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Paul Ashwin
Paul Ashwin

11 Cat Monuments

Paul Ashwin
Paul Ashwin

In my backyard, there’s a fairly large concrete slab, painted blue with the word “Biscuit” lovingly written in gold paint. I have to move that heavy rock twice every time I mow, but it means a lot to a young girl who buried her cat underneath. My daughter’s memorial to a beloved pet isn’t out of the ordinary. There are monuments to cats all over the world. Here are a few you can visit yourself.

1. Towser

Photograph by Paul Ashwin.

Towser worked at Glenturret Distillery near Crieff, Scotland her entire life, from 1963 to 1987. In those 24 years, she caught 28,899 mice! At least that’s the number recorded on the monument to her that you can see at the visitor’s center at the distillery. Towser was recognized as the World’s Greatest Mouser by the Guinness Book of World Records. That’s an average of three mice every day for her entire life!

2. Hamish McHamish

Photograph by DC Thomson.

The town of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, erected a bronze statue in honor of the town’s favorite cat earlier this year. And the cat is still alive. And he’s not even known for a specific heroic deed. But Hamish McHamish is a star among St Andrews' residents. The bronze statue of Hamish was created by Kilmany-based sculptor David Annand and Fife stonemason Colin Sweeney. The £5,000 cost was funded by donations. The unveiling ceremony was a big affair

After students Hannah Holmes and Rosie Hanlon from St Andrews Opera had serenaded the assembled crowd with Rossini’s humorous duet for two cats, Hamish’s owner Marianne Baird said it all seemed a bit surreal.

She said: “I can’t really get over it. All I did was get a kitten."

Hamish is a wandering cat, and over the years has made himself at home at many local businesses and the University of St Andrews. People who travel to St Andrews often ask to meet Hamish. You can see pictures of Hamish at his Facebook page.

3. Mrs. Chippy

Photograph by Flickr user History Group.

Mrs. Chippy was a ship’s cat on the Endurance during Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to Antartica in 1914-1917. He (despite the name, the cat was male) belonged to expedition carpenter Harry McNeish. After the ship became trapped in ice, Mrs. Chippy, along with the sled dogs, was shot. McNeish never forgave Shackleton for the decision to shoot his cat, and was later denied the Polar Medal the rest of the crew received due to Shackleton’s perception of his insubordination. Almost 100 years later, the New Zealand Antarctic Society commissioned a bronze statue of Mrs. Chippy and had it added atop Harry McNeish’s grave in Wellington, New Zealand. 

4. Hodge

Photograph by Jim Linwood.

Samuel Johnson published A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755, the most famous of his many writings. During that time, he was kept company by his cat Hodge. Johnson doted over the cat, and bought him fresh oysters. In 1997, a bronze statue of Hodge was erected outside Johnson’s house in Gough Square, London. It was designed by sculptor Jon Bickley and consists of Hodge, Johnson’s dictionary, and some empty oyster shells. The inscription quotes Johnson: "a very fine cat indeed."

5. Trim

Photograph by PanBK.

Matthew Flinders led the first expedition to sail all the way around Australia. On his journeys he was accompanied by his cat Trim. Trim was born aboard the HMS Reliance in 1799. He showed his spunk as a kitten when he fell overboard and made his way back by climbing a ship’s rope. Trim sailed with Flinders around the continent on the HMS Investigator and survived the shipwreck of the Porpoise. The cat even accompanied Flinders to jail when he was imprisoned in Mauritius, but disappeared during his sentence. A bronze statue of Trim by sculptor John Cornwell was installed at the Mitchell Library in Sydney in 1996. It is accompanied by a plaque reading:

TO THE MEMORY OF
TRIM
The best and most illustrious of his race
The most affectionate of friends,
faithful of servants,
and best of creatures
He made the tour of the globe, and a voyage to Australia,
which he circumnavigated, and was ever the
delight and pleasure of his fellow voyagers
Written by Matthew Flinders in memory of his cat
Memorial donated by the North Shore Historical Society

6. Homeless Cats

German sculptor Siegfried Neuenhausen designed this 1981 monument to homeless cats in Braunschweig, Germany.

7. Totti

This is a memorial to Totti, a cat belonging to Finnish poet Edith Södergran, who was a famous cat enthusiast. Designed by the Finnish sculptor Nina Terno, the monument is open to the public in Ozero Roshino, Russia, where Södergran and her cat spent their summers.

8. Gotoku-ji Temple

Photograph from For 91 Days.

At the Gotoku-ji temple in Tokyo, Japan, there is a small shrine dedicated to Maneki Neko, the “beckoning cat” you’ve seen so many times. Maneki Neko is a pop culture icon, but it is based on the legend of a real cat named Tama. Tama lived at the temple in the 17th century. The feudal lord Naotaka Ii was caught in a rainstorm near the temple and saw Tama with her paw upraised, as if beckoning him. When he went to the cat, the spot where he had been standing was struck by lightning! Because Tama had saved his life, Naotaka Ii gave money to the temple and built a shrine to the feline there. Today, people bring ceramic statues of Maneki Neko to the cat shrine at Gotoku-ji temple by the hundreds. See more pictures here

9. Yelisei

The siege of Leningrad during World War II isolated the citizens of that city for two and a half years. The cats of the city were eaten, which allowed the rat population to soar and destroy what little food there was. To combat the problem, cats were brought in from surrounding villages and they soon saved the city from the rat infestation. We don’t know the story of the cat named Yelisei, but he was chosen as representative of the cats brought in to save Leningrad from rats. This monument to all those cats is on the corner of Nevsky Avenue and Malaya Sadovaya in St. Petersburg, the original name of Leningrad, which was restored after the Soviet era.

10. The Experimental Cat

Another cat monument in St. Petersburg stands in the courtyard of the main building of St. Petersburg State University. It is the monument to experimental cats, in honor of cats who were used in scientific research at the university

11. Tashirojima Cat Shrine

Tashirojima is a Japanese island that has around 100 people and many times that number of cats. Commonly known as “Cat Island,” it was once known for its silk. Those who raised silkworms liked to keep cats around to guard against the mice that threatened the worms. As the cat population grew, silkworm farmers and fishermen both began to observe the cats and use their behavior to predict weather. Feeding and petting the cats was supposed to bring luck. In the middle of the island is a shrine called Neko-jinja (猫神社), which means “cat shrine.” The story goes that a fisherman accidentally dropped a rock on a cat and killed it. He was so remorseful that he buried the cat and built a shrine to the cat’s memory at the gravesite. There are actually many cat shrines in Japan.

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Animals
If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
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Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

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Animals
John Lennon Was a Crazy Cat Lady
Chloe Efforn
Chloe Efforn

John Lennon was crazy about cats, and though he owned a couple of dogs (Sally and Bernard) over the years, he was better known for getting by with a little help from his feline friends.

1. ELVIS

Growing up, Lennon's beloved mother, Julia, had a named cat after Elvis Presley, whom Julia and John were both crazy about. The Lennons later realized they had misnamed Elvis when "he" gave birth to a litter of kittens in the cupboard, but they didn't change the cat's name based on that small mistake.

2. AND 3. TICH AND SAM

He had two other cats as a boy growing up in Liverpool: Tich and Sam. Tich passed away while Lennon was away at art school (which he attended from 1957 to 1960), and Sam was named after famous British diarist Samuel Pepys

4. TIM

One day, John Lennon found a stray cat in the snow, which his Aunt Mimi allowed him to keep. (John's Aunt Mimi raised him from a young boy through his late teenage years, and he affectionately referred to her as the Cat Woman.) He named the marmalade-colored half-Persian cat Tim.

Tim remained a special favorite of John's. Every day, he would hop on his Raleigh bicycle and ride to Mr. Smith's, the local fishmonger, where he would buy a few pieces of fish for Tim and his other cats. Even after John became famous as a Beatle, he would often call and check in on how Tim was doing. Tim lived a happy life and survived to celebrate his 20th birthday.

5. AND 6. MIMI AND BABAGHI

John and his first wife, Cynthia, had a cat named Mimi who was, of course, named after his Aunt Mimi. They soon got another cat, a tabby who they dubbed Babaghi. John and Cynthia continued acquiring more cats, eventually owning around 10 of them.

7. JESUS

As a Beatle, John had a cat named Jesus. The name was most likely John's sarcastic response to his "the Beatles are bigger than Jesus" controversy of 1966. But he wasn't the only band member with a cat named Jesus: Paul McCartney once had a trio of kittens named Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

8. AND 9. MAJOR AND MINOR

In the mid-1970s, John had an affair with his secretary, May Pang. One day, the studio receptionist brought a box of kittens into the recording studio where John and May were. "No," John immediately told May, "we can't, we're traveling too much." But she picked up one of the kittens and put it over her shoulder. Then John started stroking the kitten and decided to keep it. At the end of the day, the only other kitten left was a little white one that was so loud no one else wanted it. So they adopted it as well and named the pair Major and Minor.

10. AND 11. SALT AND PEPPER

John owned a pair of black and white cats with his wife Yoko Ono. As befitting John's offbeat sense of humor, many places report he christened the white cat Pepper and the black one Salt.

12. AND 13. GERTRUDE AND ALICE

John and Yoko also had two Russian Blue cats named Gertrude and Alice, who each met tragic ends. After a series of sicknesses, Gertrude was diagnosed with a virus that could become dangerous to their young son, Sean. John later said that he held Gertrude and wept as she was euthanized. 

Later, Alice jumped out of an open window in the Lennons' high-rise apartment at the Dakota and plunged to her death. Sean was present at the time of the accident, and he remembers it as the only time he ever saw his father cry.

14., 15. AND 16. MISHA, SASHA, AND CHARO

In later years, John also owned three cats he named Misha, Sasha, and Charo. Always an artist at heart, John loved to sketch his many cats, and he used some of these pictures as illustrations in his books.

This piece originally ran in 2012.

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