Peggy Keener: Cat tales (tails?) confidential

Published 5:31 pm Friday, December 1, 2023

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A while back I wrote a column about America’s love of the PB and J. Some time later I received a note from my son, Jeff, who proceeded to tell me that most of the world outside of the U.S. does not eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Indeed, they don’t even know what we’re talking about!

Then Jeff added that he remembered reading about the U.S. Army dropping cases of delicious life sustaining peanut butter to remote Afghani villagers during the early days of the war. What we thought was a yummy and generous gesture turned out to be a total mystery to the recipients. They hadn’t a clue what to do with it. Our humanitarian gesture was a bust. But, all was not lost, though, because the Afghanis soon discovered that their goats loved it!

Moving on to some cat snippets that are highly ostrobogulous … unusual, bizarre, far out. If you own a cat, do not let him/her read the following ……

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The ancient Egyptians were known to take their mummified pet cats in their tombs with them to venture into the after world. (Hmmm, I wonder if that included dogs? Move over, Rex, you’re taking up too much room.)

“Unsinkable Sam” was an actual cat that survived the sinking of three WWII ships. After the third calamity, Sam was honorably retired from naval duty. (But, then, wasn’t that too soon? Like didn’t he have six more lives to go?)

Taylor Swift, currently America’s hottest songbird, owns not only an obese cat, but also a fat cat. Olivia Benson has an estimated net worth of $97million. Honest, it’s all carefully cat-alogued. This makes Olivia the third wealthiest pet in the world. (This is so lame. She can’t even carry a tune.)

The origins of demonic black cat superstitions come from as far back as 1233 in the time of Catholic Pope Gregory IX. It was his Vox in Rama that started it all. (I’m not sure what Vox in Rama was, but if it was that scary, I’m pretty sure that had I read it back then, it would have turned me into a Baptist.)

Once upon a time, Ernest Hemingway received a gift. It was a six-toed cat. He was absolutely smitten with the polydactyl creature finding them cat-hartic. Thus he began collecting them. Interestingly, you can still see their uppity descendants slinking into the salons in Key West. (They’re still complaining, too, about the extra charge for their pedicures! Like what’s another toe … or four?)

In the 1700s, the folks on the small Japanese island of Tashirojima began bringing in cats. Why, you ask? It was all because of the mice that were ruining their silk production. The experiment was successful and the silk was saved. But today there are now more cats there than humans. (They should have gone with polyester.)

Felicette was a cat born into poverty. Eating from dirty garbage cans and sleeping in even worse alleys, she led a miserable life. But then she was adopted. Obviously it was a huge life upgrade for her. But even that doesn’t compare to what happened next. In 1963, Felicette received the enormous recognition of being cat-apulted into space ala a French rocket. (Of course, being an arrogant cat, she shunned her spacey fame because, let’s face it, nothing compared to that of simply being a cat!)

You think the politicians are bad today? Get this. In Talkeetna, Alaska, Stubbs the Tabby Cat, served as their honorary mayor. His reign lasted from 1997 to 2017 when Denali, another cat succeeded him. For poor ‘ol Stubbs it was a cat-as-trophy.

Do you remember the Broadway smash “Cats”? It had over an 18-year run. The costume department needed lots of hair for the actors’ costumes. Obviously, cats didn’t have that much to spare. So, what did they do? Well, of course, they sheared yaks. Actually, to the tune of 3,147 pounds! No one in the audience knew. But the cats did. They snubbed the faux tresses—even though the makeup people carefully used cat-acombs—and the cats refused to attend the shows. That is precisely why you didn’t see any tabbys in the theater.

I’m not certain whether Netflix or Amazon Prime really care, but in 1894, Thomas Edison created the first-ever cat video. It was a new form of cat-aracting called “The Boxing Cats”. (It is doubtful that the two powerhouse networks have the film today, but still you could ask. Aside from that, don’t you agree that it was probably wise for Edison to have dropped that gig and just stick with his light bulb?)

And finally, this cat tale which may be true … or false. At one time it was thought that Johannes Brahms killed cats and then worked their dying cat-erwauling into his music. (What? Was this the same guy who—good grief!—composed Brahms’ Lullabye? Yiiikes! Brahm’s Meowabye?)