Happy New Year. . .

September 15, 2023 • 12:45 pm

Now I know why cops and army are all over Jerusalem.  First, there was a bomb explosion in a Tel Aviv Park, and later Israeli security caught three Palestinians planning a serious bomb attack, but thwarted them (they could have been responsible for the first explosion). The terrorists love to attack during Jewish holidays.


Hostile forces were gathering at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, as violent riots were anticipated later on Friday, with Palestinian terror groups releasing images of several improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Palestinian reports indicated that incendiary balloons were being launched, for the first time in two years, and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were firing crowd dispersal shots.

Gaza and the West Bank have been closed (except for humanitarian exceptions) over the three-day holiday, and every synagogue in Jerusalem is to have an armd guard.

Shana tova! (That’s the traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting. Ten to one there will be at least one terror attack when I’m asleep tonight.

It’s one thing to read about it in the U.S., but another to see the climate of fear and defense pervading this country. All because of a holiday!

Maher on Halloween costumes

October 30, 2022 • 1:30 pm

Reader Divy sent me this nine-minute clip from Bill Maher’s latest “Real Time” show. The YouTube notes say this:

Halloween is supposed to be outrageous, yet every year there’s a new list of offensive things we shouldn’t do.

Maher takes on the “offensive costume lists” that proliferate at this time of year, including Jeffrey Dahmer costumes, Queen Elizabeth costumes, Elvis costumes (he was accused of pedophilia), no Handmaid’s Tale costumes (too timely), no zombie costumes of dead celebrities, no hobos (homeless people), no cross-dressing as the other sex, no Putin costumes, no Trump costumes, no costumes related to covid or vaccines. There goes all the fun!

At the end, Maher puts on his own choice of costume: the “uber-Woke, overly anxious, perpetually offended twenty-something” outfit.  It’s a good one, but watch for yourself.

Here’s one of the lists that Maher mocks, from BuzzFeed (click to see which costumes are verboten):

Here’s one you shouldn’t wear. WHY NOT?

And another. Why can’t you be a cop? Because, of course, ACAB!

Black Cat Appreciation Day

August 17, 2022 • 1:45 pm

As I announced yesterday, today is Black Cat Appreciation Day. Readers were invited to send in photos of their black cats, and here they are, complete with captions (indented).  Note that in 2015 I had a similar request to celebrate Halloween, and got 72 photos, which you can see here.

From Keira: her late beloved cat Plushie:

Here is her as felis aqua binlidis – she loved sitting in the upturned lids of the water bins. Plushie was such a rare cat; I still miss her terribly.

From Reese:

Woodford Reserve White (his litter was named after bourbons) assists with the NYT Spelling Bee.

From Mark Kautzmann:

For Black Cat Appreciation Day, here’s this:

Noodles never did understand that the printer on my computer does not make a copy of her.

From Laurie and Gethyn:

The sisters: Alcestis Jerry (named for her noted uncle JAC) and Octavia Sadie.

From James:

This is Mia, a Bombay rescue I’ve had for just over a year. She’s a bundle of energy and wants to play all the time, much to my discomfiture.  I even have to remind her to eat.

“What’s that smell?”

From Beth:

Hillary Rotten Kitten (DemoCAT) thinks of herself as the dark load. (She’s all black but sports lighter fur for a while after a shave.)

From Reese:

Woodford (black cat): Has an affectionate relationship with an 80 lb. d*g.

From Erik, an unnamed rescue cat (Erik calls it “Porch Panther”). Erik sent several photos, but I’ll post only one.

The background. I guess this is my black cat now, as he is now living on my porch and his previous people– not owners, as he is rather feral– left him when they moved. I understand why, as taking a feral cat from the northeast down to Florida is probably not best for the cat, but I ended up being his caretaker as no other arrangement was made.He really is a handsome boy, though he also has a persistent upper respiratory infection, so he has constant sneezing and discharge.He has become comfortable enough to lay on the chair near me. His sense of betrayal only lasted a day or so after the vet.

In the cool grass in back, where you can see the one white spot he has:

From Irene:

Here is a picture of my black cat, Londo.My husband was actually on his way to feed our friend’s dogs when he nearly hit Londo as Londo was crossing the road. He picked up Londo, who fit in the palm of my hand, and brought him home. His eyes were covered in goo, which was conjunctivitis. We believed he was probably abandoned either by his mom or another human and accepted we might have a blind cat joining our family. We took Londo to the vet, who cleaned his eyes and gave us some eye drops. The vet estimated he was six to eight weeks old. He’s now four years old. Londo joined our house, which already had one black cat, a flame-point Siamese and a blue-point Siamese. Londo loves to play fetch and follows me everywhere around the house. If we cook bacon, he always steals a slice to eat for himself. He will only sit on my husband’s lap and hates blankets. We suspect this is because I had him wrapped in a blanket to hold him while we gave him his eye drops.

Andrée sends us a photo of the late Zorro:

He’s no longer with us but led an exciting life: mouser (there is a mouse in the thatch), Vermont tree panther, and philosopher.

From Nama:

Attached is a pic of Alice the majestic.

From Jacques:

Well, here is Domino, who doesn’t answer his name, but does along with either “Monsieur chat” or, more frequently “Couillon” (because he was deprived of this important part of his anatomy in his early youth). 17 years old, but still in good shape. I do not know why, where and how he lost his upper right canine. iPhone photo taken by my daughter.

From Susannah:

We love black cats.  This is Mason; he is 7 years old and joined our family 5 years ago.  He is a character and loves playing with the boys, stealing legos and puzzle pieces.  And he also likes to give himself NSFW baths while Jake is on a zoom meeting.

From JC in Taos, New Mexico:

Per your request,  an image of Pilgrim, our beefiest moggy. While not uniformly black, he was a representative of the shelter’s “Black Cat Discount” program in 2010, arriving at our house the day before Thanksgiving in this white-trimmed garb,  hence his name. We had no idea he’d get so large and obstreperous.

Hope the white trim doesn’t disqualify him.

From Don:

Sheba, petite and playful, was a fine cat, shy of strangers but always content with her long life indoors, even in rural Vermont.  She was a shoulder cat, preferring to recline draped across a shoulder rather than to be cradled or curled in a lap.
Happy Black Cat Day!  (Also, as it happens, my birthday).

From Stephen:

She is called Moonlight. I know it doesn’t make sense, but my daughter Charlotte liked the name, associated with a white cat in a children’s story.

From Alister:

Our much loved black boy, Toby, age 4yo.  He’s awesome, strolls around like a total dude. A miniture black panther.

From Ursula we have black cat Boris. I allowed two photos because we have him as a kitten and an adult:

From David:

Jasper.  He used to live in Toronto, but has now retired to Nova Scotia.

From a reader who posts as “Quadrival”:

This is my cat George, reclining in his usual elegant posture.

From Tanya:

The attached photo is of our beloved little black kitty, Fledermaus, which means ‘bat’ in German. He was named by our 12-year-old daughter, who takes German in school, and appreciated his resemblance to the caricature of the flying mammal. Fledermaus is a delightfully playful and curious boy, unhampered by his knobby, kinked tail (present at adoption). He’s known for jumping at moving objects on the TV, climbing our window screens, and leaving us dead rodent gifts when he has the chance.

From Elizabeth:

This is Samantha. Photo is from 1998. It’s the only one I have.

From Stephen:

Here is a photo of my black cat Pepper.

From Bruce:

Per your request, here’s a photo, taken in 2020, of three Burmese cats.  Left to right – the late Java Cat (she left us about six months after this was taken), Rommel, and Mothra.

From Jeffrey:

Here’s my favorite animal in the world, Binx!

From Jeremy:

 In honor of black cat appreciation day, I have included pictures of our two black cats, Bella and Baloo. Baloo is sitting in a halloween candy bowl, while Bella is lying nervously on the couch.

From Ruth:

In response to your request for black cat photos, please meet Lizzie. She came to us on Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee ten years ago, so she is named after her. Like all black cats she is also, of course, immensely regal in her own right. She lives in Glossop in the Peak District in England, with her two humans, her brother Pip (named for the late Prince Philip), and three other female cats. She is a lovely softie to us but is an Old Meanie to the other girls, and sulks for exactly nine months when a new cat is introduced to the household.

From reader James in the UK:

This is our cat Hixxy (and his brother Dougal). He is a rescue cat and we appreciate him very much.
A few weeks ago, out of the blue, he started having seizures. Turns out he has a very large brain tumour on the right side of his brain. So large, it is apparently squeezing his brain down and out of his neck. He’s been in surgery today and just an hour ago we heard from the surgeon saying she was very pleased about how the surgery went, as she managed to get the whole tumour out and there was no bleeding at all. We’re now waiting for him to come around. Fingers crossed he pulls through. Relatedly, medical science and its practitioners are fuxxing awesome.

Good luck, Hixxy!

From Lance:

Here is C.K. Dexter Haven (Dexter), our current, lone rescue kitty who has taken charge of the house. Did you know it’s tough to get a good picture of a black cat?

From Heather:

Here is Shadow. She loves her heated bed even in the summer.

From Mike:

Bugsy is a feral cat who adopted our dog (she ate his food and slept with him). She eats bugs and this influenced her name. She likes to pet people by rubbing your legs. Her favorite holiday is Halloween and she greets Trick or Tweeters indiscriminately.

From Paul:

This is Apollo.   He is a 7 year-old rescue cat who is very friendly and gets along great with our greyhound.

From Rachel:

Thank you for the reminder/extension, Professor Ceiling Cat! I’m attaching a photo of my Lloyd. This is from Halloween a couple of years ago. Lloyd is 15, but still spry. He loves treats, snuggles, and interrupting Zoom meetings.

From Erin:

This is Friday. He was adopted on the day after Thanksgiving and is a bundle of mischief, as you can see here.

From Greg:

This is Chester settling in for his first nap of the day right after breakfast #1.

From Charles:

The black cat (Spot) and his brother, the dark tabby (Timmy), with the polydactyl newcomer (Paws).

From Douglas:

Jasper, the black cat.

From Merilee:

Freddy accompanied by a tiny bit of pooch tush

From biologist John Losos, a photo of his sister’s black cat, Allie:

From Rik:

This is my Mom’s cat Bella, and she lives in St. Germain, Wisconsin. She must be seven or eight years old by now and she’s always been a mellow little cat. I’m looking forward to visiting her. next week!

From Mike:

Ma’ii is not really black, he has a small white spot on his shoulder and random white hairs elsewhere. He has lost those three white whiskers since this picture was taken. He and his fellow terrorist rule the house of course.

From Peter:

Can a tuxedo cat be an honorary honoree on Black Cat Appreciation Day? This is dear, departed Augustus (Gus to his friends) (1999-2017), who was my loyal companion and best friend, and who has been seen on these pages.

From “J”:

Her name is Pumpkin, and she is among her fellow pumpkins.  She enjoys eating, sleeping, playing, and waking me up at the buttcrack of dawn.

From Joe:

Here is my granddaughter’s black cat, inexplicably named “Ginger”.  Her favorite toys are plastic soda straws.

From Suzanna:

This is my son’s cat, Lance. Adopted as a kitten from a shelter, now about 3 years old but still likes to hang out in places he used to fit as a kitten!

From Janis:

OTHELLO:  Nearly 12 years old now…and 24 lbs of affectionate laziness.  He’s part-Siamese and smart as a whip.  He’s our best cat. (Shhhhhh….don’t tell the others I said that!)

From Lou:

My cat is Martin Brisby (from the “Secret Of NIMH”), his friend is Ricky, who he pays no attention to. Happy Black Cat Day!

From Stephanie, we have Lulu:

I have a cat who is mostly black.  Don’t know if she counts but she does to me!

From Patrick:

This has a messy background, but it’s still one of my favorite pictures of Kiki, who crossed the rainbow bridge last year at the age of 19.

From Kira:

Cat Gitel and her henchdog in Chaos Corridor

From John:

The photo is of “Babs”. She is my daughter’s cat. This photo shows off the typical deep yellow eyes of black cats, which is due to the excess of melanin pigment, which also accounts for the blackness of their fur. I’m sure there is some interesting genetics here, but I just haven’t looked it up.

From Sebastian:

Hope it’s not too late to send in my Perseus. I’ve included a couple different shots to choose from.

I chose one in which Perseus was wearing cat earmuffs.

From Jon:

This is my Lucy, pensive. She very nearly almost entirely black!

From Linda:

The first picture of Billy and Jose is as young adults, and the second is from shortly after we got them, at about ten weeks old.

From Arantxa:

I attach one photo of my dearest black cat named TIZÓN.

From Rico:

This is Clark. He’s 9 yrs old and the youngest of three cats here at home.

From Ginger:

Attached are some photos of my late, beloved twin girls Lucy and Daphne. They were littermates. I rescued them from death row at my local pound in 2002 along with a tuxedo long-hair, Timmy. I hope you can use a few pics.
Daphne died on August 31, 2017, at age 15, probably from thyroid disease. She was a tiny, shy, sneaky little girl, but very sweet and affectionate with a very loud, deep purr. She liked to sit in her carrier.
Lucy died on May 4, 2019, from lymphoma at age 17. A chonker, Lucy was the sweetest, gentlest, most affectionate kitteh EVAH! She was a people kitteh who loved belly rubs and sitting on laps. For some reason, she liked to sit on my bad and face the wall.
Sometimes I had difficulty telling the girls apart. They were very close sisters and spent a lot of time together. I miss them very much.

Little Daphne:

Little Lucy:

And the last submission, from Ricky:

This is Butters from Portland, OR.  She just turned 11 and is extremely vocal. She is an indoor cat but loves to hang out in the backyard most of the day when the weather’s nice.

The deadline for submission has passed. Thanks to all the readers who submitted their Midnight Moggies, and here’s a final tweet from Matthew:

Tish Harrison Warren thinks it’s critically important that Jesus DID rise bodily from the dead

April 17, 2022 • 1:00 pm

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

—1 Corinthians 15:14 (King James version)

The quote above is one I use in Faith Versus Fact to help demonstrate that truth does matter to many believers—that factual claims of religion are often vitally important to sustaining the faith. If it were all just a made-up story, or a long metaphor, people wouldn’t be nearly as religious.  And this holds for many faiths. If John Frum didn’t exist, and his followers knew it, there wouldn’t be cargo cults.

This point is demonstrated by Anglican priest Tish Harrison Warren’s new Easter column in the NYT. In fact, she takes the exact opposite stand of Tim DeRoche described in my previous post. DeRoche argued that there’s no compelling evidence that Jesus was resurrected, but it didn’t matter anyway. In contrast, as you can tell from Warren’s title, it’s crucial for Christians to believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected. Such are the conundrums in a world where science is increasingly putting the lie to religious claims.

Click to read:

Warren uses two poems to argue for the importance of Jesus’s bodily resurrection: Updike’s “Seven Stanzas at Easter” and Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “The Wreck of the Deutschland.” The first argues that the Resurrection really happened; the second that its truth transforms the world, offering the possibility of redemption.  And Hopkins tells us why the first is so vital for Harrison: for if Christ be not risen, then is Harrison’s preaching vain, and her faith is also vain. That is, the resurrection has to be true because if it isn’t, Harrison is wasting her life, as are the many Christians, who like her (and unlike DeRoche) depend on the literality of the Crucifixion/Resurrection tale.

Now I’m not being completely fair to Warren. She has one other reason why she thinks the Resurrection happened:

I believe, in part, because I doubt my doubts and I doubt my doubt about my doubts. I can keep going. Round and round, round and round.

But at the end of the day, there’s this unflinching claim to reality: an empty tomb, as Updike says, a stone rolled back, “not papier-mâché, not a stone in a story.” And I, like every person who encounters this claim, have to decide if Jesus’ earliest followers died for something they knew to be a lie.

The first sentence is pilpul: you don’t believe something because you doubt it and then don’t doubt it and go back and forth. That proves nothing.

But what about the second argument? After all, people wouldn’t die for something if it wasn’t true, would they? But of course Jesus’s followers could have died even if he hadn’t been Resurrected. They could have died simply because he was a charismatic leader with a message they fervently believed in. After all, Jim Jones, who was not resurrected, persuaded over 900 people to die in Jonestown.  Further, what about all those Christians who died and never saw the Resurrection, or all those Muslims or Hindus or Jews who died without believing in a Resurrection? To say that if people die for a belief then that belief must be true is the height of self-deception. And that’s all the evidence that Harrison has.

Here Harrison is accepting one of the many bogus arguments apologists make for the truth of the Resurrection story (another is that it was reported by women, and people wouldn’t believe women back then if they weren’t speaking the truth). Here’s evidence that a main reason for her self-forced belief is because it offers her what she wants:

Jesus promises a future when everything is made new. But the only real evidence that that is any more than wishful thinking is rooted in history, as solid as a stone rolled away. The Resurrection happening in truth, in real time, is the only evidence that that love in fact outlasts the grave, that what is broken can be mended, and that death and pain do not have the final word.

Not everything will be redeemed in our lifetime but, even now, we see newness breaking in, we see glimpses of the healing to come. We believe that, because “He is risen indeed,” we can know God and our lives can participate in the life of God, that our own biographies and mundane days collide with eternity.

If Jesus defeated death one morning in Jerusalem, then suddenly every revitalization, every new birth, every repaired relationship, every ascent from despair, every joy after grief, every recovery from addiction, every coral reef regeneration, every achievement of justice, every rediscovery of beauty, every miracle, every found hope becomes a sign of what Jesus did in history and of a promised future where all things will be made new.

I don’t see any “glimpses of the healing to come”. Do you?

In other words, If Christ be not risen, then is her preaching vain, and her faith is also vain. To make a syllogism again (I’m not good at that!), because Harrison knows that her preaching and faith are not in vain, yet they would be in vain if Christ hadn’t risen, then he must have risen.  This is what’s known as confirmation bias.

Of course the Passover story is equally bogus, and I’ll criticize that, too—when the NYT starts presenting it as if it were fact.

Peter Nothnagle’s take on the Nativity

December 25, 2021 • 12:30 pm

Occasionally reader Peter Nothnagle has contributed skeptical commentaries on Christianity to this site, for example here, here, and here. And, on the day that Jesus supposedly made his exeunt from Mary, Peter has written me once again. I’m delighted to present his take on the Nativity.

First, his email:

I was writing to one of my prison pen-pals this morning. He had somewhat sarcastically suggested that the gifts of the Three Wise Men were impractical — for a young family with a newborn and living in a stable, diapers and baby formula would have been more welcome than frankincense and myrrh. In my reply I explained that the gifts, and indeed the whole Nativity story, was symbolic — because that’s the sort of correspondence we carry on.

Then I was compelled by the laws of physics to write that up a bit more formally, and I pass it on to you because you have enjoyed some of my other essays.

Without further ado:

On the Nativity

Peter Nothnagle, December 24, 2021

Here’s what you need to know about the birth of Jesus, celebrated, for various reasons, on December 25 of the modern calendar.

The capital-N Nativity is described in two of the four canonical gospels – written down perhaps a century or more after the events they describe. All other documentation and commentary is based on these two accounts. It’s noteworthy that the earliest gospel, the one attributed to Mark, doesn’t suggest there was anything at all remarkable about Jesus’ birth; and the still earlier (i.e., closer to any historical events) letters of the apostle Paul don’t even say that Jesus was “born” in the first place – the verb he uses translates to “made” or “manufactured” – it’s the same one he used to describe the creation of Adam. I am convinced, as faithful WEIT readers may recall, that the first Christians had never even heard of a human Jesus on earth, but worshiped him as a celestial archangel.

But every children’s Christmas pageant, every “living nativity scene” staged on a church lawn, every Christmas card illustration of the birth of Jesus, mashes together the contradictory birth narratives in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. In Luke, Joseph and his heavily pregnant fiancée Mary have traveled to Joseph’s ancestral home of Bethlehem to participate in an empire-wide census (which history does not record), only to find no lodging, and took shelter in a cattle shed where Mary gave birth, and choirs of angels announced it to shepherds. No wise men. But the gospel of Matthew, which was probably written earlier than Luke, has a completely different account – Joseph and Mary are married and are residents of Bethlehem, and Jesus was apparently born without fanfare in the family home, and, much later, “wise men from the east” showed up to bestow gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh. No shepherds nor angels. Their gifts are symbolic, as is the whole story – put into the story to foreshadow the rest of the arc of Jesus’ life: gold is an appropriate gift for a king; incense is a gift for a god; and myrrh is a scented ointment applied to a dead body.

These birth narratives are not historical accounts, they’re prologues to a myth – and they were intended to be read that way (by any literate person in the early 2nd century) and not simply to be believed as literally true. They weren’t even part of the first draft of the gospels! Open your Bibles to Matthew, chapter 13, verses 53-55 and you’ll see that when Jesus went back in his home town and taught in the synagogue, the locals were astonished by his wisdom, basically saying, isn’t this the village carpenter’s son? How does he know all this stuff? But what they don’t say is, isn’t this is the kid who was visited by Magi bearing royal gifts, the one the soldiers were hunting for that time they killed all the male children? What this shows us is that whoever wrote chapter 13 hadn’t read chapters 1 and 2! I think that’s because the entire birth narrative was a later addition – note that chapter 3 reads like it was originally the beginning of the gospel.

The Nativity stories in the gospels aren’t straightforward historical accounts – they’re much more interesting than that! They make for a really funny scene in The Life of Brian, though.

I’m not trying to spoil anyone’s holiday fun – I’m really not. It’s just that I like to get to the bottom of historical puzzles, and I find that the truth of any historical event is actually more interesting, and indeed, more useful, than any (commercially-inspired) traditional notions about it. I hope and trust that all readers will enjoy the seasonal holiday to the fullest and celebrate in whatever manner they wish!

Caturday felids: Christmas edition with readers’ kitties!

December 25, 2021 • 10:30 am

I got more cats from readers than I expected, which is great. Here is the promised panoply of readers’ cats in Christmas poses (and one video). Each reader has named their cat and provides a bit of information (indented):

From Paul T.

Please find attached my Christmas cat shot. This is one of our cats, Brio, attempting to be a tree topper. It was taken a few years ago. Of course, this is a fake tree so it is much more supportive of his weight than a natural tree would be. Still, it does demonstrate good balance.

By the way, Brio and Zing, our other cat, had a big scare a few days ago. Right after I let them out in the morning, two coyotes showed up in our back yard. I actually had to chase them out of the yard in my bathrobe. I found Zing immediately in one of our trees but Brio was nowhere to be found. We spent a nervous morning but he showed up around noon and was very skittish. These coyotes are so bold and fast.

From Glenda Palmer:

This photo might be suitable for your Christmas selection of cats. These are Devon Rex altered females, 14 years old now, weighing in between eight and nine pounds. Photo from about four years ago.

A brief background story. I am in my eighties now and three years ago I had spontaneous cracked vertebra. Since I would not be able to properly look after two cats anymore,  I was forced to give up one of my beloved furbabies. Fortunately Minky, the darker one, quickly found a home where two of her brothers already lived. I knew she would be better able to make a successful transition. The lighter cat, Kofi – after Kofi Annan, remains with me and we are growing old together. She sees herself as a badass girl, still very vocal, bossy and busy – and dedicated to keeping me on my toes.

From Divy:

I had to bribe Jango with extra catnip and laxatone before I could take this picture. His expression says it all.

From Claudia Baker:

I submit to you my ginger tabby, Bodie. He is almost 17 years old and came to me via his mother, who was a rescue that I took in. She promptly had four kittens (of course) and I ended up keeping one because, from the time he could walk, he never left my side. He was born in my clothes closet in a box and had his mother with him until about 4 years ago. He has led a charmed life, living in the country, hunting mice, drinking from the lake in summer and curling up by the fire in winter.

Heating with a wood stove means that one has to have kindling handy at all times. I keep mine in a basket by the woodbox, because it’s in the living room and it looks nicer than say, a cardboard box.

One day, the basket was empty, and I was taking it out to the shed to refill it. I set it on the bed for a minute, and when I came back, Bodie was happily ensconced, asleep, in the basket, and I didn’t have the heart to take it away from him. It is now his favourite place to sleep, day and night. After breakfast this morning, he headed back to his basket for a nap. I put a Christmas elf hat on him for this picture. In a wink, he had the hat off and used it for a pillow instead (of course).

My kindling stash now: in a cardboard box (of course).

From Susan Harrison:

Catmas with Boris and Natasha! (Note: the “Santa”-like ornament in the center of the tree is actually Darwin!)

From reader Linda:

The real cat’s name is Bella. The others are unnamed. Bella sleeps wherever she likes, most often in my lap.

PS. She is a cat welfare cat and about 12 years old. Still leaping at furniture and knocking chairs over!

From Jeff Lewis:

Here is a Christmas themed photo of Chester.  As you might notice from the notched ear, he was a feral cat who decided he liked us and subsequently learned how to use the doggie door.  We had a big scare a couple years ago when he got attacked by something (probably a dog).  Luckily, he managed to make it back into the house where we found him.  After several vet visits, a surgery, and weeks of spoon feeding, draining wounds, and recovery, he’s back to almost as good as new, minus a few scars and a bit less muscle on left front leg (it could have been worse – he could have lost the leg).

The way I see it, he’s not my pet, and I’m not his staff.  We’re just two good friends.

Here he is relaxing in front of the Christmas tree.

From Michelle Caprara:

My 2 girls, Luna (top) and Rarity, Christmas 2015.  They’ve outgrown climbing the tree, without once toppling it.

From “Winpay”:

Coco is about 7 years old and lives on the Dutch/French Caribbean island of St. Martin. He got his name because we first thought he was a female cat. But it turned out he wasn’t.

From Josephine:

Here’s a submission for your Christmas cat post; a picture of our 1-year-old cat, Baxter. He’s a blue bicolour ragdoll who loves drinking from the tap but who hides under the sofa when we have visitors! He loves playing with the laser-pointer, even as he knows it’s us controlling it(!). In this picture I caught him chewing on my pencil on the table behind me as I was working.

From Debra Coplan:

This is Peaches. She was just featured on WEIT a couple of weeks ago. Here she is again. Unfortunately, she has to wear the cone of shame for 2 weeks. She had minor surgery and will be fine. She has figured out how to take off the cone! Here she is in front of her present to be opened Caturday! (The dog bag is the only bag I had.)

From Mark T.:

All our cats visit Santa, it’s tradition! This is Tricks, a feral cat we captured using a trap with some fresh-cooked chicken as bait. She enjoys sitting in a cardboard box and making me pull her around the house using a string tied to the box.”

From Bruce Cochrane:

Per your request, here is our newest kitten Firefly, age 6 months, exploring her first Christmas tree.  She is an absolute delight (as is our other new cat, her big friend Alexander The Great Cat – ATGC).

From Reese Vaughan:

The granddaughter and Rocky. Our cats are not enthusiastic about Christmas — I don’t think they are believers.

From JP:

Our Siamese, Jiro, obviously named after the famous chef, enjoys a good container like the rest of us, but one under the bird ornamented tree is extra special.

From Frank Colia:

Thank you for this opportunity to share a photo of our beloved Kitty Flash (full name: Kitty Flash Super Hero Tater Tot). As you can see, she has assumed her place upon her throne vigilantly awaiting her chance to pounce Cat Santa (Cat Jesus’ father).

From Merilee:

Booker T under the tree last night. [She sent this on Dec. 23]

From Tom Czarny:

Certainly not a great photo (way too overexposed) but this is Paisley (inherited from my daughter when she returned to university) imitating an area rug.

From Paul:

Attached is a picture taken by my son Ian of his cat Hazel helping to hang up the sock.

From Bill and Sara Meyer:

This is JeJe.  She is straight from the streets of Grundy County USA.  Over 10 years ago, my wife and I were walking in the neighborhood and I called, “Hey Kitty!” to a local stray.  All other strays usually bolt the opposite direction but this one ran towards us and accepted us from then on.  She’s a good kitty; she needn’t worry about Santa’s close surveillance.

From Terence:

I saw your request for Christmas cat photos today, so here is one of Ruby looking grumpy (with d*g brother Max cushion in background). Ruby was a stray last year, and now she rules the house.


From Heather Crozier:

Nala enjoying her new cat condo with some Christmas catnip from her stocking.

From “ebasham”:

Here is Maya, my apple-headed Siamese. She was adopted in 2009 when so many shelters were overrun due to the recession. The bow and holly are photo-shopped on. She has never worn a collar much less costumes-

From Effie:

I enjoy reading your blog and this is the first time I have emailed you. I am not a cat owner due to allergies, but my sister snapped these photos of her kitten, Bloom. Feel free to use either of them!

A video by Bruce Lyon:

You called for Christmas themed photos. Will a video do? Last year I spent Christmas by myself and entertained myself with making slow motion videos of my cat/kitten named Pigeon. At the time she loved to chase balls and would go crazy and slide into things. I decided to play with the slo-mo feature on my phone and see if I could get a video of pigeon bowling for Christmas ornaments—the three wise guy deer we have under our tree. With slo-mo the first couple of seconds start at regular speed; that is why the slo-mo only kicks in just before pigeon slams into one of the deer. I was also playing around with a remote camera trigger for my camera so I could set up the bowl and get the iphone recording before the action started.

In June 2020 you posted a couple of photos of the kitten (HERE) and implored me to keep her. She was a foster kitten but of course we were going to keep her—she is so adorable. My daughter came up with the name Pigeon because she is gray with stripes. At the time we were unsure of the name but now we think it is perfect. She is a fabulous cat packed with personality.

From Anne:

Well, there are no decorations in the photo, as they are something that Amber is deeply uninterested in, but perhaps the attached will do:

From Sonja M.

Marley enjoys the lights for her 15th Christmas.

From Ben and Christina Schwarz:

We’ve had cats, dogs, birds, and a kid who are wonderful, interesting, and usually loving—and also high-strung, demanding, quirky, and somewhat neurotic.  Cyrus, on the other hand, is perfect.  He’s deeply affectionate, attentive, and calm, while also having a big personality and a fascinated approach to the world.  We, flawed creatures that we are, don’t deserve him.

From Greg Matukitis:

Chester’s first Christmas. Taken just before his first attempt at climbing the tree, which he did a half dozen times or so before losing interest.

A fluffball from Alexandra:

 He is called Bean, and is a Siberian  cat. He is wonderful, absolutely smooth  & friendly in all situations, lives rurally (but inside) in NH,  with  2other cats (rescues) and happily with  6 Great Danes.  He has sired waited-for amazing kittens-that part of his story is now over. Photo by Sterling Moffat (my nearby daughter) Lyme, NH

From Alex K.:

This white boy’s name is Siegfried (Ziggy for short) and he’s been with us for about 8 years. The one in the back is Lucia whose celebrating her second Christmas. You can’t tell from the back that she has only three legs with one deformed stump where it should be her left hind leg.

From my friends Don and Karen in Pilorus Bridge, New Zealand:

Herewith a couple of photos of our two (new) kittens, to replace our beloved Sugar. The tabby is Kona, the black Nori. Names care of Karen’s son, Lloyd who’s staying with us  over this period.
The kittens have had a ball tearing into the paper as well their own kitty presents. Lloyd is preparing a beef Wellington and my steamed pudding is awaiting its second steam, having been made a couple of days ago.

From Robert Seidel:

for your Christmas cats entry, I’d like to present you the latest addition to our household: 7-month old Rufus aka Busby aka The Night Terror aka The Toebiter of Abingdon, sampling his first Christmas tree.

From Simon:

Well my daughter finally got a picture of Pachacca in front of the tree. She is now an elderly kitty, coming up for 21 in the spring, so we have relented and are letting her drink this year!

From Greg:

Holiday Greetings from Perry.

Send in your Christmas cats!

December 22, 2021 • 3:36 pm

Yes, I’m going to post only minimally on Christmas, as I have to get out of town before I’m apprehended as a Jesus-killer.  But I’d like to post pictures of readers’ cats with a Christmas theme (in front of a tree, with their presents, etc.) If you have one of these, and we get a dozen or so, I’ll put up a Christmas Caturday post (Christmas is on Caturday).

Don’t forget to say a few words about your kitty, and include its name. And if you don’t have a picture at the moment, take one! (Remember, it must have a Christmas theme.) And please, only one photo per moggy.

Send ’em in NOW please.

—The management

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2021 • 2:01 pm

Let’s not forget our animal friends on this day of gluttony. Reader J. C. McLoughlin didn’t, and sent these two photos with a caption:

I append views from the kitchen window of some of the ravens who visit our corvid-table, which this Thanksgiving morning sports a fryer chicken in a wire gibbet. The chicken will be gone by this afternoon.

Man, these ravens are going to FEAST!

Live Groundhog Day festivities

February 2, 2021 • 5:34 am

UPDATE: According to the AP, Phil didn’t see his shadow this  morning (it’s snowing there), and so it will be another long winter, just what we expect this curséd year:

There will be six more weeks of winter, Punxsutawney Phil predicted as he emerged from his burrow on a snowy Tuesday morning to perform his Groundhog Day duties.

Members of Phil’s “inner circle” woke up the furry critter at 7:25 a.m. atGobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to see whether he would see his shadow or not.

Shortly after this year’s prediction was revealed, one of the members of the inner circle shared a message he said Phil had told him earlier in the day: “After winter, you’re looking forward to one of the most beautiful and brightest springs you’ve ever seen.”


It’s Groundhog Day, and all eyes are fixed on Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where the hapless rodent will be extracted from his cage and made to observe whether he has a shadow. The Festivities apparently begin in a few minutes, though it’s dark out there. This year’s celebration will be virtual: there will be no big gathering, but Phil will nevertheless appear, hopefully masked and socially distanced.

If Phil sees his shadow, then there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, we’ll have an early spring.

The handlers apparently see the whole event as theological, for Phil cannot be proven wrong!  As Pennlive notes:

Groundhog Day lore is that Phil isn’t just any groundhog, obviously, but a magical one, gifted with longevity as well as meteorological wisdom.

But since even magical groundhogs apparently can’t speak English, it falls to the members of the Groundhog Club to interpret Phil’s predictions. According to them, Phil is always right; it’s their interpretations where issues of accuracy come into play.

As far as their track record: as of last year, the predictions to come out of Punxsutawney are accurate around 39 percent of the time.

In other words, Phil ain’t William Lane Craig.

When it begins (I believe the times are Eastern time, i.e., NOW):

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club will be broadcasting its in-person event this morning, and you can watch the livestream to see whether Phil sees his shadow in real time.

The broadcast starts at 6:30 with pre-recorded segments, and will switch over to a live feed at 7:15 a.m. as the inner circle of groundhog handlers consult with Phil to determine whether the beloved rodent has seen his shadow (dooming us to six more weeks of winter) or not (blessing us with an early spring).

Readers’ Christmas photos

December 25, 2020 • 11:00 am

Well, we got a veritable clowder of cat photos yesterday as well as quite a few non-cat photos—all with a holiday theme. I present them proudly as our Official Christmas Post. Readers’ captions are indented, and thanks to all the readers who participated. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

First is our own Matthew Cobb, who sent a photo and his daughter’s Christmas paintings.

Me and Ollie. He is on two boxes on top of a cupboard so I am standing on a chair…

And some lovely cards. As Matthew reports:
Ho ho ho; merry Xmas etc. These are Xmas card portraits of our cats, painted by my daughter Eve. Left to right they are Ollie, Harry and Pepper, and were cards for me, Tina, and Lauren respectively [JAC: Tina is Matthew’s wife; Lauren his other daughter]:

And Greg Mayer’s famous “philosophical cat”.
Here’s a picture of Peyton’s last Christmas, 2019.

 Greg’s first Christmas without Peyton, 2020.😥

From Robin:

This beautiful feline graces our home in all seasons (But no, she is not levitating. The table is glass. Sent by her staff, Robin Branch in Boca Raton FL, where we hear it will be a record-setting 44 degrees on Christmas morning.

From Peter Lindsay:

In response to your call for holiday-themed photos I am sending you this photograph of my now departed – but not forgotten – Bengal cat Taz. He had a particular fondness for festive table decorations, probably because they complemented his splendid markings.

From Elizabeth Grisham:

This is Gidget napping under the tree.

From reader Jez:

Here’s a photo of my daughter Ana and our cat Marcus Clawrelius (Pretentious? Moi? – although I suppose he should temporarily be Santa Clawsrelius for the Christmas holidays) taken after our tree was decorated earlier in the month.

From Reese Vaugn:

Razzberry gave us a dead rat this morning for Christmas, though somehow I doubt cats are Christians. Do you know how hard it is to stage a Cat photo?

A Christmas bird card from Colin Franks:

From Gregory James:

I don’t have a cat. And don’t really have any holiday photos including myself to offer. But I’ll offer you this “Silent Night” picture should you ever need a bit of filler material. It was taken on Good Hope Island in the Milwaukee River where a few friends gather in pandemic times to drink a beer or two, distant from one another. It has been, for my wife and myself, a balm during this year’s plague. In the summer it was light when we met. Now we meet in the dark,  with many layers of clothing. We will toast in 2021 here next Thursday evening. A better year is coming after this dark winter.

From Kevin McCarthy:

Here is Cookie who has claimed the Christmas tree. Even when it’s fully decorated, she still climbs it. I just can’t get a good picture of her like that.

From Wendy Chandler:

Here’s my Christmas cat. He died a few years ago at 19 years old.  His name was Kokomo.

From Merilee:

My granddaughter kissing an alpaca. Taken about a month ago at a local tiny petting zoo. The little monkey kissed the alpaca(?) on the mouth before my daughter could intervene, but managed to get the cute shot.

From Mark Sturtevant:

This is our Xmas tree topper. Many people will recognize it from a certain long-running sci-fi series.

From Lorraine:

I hope this photo is useable. They’re of my d*gs Ginger (brown) and Titan (black). They’re both Chihuahua mixes–Ginger also has Pomeranian and Pekinese + Ceiling Cat knows what else, while Titan is about half Jack Russell and half Chihuahua. They are both rescues from a wonderful no-kill shelter in Virginia called Paws for Seniors.

They try to take mostly senior cats and dogs who have been given up or abandoned, but they take younger ones, as well. Ginger was given up when she was 2 by an elderly man who had to move to assisted living and couldn’t take her. Titan was feral with his entire family and was trapped and brought to the shelter when he was about 8  months old. Their foster families who volunteer are the best. These guys are amazing and I’m so lucky to have found them.

From Robie Mason-Gamer:

I have always had cats, but not many pictures with a Christmas theme, so this picture is old.
The best time for cats is after the gifts are opened, when they can play in the boxes and paper. This is Braveheart, a cat-from-the-past, who looks a little like Hili. She is completely relaxed here, even though she is closely watched by leopards, a cougar, and a very menacing bear.

William and Sara Meyer sent a picture of their cat Manny:

Manny is our beautiful bruiser.  He’s a 16-pounder!  All muscle though.  And smart too.  He has a toy that I hide in the basement somewhere (in a bag, in the rafters, under an old easy chair, tied up to the ceiling) and he retrieves it for food and attention.  He and his sister JeJe are both good mousers too.  Both are rescues; Manny from a shelter and JeJe straight from the streets.  They’re the only gifts we need under our tree.

From Rik Gern, who moonlights as a clown:

Got no religion, but I’m a sentimental fool when it comes to the holidays. Nothing puts me in the spirit more than smiling children, so here is a picture of my alter ego filling in for Santa at a day-care photo shoot. I think I had as much fun as the kids that day.

From reader Simon:

This is the best I can do. Pachaca says it’s her nineteenth Christmas, the novelty has worn off, and she’s beyond posing!

From Daniel Sharp in Edinburgh:

Season’s Greetings! Here is a festive feline-themed picture. It shows me holding my cat Molly by the Christmas tree- it’s not a very flattering portrait of me, or the best picture generally, but Molly doesn’t like being held too much or for very long so it’s the best we could do!

Longshan sent a photo all the way from China:

Merry Christmas. This is Chichi, my Devon Rex cat.

From Paul Turpin:

Apollo on my lap eyeing me, thinking it’s about time for supper.

From Linda Mercer, we have a photo of her cat Bella Diva:

Find the kitty elf!

A good Jewish cat from Rachel Sperling.

This is Lloyd. He’s thirteen years old, and the bow tie was originally his bar mitzvah outfit, but it certainly works for Hanukkah as well. Lloyd is an extremely picky eater and he’s kind of whiney, but for the most part he’s a gentle fellow who easily befriends humans, dogs, and other cats (except his little sister).

A sad photo from Mark Perew:

This is Houdini.  He’s 13 and he rescued me 9 years ago.  Houdini has cholangiocarcinoma, an aggressive cancer of the bile ducts.

This is almost certainly Houdini’s last Christmas.

From Fran X:

Attached is our 5 year old Lily enjoying some Christmas Eve warmth.

From Divy, her cat Jango, “in an elf suit, paralyzed.”

From Scott G.

Today my son Marc, painted a Christmas tree to decorate the door his bedroom.  He likes squares (thank you blue tape) and multi-colored trees.  The cats are as requested.  You’ve met Kitty before (his right shoulder), but Charley is a new addition, and the focus of his life. (Kitty doesn’t seem to mind Emoji)
I couldn’t tell you about the Reindeer…

From Terry:

Ruby climbs our damn tree every day. It’s hers now 🙂

From Joe Dickinson:

Here is our previous dog, Ruby, wondering what she is expected to do with her Christmas toy.

From David Jorling:

I didn’t think I would have one for you, but just a few moments ago, lo and behold, our cat Mia was on Santa’s lap.  Had I placed her there she would have immediately jumped off.

From Zack:

Here is my submission for your website, Samwise. He is a big fan of christmas donuts.

Bryan Lepore made some art for Christmas:

 I present a piece of art I made for the holiday on which Issac Newton was born in 1642

It started by making stained glass art using paper towel and typical “schoolroom” (?) markers. Readers might try this, putting the designs in the window. It is very easy and satisfying! Use black for the lines between the colors.

The piece I show uses paper towel colored with “schoolroom” markers but I went another level with a black paper mask, using X-acto knife cutouts and punched holes. The piece is on a sunny window. The screen can be perceived in the lit areas.

From David Aylesworth:

This is Hamilton, taking another holiday nap.

Finally, a Christmas mouse from Katey:

This is not a very good picture, but it was a quick bit of fun I had with my (rein)deer mouse, Cricket. I rescued him as a baby as he has some neurological condition that would mean he would not survive for very long in the wild (he is very slow and wobbly). He is a lovely little creature, and more affectionate than any domesticated mouse I’ve ever had as a pet. I love him dearly.
To celebrate Cricketmouse you must open a hazelnut with your teeth 🙂