Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Piggy Logomania

Au is crazy about ham, the local cooked stuff by Solisege is his absolute favourite. When our local supermarket stopped stocking it, Au's pitful meows sent me scurrying into the car and off down town to TMC supermarket to pick up supplies. (Yes, this is the true meaning of pussy whipped!)

Scoop prefers is a little pork fillet, sliced paper thin and presented in a fan shape for easy munching.

This being the Year of the Boar, both cats are looking forward to plenty of piggy treats. Also, it suggested a Logomania column:

To appreciate pigs better
In honour of the Year of the Boar, we take a look at some of the piggy images that enrich the English language.

Feedback, brickbats etc appreciated.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Kinky Tails

Scoop's curly tail
Friends from overseas (read: non-Malaysians) are always horrified when they see Scoop's tail looks like a corkscrew, and that Au's short little stubby tail waves at a permanent 45 degree angle.

Local friends don't make it any better because they delight in telling the urban legends that say these cats are victims of animal cruelty.

Depending on who's telling the story, innocent tourists are told a local ethnic group believes cats are so beautiful that they disturb the spirits of the dead if they walk over their graves. To prevent spiritual unrest, the story goes, this group go along breaking cat’s tails at birth.

I’ve heard this superstition being attributed to various Chinese groups, Malaysian Indians, and even Sarawak tribes such as the Iban, so it’s hard to know where exactly this story started. One thing's for sure, the teller always blames someone else!

In case you’re worried: local kitties may look like victims of unusual torture but they are born this way. In fact, it’s a local neighbourhood characteristic.

Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai cats have an odd gene that creates a kinky tail. Some kitties have long tails with a knob or kink at the top; others have a variety of shorter tails sticking out at odd angles.

Scoop’s corkscrew tail is unusually complex, and knowing this our old fuzzy is very proud of it. He curls his tail up when he’s interested in something and down when he’s relaxed. It’s a wonderful barometer indicating his mood.

If you see a cat with a kinky tail in the US or UK, chances are you are looking at a cousin of Scoop or Au’s. Please say apa kabar from us!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ungrateful Fuzzles

Scoop and Au received a huge bag of imported cat biscuits from a friend last week but are they happy? No!

When I brought the bag home, our fuzzies sniffed around it, admiring what was clearly a present for them. We set the humongous bag aside, waiting till they finished their own bag of crunchies.

When the new bag was opened yesterday morning, their precious majesties sat down to enjoy their expensive treats. And guess what? It's a unanimous yeck!

Au came downstairs and gave us a sad look. Scoop marched around, pushing us to look at his cat bowl, and then saying mia-ow which clearly meant, "What is this stuff and where are our proper biscuits?"

So the strays outside are enjoying a mega bag of biscuits, and I went to the supermarket this morning to load up on their favourite Gourmet biscuits.

Cats can be really unpredictable and ungrateful. Just as well they'e gorgeous!

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Beautiful Game

Scoop jumping on Au and his straw
Au has found a new toy: a drinking straw. He's been batting it around the living room floor, tossing it up in the air, and chasing it under the table. We thought Scoop would be a bit more staid, but last night he too joined in the game, jumping up and down (and on top of Au) with glee.

Unfortunately they moved too quickly and I was too slow with the camera - I only caught a glimpse of Au's face here and Scoop's tail. If the fun and games continue this evening, I will stand by with the video clip recording switched on!

Also, there's a new logomania column out: The Beautiful Game...Considering some three billion people watched the 2006 World Cup, it’s not surprising football terms have migrated to everyday English.

Footballers are agile, but in terms of dexterity I think our fuzzies have the upper hand... or rather, paw.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

It’s Nice To Be Appreciated!

Au woke me up at 2AM with a very quiet meow. Touching me gently with a soft paw I could see his eyes were huge. Obviously he was shocked to his fuzzy core. I followed him to the bathroom and saw what had upset him: his biscuit bowl was empty and his water dish had been defiled by a cat biscuit.

I remedied the situation, and he gave me a brief rub against the ankle to show me he was happy again.

At 615AM Scoop came marching in, sing meow meow mrauf and purring like a small engine. He had cool fur and wet feet, a sure sign that he’d been out for an early morning walk. Clearly invigorated, Scoop decided he needed a big breakfast.

Ignoring Scoop is not an option. I staggered out of bed, went to the kitchen and gave him a bowl of chopped chicken liver. Scoop sat down with a happy MAUF and started eating. Au appeared out of nowhere and joined him, chatting happily.

Obviously they realized they had caught me at both ends of a night’s sleep because when I got up at 8 o’clock both cats were waiting for me. They kept me company while I showered. Supervised while I made coffee, and are now sitting on the office rug, purring loudly and squeezing their eyes when I look at them.

It’s nice to be appreciated!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why There Is No Year Of The Cat

Au fast asleep
Legend has it that when the Lord Buddha decided to name the years, he summoned all the animals in the land, and told them anyone wanting to have the honour of having a year named after them would have to take part in a race. As Lord Buddha decided on a cycle of 12 years, he announced only the first 12 to cross the line would be chosen.

The cat and the rat who were best friends both decided they wanted a month named after themselves. Discussing the race that evening, the cat reminded the rat he was a heavy sleeper. The cat therefore asked his friend the rat to waken him in the morning in good time for the race. The rat agreed but then had secret second thoughts.

The rat realised that his chances of being among the first twelve animals to cross the finish line would be better if the cat didn’t take part. So the next morning the rat crept away without waking his friend.

The rat being exceptionally clever realised his chances would be even better if he could hitch a ride from one of the faster competitors. Looking around, rat decided to approach the ox whom he knew well.

The kindly ox allowed the rat to sit on his shoulders during the race. When the race started, the ox ran as fast as he could, with the little rat cheering him on all the way. Then, a little before the end of the race, the rat jumped off the tired ox’s back and ran quickly across the finish line. As the rat was first, his year is the first in the cycle, and the ox is second.

The cat slept throughout the morning, missing the race entirely. He only woke up when the other animals came back, celebrating the rat’s win and announcing the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar had also made it into the first twelve.

Looking at the triumphant rat, the cat lost his temper. He jumped up as fast a lightning and ran at the rat who squeaked in terror and ran off as fast as he could. From this day on the cat and the rat were fierce enemies – and the cat never managed to get into the zodiac.

PS in case you’re interested, this year is the Year of the Boar. If you’re celebrating, take a look at the Year of the Boar New Year Online Treasure Hunt.

Tarot Card Kitty

Au having his tarot cards read
Au is in the Star today looking extremely handsome. Unfortunately I spoke too quickly. Yow-Yow is back at the front of the house AND eating his biscuits around the back too. I'm pondering ways to keep him at the back because the home invasions he stages upset Scoop and Au. If anyone has any ideas, please share!

As for the tarot card reading... I've read Au's horoscope a few times, and Scoop has sat for his as well but so far the readings are rather vague. We're enjoying it however and will keep at it.

Wishing you an auspicious and properous Year of the Boar.

Gong Xi Fah Cai!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Treasure Hunt

I've written two online treasure hunts to help kids (and older kids!) sharpen their online research skills. These first two are all about Chinese New Year. If they prove popular, I'll write another one about cats!

Gong Xi Fah Cai!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cats don't know the meaning of Valentine's Day

Remember I was pleased when The Cat Formerly Known For His Dirty Face finally settled in at the back door?

Everything seemed to be going well, and we even renamed him a third time last week, calling him Yow Yow as this is what he says when he calls round for snacks.

But the little so-and-so emerged from the back lane last night, marched round the front, broke into the house, and caused havoc.

The Cat Formerly Known For His Dirty FaceScoop was furious, Au was shattered, and my sleep went completely out of the window when the bloodcurdling screams rang out at 2AM.

It's obvious cats don't know the meaning of Valentine's Day. I shall go and take a bit of chicken outside, and while the fuzzies are enjoying a snack, I'll grab the opportunity to give them a lecture on the concept of love. And the joys of silent nights.

PS For those of you who are new to the blog and don't know Yow Yow, here he is.

PPS Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Gong Xi Fah Cai!

Scoop is gearing up for one of his favourite holidays: Chinese New Year. He's very fond of chicken, pork, and prawns, and this holiday promises to bring plenty of these treats to his bowl.

Scoop having a comfortable wash on the kitchen chairHere he is, settling down to a lunch Scoop settling down to a lunch of shredded chickenof shredded chicken.

And here he is again, having a comfortable wash on the kitchen chair he's taken possession of.

The only thing Scoop doesn't enjoy about this holiday are the firecrackers everyone sets off.

If you're planning a traditional celebration, please keep an eye out for cats as you would for kids.

And Gong Xi Fah Cai!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

If you're interested in magic, check out today's Star weekend section that discusses Susuk a magical way to enhance your power, beauty and charm, and the general attitude to bomohs, Malaysian witchdoctors.

I wrote the pieces Shaman or swindler? Magic In The News and The Feel-Good Factor.

You'll note I am not a believer!

Also, the story on orchids Exotic Beauties is mine too.

Brickbats, etc welcome!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dog Training Seminar

I was invited to join a dog training seminar at Genting yesterday, and it was terrific fun. All the dogs were working dogs, learning to catch robbers, jump through windows, and find lost “treasures”. Seriously impressive!

Problem is, I cuddled 14 dogs plus 1 cat and then went home and said hello to Scoop and Au before having a shower or changing my clothes. As you can see from Au’s face, he was not amused! Scoop took it a bit better but he was jealous too.

Au looking superciliousAs I spent yesterday evening haunted by flattened ears and hard stares, I went ot the wet market this morning to buy roast chicken for dinner tonight. A small sign from me that no matter how many dogs (and cats!) I say hello to when I’m away from home, it’s our fuzzy lodgers who remain tops.

PS Here’s Au looking supercilious. It’s an expression cat’s do sooooo well!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Bad Tempered Fuzz

Scoop is Not Speaking. He's been taking his medicine every day and is getting better, but he is annoyed with me for dosing him twice a day. This morning he gave me an evil look, said meeOW! in a very marked manner, and stomped off.

I will have to buy him a roast chicken as a peace offering.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Cats Will Be Cats

Scoop and Au
Two raised voices shouting MAUWWWOW and SHHHHHAW just before 8 o’clock this morning blasted me out of a comfortable snooze. Neither voices sounded like Scoop or Au but as the fuzzies were not in bed, I worried. I called for them, and heard Scoop give a soft throaty meow from upstairs.

Tom had snuck off to the upstairs office at the crack of dawn to tinker with the last few chapters of his book; Scoop was obviously keeping him company. Old fuzzy sent down a message to say he was not involved in the fracas taking place outside.

Au then appeared in the doorway, fur coat all fuzzled up, eyes wide with interest – clearly a cat who had fallen off the sofa and rushed to see what was happening without even the slightest attempt to pat his stripes into place. Giving a small good morning squeak, Au then dashed over to the window, and peered out excitedly.

We soon realized the noise was caused by The Cat Formerly Known For His Dirty Face confronting the fuzzy Persian looking fluff from the end of the road. As TCFKFHDF tends to stick to verbal fights, I left Au to his window watch post and went back to sleep.

I’ll check TCFKFHDF for scratches when he comes for afternoon biscuits, and give him a lecture on the value of good neighbourly relations, but I suspect it won’t do much good. Cats will be cats.

PS Katz tales is out in the print edition of The Star Weekend section tomorrow.

PPS Here's Scoop and Au, tails entwined, sitting companionably on their rug.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Man’s best friend

The Star have published another Logomania column:

Feb 1: Man’s best friend
Serving as guards, pets, guides, and general factotums, dogs have also contributed to the English language.

to find out more about doggy expressions, check it out!