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January

National Hug Day - Hug Your Pet - 21st January


A New Year - A New Beginning

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;" - Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4


January, the first month of the the Gregorian calendar. The month is named for Janus, a Roman god. According to Roman legend, the ruler Numa Pompilius added January and February to the end of the 10-month Roman calendar in about 700 B.C. He gave the month 30 days. Later, the Romans made January the first month of the year. In 46 B.C., the Roman statesman Julius Caesar added a day to January, making it 31 days long. The Anglo-Saxons called the first month Wolfmonth because wolves came into the villages in winter in search of food.

In the northern half of the world, January is usually the coldest month of the year. Nature is quiet. Birds travel less, and such animals as bears and woodchucks sleep both day and night. Plants rest in preparation for the next growing season. In the southern half of the world, January is usually the warmest month of the year. Plants grow and animals are active.

January symbols: The snowdrop is the special flower for the month. It often blooms in the snow. Some people consider the carnation the special flower. The garnet is the January gem.

January Quotations

Blasts of January would blow
you through and through.

William Shakespeare


Ring out the old, ring in the new,
ring, happy bells, across the snow;
the year is going, let him go;
ring out the false, ring in the true.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson




Elizabethan Persecution

In 1566, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, aversion to cats reached new heights in England with the first of a series of witchcraft trials at Chelmsford in Essex. There were three accused: Elizabeth Francis, Agnes Waterhouse and her daughter Joan. They were said to have communicated with the Devil by means of a white cat which they called Satan. Agnes Waterhouse was found guilty and executed together with her white cat. Over the next 20 years there were 150 witchcraft trials in the county of Essex alone.

A witch tried at Windsor in 1579 confessed to owning a demon in the form of a black cat which she fed daily with bread and milk mixed with her own blood. In 1646 a woman old the jury that a witch had instructed her that if she wished someone to die she should utter a curse, prick her finger and give it to her cat to lick. A Scottish witch, Isobel Gowdie, told a trial in 1622 that she could change herself into a cat and back again at will, and she even quoted the curses she used. Magistrates and judges were only too ready to hear stories of cats jumping through open windows, lifting a door latch or carrying out any other natural cat-like activity and to attribute this to malevolent supernatural powers.

From time to time, cats were credited with more ambitious achievements. There was a legend at Leyland in Lancashire, England, that the stones of the church had been moved there from from the village of Whittle, a few kilometres away. The devil, it was said, came every night in the form of a large cat to carry out this work stone by stone. Anyone who tried to interfere was sprung upon and throttled. Finally, the builders decided to erect the church at the site the devil cat had chosen.




Taking on an air of respectability.

In the mid 1880s, the public attitude to disease and illness took a dramatic turn, and scientific discoveries relating to methods of disease transmissions weakened the old belief that sickness was a punishment of God or the work of the Devil. The changing public perception helped smooth the way for reintroducing the cat as an accepted companion species.

The cats fastidious grooming habits earned it recognition as a shining example of hygiene and it was able to enter a new era in its relationship with man. The keeping of pets was becoming fashionable, and in 1871 Harrison Weir set out to change public attitudes to his favourite species by organising the first cat show in the United Kingdom. Through that event, he sought to give the cat an air of respectability, which would allow it to take its rightful place as a much-loved human companion, and he certainly succeeded.




Cat Facts:

1. The idiom about "having enough room to swing a cat" is said to come from the cruel practise of hanging cats by their tails or in a bag as targets for archers and marksmen.

2. Due to the cat's reluctance to be trained in any way, the Romans used the image of a cat as a symbol for freedom at the feet of the goddess of liberty.

3. There is a black cat standing at the end of the bed in the painter Mainet's Olympia. It is used as a symbol to denote corruption and moral decay of society.

4. The skin of all cats is very loose. This is an adaptation to lessen the chances of injury from desperately struggling prey or attacks from rivals and other predators.

5. The claws of a cat are actually properly termed protractible as opposed to retractable. This is because muscles are required to stick them out, but they pull back automatically.

6. Purring is most obviously used to express pleasure, but cats are known to purr when they are ill or injured, suggesting that it comforts them during times of stress.

7. Pale forms of cat display leucism, resulting in a faded-looking coat. This is not albinism, which occurs rarely and results in pure white cats with pink eyes.

8. Apart from the element of surprise, cats prefer to attack from behind so that their claws work efficiently as the prey attempts to flee away from the cat.

9. In cats the equivalent of the thumb is known as the dew claw. It is raised above the ground on the inside of the front leg and is used as a hook for holding prey down during the kill.

10. Cats have lost the equivalent of the big toe completely. This is because the hind legs are used solely for running and jumping, so a dew claw might cause injury.




Quote of the month:

"I hesitate to use the word owned. Cats, unlike dogs, do not take lightly to being owned. Many cats own people. A cat's individuality, its 'self', is never up for grabs. So it is perhaps more accurate to say that a cat sojourns with its adopted homo sapiens." - David Taylor




The Playful Puss

We owe justice to men, and graciousness and benignity to other creatures that are capable of it; there is a certain commerce and mutual obligation betwixt them and us... When I play with my cat, who knows whether I do not make her more sport than she makes me? We mutually divert one another with our play. If I could have an hour to begin or to refuse, she also has hers.

Lord Michael Montagaigne (1533-1592)




Cat Superstitions

If a cat washes behind its ears, it will rain. - English

A cat sleeping with all four paws tucked under means cold weather ahead. - English

A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity. - Scottish

Dreaming of white cat means good luck. - American

To see a white cat on the road is lucky. - American

It is bad luck to see a white cat at night. - American

When moving to a new home, always put the cat through the window instead of the door, so that it will not leave. - American

When you see a one-eyed cat, spit on your thumb, stamp it in the palm of your hand, and make a wish. The wish will come true. - American

A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it. - Italian

In the Netherlands, cats were not allowed in rooms where private family discussions were going on. The Dutch believed that cats would definitely spread gossips around the town. - Netherlands




The Cat

Gentle eyes that see so much,
paws that have the quiet touch,
Purrs to signal "all is well"
and show more love than words could tell.

Graceful movements touched with pride,
a calming presence by our side.
A friendship that takes time to grow,
small wonder why we love them so.

Author Unknown




Did you know?

Cats have a bathing process that starts by licking their lips and ends ten steps later with their tail.

Cats are right brained dominate, this makes them intuitive.

The pad on a cat's back legs are to help it stop and to prevent skidding.

Cats instinctively close their eyes if a whisker is brushed.

Cats hear at 100,000 cycles per second, equal to a mouse squeak!

Ears pointed forward mean relaxed, erect and forward means alert, twitching ears are a sign of nervousness and flat ears mean annoyance.

Hunting is not instinctive for cats. Kittens born to non-hunting mothers may never learn to hunt. The mother cat teach her kittens to use the litterbox.

Besides smelling with their nose, cats can smell with an additional organ called the Jacobson's organ, located in the upper surface of the mouth. Cats cannot taste sweets.

The chlorine in fresh tap water irritates sensitive parts of the cat's nose, the average cat food meal is the equivalent to about 5 mice.

The catgut once used as strings in tennis rackets and musical instruments does not come from cats. Catgut actually comes from sheep, hogs, and horses.




Women & Cats

For centuries women have been praised and scorned in comparison with cats. While being kittenish is considered sweet, women are warned to 'keep their claws in' and not be 'catty' in their comments. However, for a woman to be described as 'feline' is fairly complimentary - or so at least the cat would think!

Women and cats are both black by night. - Bosnian Probverb




Jubilate Agno

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry....
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him. For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.

Christopher Smart




Recommended book: The Family Cat

Author: Collins

Consultant Editor: David Taylor BVMS FRCVS FZS

Lavishly illustrated throughout, this practical book is a comprehensive guide to all aspects of cat care. Plus the world's top 25 most popular cat breeds are illustrated with information on their temperament, characteristics, suitability for different households and appearance.

Hardback - 192 pages.

ISBN: 0-00-710323-9

Published by: Harper Collins Publishers, 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom, W6 8JB




And finally...

Quote: "Cats like doors left open, in case they change their minds." - Rosemary Nisbet

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