Cat Project Archives for March 11-15, 2019.
11, 2019: "Cat lovers can readily be identified. Their
clothes always look old and well used. Their sheets look
like bath towels and their bath look like a collection
of knitting mistakes."
- Eric Gurney
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "I'll bet you didn't think cats could
make signs. Right?"
the "butt-wiggle" question.
by Serena Sonoma
As many pet owners will attest, when their cat prepares to pounce, it
does a little butt wiggle first.
This butt-wiggling pounce lasts just a few moments as the feline crouches
down low and wiggles its rear end before launching itself at its target … which
is sometimes your feet under the blankets.
There hasn't been any formal research yet on this quirky behavior, but
one scientist who studies animal locomotion said he had a few ideas about
why kitty does a twerk-like shimmy before its ambush.
"The short answer is science does not know; the butt-wiggling has not been
studied, to my knowledge, in an experimental context," said John Hutchinson,
a professor of evolutionary biomechanics at the Royal Veterinary College in London.
According to Hutchinson, butt-wiggling may help press the hindlimbs into
the ground to give cats added friction (traction) for pushing them forward
in the pounce. "It may also have a sensory role to prepare the vision,
proprioception [an awareness of one's position and movement] and muscle — and
whole cat — for the rapid neural commands needed for the pounce," Hutchinson
Butt wiggling may also give the cat an aerobic warm-up, of sorts.
"It probably does stretch the muscles a bit and that might help with pouncing," Hutchinson
told Live Science. "And we can't exclude that it's just fun for cats; they
do it because they are excited by the thrill of the hunt [and] prey."
Domesticated cats aren't alone in this behavior; wild cats — yes,
even fierce creatures such as lions, tigers and jaguars, shake their
derrières before striking (just hopefully not your feet).
But unlike lions and tigers, the house cat has been domesticated for
about 10,000 years. So, the time is ripe to get to the bottom of this
An ideal experiment would have cats pounce with and without butt-wiggling,
so scientists could determine what effect wiggling (or lack thereof)
has on their pouncing performance, Hutchinson said.
Granted, Hutchinson has a lot on his plate, but he joked that "it
must be done, somehow. I shall marshal some scientists, and some friendly
cats, in due course."
12, 2019: "I could endure anything before but a cat,
and now he's a cat to me."
- Shakespeare, "All's Well That Ends Well"
13, 2019: "Since she's frequently a cat, just about
every Hogwarts student at some point has seen Professor
McGonagall's asshole." -- Hehyih
Gratuitous Kittiness: 4-star kitten kuteness.
Cat Mewvie: Deaf white kitty says "Welcome
Art: "Kitty" by Elizabeth Jancewicz.
14, 2019: "Actually, cats do this to protect you from
gnomes who come and steal your breath while you sleep." -
Gratuitous Kittiness: Watching over the little ones.
Cat Mewvie: Blind raccoon and
Feline Art: "Beehunt" by
15, 2019: "You’re not crazy for talking to your
cats; You’re crazy if they talk back."
- Reddit user "ACE415"
Gratuitous Kittiness: So very much happy.
Cat Mewvie: Bad to the bones.
Feline Art: "Evening
oldest American picture book is about.... cats.
by Emily Temple
Today, March 11, is the anniversary of the birth of Wanda Gág
(I know what you’re thinking, but it rhymes with “jog”).
For the uninitiated, Gág was a celebrated artist and lithographer
in the Greenwich Village-centric Modernist art scene in the 1920s, a
free-thinking, sex-positive leftist who also designed her own clothes
and translated fairy tales. When Gág was just 15, her artist father
died of tuberculosis, and his last words to his daughter were: “What
Papa couldn’t do, Wanda will have to finish.”
I don’t know if art is every really finished, but Gág certainly
continued his work, becoming a prominent artist and illustrator. Then,
in 1928, Gág published her first book, Millions of Cats, which
was adapted from a story she had made up to entertain her friends’ children.
Written and illustrated by Gág, it also featured hand-lettered
text (created by her brother) and something brand new for picture books:
the illustrated double-page spread.
Here’s the story: a very old man and a very old woman live together
in a house surrounded by flowers. The only thing missing in their lives
is “a sweet little fluffy cat” (the cats in question were
modeled after Gág’s own, Noopy), and so the very old man
goes off to search for one. But instead of one, he finds “hundreds
of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats.” Obviously,
he has to bring them all home. Which causes some problems! In the end,
they all eat each other (that’s right), leaving only the homeliest
cat—who only needs some love and milk to become beautiful.
Her editor, Ernestine Evans, wrote in the Nation:
Millions of Cats is as important as the librarians say it is. Not only
does it bring to book-making one of the most talented and original of
American lithographers, an artist who has a following both here and abroad,
but it is a marriage of picture and tale that is perfectly balanced.
And the story pattern, so cunningly devised with such hearty and moral
simplicity, is told in a prose as skillful as jingle.
It was an instant hit, and remains the oldest American picture book still
in print. In fact, some would call it the oldest American picture book,
period—at that time most illustrated books in circulation in America
Millions of Cats won a Newbery Honor in 1929, making it one of very
few picture books to do so (the Caldecott medal had not yet been created),
and continues to be ranked among the best American children’s books—by
those who remember it, at least. For the rest, it’s ripe for rediscovery.
After all, look at all the cats!