Thursday, October 17, 2019

Cinderella stamps for 1961's
National Cat Week

This is the Cinderella stamp that celebrated National Cat Week nearly 58 years ago. National Cat Week, it turns out, has been held the first full week of November since 1946. So you still have a couple of weeks to get your cat(s) a Hallmark card in time for this year's observance.

According to a 1951 article in The New Yorker, National Cat Week was established by the American Feline Society and its then-president, Robert Lothar Kendell, who was also behind 1948's Cats for Europe plan to send many thousands of cats abroad as a way to control rat populations.1 The American Humane association did not find the plan entirely copacetic. I don't believe it was ever carried out.

It seems like every single day is National Cat Week here at Essex Manor. My occupations these days, in order of priority and time consumed, are (1) journalist, (2) cat caretaker, (3) ephemera blogger. Our five cats: Huggles, the three-legged, 5½-pound treasure who is struggling with failing kidney function and dementia but still likes to have his ears scratched; Mr. Bill, who is more than three times the size of Huggles and is generally a good boy; Mr. Angelino, who squeaks a lot and thinks he's the cutest thing in the house, which is not true when he sprays; Monkey, who is the archetypal hot-headed redhead but also the best snuggler; and Titan, a man-child whose size lives up to his name but who is also mind-bogglingly incapable of defending himself against lesser threats. There are daily feuds, feedings, stand-offs, chases, hairballs, welfare checks, more feedings and litter-box cleanings. There are currently 10 medications per day to be dispensed.2 And I'm a Saturday fixture at the veterinarian's office.

And before them there was Scoop, Salem, Floyd and Mitts.

But I reckon it's all worth it for the purrs, snuggles, foot-warming and companionship. Even if they don't provide a revenue stream like Grumpy Cat or Maru. As I write this, I'm wearing a T-shirt that reads "ALL AMERICAN XXL CAT HERDING CHAMPION." Sounds right.

1. Kendell was a fierce defender of the joy of cats during the 1950s and 1960s, when cats were far more despised and disparaged than they are today. But he did have one clunker of an opinion. In 1964, he is reported to have said that outdoor cats pose no menace to birds: "This is nonsense. I love birds myself and I can say beyond any question that only a sick bird could possibly be slow enough to get caught by a cat. Certainly cats don't particularly relish birds as food. There are any number of things they'd much rather eat." It was estimated in 2015 that cats kill 2.6 billion birds per year in the United States and Canada. Please keep your pet cats indoors!
2. After typing that sentence, I had to interrupt writing this post in order to take care of Huggles, who was crying for food from the bathroom suite he now occupies because of the incontinence caused by his kidney issues. He is an "endearing" combination of always being hungry and also being a super-picky eater, which means must offer dishes to him a ridiculous number of times per day in order to help him not fall under 5½ pounds.

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