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Friday, March 31, 2006


Open Thread: What does a viral communications consultant do?

I'm scratching my head over this one: Catymology Central received an email from a human who bills himself as a "Viral Communications Consultant."

It sounds dangerous, doesn't it? (Luckily I've had my shots.)

What do you think a Viral Communications Consultant does?

Please weigh in with a comment.


Thursday, March 30, 2006


Strike settled!

Press release
For immediate release
Contact: Aloysius Katz

You may remember that last week, I went on strike over amanuensis' failure to make the white stuff go away. I'm pleased to report that after exhausting negotiations, we have come to an agreement. Here are the terms:

Amanuensis is not god. She can't make the white stuff go away all by herself.

But, I can go outside

If only I can get over that last bit of white stuff

I think I can.

I can do it!

The Friday Ark at Modulator has more animal friends.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Carnivals, carnivals

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is hosted by a perspicacious human, Doug, at Below the Beltway. I'm pleased that he included my post. Tomorrow, the dashing SF satirist Mark A. Rayner brings us another edition of the Carnival of Satire at The Squib. I'm pleased that the story about my good friend Darcy Xenophon is included.

Update: Darcy, Michele, and Michael are honeymooning in Cancun. I hope they stay away from George Bush, who might not appreciate their relationship.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


First group interspecies nuptials

Minneapolis, Minn. March 28, 2006. [Animal World Newswire.]

They had hoped for a garden wedding, but a sudden spring snowstorm dumped twelve inches of snow, forcing the state's most celebrated and vilified engaged trio to rethink their plans. "That and the unbelievers," growled Darcy Xenophon. Darcy, 8, a handsome strawberry point Siamese, had been the focus of public outcries and demonstrations from right-wing religious groups since January, when a libertarian catblogger broke the story of his engagement to his longtime human companions, Michele Duncan and Michael Kern.

On Saturday, March 18, Darcy, Michele, and Michael became the first trio to be married under the new Minnesota state statute that recognizes the right to group interspecies marriage. The Reverend Billy Cougar, who is ordained in the First Church of Catymology, presided at the wedding, which was held in an undisclosed location. Guests applauded when Reverend Cougar pronounced the trio "man, woman, and cat." A shower of catnip followed.

"We had to keep the location secret," said Michael. "There are people who want to kill us for doing this."

"Or at least pelt us with rotten dog turds," Darcy growled.

The syndicated columnist Barbara LaBelle scoffed at the thought of such a union. "First it was same-sex marriage. Then polygamy. Okay, I can get the idea of one man with two women, or one woman with two men. But a cat? Is nothing sacred?"

But that’s just the point. The Church of Catymology recognizes both the divinity of cats and their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"If it wasn't a union recognized in heaven, it was still a miracle that we found each other," Michele said after the ceremony. Michele is one of the few recognized feline interpreters in the state. Michael toils as a soldier of fortune in the cubicles of a public bureaucracy. According to a friend, "Alice," Darcy came to them in 2002, after Alice had rescued him from his previous human, who refused to stay home and make laps. "It was good timing. Michele had just threatened to walk out unless they adopted a cat. I think marriage is so much more permanent than adoption, don't you?"

At the reception, guests feasted on ahi tuna, smoked salmon, and picked herring, washed down with champagne and milk. Michele and Michael, who describe themselves as "old enough to make up our own minds," and Darcy, who describes himself as "god," reflected on their relationship.

"We plan to live the same way we have for the last few years," Michael said. "I used to be a dog person, by the way, until Michele brought Darcy home."

But will this marriage survive? "As long as we shell out for cat food and let Darcy sleep between us, we'll be happy,” Michele said. With that, she placed a sliver of herring on Darcy's plate.

"Herring?" scoffed Darcy. "I don't want no stinking herring."



Feline Legends: The Mythology of Cats

It's Tuesday, which Aloysius has declared the day of simply being cat. While he is doing that, I've been catching up on my reading.
The Mythology of Cats:
Feline Legend and Lore through the Ages
By Gerald and Loretta Hausman
St. Martin's Press, 1998

The Mythology of Cats is an episodic guide to cats in popular culture, literature, myth, and folklore. From Mohammed's cat to Hemingway's, with many digressions along the way, the authors offer an impressionistic portrait of how humans have attached meaning to their beloved felines. Also included are portraits of various cat breeds, some of them obscure indeed.

Oddly, the authors concentrate on the relationship between men and cats, mentioning only a few female ailurophiles, such as Colette and Sylvia Townsend Warner. It's good to know that a manly guy like Jack Kerouac, though, was nuts about his cat Tyke.

The text owes much to Joseph Campbell's method of seeking archetypes, comparing ancient myths with later poems and stories and finding common threads.

The authors don't rely on reason, but on feeling, to prove the correspondences between various cat motifs. Using this way of thinking about the image of the cat, Edward Lear, usually categorized as a nonsense poet, becomes something else again. Take "The Owl and the Pussycat," a poem about the marriage between members of two species.
The owl and the pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat.
They took some money
and plenty of honey
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The authors suggest that, whether he knew it or not, Lear was invoking a classical myth in which the Goddess Athena turns into an owl, while Diana turns into a cat. (Never mind that both of these were female goddesses.) In a few pages, the authors also bring in American Indian references to cats and owls, as well as the ancient Egyptians' correlation of the cat and the sun and the owl and the moon.

Who knows whether Lear had all this in mind? Thinking in archetypes, it's not necessary that he did. The mind-patterns that are archetypes are supposed to be universal, a proof of our common humanity.

I wouldn't take this kind of argument by analogy seriously as scholarship, but it's fun to think about, isn't it?

Talking cats get a chapter, too. I found it strange that the authors think that the poem "Pangur Ban" was supposed to have been dictated by the cat, Pangur, to his monkish human. I think that Aloysius Katz' more recent rendition gets it right: the monk and the cat are each absorbed in their own pursuits.

Finally, I was pleased to see that this book dwells on the cat's image as a being who needs no outside reference. At the end of the chapter on the temple cat, the authors refer to the cat's Zen significance: the cat does not need to strive and to achieve. The cat just is.


Monday, March 27, 2006


A small earth cat

In the Babylon 5 episode called "Day of the Dead," Londo Molari muses on his future role as Emperor of Centauri: "Now anyone can be emperor. I can be emperor. Vir can be emperor! Vir can be emperor. A small Earth cat can be emperor."

Upon watching this episode, amanuensis wisely remarked: "Wait! A small earth cat is emperor."

Humans have recognized feline rulers for many centuries. The Egyptian god Ra, whose symbol was the sun, was a kind of cat emperor. Historically, cats have preferred to sit in the sunlight.

I like to sit on the bottom step, where afternoon sun turns my fur to white fire.


Best of me symphony

Today, the spirited Gary Cruse at The Owner's Manual hosts the Best of Me Symphony, a blog carnival that rounds up good posts over 120 days old. Am I the first member of my species to have contributed to this madness?

Friday, March 24, 2006


Catymology goes bunny hunting

Bloggers are piling onto the March 23 Associated Press story, St. Paul City Office Boots Easter Bunny, like a herd of sheep.
A small Easter display was removed from the City Hall lobby on Wednesday out of concern that it would offend non-Christians.

The display - a cloth Easter bunny, pastel-colored eggs and a sign with the words 'Happy Easter'' - was put up by a City Council secretary. They were not purchased with city money.

Tyrone Terrill, the city's human rights director, asked that the decorations be removed. Terrill said no citizen had complained to him.

Council Member Dave Thune called it a shame.

"This has just gone too far,'' he said. "We can't celebrate spring with bunnies and fake grass?''

The council president, Kathy Lantry, said the removal wasn't about political correctness.

"As government, we have a different responsibility about advancing the cause of religion, which we are not going to do,'' she said.

It's not the first time a holiday symbol has been removed from City Hall. In 2001, red poinsettias were briefly banned from a holiday display because they were associated with Christmas.
Predictably, most bloggers who've taken up the story are against the ban, calling it an overreaction inspired by misplaced political correctness. In my opinion, the rush to defend the Easter Bunny is just another example of the human herding instinct. Many humans have said they enjoyed Easter-egg hunting as children. They have fond memories of chocolate bunnies, which, oddly enough, they consumed. These protesters of the bunny ban are confusing their childish pleasures with religion.

Personally, I'd rather hunt the rabbit.

In today's follow-up, Ouster of the Easter Bunny draws unwanted attention to St. Paul, the HR person responsible for suggesting the display be removed said:
"My issue was not about the rabbit or the egg, it was the sign on the door that said, 'Happy Easter,' " Terrill said Thursday. "We talk about diversity, respect, inclusion. When you put that on the front door of a government office, it could be offensive to someone who's a Muslim, a Jew, an atheist, what have you. That's my job to bring it to someone's attention."
As a cat, I respect all religions, especially those that worship animals. But wait, Christians don't worship rabbits, do they? The Easter Bunny, as far as I know, is a symbol left over from Pagan times. It seems as though many who protest the bunny ban are just sentimentalizing the rabbit. As humans often do, they mistake a symbol for the thing it represents. Dave Thune was right when he referred to the Easter Bunny as a symbol of Spring. Not just spring, but fertility and (goodness gracious) sexual promiscuity. As one authority explains it:
In second century Europe, the predominate spring festival was a raucous Saxon fertility celebration in honor of the Saxon Goddess Eastre (Ostara), whose sacred animal was a hare.
Understandably, such festivals were quite popular, and they still are today. That's why Easter is named Easter and not Resurrection Day: the early Christians were quite skilled in appropriating traditions that people were going to follow anyway.

And have I mentioned that I can't wait till Spring actually comes? Cherchez le lapin!


Thursday, March 23, 2006


I'm on strike

Among the many indignities that members of my species must endure, one of the most trying is the thing humans call "Winter." I have heard that the vernal equinox actually occured a few days ago. The equinox is supposed to mark the beginning of Spring, and Spring is when felines experience the urge to go out and--well--cat about. Doggone it! I just want to be a cat.

As you can see from the totally white background outside, the "outdoors" is still full of snow here in Minnesota. Amanuensis says not to get het up. She even tried to pacify me with a paper bag full of catnip.

It's as if I never thought about snowclones, and didn't know that in some languages, there are 121 words for the useless white stuff. I can't trot about in that white stuff. It would get stuck in the fur on the bottom of my paws.

So I've told amanuensis that until she MAKES THE WHITE STUFF GO AWAY, I won't be participating. I'm on strike. You'll be hearing from my union's business officer soon, who will be presenting further demands.

Yours in solidarity,

Aloysius Katz

P.S. Modulator has posted another entertaining edition of Friday Ark.
On Sunday, more cats blog at Carnival of the Cats, hosted by Scribblings.



the skwib » The Carnival of Satire (#26)

Mark Rayner has posted another great edition of The Carnival of Satire (#26): "So this is officially half a year we’ve been doing this, and if this week’s generally excellent submissions are any indication, we’ve just gotten started. "

Thanks for including my post, Mark.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Amanuensis fills in

Aloysius is still on strike, maintaining that he is simply a cat and not a world-famous author. Meanwhile, I discovered this amusing quiz which told me what kind of city I would be, if I wanted to be a city.

You Are Austin

A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.

You're totally weird and very proud of it.

Artistic and freaky, you still seem to fit in... in your own strange way.

Famous Austin residents: Lance Armstrong, Sandra Bullock, Andy Roddick

What American City Are You?

Maybe I shouldn't have admitted that I like Mexican/Latin food? Or maybe when the quizmaker asked what I would do if I were stranded in a big city for a day, he/she should have allowed a response about art galleries and bookstores? I suppose it could have been worse: I could have ended up being Detroit.

Undeterred, I tried to interest Aloysius in finding out what his name would be in Hawaiian. Answer:

Your Hawaiian Name is:

Kai Meka

What's your Hawaiian Name?

So they weren't even going to tell us what Kai Meka means in Hawaiian? Fortunately, another site tells us that Kai means Ocean or Sea, and Meka means Eyes. Ocean Eyes is a very good name for a blue-eyed cat.

Thanks to the pundit in residence at Blogger Idol for pointing me to this diversion. Look for the next Carnival of the Vanities at Blogger Idol later today.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I am not a trope

Here at Catymology Central, we regularly attempt to dig into the heaps of false attributions and unfair accusations made about felines. Often these statements are made by humans, although many of them are attributed to cats themselves.

As long ago as Aesop, humans have enjoyed anthropomorphizing other species. Now, we have become afflicted with a worldwide phenomenon known as catblogging. It started, according to some sources, when a political blogger decided to take a break and post pictures of his cats every Friday. As I understand it, catblogging was originally intended to be diversion from the quotidian. But catblogging has by now taken on a life of its own. As you will see if you click through the entries on Friday Ark or the Carnival of the Cats, many of the catblogging entries are posted by cats themselves--or by humans pretending to be cats.

Recently, a number of catbloggers have fallen back upon the cliché that cats and dogs represent opposite poles of existence--the positive and the negative, if you will. I'm guilty of this myself, having written recently: "Cats are Democrats? Who knew?" This, even through I'd previously asserted: "It goes without saying that cats are conservative."

What's so bad about attributing political stances to animals? Some humans like to dress up their cats and dogs. Many humans think of their cats and dogs as children. I'm not saying these ways of thinking are bad, but certainly they are peculiar. Among the more fallacies that humans often pounce upon is the idea that if you talk about A in terms of B, then you actually think about A in terms of B. Certainly, humans' tendency to think of Republicans and Democrats as cats and dogs (or vice versa) is an example of this common fallacy.

Last night, as I was napping between my humans, I experienced a revelation: what if cats and dogs declared their independence? It's not that I'd suggest we all forego the pleasures of having human companions and go back to living a feral existence. I need my Friskies as much as the next cat. What I am suggesting is that we declare our intellectual freedom, our freedom to be simply cat, simply dog.

I know it sounds facetious for me to say this, since after all I am telling this to amanuensis, who is busily writing it down. But I think that regular self-licking is a good thing. Therefore, I call upon all members of the feline and canine species to declare Tuesdays as the day of the animal self. From now on, every Tuesday, we will refuse to be symbols of something, to be spoken of in metaphors, or to allow humans to write as though they are cats or dogs. This Tuesday, I am not a trope.


Thursday, March 16, 2006


Aloysius, Pangur Ban

Do you think this color makes me look fat?

In honor of St. Patrick's Day,
I offer a a few verses from my new variation
on the 9th Century Irish poem,

Pangur Ban.

Aloysius is my name;
Pangur Ban, my archetype,
He who hunted tirelessly,
While his human toiled in ink.

Amanuensis (without fame)
Chases pixels on a screen
While I creep up to her lap
Glad to purr there, and to dream.

While the two of us commune
Snuggled in a single chair,
We pursue the feline arts--
She, the word, and I, myself.

When she paces, muttering,
Hunting for the perfect word,
I roll about upon the rug
And practice being, simply, cat.

Check out the Friday Ark at Modulator for more St. Patrick's Day party animals. And on Sunday, the Carnival of the Cats is at Music and Cats.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Legendary Felines: The Origin of Birmankind

Yesterday I hunted down a story about how Birman cats came to France. But where did they come from? Here's one to tell your kittens, for it will make them proud to be Birmans.

Humans who are fond of Birmans like to recount the legend of the temple cat Sinh, said to be the first of his line. Long before the birth of Buddha, Sinh lived in a temple on Mount Lugh, which was dedicated to the goddess Tsun Kyan-Kse and housed a pure gold statue of the goddess. This goddess watched over the journey of souls, and upon the death of a priest, she would grant him life in animal form. When the animal passed away, the priest's soul would be released to be reborn.

Sihn and his 99 fellow temple cats guarded their domain and kept the priests company. Originally, all these cats were pure white. The head priest, Mun-Ha, was particularly fond of Sinh. When Mun-Ha was mortally wounded by Siamese raiders, Sihn leaped onto the priest's head. In the presence of the goddess' statue, Sihn's white coat was transformed into the gold-dusted coat we see today in Birmankind, and his formerly golden eyes became azure jewels. Only his paws remained snow white.

For a week, Sihn refused to eat while he harbored the soul of his dead master. Finally, he died, releasing the priest's soul to the goddess. And then all the other 99 cats of the temple were transformed into Birmans, with eyes the color of the clear sky, gold-misted fur, earth-colored face, tail, and legs and snow-white gloves.

When the priests met to choose their new leader, the temple Birmans rushed up and surrounded the youngest of the priests. And so he was blessed by Tsun Kyan-Kse.

Now, in this story Birmans change from pure white to the colors of sky, dawn, earth, and snow. This story must have evolved from the ancient human belief that animals are ambassadors from this world to another. If humans would only listen more to their felines, perhaps their journeys, whether in this world or the next, would be also blessed.



Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Legendary Felines: Baffled by Birmans

Many humans are confused about the origins of Birman cats. “The story is relatively hazy,” says the anonymous author of the Wikipedia entry for Birmans. Hazy is an understatement. I’d say it’s more like baffling. The fashionable French site CHATmania agrees: “ce chat a une origine encore mystérieuse.”

According to several humans, Birmankind originated in western Burma and were kept as temple cats. A pair of Birmans were brought to France in about 1919, although sources disagree about whether they were given to the humans or whether they might have been catnapped. The male died on the voyage, but the female gave birth to several kittens who grew up to found the breed known as “Le Chat Sacre de Birmanie." (This would explain why I’ve always had a fondness for the French language.)

In order to continue the Birman line, these cats were bred with Siamese and Persians. There’s a myth about a “Laotian Lynx cat” being involved; so far, no one has been able to track down the Laotian Lynx. During World War II, Birmans were almost wiped out in France. After the war, a single pair remained, and so once again the humans turned to Siamese and Persians to repopulate the world with Birman-like cats.

The hallmarks of my kind are our immaculate white gloves and our round blue eyes, which one poet has called “Twin Pools of Serenity.” Our fur has a golden cast, and our faces, tails, and legs may be gray, bluish, chocolate, or other fashionable colors.

Most Birmans are quiet and well-behaved. Unlike our Siamese cousins, we rarely indulge in random meowing and scenery chewing. And since Birmankind originated in a temple, it’s no wonder that we often enjoy contemplative, even scholarly, pursuits.

Birmans are mellow and devoted to their humans. You might even say we are possessive of our catted ones, as les chats at CHATmania explain:
Le Birman aime la famille et se lie volontiers avec la personne qui présente des points communs avec lui, notamment, la sérénité. Il offre en silence son affection dévouée à la famille, mais, quand son maître est absent, il est vite distrait et indifférent.



Thursday, March 09, 2006


Books from a cat's point of view?

From what I can tell, some grad student may be hunting around for information regarding the "cat's point of view." If so, s/he has come to the right place.

Like me, Sparkle is a feline book reviewer who writes from the cat's point of view. What other choice does he have? Sparkle tends to review new books on cat behavior and real-life stories about cats. Me? I prefer fiction, poetry, and humor. I'm hoping that Sparkle and all the other bookish felines out there will join the Association of Feline Book Reviewers (AFBR).

If you're a feline who reviews books, or if you have a favorite cat book to recommend, leave a comment.



All your snowclones are belong to us (TM)

If Eskimos have 120 words for snow, then surely cats have 1,121 words for tuna.

Today is my official birthday, and to keep myself amused while I'm waiting for the treats, I'm looking into the peculiar human phenomenon of snowclones. A snowclone is a variation on a cliché, and many humans think that snowclones are funny. Humans also say that snowclones are overused by lazy writers. I can't think of a writer who is lazier than I am. What other great author can afford to spend all day rolled up in his comforter while his amanuensis slaves away to amuse him and his ever-expanding audience of ailurophiles?
Meow is the new woof.

To nap, or not to nap? Mother, can you spare a tuna? Is that a box of catnip in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Spam is the greatest thing since sliced mousie paws. This is my ailurophile. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Herding cats for fun and profit. The Yule Cat is like Garfield on steroids. Papers? We don't need no stinkin' papers. I'm not a jaguar, but I drive one on TV.
Snowclones hit the big time last December, according to Language Log, when a columnist took note of them in the Times. Sometime before that, the humans at Language Log began referring to their blog as "Language Log Plaza." Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Dammit, Geoffrey! I'm a cat, not an etymologist! Thank you, Mark, for your tasty goodness.

Update: Thanks for the birthday wish from Modulator, at Friday Ark .
On Sunday, get furry at the Carnival of the Cats, at Justin's Random Thoughts.
Wednesday March 15: The Ides of March edition of the Carnival of the Vanities is up at Forward Biased. I'm honored to be included.
Thursday, March 16: Check out this week's Carnival of Satire at The Squib.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Games: Bloggy, doggy PR

Over at Blogshares, they've posted the following press release about Catymology:

Catymology was the subject of much speculation when analysts at several firms were heard to be very positive about it's recent performance. It's share price rose from B$447.83 to B$671.75. Much of the hype was said to originate from Spice The Cat whose Laser Exerciser (artefact) was said to be involved.

Spice The Cat declined to comment on the recent speculation.

Spice The Cat: http://blogshares.com/user.php?id=40407

PRID# 830010 / Posted: 21:32 02 Mar 2006

I have trouble understanding what all this means, but Blogshares is said to be a fantasy stock market for blogs. Well, I've got news for the Spice Boy: Catymology is not for sale!

In the archive of press releases for Catymology, there are several like this, as well as two from someone called Evil Princess. It all seemed to start on February 14, when I was interiewed by Frisky on Catcall. What have I gotten myself into?

And finally, The Terriorists posts a spoof of the Carnival of the Cats, #100. This doggedly conservative blogger gives credence to the argument presented recently at Neuropolitics, where it's claimed that cat-lovers tend to be more liberal and dog-lovers, more conservative.



Feline folklore: Cat-dog face-off

The catalog of stories about cats and dogs is as lengthy as the wildcat's tail, before he met up with the Trickster Coyote. This story comes from the Unitah Ute people:

Long ago Wildcat had a long nose and tail. One day he was sleeping on a rock when Coyote came along. He pushed Wildcat's nose and tail in, and then went home. At noon Wildcat woke up, and noticed his short nose and tail. "What's the matter with me?" he asked. Then he guessed the cause. "Oh! Coyote did that," he said, and he hunted for him.

Now, Coyote was sleepy and had lain down. Wildcat came and sat down beside him. He pulled out Coyote's nose and tail and made them long. They were short before. Then he ran off. After a while Coyote woke up and saw his long nose and tail.
The only thing I don't understand about this story is why it's called Wildcat Gets a New Face. Undoubtedly the human who first wrote it down in English was a dog person, so he focused on Coyote.

Get your human to read the story from Tales of the North American Indians, by Stith Thompson, 1929, at the Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

Find out Why Cats Are Much Better than Dogs.


Thursday, March 02, 2006


Hide and seek, catymology style

I got a new mousie-toy as a pre-birthday present.

I batted it around a bit and then took a nap.

As soon as my humans left the house, I played a little kitty-hockey with it, until it went under the breakfront. It was amusing when the humans came home and spent half an hour crawling around on the floor, peeking under the furniture.

I don't know why humans are always peeking under the furniture, but my humans seem fascinated by what's under there. Remember The Thing Under the Bed?

They finally found the mousie, so I took another nap. While they were watching their new DVD of Babylon 5, I shot the mousie toy under the couch.

My birthday is March 9. I can hardly wait to see what they come up with. Watching humans play is such fun!

P.S. Visit Modulator on Friday for the 76th
Friday Ark. And on Sunday, find more feline goodness at the Carnival of the Cats, hosted by Catcall.



Legendary Felines: When lions sneeze

We tell ourselves our own stories selectively,
in order to keep our sense of self intact.
--Robert Stone

Even felines have stories. As chief catymologist, I catalogue as many stories as I can. Usually I do it in my dreams.

There's a story about how cats came to be that comes from the Cochiti, Pueblo people who live in New Mexico. It was collected by Ruth Benedict back in the early part of the 20th Century. We, both felines and humans, must have been more innocent then.

At Painted Cave there was a village and out of this village came a deer and bear and lion and lynx and wildcat. "Now we will go east and find our living the best we can." Before they went they said, "There is one thing we have not got and that is the cat. But how can we get the cat?" The lion stood in the middle of the circle and all the oldest animals were smoking around him. He said, "Now I'm ready." He sneezed and out came a female cat from the right nostril. He sneezed again, and out of the left nostril came a male cat. From these two came all the little cats and they came down to Cochiti. The lion said to the cats, "Now you are the offspring of the lion and have my face. When you have kittens, people will want them, and with these cats they won't have mice any more. They will be watchmen (goatcini) of the houses. The rest of the animals shall live in the mountains, but these two cats shall live in Cochiti."
Tales of the Cochiti Indians
by Ruth Benedict
Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 98
Text: Sacred Texts
You may fault the lion and the other animals for smoking: it's a nasty habit. But if the lion hadn't been smoking, he probably wouldn't have sneezed, would he? And then where would cats be?

It turns out that the Cochiti probably borrowed the tale from Judeo-Christian legend: The story goes that cats were created when Noah's ark became infested with rats. Noah commanded the lion to sneeze and out came a cat!

Just to prove that the tale has a life of its own, there’s an Arabian proverb that goes: "The cat was created when the lion sneezed."

Humans need to account for the way the world is, so they make up stories. Telling whether the stories are true or not--that's as problematical as trying to open one of those little cans full of treats.



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