Sunday, 28 January 2018

Monty's Book Review - Jan 2018

Monty's Book Review

January 2018

I've recently discovered Library Thing (https://www.librarything.com) where you can sign up for authors to send you free copies of their ebooks in exchance for a fair and honest review left on either the Library Thing website or on Goodreads or Amazon.

I love reading and will read pretty much anything apart from mushy romance novels so this was a good opportunity to read books from new or less well know authors.

The first book I received was 

The Godungava by Joel Puga



The Godungava is a fantasy novella heavily influenced by the world of Dungeons & Dragons. The storyline is fairly well-paced but tends to get bogged down during the fight sequences which I feel are a little heavy on the description of the individual blows struck by the characters. The author has  clearly spend time developing the background for his universe and I can see potential for future titles to further develop some of the elements that are only touched on here. I would like to see a bit more character development for the main antagonists which would allow readers to invest more care in their eventual outcome but as this is just a relatively short story it would slow down the narrative and either cause the book to be over long or to remove some of the storyline.

The names of some of the characters can be difficult to pronounce which causes momentary episodes where you are jerked out of the story in order to re-read them in order to pronounce them correctly.. Some of the names are also too similar which can create a tiny amount of confusion but this would be easy to solve if the book was to be published on a large scale in the future.

Despite what appears above to be a quite negative review, I actually enjoyed the story and with a simple bit of tidying up on the names and combat details this would be a good book for fantasy and D&D enthusiasts. One last point - if you are going to introduce a shorter, more easily pronounced, name for a character, stick to in in the text instead of jumping between the two names.

All in all this was an interesting read which would be popular among its target audience.

The second book I received and read this month was

The Liars' Asylum by Jacob M Appel



The collection of eight short stories are all loosly related to unrequited love in one form or another.

The stories are well researched and written in an easy style which make then entertaining reading. Each one is thought provoking and leaves you pondering on where the story would go if it was to continue to look at the lives of the central characters. Each one is a snapshot into the life of one character and doesn't always finish with a conclusion to the problem at hand.

These are not short stories with a twist in the tail like Jeffrey Archer or Roald Dahl and they are not romantic love stories but each one is finely crafted and a joy to read. 

------------------------------------------

I also entered some giveaways on the Goodreads website (http://www.goodreads.com) and the first one I received was

Something Completely Odd by Chris Dyer


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A delightful collection of short poetry, stories and opinion that in turn both entertain and make you think. It is a mixture of items both humorous and serious which in places had me reciting aloud to my family a few of the poems which made me laugh - Telly, My Little Friend and Bert in particular.

'Blue' would make a great meme and may end up in a frame on the wall at home

The opinion pieces which the author classifes as ramblings are all aimed at making the world a better place to live and shold be commended.

The short fiction piece gives you cause to think about your environment and the detrimental effect we, as a race, are having on the planet.

The lighter pieces of poetry are fun to read, especially aloud, and the more serious pieces create scenes which make good points for discussion or thought

I really enjoyed most of the pieces in the book and will definitely return to it to reread my favourite pieces again and again.

The second one from Goodreads was

Bobby 'Chicken Legs' Muldoon: Life and Love in the Gorbals

 36054678

The book is written entirely in glaswegian and as a Sassenach I at first found it hard to read fluently as I needed to translate it as I went along BUT, by the end of the first chapter it clicked and the rest of the book flew by as I got wrapped up in the life of Bobby and his family trials and tribulations.

It reminds me of the Adrian Mole diaries which I read years ago and brought back memories of my own teenage years.

All-in-all this was an enjoyable read and I think it is worth Kate Donne writing a full, novel length, story about the characters as once you get the hang of the scots vernacular it is surprisingly fun to read.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

How cats conquered the ancient world



The domestic cat is descended from wild cats that were tamed twice - in the Near East and then Egypt, according to the largest study of its kind.

Farmers in the Near East were probably the first people to successfully tame wild cats about 9,000 years ago.

Then, a few thousand years later, cats spread out of ancient Egypt along maritime trade routes.

Today, cats live on all continents except Antarctica. 

Scientists think wildcats began hanging around farms to prey on mice attracted to grain stores, starting the long relationship between humans and felines.

"There were two taming events - one in the Near East at the beginning and one in Egypt much later," said lead researcher Eva-Maria Geigl.

"And then the cat spread very efficiently all over the ancient world as a ship's cat. Both lineages are now present in modern cats."

From rat catcher to pet

Cats haven't always been lazy creatures, lounging around the house.

They spent thousands of years working as rat catchers on ships and farms, before becoming fully domesticated.

"I would say cats chose human company, but it was a commensal relationship - it was profitable to both sides," explained Dr Geigl, of Institut Jacques Monod in Paris.



In the study, researchers extracted mitochondrial DNA (which is passed down the maternal line) from more than 200 ancient cat remains that came from Viking graves, Egyptian mummies and Stone Age sites.

DNA evidence shows cat domestication began about 9,000 years ago in the Near East, where farming started. Farmers were probably the first people to tame wild cats and then take them on their travels, either accidently or deliberately.

A second wave of cat domestication happened in ancient Egypt. Cats spread to Europe during the Roman era and went even further during the Viking period. Egyptian cat DNA was even found in a Viking port, suggesting cats were carried on maritime trading routes to northern Europe.

Surprisingly, perhaps, tabby cats appeared only in the Middle Ages. DNA evidence suggests the gene mutation that causes blotched markings appeared in a cat in western Turkey in the 14th Century.

Over the next few hundred years, tabbies spread around the world, as cats became prized for their beauty rather than utilitarian skills.

"There was very little breeding and selection going on in cats up the 19th Century, in contrast with dogs," said Dr Geigl. "The cat was useful from the very beginning - it didn't have to be changed."

Today, there are many breeds of cats with different markings and coats. They include exotic breeds, from the Bambino (a hairless short cat) to the Cornish Rex (with a curly coat and Whippet-like body).

The research is published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Cat Tales #1

Tobermory

by H.H. Munro



It was a chill, rain-washed afternoon of a late August day, that indefinite season when partridges are still in security or cold storage, and there is nothing to hunt - unless one is bounded on the north by the Bristol Channel, in which case one may lawfully gallop after fat red stags. Lady Blemley's house- party was not bounded on the north by the Bristol Channel, hence there was a full gathering of her guests round the tea-table on this particular afternoon. And, in spite of the blankness of the season and the triteness of the occasion, there was no trace in the company of that fatigued restlessness which means a dread of the pianola and a subdued hankering for auction bridge. The undisguised open-mouthed attention of the entire party was fixed on the homely negative personality of Mr. Cornelius Appin. Of all her guests, he was the one who had come to Lady Blemley with the vaguest reputation. Some one had said he was "clever," and he had got his invitation in the moderate expectation, on the part of his hostess, that some portion at least of his cleverness would be contributed to the general entertainment. Until tea-time that day she had been unable to discover in what direction, if any, his cleverness lay. He was neither a wit nor a croquet champion, a hypnotic force nor a begetter of amateur theatricals. Neither did his exterior suggest the sort of man in whom women are willing to pardon a generous measure of mental deficiency. He had subsided into mere Mr. Appin, and the Cornelius seemed a piece of transparent baptismal bluff. And now he was claiming to have launched on the world a discovery beside which the invention of gunpowder, of the printing-press, and of steam locomotion were inconsiderable trifles. Science had made bewildering strides in many directions during recent decades, but this thing seemed to belong to the domain of miracle rather than to scientific achievement.

"And do you really ask us to believe," Sir Wilfrid was saying, "that you have discovered a means for instructing animals in the art of human speech, and that dear old Tobermory has proved your first successful pupil?"

"It is a problem at which I have worked for the last seventeen years," said Mr. Appin, "but only during the last eight or nine months have I been rewarded with glimmerings of success. Of course I have experimented with thousands of animals, but latterly only with cats, those wonderful creatures which have assimilated themselves so marvellously with our civilization while retaining all their highly developed feral instincts. Here and there among cats one comes across an outstanding superior intellect, just as one does among the ruck of human beings, and when I made the acquaintance of Tobermory a week ago I saw at once that I was in contact with a `Beyond-cat' of extraordinary intelligence. I had gone far along the road to success in recent experiments; with Tobermory, as you call him, I have reached the goal."

Mr. Appin concluded his remarkable statement in a voice which he strove to divest of a triumphant inflection. No one said "Rats," though Clovis's lips moved in a monosyllabic contortion which probably invoked those rodents of disbelief.

"And do you mean to say," asked Miss Resker, after a slight pause, "that you have taught Tobermory to say and understand easy sentences of one syllable?"

"My dear Miss Resker," said the wonder-worker patiently, "one teaches little children and savages and backward adults in that piecemeal fashion; when one has once solved the problem of making a beginning with an animal of highly developed intelligence one has no need for those halting methods. Tobermory can speak our language with perfect correctness."

This time Clovis very distinctly said, "Beyond-rats!" Sir Wilfrid was more polite, but equally sceptical.

"Hadn't we better have the cat in and judge for ourselves?" suggested Lady Blemley.
Sir Wilfrid went in search of the animal, and the company settled themselves down to the languid expectation of witnessing some more or less adroit drawing- room ventriloquism.

In a minute Sir Wilfrid was back in the room, his face white beneath its tan and his eyes dilated with excitement. "By Gad, it's true!"

His agitation was unmistakably genuine, and his hearers started forward in a thrill of awakened interest.

Collapsing into an armchair he continued breathlessly: "I found him dozing in the smoking-room and called out to him to come for his tea. He blinked at me in his usual way, and I said, 'Come on, Toby; don't keep us waiting'; and, by Gad! he drawled out in a most horribly natural voice that he'd come when he dashed well pleased! I nearly jumped out of my skin!"

Appin had preached to absolutely incredulous hearers; Sir Wilfred's statement carried instant conviction. A Babel-like chorus of startled exclamation arose, amid which the scientist sat mutely enjoying the first fruit of his stupendous discovery.

In the midst of the clamour Tobermory entered the room and made his way with velvet tread and studied unconcern across to the group seated round the tea- table.

A sudden hush of awkwardness and constraint fell on the company. Somehow there seemed an element of embarrassment in addressing on equal terms a domestic cat of acknowledged mental ability.

"Will you have some milk, Tobermory?" asked Lady Blemley in a rather strained voice.

"I don't mind if I do," was the response, couched in a tone of even indifference. A shiver of suppressed excitement went through the listeners, and Lady Blemley might be excused for pouring out the saucerful of milk rather unsteadily.

"I'm afraid I've spilt a good deal of it," she said apologetically.

"After all, it's not my Axminster," was Tobermory's rejoinder.

Another silence fell on the group, and then Miss Resker, in her best district- visitor manner, asked if the human language had been difficult to learn. Tobermory looked squarely at her for a moment and then fixed his gaze serenely on the middle distance. It was obvious that boring questions lay outside his scheme of life.

"What do you think of human intelligence?" asked Mavis Pellington lamely.

"Of whose intelligence in particular?" asked Tobermory coldly.

"Oh, well, mine for instance," said Mavis, with a feeble laugh.

"You put me in an embarrassing position," said Tobermory, whose tone and attitude certainly did not suggest a shred of embarrassment. "When your inclusion in this house-party was suggested, Sir Wilfrid protested that you were the most brainless woman of his acquaintance, and that there was a wide distinction between hospitality and the care of the feeble-minded. Lady Blemley replied that your lack of brain-power was the precise quality which had earned you your invitation, as you were the only person she could think of who might be idiotic enough to buy their old car. You know, the one they call 'The Envy of Sisyphus,' because it goes quite nicely up-hill if you push it."

Lady Blemley's protestations would have had greater effect if she had not casually suggested to Mavis only that morning that the car in question would be just the thing for her down at her Devonshire home.

Major Barfield plunged in heavily to effect a diversion.

"How about your carryings-on with the tortoise-shell puss up at the stables, eh?"

The moment he had said it every one realized the blunder.

"One does not usually discuss these matters in public," said Tobermory frigidly. "From a slight observation of your ways since you've been in this house I should imagine you'd find it inconvenient if I were to shift the conversation on to your own little affairs."

The panic which ensued was not confined to the Major.

"Would you like to go and see if cook has got your dinner ready?" suggested Lady Blemley hurriedly, affecting to ignore the fact that it wanted at least two hours to Tobermory's dinner-time.

"Thanks," said Tobermory, "not quite so soon after my tea. I don't want to die of indigestion."

"Cats have nine lives, you know," said Sir Wilfrid heartily.

"Possibly", answered Tobermory; "but only one liver."

"Adelaide!" said Mrs. Cornett, "do you mean to encourage that cat to go out and gossip about us in the servants' hall?"

The panic had indeed become general. A narrow ornamental balustrade ran in front of most of the bedroom windows at the Towers, and it was recalled with dismay that this had formed a favourite promenade for Tobermory at all hours, whence he could watch the pigeons - and heaven knew what else besides. If he intended to become reminiscent in his present outspoken strain the effect would be something more than disconcerting. Mrs. Cornett, who spent much time at her toilet table, and whose complexion was reputed to be of a nomadic though punctual disposition, looked as ill at ease as the Major. Miss Scrawen, who wrote fiercely sensuous poetry and led a blameless life, merely displayed irritation; if you are methodical and virtuous in private you don't necessarily want every one to know it. Bertie van Tahn, who was so depraved at seventeen that he had long ago given up trying to be any worse, turned a dull shade of gardenia white, but he did not commit the error of dashing out of the room like Odo Finsberry, a young gentleman who was understood to be reading for the Church and who was possibly disturbed at the thought of scandals he might hear concerning other people. Clovis had the presence of mind to maintain a composed exterior; privately he was calculating how long it would take to procure a box of fancy mice through the agency of the Exchange and Mart as a species of hush- money.

Even in a delicate situation like the present, Agnes Resker could not endure to remain too long in the background.

"Why did I ever come down here?" she asked dramatically.

Tobermory immediately accepted the opening.

"Judging by what you said to Mrs. Cornett on the croquet-lawn yesterday, you were out for food. You described the Blemleys as the dullest people to stay with that you knew, but said they were clever enough to employ a first-rate cook; otherwise they'd find it difficult to get any one to come down a second time."

"There's not a word of truth in it! I appeal to Mrs. Cornett--" exclaimed the discomfited Agnes.

"Mrs. Cornett repeated your remark afterwards to Bertie van Tahn," continued Tobermory, "and said, 'That woman is a regular Hunger Marcher; she'd go anywhere for four square meals a day,' and Bertie van Tahn said--"

At this point the chronicle mercifully ceased. Tobermory had caught a glimpse of the big yellow Tom from the Rectory working his way through the shrubbery towards the stable wing. In a flash he had vanished through the open French window.

With the disappearance of his too brilliant pupil Cornelius Appin found himself beset by a hurricane of bitter upbraiding, anxious inquiry, and frightened entreaty. The responsibility for the situation lay with him, and he must prevent matters from becoming worse. Could Tobermory impart his dangerous gift to other cats? was the first question he had to answer. It was possible, he replied, that he might have initiated his intimate friend the stable puss into his new accomplishment, but it was unlikely that his teaching could have taken a wider range as yet.

"Then," said Mrs. Cornett, "Tobermory may be a valuable cat and a great pet; but I'm sure you'll agree, Adelaide, that both he and the stable cat must be done away with without delay."

"You don't suppose I've enjoyed the last quarter of an hour, do you?" said Lady Blemley bitterly. "My husband and I are very fond of Tobermory - at least, we were before this horrible accomplishment was infused into him; but now, of course, the only thing is to have him destroyed as soon as possible."

"We can put some strychnine in the scraps he always gets at dinner-time," said Sir Wilfrid, "and I will go and drown the stable cat myself. The coachman will be very sore at losing his pet, but I'll say a very catching form of mange has broken out in both cats and we're afraid of its spreading to the kennels."

"But my great discovery!" expostulated Mr. Appin; "after all my years of research and experiment--"

"You can go and experiment on the short-horns at the farm, who are under proper control," said Mrs. Cornett, "or the elephants at the Zoological Gardens. They're said to be highly intelligent, and they have this recommendation, that they don't come creeping about our bedrooms and under chairs, and so forth."

An archangel ecstatically proclaiming the Millennium, and then finding that it clashed unpardonably with Henley and would have to be indefinitely postponed, could hardly have felt more crestfallen than Cornelius Appin at the reception of his wonderful achievement. Public opinion, however, was against him - in fact, had the general voice been consulted on the subject it is probable that a strong minority vote would have been in favour of including him in the strychnine diet.

Defective train arrangements and a nervous desire to see matters brought to a finish prevented an immediate dispersal of the party, but dinner that evening was not a social success. Sir Wilfrid had had rather a trying time with the stable cat and subsequently with the coachman. Agnes Resker ostentatiously limited her repast to a morsel of dry toast, which she bit as though it were a personal enemy; while Mavis Pellington maintained a vindictive silence throughout the meal. Lady Blemley kept up a flow of what she hoped was conversation, but her attention was fixed on the doorway. A plateful of carefully dosed fish scraps was in readiness on the sideboard, but sweets and savoury and dessert went their way, and no Tobermory appeared either in the dining-room or kitchen.
The sepulchral dinner was cheerful compared with the subsequent vigil in the smoking-room. Eating and drinking had at least supplied a distraction and cloak to the prevailing embarrassment. Bridge was out of the question in the general tension of nerves and tempers, and after Odo Finsberry had given a lugubrious rendering of "Melisande in the Wood" to a frigid audience, music was tacitly avoided. At eleven the servants went to bed, announcing that the small window in the pantry had been left open as usual for Tobermory's private use. The guests read steadily through the current batch of magazines, and fell back gradually on the "Badminton Library" and bound volumes of Punch. Lady Blemley made periodic visits to the pantry, returning each time with an expression of listless depression which forestalled questioning.

At two o'clock Clovis broke the dominating silence.

"He won't turn up tonight. He's probably in the local newspaper office at the present moment, dictating the first instalment of his reminiscences. Lady What's-her-name's book won't be in it. It will be the event of the day."

Having made this contribution to the general cheerfulness, Clovis went to bed. At long intervals the various members of the house-party followed his example.

The servants taking round the early tea made a uniform announcement in reply to a uniform question. Tobermory had not returned.

Breakfast was, if anything, a more unpleasant function than dinner had been, but before its conclusion the situation was relieved. Tobermory's corpse was brought in from the shrubbery, where a gardener had just discovered it. From the bites on his throat and the yellow fur which coated his claws it was evident that he had fallen in unequal combat with the big Tom from the Rectory.
By midday most of the guests had quitted the Towers, and after lunch Lady Blemley had sufficiently recovered her spirits to write an extremely nasty letter to the Rectory about the loss of her valuable pet.

Tobermory had been Appin's one successful pupil, and he was destined to have no successor. A few weeks later an elephant in the Dresden Zoological Garden, which had shown no previous signs of irritability, broke loose and killed an Englishman who had apparently been teasing it. The victim's name was variously reported in the papers as Oppin and Eppelin, but his front name was faithfully rendered Cornelius.

"If he was trying German irregular verbs on the poor beast," said Clovis, "he deserved all he got."

The Tales Your Cat's Tail Tells

Your cat's tail can tell you about what's going on inside her head. Tails are good indicators of mood. Take a little time to observe your cat's behavior and you will start to get a feel of the tales the tail tells.

 

Position: high. When your cat holds her tail high in the air as she moves about her territory, she's expressing confidence and contentment. A tail that sticks straight up signals happiness and a willingness to be friendly. And watch the tip of an erect tail. A little twitch can mean a particularly happy moment.

Position: curved like a question mark. You might consider taking a break from your daily business to play with your cat if you notice a curve in her tail. This tail position often signals a playful mood and a cat that's ready to share some fun with you.

Position: low. Watch out. A tail positioned straight down can signal aggression. A lower tail is a very serious mood. However, be aware that certain breeds, such as Persians, tend to carry their tails low for no particular reason.

Position: tucked away. A tail curved beneath the body signals fear or submission. Something is making your cat nervous.

Position: puffed up. A tail resembling a pipe cleaner reflects a severely agitated and frightened cat trying to look bigger to ward off danger.

Position: whipping tail. A tail that slaps back and forth rapidly indicates both fear and aggression. Consider it a warning to stay away.

Position: swishing tail. A tail that sways slowly from side to side usually means your cat is focused on an object. You might see this tail position right before your cat pounces on a toy or a kibble, of cat food that's tumbled outside the food bowl.

Position: wrapped around another cat. A tail wrapped around another cat is like you putting your arm around another person. It conveys friendship.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Cats In Science

Clone Kitty




In 2001, Operation CopyCat at Texas A&M University produced CC, the world’s first cloned pet.

The cat was cloned by transplanting DNA from Rainbow, a female three-colored (tortoiseshell or calico) cat into an egg cell whose nucleus had been removed, and then implanting this embryo into Allie, the surrogate mother.

Although CC is genetically identical to Rainbow, the two cats look nothing alike. That’s because a cat’s coat color is modified by epigenetic changes—meaning changes in the packaging around the kitten’s DNA—that happen in the womb. CC was still alive as of 2011, and she even gave birth to a few (perfectly normal) kittens.

Astronomy Cat

 

Snuggled in the arms of astronomer Edwin Hubble (yes, that Hubble), Nicolas Copernicus the cat was named after the Renaissance astronomer who dared assert that the Earth revolved around the Sun. The Huntington Library in San Marino, California, found a letter written by Hubble’s wife that insinuates that Nicolas may have helped Hubble uncover the secrets of the expanding universe:

“When [Edwin] worked in the study at his big desk, Nicolas solemnly sprawled over as many pages as he could cover. ‘He is helping me,’ Edwin explained.


Wireless Telegraph Cat

 

Legend has it that Albert Einstein once used a cat to explain how wireless telegraphs worked:

You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.

Spy Cats

 

Forget high-tech spy gadgets. In the 1960s, the CIA launched Operation Acoustic Kitty. The plan was to train cats—yes, cats—to eavesdrop on Russian conversations. With a microphone implanted in its ear, a transmitter near its collar, and an antenna in its tail, the first feline agent was deployed and promptly run over by a taxi. ☹ A partially redacted memo from 1967 concludes "the program would not lend itself in a practical sense to our highly specialized needs."

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Owl And The Pussy Cat



I

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
    In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
    Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
    And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
      What a beautiful Pussy you are,
          You are,
          You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'
   
II
Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
    How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
    But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
    To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
    With a ring at the end of his nose,
          His nose,
          His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.



III
'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
    Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
    By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
    Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
    They danced by the light of the moon,
          The moon,
          The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Edward Lear





Myths & Legends



In many native American cultures Cats had powers of life and death, corresponding to those of the Egyptian god Bast. Warriors wearing cat masks would partake in ceremonies, hoping that the spirit of dead cats would enter their bodies and give them feline stealth and cunning.

One of the holiest cats in history was Meuzza, which belonged to Mohammed. According to legend, the prophet was called to prayer one day. The cat was asleep on his arm and rather than wake the cat, Mohammed cut the sleeve from his robe and set it down with the dozing cat.

According to the Koran, the cat is the essence of purity. A cat hospital was built in Bab-el-Nasz, and it was considered a blessing to bring food to the patients. It is unlawful to chase cats from Mosques.

According to lore contributed to the Dutch, only on Christmas eve, and then only in private, do cats get on their knees, fold their paws together, shut their eyes and pray. It is not known what they pray for? Though legend has it that they get what they wish for, which is why not a creature is stirring that night "not even a mouse."

In Norse mythology, the cat was the special animal of Freyja, the Scandinavian goddess of fertility, beauty, love and marriage. In this capacity the equivalent of a Judeo-christian angel cats were responsible for drawing her chariot through the skies. It was considered good luck to get married on her namesake day - Friday, since this guaranteed fertility for the newly weds.

Cats and Lions were considered sacred in ancient China, presumed to have the power to repel evil with a glance or roar, respectively, and to protect crops from predators. These animals were sometimes pictured with wings, as befitted their celestial status. As Lions became extinct, the Chinese bred the Pekinese dogs to resemble them and take their place in holy pantheon.

Some cats did not stay in the afterworld long enough to be considered angels. As far back as the fifth century A.D., both Chinese and Japanese mystics believed that good people were reincarnated, not as people, but as cats. That is why when cats showed up on doorsteps they were taken in and pampered. Many Buddhists and Hindu sects believe that going from human to a cat is a step forward in achieving Nirvana, a state of perfect freedom from pain and worry.

According to an old European folktale, when cats were first created they had wings, but they preyed on birds and threatened them with extinction. So God took away their cat wings though he turned their flutter into a purr, reminding kittens of the time and form which they were most content.

Cats are not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, which may have to do with their importance, as deities, to the Egyptians. On the other hand, there are a number of dogs in the bible, which might also explain their abscence.

In ancient cultures the cat was both a solar and lunar animal. It was said to be psychic and could predict coming disasters people thought it could also affect the weather.

Many deities were connected to some branch of the cat family. Artemis and Diana were both called the Mother of cats; the Roman goddess Liberty was portrayed with a cat at her feet. Although the followers of Zoroaster believed that cat were familiars of the evil god Ahriman the Moslems believed the cat was a good creature given by Allah to help humans. The Hindu goddess Shasti rides a cat; the symbol of prolific fertility and birth.

In Celtic traditions cats were associated with the underworld powers, the dead, and prophecy. Often they were portrayed as evil creatures, but this may have been the wildcat, in Celtic countries, which were untamed. Irish legends tell of a cat called little cat who was a guardian of treasure.