Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cat-o-tonic History Tales Looks at Cat Tales!

Welcome to another edition of Janis Danner's Cat-o-tonic History Tales!  Today, we are going to explore cat mythos--and we'll present you with certain challenges.  Is it real or fake?  True or false?  Is your mind boggled yet?  No?  Well then,  you are ready to dive right into this cat tale...

Cats and especially the domestic cat have a very strong presence in the American psyche. Imagine what anthropologists will think about us when years from now they find The Cat in the Hat and Puss N Boots books! And just how will they explain that thing called a Cat’s Cradle? (The string game probably originated in China and Korea, but variations are played all over the world.)

Future archaeologists will find amazing artifacts like these photos found on the Internet and passed around on Facebook. Can you tell which are fake? Or perhaps they are all real photos?  Hmmmm...
#1 - Real or Fake?

#2 - Real or Fake?

#3 - Real or Fake?

#4 - Real or Fake?

#5 - Real or Fake?

#6 - Real or Fake?

You can find the answer at the bottom of this blog!

There are also some pretty interesting stories being told about our domestic friends. I’m sure we’ve all been told that black cats crossing our paths means bad luck; so much so that the black cat has one of the lowest adoption rates from shelters (and dogs too--guilty by association?). The history of black cats being bad luck can be traced back at least to the Middle Ages in Europe when superstitions about them caused many mass killings that had the unwanted effect of increasing the rat population and spreading the Bubonic plague. Even though there is no evidence that these practices were widespread in the British Isles, the Pilgrims brought to America a suspicion of anything deemed of the devil and were a deeply suspicious group. They viewed the black cat as a companion, or a familiar to witches. Anyone caught with a black cat would be severely punished or even killed. They viewed the black cat as part demon and part sorcery. These suspicions have been passed down from generation to generation and continue to be told. As Halloween becomes a more popular holiday in the US, the black cat gets even more of a bad rap!

In contrast, there are numerous cultural superstitions where a black cat portends good luck. Here are a few examples:
  • In many Asian countries, owning a black cat today is considered lucky.
  • In England, a black cat is good luck – unless you live in Yorkshire and then it is deemed bad luck!
  • In Scotland, a black cat suddenly appearing on your doorstep is a sign of future prosperity.
  • In the 18th and 19th century in Northern Europe, a fisherman’s wife would actively seek out a black cat as it was believed it would ensure her husband’s return home safely after a fishing expedition.
  • In Japan, black cats are a sign of good luck. Many single women seek a black cat as this cat is believed to bring many suitors. 
  • In ancient Egypt, the black cat personified the goddess Bast, and was believed to bring good fortune.
Pirates of the 19th Century believed that a black cat would bring different kinds of luck. If a black cat walks towards someone, that person will have bad luck. If a black cat walks away from someone then that person will have good luck. If a black cat walks onto a ship and then walks off it, the ship was doomed to sink on its next trip. 

In Bangladesh where there are many tigers, the widows of tiger victims though not actually called witches, are considered bad luck and are often socially ostracized and consigned to lives of loneliness and poverty. Some of these women have grouped together to form the Tiger Widow Association to try and develop new ways to make a living and push for fairer treatment.

Besides the black cat stories, we can find even more carefully crafted tales in our American mythos. An episode of Friends describes the Egyptian Hairless Cat, but have you ever seen one?  How about that special breed of Eskimo cats that are descended from a litter introduced into a refrigerated plant in Pittsburgh to kill the varmints there? And in San Francisco no cats of any breed are allowed to walk on the Golden Gate Bridge because their gait will set the bridge swinging and cause it to fall down. If you ever move to scorpion territory, make sure you get a cat as a pet because they are immune to the scorpion sting. (All were fake--urban legends and fake stories)

Here's an easy one: A cat has nine lives. (If you said true, you need to re-read the blog again--from the beginning!)
Big Cats have their share of stories also. On one travel forum, this information was shared: “Tigers only attack when your head is turned away from it, so wear one of those funny face masks on the back of your head all the time, even if there are no tigers. It may fool the odd cougar too.” (True and false)

It is true that tigers usually stalk their prey from behind, and it is not wise to be the last man walking single file with others down a trail. But this is an old article. The Sundarban Tiger Preserve in India actually issued masks, and for a while it seemed that tigers were tracking and stalking but not killing folk wearing masks. Tigers that had never seen this before would be wary and not attack, but more recently the tigers seem able to see through this ruse and can tell the difference between a real face and a mask.  I’m positive that In-Sync Exotic’s tigers could tell the difference, don't you?

I could not find any evidence of truth or fiction for cougars. The next time you ride a bike down a deserted Texas Hill Country trail, you might consider wearing that Halloween mask on the back of your head just in case there's a cougar stalking you!

If you are traveling in Africa, banging pots and pans will keep the lions away. (False!) Actually it might work the first time, but the lions soon figure out that it is humans without guns banging on those pots and pans, with dire outcome for the humans. (Sounds more like a dinner bell than a gun.)
Anyone who has seen Kiro react to his old keepers will know the answer to this one:  Did Christian the lion, reintegrated into the wild, really hug his owners when he was reunited with them? (True) Our Kiro never forgets!

I’m sure you all have heard similar cat stories! If myths, legends and artifacts from long ago can give us some insight into past cultures, what do these contemporary stories say about our culture and our relationship with cats?  Hmmm....this requires deep cat thought...

Most of our readers probably have not had an opportunity to come in close contact with big and/or small exotic cats. So, we welcome you to come visit In-Sync Exotics and spend some time watching both our exotics and their smaller relatives, the domestic cats.   Perhaps you can come up with a new mytho about cats!

As an aside, wouldn't these would make great Halloween costumes?
Now, let's see if you got our challenge correct -- were you able to tell which pictures were faked?  If you guessed the white cat (#2) and the black lion (3) as fakes, then you guessed correctly!  The other photos were real and not photo shopped!

We hope you enjoyed another installment of Janis' Cat-o-tonic History Tales!  Be sure to check back tomorrow for more fun and informative information about our exotic cats and their friends of In-Sync Exotics! Don't forget to let us know your reaction to this posting by clicking on one of the reaction buttons below--and share this blog posting with others please ~ Thank you!


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