition to
studying rough cat tongues.”
Murphy would probably be surprised to see how influential his feline
tongue could end up being in the booming field of robotics. Noel said
her work could enable scientists to work on soft robotic designs — flexible
robots that are made of bendable materials like rubber and elastic plastic.
Until now, researchers haven’t been able to find efficient ways
for these slippery robots to grip onto hard surfaces, but that could
change if designs could effectively mimic cat tongues.
In addition, this research could also lead to the development of different
kinds of brushes and other cleaning tools.
“The first known hairbrush is dated back to 8,000 BC, with the first patent
appearing in 1854,” Noel noted. “Since then, the hairbrush design
really has not changed. We look to see how the cat tongue can be scaled to suit
human hair, providing a novel design to the traditional hairbrush.”
“This research may also have a variety of applications from new ways to
clean deeply embedded dirt in your carpet to wound cleaning advances in the medical
field to gripping mechanisms for rough terrain. In the field of soft robotics,
the current application is unclear, but I look forward to perhaps collaborating
with soft roboticists in the near future,” she wrote.
Right now, Noel and her colleagues are going to develop their cat tongue
technology through Georgia Tech’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps), which
helps National Science Foundation develop potential “product opportunities” that
could come out of their academic research, according to Georgia Tech’s
“We plan to work with the GT I-Corps group to understand where this technology
can best be applied in industry,” she added.
6, 2016 - "Civilization is defined by the presence
of cats." - Unknown
Gratuitous Kittiness: Yes, they most certainly do.
Mewvie: Her prize possessions.
Feline Art: "They
All Saw A Cat" by
7, 2016 - "The smallest feline is a masterpiece." -
Leonardo da Vinci
Gratuitous Kittiness: The Stowaway. (Don't worry, he landed safely.)
Mewvie: Very zen cats.
Art: "Blue Cat" by Diane Armitage.
The Christmas Cat of Iceland.
There is a charming old bit of folklore from the land of ice and volcanoes
about a giant cat that, come Christmas time, will eat anyone who does
not possess a new article of clothing. In short, work hard and you will
be able to have something new. That speaks directly to the work ethic
of Iceland’s population who garner more overtime than any other
Though no one knows exactly how long the Yule Cat, or Jólakötturinn
as he is more properly known, has been around, many folk historians believe
is may go back to the dark ages. They do know that he was used as a threat
by farmers to scare workers into finishing up the processing of wool
from the fall season before Christmas. No doubt many Icelandic parents
found the story equally useful with their children. Those that completed
their work would receive new clothing as thanks. Those who didn’t
were destined to be eaten.
A variation to the story is the Yule Cat eats the food of those who do
not work hard. The new clothes rule still applies as it is how he differentiates
whose Christmas feast he devours. Regardless of the preference in tale
told, his appetite is voracious and he does not discriminate. Still,
at the very root of the myth is the time tested adage you get out what
you put in. A fairly simple and direct message, delivered courtesy of
a ginormous man-eating feline.
Jólakötturinn found his story to be elevated when captured
in the poetic lines of Jóhannes úr Kötlum in his poem
that bears the same name as the tyrannical kitty and it seemed to have
given resurgence to the myth. Icelandic superstar Björk even released
a song based on the lyrics.
How this scenario plays out in today’s world is could be somewhat
troubling. With many out of work and homelessness still a huge issue,
perhaps Jólakötturinn’s message can be translated into
encouraging selfless acts. How nice it would be if those who do have
would take both a moment and a dollar to provide for those who have not
by supporting shelters and like-minded organizations. For animals, too.
Who was actually productive and what productivity itself means may be
subjective in the eyes of the Yule Cat, but wouldn’t it be nice
to stave off his hunger this year with everyone, worldwide, having a
new piece of clothing to call their own.
8, 2016 - "Most beds sleep up to six cats. Ten cats
without the owner." - Stephen Baker
Gratuitous Kittiness: Fifty shades of gray.... cats.
Mewvie: Because it's there, that's why.
Feline Art: Cat mosaics.
9, 2016 - "There is no such thing as 'just a cat'." -
Robert A. Heinlein
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Proud parents.
Mewvie: "Don't leave me, dear friend."
Art: "Morphogenese" by Marina Dieul.
Possum's book of Andy Warhol's cats.
by Blake Gopnik
I swear this is true: A little while ago, when the new version of the
musical “Cats,” started being advertised in New York, I thought
to myself, “Someone should use Andy Warhol’s 1950s cat drawings
as illustrations for T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical
Cats” – the volume of verse the musical is based on. “It’s
a perfect match.”
I was right, but unfortunately the idea had already come to someone else:
Andy Warhol. A little while ago, in the course of combing through his
financial documents, I came across an invoice for $300 he’d sent
out on Jan. 29, 1957, for “3 Cats for ts Elliot poems,” for
publication in (wait for it) a quite new magazine called Sports Illustrated – which
at that point was un-macho enough to publish quaint poems about cats
illustrated by the least sporty male on the planet. With help from Paul
Maréchal, the expert on Warhol’s magazine illustrations,
I tracked down the original pages – and voila, today’s Daily
Pic. (Click on the image below to zoom in.)
And now that Warhol started the ball rolling, it’s pretty obvious
that the Eliot and Warhol estates had better join forces to illustrate
the remaining poems in Old Possum’s, using some of the rest of
Warhol’s cat pictures.
(And here’s something for total Warhol geeks: The SI image adds
to a growing pile of evidence that Warhol’s book called 25 Cats
Name Same was not published in 1954 or 55, as has always been said, but
very late in 1956 – since one of the felines on the Eliot page
is also in the cat book. For more conclusive evidence – on this
admittedly trivial point – wait for my Warhol bio.)