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Stubbs the Mayor at Facebook

9 Cats With Cushy Jobs

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Stubbs the Mayor at Facebook

Cats are useful wherever they are, and they don’t always live in private homes. Here are a few who serve as mousers, greeters, public relations agents, and stress relievers under various titles. None of them let the burdens of employment interfere with nap time.

1. Mr. Wu the New Orleans Bar Cat

Mr. Wu is the resident cat at Molly’s at the Market in New Orleans. He walked into the bar for shelter during hurricane Katrina in 2005 and never left. Mr. Wu spends a lot of time sleeping, but enjoys being petted by patrons. He also has his own MySpace page, although, like most MySpace pages, it is never updated. When Mr. Wu bellies up to the bar, he is served fresh cream in a go cup. Photograph by Skye via Mr. Cajun Boy.

2. Scuzzball and 3. Creeper the Record Store Cats

Scuzzball and Creeper are the cats at Bleecker Street Records in New York City. The siblings were left to the record store when their owner had to give them up due to the rigors of chemotherapy. Scuzzball has been described by customers as “huge.” Both cats prefer to sleep all day, and are friendliest when the store staff arrives in the morning. After that, they take it easy. Bleecker Street Records is no longer on Bleecker Street, but has moved to 188 West 4th St. between Jones and Barrow in the West Village. Photographs by Freddie Moore

4. Fred the Undercover Cat

Fred was a Brooklyn stray before he helped investigators bust a college student posing as a veterinarian in 2005. Robert Reid had suspicions about Steven Vassall when the fake vet treated his dog, so he contacted the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. Assistant DA Carol Moran took Fred from Animal Control and deputized him for an investigation. When Vassall agreed to neuter Fred for $135, he was promptly arrested. Fred became a media sensation for his part in the sting operation.

5. Tizer the Constable

In 2007, the British Transport Police adopted a cat named Tizer and made him an honorary constable. “Chief Mouser Pc Tizer” was stationed at King's Cross rail station and worked hard to ensure a mouse-free train experience for riders. In addition to saving the force money in extermination fees, he was also a stress-reducer for the staff. Tizer was already 13 years old when he was adopted and put to work. After two years of service, he retired to a private home, where he died in 2009.

6. Zaireeka the Record Store Cat

Zaireeka lived and worked at Permanent Records in Chicago for at least six years. She became a local celebrity among those who browsed the music selection. Zaireeka passed away last year shortly after moving to Permanent Records' Eagle Rock, California, location. Photograph by Flickr user Sharyn Morrow

7. Tama the Stationmaster

Tama, a Japanese calico cat, is credited with saving the Wakayama Electric Railway Company of Japan from financial ruin. Wakayama was losing money, and laid off employees. Tama, who was born to a stray at the Kinokawa station, remained at her post (not that she had anywhere else to go). In January of 2007, she was named Stationmaster and the resulting publicity boosted ridership tremendously, saving Wakayama from bankruptcy. She is now the fifth-highest ranking officer in the company. Tama even has her own uniform and office! Tama has been greeting fans for years. Photograph by Wikipedia Japan member Sanpei

8. Millie the Security Guard

In the summer of 2012, a Bengal cat named Millie was hanging around the Bandai warehouse in Southampton, England. Since she was there, and the warehouse was piling up with toys for Christmas, they went ahead and made her their security guard. Millie got a uniform just her size, and spent her time checking out the stacks of boxes and wandering the warehouse floor. No mice would get past this cat!

9. Stubbs the Mayor

Stubbs has been a fixture at Nagley’s General Store in Talkneetna, Alaska, since manager Lauri Stec adopted the tailless kitten fifteen years ago. But Stubbs is more than just a store clerk. The 800 or so citizens of Talkneetna elected him mayor of the town when he was still a kitten -and have reelected him ever since. Stubbs is popular because he doesn’t raise taxes, he never gets into trouble, and he lets everyone have their say. He is also a tourist draw. Photograph from Facebook

There are plenty more cats with interesting jobs and cute pictures, so look for the second installment of this list coming soon. See also our posts on Library Cats and Bookstore Cats

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Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.406E
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Art
New Smithsonian Exhibit Explains Why Felines Were the Cat's Meow in Ancient Egypt
Original image
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.406E

From bi-coastal cat cafes to celebrity pets like Lil Bub, felines are currently enjoying a peak moment in popular culture. That’s part of the reason why curators at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery—which will re-open to visitors on Saturday, October 14, following a 3-month closure—decided to dedicate a new exhibition to ancient Egypt’s relationship with the animals.

Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt” looks at the cultural and religious importance of cats, which the Egyptians appreciated long before YouTube was a thing and #caturday was a hashtag. It's based on a traveling exhibition that began at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. On view until January 15, 2018, it's one of several exhibits that will kick off the grand reopening of the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries, the conjoined national museums of Asian and Middle Eastern Art.

The Freer has been closed since January 2016 for major renovations, and the Sackler since July 2016 for minor ones. The upgraded institutions will make their public debut on October 14, and be feted by a free two-day festival on the National Mall.

Featuring 80 artworks and relics, ranging from figurines of leonine deities to the tiny coffins of beloved pets, "Divine Felines" even has a cat mummy on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. These objects span from the Middle Kingdom (2008 to 1630 BCE) to the Byzantine period (395 to 642 CE).

An ancient Egyptian metal weight shaped like a cat, dating back to 305 to 30 BCE, on view at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Weight in Form of a Cat, 305 to 30 BCE, Bronze, silver, lead
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

The term “cat” is used loosely, as the Egyptians celebrated domestic mousers and fearsome predators alike.

“The Egyptians were close observers of nature, so they were observing cat behaviors,” Antonietta Catanzariti, the exhibition's in-house curator, tells Mental Floss. “They noticed that cats and lions— in general, felines—have aggressive and protective aspects, so they associated those attributes to deities.”

The ancient Egyptians viewed their gods as humans, animals, or mixed forms. Several of these pantheon members were both associated with and depicted as cats, including Bastet, the goddess of motherhood, fertility, and protection; and Sakhmet, the goddess of war and—when appeased—healing. She typically has a lion head, but in some myths she appears as a pacified cat.

A limestone sculptor's model of a walking lion, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Sculptor's Model of a Walking Lion, ca. 664 to 630 BCE, limestone
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 33.190

While Bastet was a nurturer, Sakhmet—whose name means “The Powerful One”—could use her mighty force to either slay or safeguard humanity. These characterizations are typical of the ancient Egyptian worldview, which perceived the universe in dualistic terms. “There’s always a positive and a negative,” Catanzariti explains.

Contrary to popular belief, however, ancient Egyptians did not view cats themselves as gods. “The goddess Sakhmet does have the features as a lion, or in some cases as a cat, but that doesn’t mean that the Egyptians were worshipping cats or lions,” Catanzariti says. Instead, they were simply noting and admiring her feline traits. This practice, to an extent, also extended to royalty. Kings were associated with lions and other large cats, as they were the powerful protectors of ancient Egypt’s borders.

These myriad associations prompted Egyptians to adorn palaces, temples, protective amulets, ceremonial vessels, and accessories with cat images. Depending on their context, these renderings symbolized everything from protection and power to beauty and sexuality. A king’s throne might have a lion-shaped support, for example, whereas a woman’s cosmetics case might be emblazoned with a cat-headed female goddess of motherhood and fertility.

An ancient Egyptian figurine of a standing lion-headed goddess, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Figurine of a Standing Lion-Headed Goddess, 664 to 630 BCE, Faience
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.943E

While cats were linked with heavenly figures and kings, they were also popular domestic pets. Their ability to catch vermin made them an important addition to households, and owners loved and anthropomorphized their pets just like we do today.

Egyptians often named, or nicknamed, their children after animals; Miit (cat) was a popular moniker for girls. It's said that entire households shaved their eyebrows in mourning if a house cat died a natural death. Some also believe that cats received special legal protection. (Not all cats were this lucky, however, as some temples bred kittens specifically to offer their mummified forms to the gods.) If a favorite cat died, the Egyptians would bury them in special decorated coffins, containers, and boxes. King Tutankhamen, for example, had a stone sarcophagus constructed just for his pet feline.

An ancient Egyptian bronze cat head adorned with gold jewelry, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Cat's Head, 30 BCE. to third century CE, bronze, gold
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

“Divine Felines” breaks down these facts, and more, into five thematic sections, including “Cats and Kings"; “Cats and Gods”; “Cats and Death”; “Cats and Protection”; and “Dogs as Guardians and Hunters.” Yes, there’s also an exhibition section for dog lovers—“a small one,” Catanzariti laughs, that explains why canines were associated with figures like Anubis, the jackal-headed god of mummification and the afterlife.

Did the ancient Egyptians prefer cats to dogs? “I would say that both of them had different roles,” Catanzariti says, as dogs were valued as hunters, scavengers, and guards. “They were appreciated in different ways for their ability to protect or be useful for the Egyptian culture.” In this way, "Divine Felines" is targeted to ailurophiles and canophiliacs alike, even if it's packaged with pointed ears and whiskers.

An ancient Egyptian cat coffin, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Coffin for a Cat, 664 to 332 BCE, or later, Wood, gesso, paint, animal remains
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1944Ea-b
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Animals
Here's the First-Ever Video of Sand Cat Kittens Playing in the Wild

Sand cats are as elusive as they are adorable. Native to the isolated deserts of Asia and Africa, the nocturnal felines are adapted to desert life, and can go for long periods without water. They’re stealthy predators of venomous snakes and small rodents, and escape detection thanks to their pale sandy coats and furry paws, the latter of which make their tracks nearly invisible. These reasons, among others, are why sand kittens have never been captured on video—until now.

As The Independent reports, researchers from Panthera France, a wild cat conservation group, recently found and filmed three sand cat kittens in Morocco. Thought to be around two months old, they were hiding among vegetation as they waited for their mother to return.

Led by biologists Alexander Sliwa and Grégory Breton, the managing director of Panthera France, the researchers first embarked on their quest to locate and study the wild cat in 2013. Over the course of multiple expeditions, they encountered adults, but no offspring.

In April 2017, during their fifth expedition, Sliwa and Breton were heading back to camp at night when they spotted three pairs of gleaming eyes in the darkness. "They belonged to young sand cats, yellowish, small wild cats with broader faces and larger ears than domestic cats," Breton recounted on Panthera France's blog. Astonished, the scientists managed to record the kittens and identify and radio-collar their mother.

Experts think this is the first time that sand cat (Felis margarita) kittens have been documented in their African range. Until Sliwa and Breton locate even more baby cats for us to ogle, you can enjoy their video footage below.

[h/t The Independent]

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