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May was the third month according to the early Roman calendar, and March was the first. Later, the ancient Romans used the 1st of January for the beginning of their year, and May then became the fifth month. May has always had 31 days.
There are several stories about how the month of May was named. The most widely accepted explanation is that it was named for Maia, the Roman goddess of spring and growth. Her name seems to be related to a Latin word that means increase or growth. The ancient Romans held ceremonies in Maia's honour on the 1st of May and again on the 15th of May.
May is one of the most beautiful months of the year in the North Temperate Zone. The snow and ice have melted, and summer's intense heat has not yet begun. The first garden crops begin to sprout in May. The trees and grass are green, and wild plants are in bloom. Many birds have built their nests, and mother birds are sitting on eggs which will soon hatch.
May customs - Even in ancient times, the 1st of May was a day for outdoor festivals. In Rome, it fell at a time that was sacred to Flora, the goddess of flowers. The Romans celebrated the day with flower-decked parades. The English also observed many beautiful May Day customs. Maypoles were erected in village parks. On the morning of the 1st of May, the village youths went to the woods and gathered mayflowers, or hawthorn blossoms, to decorate the Maypole. The girls wore their prettiest dresses, each hoping that she would be elected May queen. The queen danced around the Maypole with her subjects.
May symbols: The hawthorn and the lily of the valley are considered the flowers for May. The birthstone is the emerald.
Here's to the day when it is May
and care as light as a feather,
when your little shoes and my big boots
go tramping over the heather.
Hail, bounteous May, that doth inspire
mirth, and youth, and warm desire;
woods and groves are of thy dressing,
hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
'Twas as welcome to me as flowers in May. - James Howell
The maple puts her corals on in May. - James Russell Lowell
When May, with cowslip-braided locks, walks through the land in green attire. - Bayard Taylor
Then came fair May, the fairest maid on ground,
deck'd all with dainties of the season's pride,
and throwing flowers out of her lap around.
The Domestic Cat
As a 'domestic' animal, cats have many associations with people, however, unlike the dog, devotion and loyalty are not normally considered among their traits. Intelligence, mystery and a definite sensitivity for Otherworldly activity are more common aspects. Their independence and often contrary behaviour has given them a bad reputation among some people, and there is a saying in Ireland upon entering a house which goes: "God bless all here except the cat". Cat is often associated with women, and sensuality - the Goddess Brighid for example, had a cat as a companion. In the Voyage of Maelduin the questors come to an island which has a fabulously decorated hall, inside, among all the treasure is a solitary cat. When someone tries to take something from the hall, the cat turns into a firey arrow and slays him. Cat is a fierce warrior when provoked, and will fight with both wile and ferocity. Also known for stealth and secrecy, they are familiar with the hidden paths and will never misdirect you.
Did you know...
Spotted cats are often bullied by tabby cats.
The word "moggy" comes from Old English and originally meant a dishevelled old woman.
Prairie dogs kiss as a form of greeting.
A cat may hold the secret to who really discovered America! The Maine Coon is very similar to the Norwegian Forest Cat, and historians point to this as part of their evidence that cats came to America before Columbus - as pets of the Vikings.
In the wild a contented elephant will make a tummy-rumbling sound like a cat's purr. It can be heard over half a mile away!
The Mouse on the Barroom Floor.
Some Guinness was spilled on the barroom floor
when the pub was shut for the night.
Out of his hole crept a wee brown mouse
and stood in the pale moonlight.
He lapped up the frothy brew from the floor,
then back on his haunches he sat.
And all night long you could hear him roar,
'Bring on the goddam cat!'
Cat fans are warned to steer clear of www.bonsaikitten.com, a site "dedicated to preserving the long lost art of body modification in house pets". A spoof site that is weird and wicked, its spoof images will be too much for the average feline fancier. Do not be tempted to visit the site, it will just encourage the creators of the site to continue.
"I have as companion a big greyish-red cat with black stripes across it. It was born in the Vatican, in the Raphael Ioggia. Leo XII brought it up in a fold of his robes where I had often looked at it enviously when the Pontiff gave me an audience...It was called 'the Pope's cat.' In this capacity, it used to enjoy the special consideration of pious ladies. I am trying to make it forget exile, the Sistine Chapel, the sun on Michelangelo's cupola, where it used to walk, far above the earth."
Francois Rene de Chateaubriand
"Cat-lovers will no doubt point out that the elegance and dignity of cats are the consequence of their sojourn in the temples of the gods, where their attitudes and movements were regarded as divine prognostications. Be that as it may, it is obvious that the cat's wealth of expressions make it an ideal candidate for such a role. Unlike the dog, which either wags its tail or does not wag its tail, the cat possesses a wide range of means to convey its emotions: It arches its back, makes its fur stand on end, miaows, rubs itself against furniture and against humans, purrs, lashes its tail, spits, and hisses. The priests of Bacht, therefore, had ample material for interpretation."
Philippe Diolé, French biologist. "At the Service of the Heart" - The Errant Ark: Man's Relationship with Animals, trans. by J.F. Bernard, Putnam (1974).
Quote of the Month:
"In my house you have to talk to cats because, being ten of them, there are a lot of important things you have to say to them - like "Get off" and "Shut up" and things like that." - Beryl Reid
"Only two animals have entered the human household otherwise than as prisoners and become domesticated by other means than those of enforced servitude: the dog and the cat. Two things they have in common, namely, that both belong to the order of carnivores and both serve man in their capacity of hunters. In all other characteristics, above all in the manner of their association with man, they are as different as the night from the day. There is no domestic animal which has so radically altered its whole way of living, indeed its whole sphere of interests, that has become domestic in so true a sense as the dog: and there is no animal that, in the course of its century-old association with man, has altered so little as the cat. There is some truth in the assertion that the cat, with the exception of a few luxury breeds, such as Angora, Persians, and Siamese, is no domestic animal but a completely wild being. Maintaining its full independence it has taken up its abode in the houses and outhouses of man, for the simple reason that there are more mice there than elsewhere."
Konrad Lorenz (1903/1989) Austrian ethologist.
A bit of Irish feline!
Dearmad bhean an tí ag an gcat: The cat benefits from the housewife's negligence.
Céard a dhéanfadh mac an chait ach luch a mharú?: What would the cat's son do but kill a mouse?
Curses in any language should be used with care. The same applies here: Go n-ithe an cat thú is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat: May the cat eat you, and may the cat be eaten by the devil.
Nuair atá an cat amuigh bíonn na luch ag damhsa: When the cat is away, the mice will play.
To kill a cat brings seventeen years of bad luck. - Irish Supersition
The three merriest things in the world are a cat's kitten, a goat's kid, and a young widow. - Irish Proverb
Whatever is born of a cat will cat mice. - Irish Proverb
Nature breaks through the eyes of the cat. - Irish Proverb
Little Robin Redbreast sat upon a tree,
up went the Pussy-cat, and down went he,
down came Pussy-cat, away Robin ran;
says little Robin Redbreast: "Catch me if you can!"
Little Robin Redbreast jumped upon a spade,
pussy-cat jumped after him, and then he was afraid.
Little Robin chirped and sang, and what did Pussy say?
Pussy-cat said: "Mew, mew, mew," and Robin ran away.
The cat with the worst job in the whole world must have been Minstrel. He was based at the Metropolitan Police Training Centre in Kent (UK) and his task for nearly ten years was to nonchalantly stroll past a line of huge slobbering German shepherd police dogs to test their discipline.
The concern wasn't that one of the dogs might have broken ranks and chased Minstrel - but that this unruly behaviour might have encouraged all the dogs to join in. Fortunately, the police dog handlers do an excellent job and Minstrel didn't once have to worry.
Little Ghost Cat
Little ghost cat,
sometimes I hear your gentle purr
and feel the soft touch of your fur.
Then, late at night old memories stir
of the friend I loved and lost.
Little ghost cat,
by moonlight now you come and go
unseen, and, like moving water flow
through my dreams, calling as of long ago,
O friend I loved and lost.
The Penitent Cat has become proverbial. A typical story is found in the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. There was a cat who sat on the banks of the River Ganges, feigning penitence for all his sins, particularly those of cruelty to other animals. For days he practised austerities by the river, gradually building up a reputation for saintliness. The asceticism of this holy animal inspired confidence in the birds and mice of the area. They gathered around him in great numbers, to do him honour and to put themselves under his protection. Every day, when the cat was surrounded by trustful prey, he would lead them to the river, presumably to wash away their sins. It was always during the "mystical" experience that the cat had his main meal of the day!
Another cat who had repented of all his crimes was called upon to act as judge in a dispute which had arisen between a sparrow and a hare. Unfortunately, the judge appeared to have become stone-deaf, and he begged the sparrow and the hare to come to him and confide their arguments in his ear. With complete faith in the cat's reformation, they approached him and were both promptly devoured.
Turner used painting as a cat flap!
The painter JMW Turner cut a hole in one of his paintings so his pet cats could use it as a cat flap!
The revelation was made in a documentary called "Turner: The Man Who Painted Britain" shown on BBC television during April 2002.
It's believed he cut a hole in the canvas of Fishing Upon The Blythe-Sand, which was blocking a broken window.
Joyce Townsend, the Tate Britain's senior conservation scientist, told the documentary makers she had found paw prints on the canvas.
The repaired painting is currently on loan from the Tate Britain to a museum in the US.
Remember: People who are always quarrelling are said to lead a cat and dog life.
Recommended book: CATS
Author: Sarah Kennedy
Sarah Kennedy, known as "Bunty" to the millions of her early morning programme on BBC Radio 2 , invited listeners to help her name her new kitten and to share with her the stories of how thier own cats got their names. She has compiled these enchanting and amusing stories into a delightful book - a must have for cat lovers everywhere.
Softback - 166 Pages
Published by: Contender Books
Quote: "Pure herring oil is the port wine of English cats." - Honore de Balzac