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Infinite Cat Project Archives for December 5-9, 2016.

Mewsings: December 5, 2016 - "The key to a successful new relationship between a cat and human is patience." - Susan Easterly

bundle of cats

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Togetherness

Cat Mewvie: Ducky kittens

comic pet a cat

Today's Kitty Komic

Jean-Baptiste Perronneau

Feline Art: "Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange", by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, 1747.

cat news

The 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 physiology.

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 website.

“We plan to work with the GT I-Corps group to understand where this technology can best be applied in industry,” she added.

Mewsings: December 6, 2016 - "Civilization is defined by the presence of cats." - Unknown

cat on book titled do cats think

Gratuitous Kittiness: Yes, they most certainly do.

Cat Mewvie: Her prize possessions.

feline support center comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat art by brendan wenzel

Feline Art: "They All Saw A Cat" by Brendan Wenzel

Mewsings: December 7, 2016 - "The smallest feline is a masterpiece." - Leonardo da Vinci

cat sneaking up on pigeon

Gratuitous Kittiness: The Stowaway. (Don't worry, he landed safely.)

Cat Mewvie: Very zen cats.

ducks disguised as cat comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat painting by diane armitage

Feline Art: "Blue Cat" by Diane Armitage.

the Iceland Christmas cat legend

Jólakötturinn, 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 European nation.

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.

Mewsings: December 8, 2016 - "Most beds sleep up to six cats. Ten cats without the owner." - Stephen Baker

five brown tabbies

Gratuitous Kittiness: Fifty shades of gray.... cats.

Cat Mewvie: Because it's there, that's why.

dead Garfield cartoon

Today's Kitty Komic

cat mosaics

Feline Art: Cat mosaics.

Mewsings: December 9, 2016 - "There is no such thing as 'just a cat'." - Robert A. Heinlein

gray cats with gray kittens

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Proud parents.

Cat Mewvie: "Don't leave me, dear friend."

cat wake-up call comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat by marina dieul

Feline Art: "Morphogenese" by Marina Dieul.

eliot warhol cats

Ol' 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.)


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