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 🙂


Send in your holiday photos

December 24, 2020 • 7:15 am

If you have a holiday-themed photo that you’ve taken, especially if it shows you and/or your cat with a holiday theme—cats are not necessary but helpful—send it to me by email today. If I get a sufficient number (i.e. >12), we’ll have a holiday-themed post tomorrow, when I plan to take a rare day of rest. And please give a few words of explanation.

UPDATE: We’ve already started receiving them, so add yours to the group.  And please, one photo per reader.

A tear-jerking Christmas video

December 15, 2020 • 1:30 pm

This is one of the videos that’s a litmus test about whether you have a heart of stone or of oatmeal. If you tear up, you’re okay. (I sure did!) It’s a bit hard to understand at first, but all comes clear at the end. Yes, it’s an ad made by a Dutch pharmaceutical company, but the sponsorship doesn’t detract from its poignancy.

A bit of backstory from Today:

new commercial from the Dutch mail-order pharmacy Doc Morris has left the internet in tears by showing the reason behind a grandfather’s drive to get in shape for Christmas with his family. . . . The spot [was] created by the German ad agency Jung von Matt

h/t: Nicole

A gangsta Hanukkah

December 12, 2020 • 1:15 pm

Happy Hanukkah! It’s the third day of the holiday and the second full day. It ends at sundown on Friday, and it’s a time to eat latkes.

I adore latkes, but they’re too laborious to make, so I almost never get them. (Trader Joe’s has frozen ones, but they’re dire.) Here we have two gangstas showing us how to make them properly.

This is pretty damn funny, though there’s one mistake. You never put both sour cream and applesauce on a latke. You’d have to be a meshugana to do that! The proper way is to put sour cream on one latke and applesauce on another, alternating to your taste, and until you’re sated.

(This duo has several other videos, too, including one for Passover.)

h/t: Moto

It’s International Vet Day!

December 9, 2020 • 7:15 am

The formal title of this celebration is “International Day of Veterinary Medicine,” celebrated yearly on December 9. The Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care site says this:

International Day of Veterinary Medicine celebrates those intrepid souls who work hard to keep our animals safe, and are constantly going through ongoing education to stay at the very front of the medicine that will keep our pets alive and healthy for years to come. A special shout-out goes to those who practice exotic animal medicine, learning about critters that are rarely kept as pets.

So here’s a special shout out: I know of only one reader who practices veterinary medicine, and it’s only on exotic animals. She’s Divy Figueroa of Florida (highlighted before in a “photos of readers” feature), who is practice manager and vet tech for a practice that includes her husband, Ivan Alfonso, as the doctor. I asked her for some photos of veterinary medicine in action, and she sent some photos from a recent visit. I also got some earlier photos of Divy with some cool animals. Her narration is indented:

We really don’t have many good photos of us working together, because I’m usually the photographer, and when I’m working hands-on, nobody takes pictures of us.
This was a call we had last week in south Florida of an Aldabra tortoise feeling under the weather, so the clients wanted bloodwork. This tortoise weighed between 350-400 lbs, and was not allowing  us to grab his tail to draw blood. Though most giant tortoises are turned sideways to draw blood,  due to the animal’s history we didn’t do it in this case to avoid stressing him. We had the owner use his forklift to lift the tortoise. My tech steadied the tortoise in the front to prevent him from falling forward, while my husband drew blood and I passed him the necessary blood tubes and collected the blood samples. The tortoise excreted and urinated on him, while flashing his penis to the both of us. It was a tense few minutes, but we got the job done. The screenshot in the second picture is very blurry, but I wanted you to see how we had to elevate the tortoise, and to see that it was no easy feat.

Here are a couple of different pics of me with a cute Geoffrey’s cat [JAC: a kitten getting its checkup] and with a Patagonian Cavy. We had already finished the cavy’s physical (again, we have no pics), but the cavy approached me to tell me all was good. (That client just got some cool, new animals, so we should be visiting them within the next month for an inspection. I’ll take good pics. )

More photos of the kitty are here.

What’s for dinner?

November 26, 2020 • 12:45 pm

I’m taking it easy today and am having a long, vigorous walk along Lake Michigan, followed by a shower and then dinner. Turkeys are too big for me (I wonder if those Butterball 20-pounders will go unsold this year), and so I am having a Jewish Thanksgiving: pork roast.

On the side there will be fresh biscuits and local tomatoes. But this modest meal will be washed down with a very fancy wine—the real centerpiece of the meal. It’s a great Rioja, a 2011 Prado Enea Rioja Gran Riserva from Bodegas Muga, which I bought as a three-pack (in a wooden box with a decanter included) for a pretty penny several years ago.  This is the last bottle of the three, and believe me, it’s ethereal. In fact, the food is just a vehicle to get this wine down:

Normally I’d be sharing this bottle with guests, but guests are rarer than hen’s teeth this year and so this puppy is ALL MINE.  I’ll drink half tonight and half tomorrow.

Of course the purpose of this post is to find out what everyone else is eating and drinking, on the holiday.  If you’re not American, though, you’re probably not celebrating.

Christmas kitties

December 25, 2019 • 12:00 pm

by Greg Mayer

Peyton, the Philosophical Cat, is not much moved by the holidays, except that, with someone at home during the day more frequently, she’ll be able to have her midday treat more often—her choice between salmon snacks or a paté.

Unusually, she’s not taken to sleeping under the tree this year, but she has found a spot on the dining room table amongst the accoutrements of the holidays. Her eyes are very bright, which I attributed to the flash, but another viewer of the photo thought it was because Peyton can stare into your soul.

I’m cat-sitting over Christmas, so I can also share a second cat, Delilah, a longhair, who has both the hair and the cranial structure typical of the breed.

Delilah gave me a present, which she disdainfully glanced at in order to bring it to my attention, preferring for herself canned cat food to fine Belgian chocolates.

And even though he’s a d-g, here’s Peyton’s nephew, Q-Tip, taking more advantage of the under-tree space at his house. (And, yes, obviously, he’s her nephew by adoption.)

Holiday felid: Mog’s Christmas Calamity

December 25, 2019 • 8:00 am

Among all Christmas ads, this is my absolute favorite. It’s the ad for Sainsbury’s grocery chain that was aired in 2015. The YouTube description says, “Mog sets off a chain of unfortunate events which almost ruin Christmas for the Thomas family. Can she pull it all back to save the day?”

It’s a real heartwarmer, but I have one question: What kind of cat would think an egg was a Christmas treat?


Be sure to see this video about the Making of Mog Advertisement, including an appearance by Judith Kerr, Mog’s creator.

And, looking at this, I came across this year’s Sainsbury’s Christmas ad, also a real tear-jerker. (Can you spot the cat in it?)