The Tale of the Japanese Lucky Cat

The Maneki-Neko or “The Beckoning Cat” is an iconic symbol found in most Asian stores and business establishments. If you have been to an Asian shop or restaurant, you may find these ceramic or plastic figurines on cash registers, shop windows, and display shelves with its paw in the air as it continuously beckons you to come closer.

The reason many Asian shops have this cute figurine is mainly because it is said to bring fortune to your home or business. Many of these statues usually depict a calico Japanese bobtail cat holding its paw up to bring luck and happiness inside the area. However, depending on the colour and which paw it is raising, the maneki neko is said to bring either fortune, happiness, love, and good health.

What many may not be aware of is that this lucky charm is subject to several folktales from the land of the rising sun. The most popular version of which tells the legend of the Gotokuji Temple in Edo now known as Tokyo:

Legend has it that the Gotokuji Temple was once cared for by a local priest, who despite his relative poverty would often share his food with his cat.

One day, a wandering samurai who was on his way home happened to pass by the temple during a heavy downpour. The samurai, not wanting to get wet, took shelter under the temple’s nearby trees where he noticed a cat strolling around the temple grounds. The cat, raising its paw in the air beckoned the samurai to come closer to the temple. The samurai, curious at this gesture followed suit and decided to heed its direction, where a few moments after, a bolt of lightning struck the tree where the man stood only moments ago. The man then realized that if it had not been for the cat’s gesture, he too would have meet his untimely death.

Grateful for the cat, the samurai, who was also a very wealthy man, rewarded the priest and the temple with a generous amount of funding. Years later when the cat passed away, a special burial was made in honour of the “lucky cat”.

Today, the Gotokuji Temple is known as the birthplace of the lucky cat charm. Visitors who wish to visit the spectacular temple in the Setagaya Ward in Tokyo can see a small area filled with tiny maneki neko statues.

If you are curious to visit the temple where the lucky cat originated from, you’re in luck since the temple is easily accessible from central Tokyo! First, go to Shinjuku station where you will take the Odakyu line in the direction of the Hon-Atsugi. This will lead you to Gotokuji station which takes around 30 minutes. The shrine is located five to ten minutes away from the station where it is nestled away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Gotokuji Temple opens everyday from 6am to 6pm where entrance is free.

 

Cats and Halloween: The Uncanny and Unfortunate Connection

Halloween is a spooky time that’s celebrated by almost everyone around the world. It’s a time when people get to dress up as their favorite monsters, when kids go door-to-door to ask for some candies, and when everyone sits in a circle telling each other scary stories.

However, it isn’t always just fun and games during this pumpkin-filled holiday. For some, Halloween is a time when they’re viewed with negative connotations to their names. This is especially true for cats, which are often portrayed as familiars, bringers of bad omen, and more. But how exactly did cats get associated with Halloween in this manner? What exactly is the uncanny and unfortunate connection that binds Halloween and cats together?

Ancient Egyptians and Cats

Now, there are a lot of theories out there as to why cats are constantly being linked to Halloween. This one doesn’t really tie both of them together, but some say that it serves as a catalyst. Ancient Egyptians used to worship a goddess named Bastet, also called as Bast, who had a cat’s head. Bast was believed to have a nightly battle with the Serpent of Darkness (the sun’s arch-nemesis). It’s theorised that the ancient Egyptian’s association with cats may have been carried over to our current notions about Halloween and our feline friends.

Tales of Superstition

Another reason why cats are somewhat synonymous with Halloween is thanks to the stories passed down from generation to generation. Superstitions about cats (especially the black ones) have circulated for thousands of years. Going back to ancient Egypt, they were once revered and thought of as Gods, but in medieval Europe, they were labeled as diabolical, and that they brought bad luck.

Witches and Familiars

Even weirder are the stories that tie witches and cats together. Witches (Wiccans) celebrate Halloween to honor the time of the year where “the Earth goes back to sleep,” which they call Samhain. It’s the time where they commemorate those who have passed away, kind of like making it the pagan counterpart of All Soul’s Day. In Wiccan calendar, October 31st is also the midway point between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice (a time that signals the end of harvest and the beginning of winter), wherein practitioners dress up, eat Autumn-pertinent food with family and friends.

Things like dolls, needles, strange-looking cauldrons with green boiling liquids, and spell books aren’t really a thing. Black cats who happen to be familiars for witches, or in some versions wherein the witch morphs into a black cat, and casting out curses to everyone is also very much absent.

All this talk about cats and Halloween could’ve been easily chalked off as a fun, or even a cool way, to look at the holiday. Unfortunately, reports of animal abuse, reports of people avoiding cats in fear of getting bad luck, and a bunch of other things that misrepresent our feline companions have come up. Cats deserve to have a Halloween full of attention, love, and fun, not abuse and neglect. Let’s do our best to let them in on the festivity, and to make them feel happy.

Why You Should Own a Feline Companion

Why You Should Own a Feline Companion

You really can’t deny that these jellybean pawed critters can make you giggle or just simply go aww. Not only that they’re walking ball of fluff that meows or lazy little babies lying on their backs all day, they are magnificent creatures when they jump from a high shelf to the floor since they retain their poise and form. They are such interesting creatures indeed.

 

Before deciding what breed to get, you should know the perks of having a lazy furry bum around the house. This list might help you figure out why you should have cats in your life:

The purrfect sound. Cats enjoy purring, especially when they are content and happy. You usually hear them purr when they are in their comfortable position which is being a happy little ball of fur on your lap. Although it’s not always when they’re happy: they purr when they get scared or threatened like going to the vet or before a cat fight.

But they also say that purring have healing effects for humans as it actually lowers stress, strengthens bones, and decreases chances of having a heart attack! Scientific research reveal that most cat owners live longer than other people. Aside from the fact that it heals people, it also sounds comforting and loving.

Adorable cuddlers. Cats will try to cuddle with anything and everything! That’s why they make you happy when you feel down from today’s work or school. Since they are fluffy and warm, they’re the best to cuddle when it rains or simply when you just feel cold alone.

It might look like they judge you, but they actually care for you since you do provide them treats!

Strong and independent. Cats are natural predators and hunters, they are basically tough and resilient when they encounter challenges or fights. If you notice, they also fall on all fours whenever they jump from a high place. Aside from these traits, cats are actually smart since they do their business in the litterbox most of the time.

Since they basically groom themselves, they don’t really need to take baths more often. Although, a nice warm bath for them will highly be appreciated since this also calms them down. They will probably love water more if you warm their baths! You can get a pet tub for baths or you can use your own. You might even mistake them as antisocial, but they are just not as clingy as dogs.

Smaller and tidier. If you follow memes and internet gags, you will know that they are basically part liquid as they fit in boxes and any other container. They’re small as well so they less likely knock over things while exploring the house.

They are agile and graceful whenever they maneuver on tables with items on it or basically anything. But if you want to avoid scratches on your furniture, invest on a proper cat tree or cat post to satisfy their tiny claws.

Caring and loving. They are genuine and will eventually turn you as their own kin instead of an owner. They are protective creatures that will pounce on things that they believe will harm you and will definitely fight for your well-being.

You will know that they do care for you through their subtle brushing on your leg or simply licking your hand. They actually do appreciate everything you do and will be devastated when you leave them.

4 Million Dollars for CryptoKitties

4 Million Dollars for CryptoKitties

A new wave of kitties has been launched by Ethereum blockchain and it’s taking the internet by storm.

People are investing thousands of dollars in owning virtual cats called CryptoKitties.

 

CryptoKitties are collectable and breed-able digital cats. It is created by AxiomZen on October 2017 and originated at Vancouver BC.

Each cat has its own unique appearance and “cattributes” which can never be found twice in all the other cats. Hence, there is no peril in the glory of owning a certain cat, because there is only one of its kind in the game.

The beauty of buying two cats is that it can be bred to a new and unique cat that can be determined by the parents’ 256-bit genome. There are four-billion possible genetic combinations that give the breeding process the element of chance – the chance to get a kitty that has high market value.

 

How much does one cat cost?

CryptoKitties are bought via Ether. Ether is a mode of payment by clients that is necessary to operate in the distributed application platform of Ethereum. Today, 1 ether (~ETH) is equivalent to 453USD which can change within 24-hours.

On the 5th of December 2017, the Genesis cat (one of the rarest) just got sold at the highest price of ~256.9255 ETH (around 113,000 USD). Falling in 2nd as the most expensive cat sold in the market is the Gen 0 Lucky cat at ~190 ETH (around 90,000 USD). And, coming in 3rd is the BugCat that was sold for ~175 ETH (around 83,000 USD).

As of the same month, around 4 million USD has been spent in the market for buying CryptoKitties.

If you’re one to buy yourself one for the fuss of it, the cheapest cat is around ~.03 ETH (around 12 USD).

 

What the fuss about

CryptoKitties is the first ever decentralised game launched by Ethereum. And, as of December 2017,  CryptoKitties have taken 15% of traffic in the Ethereum blockchain.

The blockchain is the world’s leading software platform when it comes to digital assets. If you’ve heard of Bitcoin, it’s of the same concept as either, and both are run in the blockchain.

Analysts comment that this pioneering game may open new windows or doors in utilising the assets that move around a decentralised community. And while others speculate that’s it’s just another “Beanie Babies” project, the internet savvy people see this as an investment towards the future.

Before CryptoKitties, assets were merely trade in numbers. Now, you have intangible collectable kitties that you can buy your intangible assets. What’s next?

 

What does this mean to all the real kitties out there?

Nothing, really. CryptoKitties is likely to be another business trend for people who want to invest in virtual assets in the hope of a cashless society.

Nothing can replace our kitties at home. A virtual cat may be considered an asset of today or tomorrow, but the love, affection and experience our real kitties provide are one of the most valuable things in life that no virtual asset can buy.

 

Meow for now… Kristian

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5 Awesome Cat Breeds You’ll Want to Travel the World With in 80 Days

5 Awesome Cat Breeds You’ll Want to Travel the World With in 80 Days

They say that the dog is a man’s best friend. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Matthew Flinders.

Matthew Flinders is a cartographer and navigator who literally put Australia on the map with the help of his buddy Trim the cat.

As a small kitten, Trim fell overboard but managed to scramble back up on the ropes. This display of bravery wooed Flinders and the crew and is the reason why he quickly became the ship’s favourite. From then on, he became Captain Flinders’ companion and best friend. And, together they made other discoveries across the high seas.

Traveling around the world is undeniably exciting, so much more when it is done with a friend or even your beloved pet. Like Matthew Flinders, you can now make that dream come true with these breeds of kitties.

 

  1. The Japanese Bobtail

If you’re a lone traveller who wants cuddly company, you’d definitely like a breed like the Japanese Bobtails. They emit confidence and intelligence like no other which makes them easy to train. They’re also known for their chattiness through their chirps and soft meows. Think Dr Seuss’ curious and talkative Cat in a Hat, but with meows.

 

  1. Chantilly

A busy bee like yourself would probably want a breed like the Chantilly to travel with. They’re calm and easy-natured which makes them good travel buddies. If you love going to the great outdoors, you’ll be happy to know that these cats are resilient and low maintenance.

 

  1. Scottish Fold

The Scottish Folds are fondly called “owls in a catsuit” because of their folded ears. They are laid back, sweet-tempered and affectionate by nature. They also enjoy napping on your lap or flopping on their backs as they sleep. You can travel to a lot of continents with this breed of kitty as they easily adapt to new environments.

 

  1. Pixie-Bob

If you’ve got a huge family with a lot of children, consider Pixie-Bobs. They may look like wildcats but they are very family-oriented. They tend to develop an unusually strong bond with the family they live in, especially with the kids. They’re known to be most patient of all cats when it comes to dealing with the children. Pixie-Bobs love to travel and are very easy to train.

 

  1. The Chartreux

If you love travelling just as much as you love huge pets, the Chartreux are “gentle giants” you want to keep. The Chartreux has woolly fur with a blue fur similar to the Russian blue. This breed of kitty happens to be super sweet to their owners and enjoys a lot of travelling. They’re at ease around children and other pets which makes them a good travelling companion.

Today, statues of Captain Flinders with his buddy Trim stand in Port Lincoln as a tribute to their gallantry and the discoveries they made over the years.

Could you be the next globetrotter about to make an exciting discovery with your cat buddy?

 

Meow for now… Kristian

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Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Cat

Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Cat

Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Cat

 

Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Cat

Cats can enjoy Christmas, too. And, as cats are considered to be part of the family, it makes sense to make them part of the festivities. Giving your cat a Christmas gift (and letting them tear open the wrapping paper themselves) is a wonderful idea. Below are four Christmas gift ideas for your cat that will ensure that they enjoy a happy holiday.

A catnip toy.

Cats go wild for catnip, so purchasing them anything with catnip in is sure to make them feel happy. There are plenty of catnip toys available in pet stores, but another alternative is to make one yourself. You can purchase little packages of catnip at the pet store, and then knit or sew them a toy, incorporating the catnip into the stuffing.

A new scratching post.

Give them something to exercise those claws on in the new year! A nice new scratching post is sure to look pretty alluring to your cat, and it will also be a great stress reliever for them if you have got lots of relatives coming over to visit during the Christmas season. If your cat needs a little encouragement to use their scratching post, simply rub a little catnip over it and they should get going with it right away.

A cat tower.

A cat tower is a kind of cat gym, but it also a place just to hang out and chill. It is especially great for indoor cats who need to get their exercise from playing around inside your house or apartment. With a cat tower, they can climb, balance, hide and scratch to their heart’s content. There are plenty of different cat towers on the market, so you are sure to have no trouble finding one that your kitty will love. There are also cat towers that are designed to be used by multiple cats at once which of course is perfect if you share your home with several feline companions.

A laser pen.

Obviously not to write with – unless your cat is really clever! A cat safe laser pen will provide you and your cat with hours of fun. Cats love tearing around and chasing that little dot of light from the laser and you can really give them a great workout session as you sit there controlling it from the comfort of your couch. The crucial thing here, though, is to get a pen that is cat safe – if in doubt, ask your vet or ask at the pet store. You want to get a laser that will not damage the cat’s eyes but instead will provide you both with hours of harmless fun.

Which gifts will you choose for your cat?

So there you have it, four festive ideas to get your kitty in to the holiday spirit. Which item will you choose? A cat tower or a catnip toy? A laser pen or a new scratching post? There are plenty of other things to purchase the feline who has it all, however, including new bowls, cat treats and a soft new bed.

 

Meow for now… Kristian

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