Monday, March 31, 2008

Mythological Cats - Bast The Cat Goddess

In Egyptian mythology, Bast (also spelt Ubasti, and Pasht) is an ancient goddess, worshipped at least since the Second Dynasty. The centre of her cult was in Per-Bast (Bubastis in greek), which was named after her. Originally she was viewed as the protector goddess of Lower Egypt, and consequently depicted as a fierce lion. Indeed, her name means (female) devourer. As protector, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh, and consequently of the chief god, Ra, who was a solar deity, gaining her the titles Lady of flame, and Eye of Ra.

Later scribes sometimes named her Bastet, a variation on Bast consisting of an additional feminine suffix to the one already present, thought to have been added to emphasize pronunciation. Since Bastet would literally mean (female) of the ointment jar, Bast gradually became thought of as the goddess of perfumes, earning the title perfumed protector. In connection with this, when Anubis became the god of embalming, Bast, as goddess of ointment, became thought of as his mother, although this association was broken in later years, when Anubis became thought of as Nephthys' son.

This gentler characteristic, of goddess of perfumes, together with Lower Egypt's position as the loser in the wars between Upper & Lower Egypt, lead to her ferocity being gradually toned down. Thus by the Middle Kingdom, she had come to be thought of as a domestic cat rather than a lion, although occasionally, she would be depicted holding a lioness mask, hinting at suppressed ferocity. Since domestic cats tend to be quite tender, and protective, toward their children, she was also thought of as a good mother, and sometimes became depicted with numerous (unidentified) kittens. Consequently, a woman who wanted children would sometimes wear an amulet depicting Bast, as a cat, with kittens, the number of which indicated her own desired amount of children.

Due to the severe disaster to the food supply that could be caused by simple vermin such as mice and rats, and their ability to fight and kill snakes, especially Cobras, Cats in Egypt were revered heavily, sometimes being given golden jewelry to wear, and being allowed to eat from the same plates as their owners. Consequently, as the main cat (rather than lion) deity, Bast was strongly revered as the patron of cats, and thus it was in the temple at Per-Bast that dead (and mummified) cats were brought for burial. Over 300,000 mummified cats were discovered when Bast's temple at per-Bast was excavated.

As divine mother, and more especially as protectress, for Lower Egypt, she became strongly associated with Wadjet, the patron goddess of Lower Egypt, eventually becoming Wadjet-Bast, paralleling the similar pair of patron (Nekhbet) and lioness protector (Sekhmet) for Upper Egypt. Eventually, her position as patron and protector of Lower Egypt, lead to her being identified as the more substantial goddess Mut, whose cult had risen to power with that of Amun, and eventually being absorbed into her as Mut-Wadjet-Bast. Shortly after, Mut also absorbed the identities of the Sekhmet-Nekhbet pairing as well.

Finally, all that remains our days about Bast is her forever living legend: the Cat Goddess.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hairless Cats - The Sphynx

Perhaps one of the most strange and curious feline is the one called The Sphynx. Its bizarre looks have brought it a lot of fans around the world. Here are some facts that you may or may have not known about these unique cats.

The so called hairless Sphynx is also known as the Canadian Hairless Cat. The gene of hairlessness has appeared as a spontaneous mutation several times during the past century, in well documented occurrences in Europe, Australia and America. The most famous early hairless cats are probably the two cats owned by a New Mexico resident that have come to be known as the "Hairless Mexican". Most sources agree that the first breeding program for hairless cats was initiated in Canada in 1966, when a domestic shorthaired cat produced a hairless kitten. These early cats were at first called "The Canadian Hairless", "Moonstone Cats" and "Canadian Sphynx" - with time, "Sphynx" became the official name. The Sphynx cats that we have today descend from a couple of domestic shorthair farm cats that produced a hairless kitten. The Sphynx cat became a recognized breed in the mid 1970's. To most people, hairlessness is a denial of everything that cats are about.

But here is something to think about: the history of the Mexican Aztecs contains stories of a breed of hairless cats which in winter developed a slight growth of hair on the back and along the ridge of the tail. Some modern Sphynxes have the same characteristics. The hairlessness, so called, because in fact the mature Sphynx has a very short downy coat which can be felt or seen only with difficulty, but no true eyebrows or whiskers - which is caused by a recessive gene. The mutation changed not only the hair length but also the body type, so that the Sphynx does not merely look like a domestic cat without hair. It looks like an entirely different species. in cats with normal coats, the hair regulates body temperature, and the Sphynx's lack of hair causes it to sweat and also makes it warm to the touch.

Sphynxes are said to be champion purrers, is very people-orientated and affectionate. They are highly intelligent, playful, cuddly, often described as being "part dog, part child, part monkey, and part cat". They have fun playing with appropriate cat toys and table tennis balls, most of all, they really love affection from their owner. Some owners have described the Sphynx as a "clown cat" - with it twisting and turning in mid-air and other antics it certainly can be a very humorous cat at times.

Sphynxes are essentially indoor cats as they have so little protection from adverse weather, and they do not like resting on cold surfaces. Their body temperature is a degree or two above the average for normal cats and they have voracious appetites to compensate for the heat loss.
Sphynxes have a characteristic pose, when standing, of raising one foreleg.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Siamese Cats NY - An example to follow

We all need love, care, and protection. It does not matter if you are human or an animal, these are simply things that one needs. However many humans tend to forget this. Many tend to forget that just as much as they need care and love and protection so do others. And especially those beautiful little souls that cheer up our life, that are there besides us no matter if our life goes from bad to worse, or everything is just great, the little souls we call our friends, our pets.

There are many examples, far too many actually, in which we see unbelievable cruelty against the poor pets that stay near deranged morons, that think that just because they have an opposable finger they are actually superior. Apparently the human cruelty against others and especially against animals knows no limits. This in fact proves one thing: we may have evolved as society, technologically, but in the end, we are still animals…the worst case of animals!

However, in this dessert of pain and shame, small oasis appears now and then. Brave souls that give from their spare time, from their own funds, from their own energy to try and save those that can’t understand what is happening to them, why must they suffer when all they gave to that monstrosity near them was love and care, and companionship.

The NYC Siamese Rescue, from New York, obviously, is such an example. They are a non-profit organization, independent of any other rescue group or agency. NYC Siamese Rescue, Inc. also operates under the names "NYC Siamese Rescue" and "New York City Siamese Rescue". NYC Siamese Rescue was incorporated in November of 2002. In an IRS letter dated March 10th, 2005, NYC Siamese Rescue was determined to be exempt from federal income tax, which in turn helped them a lot. NYC Siamese Rescue has no members and is a domestic, non-stock corporation organized exclusively for charitable, educational and scientific purposes, therefore they only care about the well being of the poor Siamese cats they rescue.

They draw their money from donations, from individuals and corporations, affiliate programs with various vendors and services, grants as awarded, endowments, and the generous time, enthusiasm, and financial contributions of their great volunteers. Their major expenses of this organization come from veterinary care, cat food and litter. They also rely on foster homes to donate housing space to shelter the cats they save and also volunteers to provide primary care.

So, what else can be said…on their official site you can find all the information you need about them and mainly about the Siamese cats they save. If you are a cat lover, and like Siamese cats, then this is the place to go, as by helping them you will help saving a soul that has suffered without any guilt. If you are not a cat lover, then you might at least take a look as this is a great example of humanity at its best. Values still exist, and apparently hope for humanity still exists.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Cats Makeup Instructions - The Perfect Costume for Parties and Halloween

You don’t have to be a true cat lover, or better yet, you don’t have to be a cat lover at all, in order to admit that cats are beautiful, graceful creatures. But if you are then a costumed party or a Halloween party is exactly the occasion to pay homage to their mysterious beauty. And it's always been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Therefore, why not put on cat make up and a cat costume for your next costume party? Should be fun I think. You can find a lot of cat make up kits on the market.

Some emphasize the sexuality of a hot blooded female cat, others focus more on the goofiness of the kitten, still others are slightly forbidding, reminding us that the cat is only partially domesticated whatever we may think. But most of the kits out there will turn you in a cat that looks like an extra from the production “Cats”. Cat costumes are also readily available both online and in costume stores. Again, you'll have a wide selection to choose from–everything from the comic-looking Cat in the Hat to outfits so skimpy a Las Vegas cocktail waitress would be shy about wearing them. You can’t go wrong with buying these kits, as they come with instructions and all, but you might end up feeling silly going to that party and end up looking like everyone else, since shopping on line or otherwise is no big secret anymore.

If you want to be truly unique, do your own make up. You'll need grease paint (color according to your preference), a white highlighter, eyeliner, mascara or false eyelashes, and lipstick and lip liner. If you're really into creating the perfect costume, consider purchasing a latex nose, some spirit gum, and a bristly black paint brush to provide whiskers. There are several online sites that can coach you on the basics of applying cat make up. Study them to get ideas. Then, on a piece of drawing paper, make a rough sketch of your ideal cat face. Think about the image you want to project. Is your inner cat warm and cuddly, or aloof and mysterious? Are you a kitten or a crone? When you're ready to start applying your cat make up, do so carefully. If you make a mistake with grease paint, it's hard to wash off. You might want to enlist a friend to help you get your make up just right. When you're finally finished, it's off to the party. Just remember to conduct yourself with the appropriate amount of feline pride. After all, just a few thousand years ago, your ancestors were worshipped as gods (ok, well, we all remember the middle ages, black cats, burned witches and all, but still, even then, cats had their pride). So, go on and get yourself a cat make up and costume for your next costume party and show the feral feline in you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why most calico cats are female?

If you are like me, then you will probably be surprised to hear that the vas majority of calico cats are female. Ok…to begin, I will explain what a calico cat is, as not many know. A calico cat is not a breed of cat, it is a color pattern. To be called "calico", three colors must be present: black, white and orange. Variations of these colors include gray, cream and ginger. A "true" calico cat has large blocks of these three colors, a "tortoise shell" or "tortie" cat has a mix of these three colors (blended/swirled together more than distinct blocks of color).

Now that we cleared that a calico cat is a cat with three colors, the question is: why are they nearly always female? The answer is in genetics. Coat color in cats is a sex-linked trait, a physical characteristic (coat color) related to gender. Female animals have two X chromosomes (XX), males have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome (XY). The genetic coding for displaying black or orange color is found on the X chromosome. The coding for white is a completely separate gene. Since females have two X chromosomes, they are able to "display" two colors (orange and black, or variations thereof) and white; creating the 3-color calico mix. Since males have only one X chromosome, they can only be orange OR black. It is more complicated than simply having the color genes -- it is a complex process of dominant and non-dominate genes interacting on the X chromosomes, but that is the basis for coat color in calico cats. Can a calico cat ever be male? Yes, in rare instances. In this situation, the cat has two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome (XXY). Cats with this chromosomal configuration are usually sterile (not able to breed). This is similar to a condition in humans called Klinefelter's syndrome, or XXY Syndrome.

I must admit that this is too scientific, but it is how feline experts say, so, we might as well enjoy the fact that we finally know a calico cat is, and why most of them are female. I will finish with a fun fact about the calico cats: on the 1’st of October 2001, the calico cat became the official cat of the state of Maryland in the United States.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Angry Cats - Quit being ignorant

I have noticed one strange thing while browsing the internet: there are a lot of people in the world that are totally obsessed with cats. I don’t mean obsessed as in you are a cat loving person and you take pictures of it sharing them with the world, and stuff like this. I mean obsession! Everything is all about cats, cats, cats. Even this would be ok to some point, if not taken to extreme, to the point where one can’t make the difference between funny, cute, little “fur ball” that is your precious little cat and the dangerous thing that is your cat when it suffers from what is called “the angry cat” syndrome.

The reason I say this is because when I heard about this and browsed the internet to learn more about it I was seriously shocked to find thousands of pictures and videos of cats that were obviously suffering of this disease and people were just having fun on it. My God! A creature, no! a living being is suffering in great pain, probably your cat, and you are having fun on this? I for one find it sick. Here is something that I think every cat owner (especially those that find this amusing) should know about this disease, called “Hyperesthesia Syndrome”. It is called the “angry cat syndrome” as the cat will unexpectedly growl, bite, or even attack their owners and not want to be held or petted by them.

According to D.V.M Judson H. Pierce, from the Reno Animal Hospital, a cat that has hyperesthesia syndrome can have few or many of these symptoms, ranging from mild to severe:

1. Not tolerating petting or holding
2. Rippling or rolling of skin on the back
3. Sudden licking excessively or biting themselves
4. Abruptly running around the house as if something were after them
5. Hiding under bed or elsewhere
6. Frantic meowing and swishing of the tail
7. Attacking objects or their owners without any provocation
8. Apparent hallucinations with glassy eyes and dilated pupils
9. Some cats spray urine or urinate in the wrong place.
10. Some vomit more often

So if your cat present these symptoms, don’t videotape it and laugh with your friends, simply quit being an ignorant, and take it to the vet. It might help it feel better, and release her from the pain it is suffering.