A Message from the PMS Broadcast System

Obsidian Kitten is currently experiencing technical difficulties due to the monthly interruption of normal circadian rhythms. We apologize for any inconvenience, and assure you that Cats on Tuesday will return next week, same time, same station.

If you feel deprived of your regularly scheduled programming, please check out the Cats on Tuesday blogroll in the left sidebar and click on any of the other participants...I assure you that they will all be far funnier, more intelligent, coherent, and compelling than I can be under current PMS conditions.

Because I pretty much feel like this:


Mad Snippets From A Deranged Optimist

Okay, this is all Tink's fault. I used the random blog title generator and hence, you may now enjoy some mad snippets from a deranged optimist--which, somehow, seems very fitting, as I do fancy myself something of an optimist, and I am certifiably deranged. I have the papers to prove it.

1. On coffee. If there is no coffee in the house, or we're out of milk, I can't get out of bed. I've been known to substitute vanilla ice cream for milk in a real pinch. It doesn't even matter if it has chunky things like cookie dough or chocolate chips in it. Running out of coffee in our house is considered a DefCon One Coffee Emergency.

Hm, this seems more deranged than optimism. But coffee, when provided in a steady supply, is a marvelous, miraculous life-giving elexir. (No flavours, please.) Is this not the very essence of glass-half full thinking?

2. On cats. They've taught me the only two words one needs to know: me and now. (Other things I've learned from cats may be found here.)

3. On testosterone. Thorn is now officially a wether (or neutered male sheep). When we got him in December, his furry sheepy balls were neatly banded off and I was informed that they would eventually wither away and drop off. I've been watching ever since and was being to grow concerned that, although they were certainly somewhat withered and not infected or anything, they were still definitely attached to him. (Could it be that it was simply too cold to complete the process? What if they just got freeze-dried? One worries about these things on a farm.)

I began to notice last week that he was no longer so fiercely head-butting Tyr over their feed bucket. Then two days ago he actually let me scratch him under the chin and on the chest. This was the first time he'd ever let me touch him; this was very odd indeed.

I carefully crouched down in the hay (these Icelandic sheep are built rather low to the ground) and peeked around behind him. His fuzzy balls were gone indeed! (We just experienced several days of above-freezing temperatures. Was that what had been needed to encourage the completion of the process? We'll never know...)

And lo and behold, as his previous owners had informed us, I did indeed find said organs, now detached from their owner--somewhat dessicated but still quite fascinating--while raking the hay in the boys' stall. (At first I thought I'd uncovered a clump of fleece or a dead rat, but no--it was sheep testicles.)

Does this explain his sudden tolerance of Tyr and his friendliness toward me--the loss of his ramhood?

You might ask why one would choose to wether a nice ram (or neuter a llama, as we did Llannie, for instance). Well, for all us fiber-crazy folks, I'll just say that males who aren't expending all their energy making testosterone and chasing the girls of their species generally produce nicer fiber for more years than in-tact males. 'Nuff said?

4. The cat that has my back...

...because Chris requested a closer look.

5. Other things that fascinate me: (a) bats. I recently read that they fly far better than birds.

5.(b) Not that I don't still love my birds, mind you. (And some of the hens can fly pretty well for, you know, big chickens.)

5.(c) I didn't grow up Catholic, but (especially after travelling in France and Italy) I must say those Catholics really have the corner on amazing imagery. And all the ritual and ceremony and lovely fragrant things...mmm.

Razor Cami for Bigger Girls

Several people asked about the alterations I made to the Razor Cami pattern to make it fit a slightly larger bustline than the 30-34" (76-86 cm) bust for which it was designed.

I really enjoyed knitting this pattern. It was my first attempt at anything lace, and it was an easy knit. There's no shaping, but the end result fits well, and the alterations (a.k.a. "math") ware easy and actually worked out. I'm about a 36" (92 cm) bust so here I'll let you know the three things I changed in the pattern to make it fit me.

FYI re. yarn/gauge: The yarn I used is not what's called for in the pattern. Instead, the dark brown I used is Filatura di Crosa's Millefili Fine 100% cotton and the variegated is merino wool from Fleece Artist. The pattern gauge is 24 sts and 29 rows = 4" (10 cm); my gauge was 26 sts/29 rows = 4 in (10 cm).

I used the better part of two 50-gram balls of the Millefili (136 yds/125 m each) and part of a skein of the Fleece Artist merino.

NOTE 1 -- Cast on. The pattern repeat throughout is 12 stitches. She does note in her pattern to cast on an extra 12 stitches for each extra 2 inches (5 cm) you need.

So I cast on 180 stitches. I wish now I would've made the cami a bit bigger, but this was just about sufficient for a 34-36" (86-92 cm) bust. If you're any larger than that, just add the 12 extra sts for each additional 2 in (5 cm).

NOTE 2 -- Divide at armpit. I didn't divide the stitches evenly. I divided 96 to the front, and 84 to the back (total 180 sts, or however many you cast on). I left more stitches at the front to allow for the bust.

You may also notice how short-waisted I am. I only needed to make the body 12" (30.5 cm) rather than 16" (40.5 cm) in length. I highly recommend trying the cami on (or holding it up to yourself) to adjust for length and check how you want to arrange the stitches to front and back when you divide the stitches here.

NOTE 3 -- Finish the back. Don't "Seam edge of top ribbing to front edge at each side." Fortunately I tried the cami on at this point, because if I'd seamed the ribbing under the armpits here, it would've been way too tight. So guess what--for a pattern with minimal finishing, you get to do even less of it. And it looked just fine to me without it.

By the way, I didn't use any sparkly contrasting yarn for the edging, just did it in the dark brown Millefili. Also, I made I-cord for the straps instead of the flat 1x1 rib.

This is a close-up of the pinch-hitter Fleece Artist yarn I got when I realized I was going to run out of the Millefili.

And to Emma's amusement, I had more than enough of it left to make a pair of socks.


Places I Have Been

Here's a map of all the countries in the world I've visited. (Suddenly O'Kitten feels very well-travelled...) Click the link below and try it for yourself.

create your own visited countries map


When You Put Things on Cats

...Sometimes They Don't Mind

Here Isis models a Skully I made.

Copernicus (who is no longer with us) looked very dashing in his Sandy Claws outfit.

Copernicus as a Musketeer in a hat Mr. O'Kitten fashioned for him.

Copernicus was an excellent sport; he even let me put socks on his head.

He often accompanied me to the shop I worked in, and was a huge hit with customers (two- and four-legged alike). He had a lovely little winter coat (it was actually a doggy coat, although I never told him) that he wore on cold winter days.

More good sports modelling chilly-day items. (No, knitting the S'n'B Snowball bed just wasn't enough; I had yarn left over and simply had to make a matching blankie--or perhaps it's a red carpet to roll out for the royalty.)

More stuff on cats. I don't think anything ever annoyed Grey Cat.

Cats with knitting on them (on me).

This little striped cat stole a little striped work-in-progress and got caught in the act--with the unfinished knitting right on her tail.

...And Sometimes They Get a Little Irked

This would be Her Emmanence. And yes, she is most definitely annoyed.

Cats on Cats

Kitten on kitten.

Morgan on Isis.

Isis on Morgan.

Grey on a small Morgan.

A big Grey Cat and a very small Isis on O'Kitten.

Happy Tuesday everyone!


A Message from Pepper

Hi! I told O'Kitten that now that I'm 19 weeks old she better show everybody how big I'm getting, and how fuzzy my winter coat is! I don't mind the snow one bit.

Here's me in my new halter. Don't I look just like a grown-up llama?

Someone's looking over my shoulder...it must be that weird guy Graty. I think he's a little creepy...he's always watching us girls.

Here's me eating hay with my mamma. She's trying to spit at my grandma. I think it's funny!

I still like milk, but Mamma won't let me have so much anymore. Sometimes she even kicks me when I try to get some! Last week I decided to try eating the crumbly food O'Kitten gives Mamma and Grandma. At first I thought it ws yucky, but now I like it.

Here's me eating out of my grown-up dish. I wouldn't eat the crumbles out of O'Kitten's hand, but now that I have my very own dish it's okay. Especially when she mixes the crumbly bits with oats.

Oh, here I have an itch. You can see the peppery spots on my tail! I don't think I said she could put this picture in, it's kinda embarrassing...


Happy V-Day from Me & Mine

There seems to be a lot of archery going on in these old postcards.

And some strange open-heart surgery.

Weapony, of course, must be honed to surgical precision.

Then again, there might only be Lilies of the Valley...

...or little Dutch girls who, as we all know, wear funny wooden shoes.

The tribe remains heartily unimpressed.

Valentines Day, feh. Wake me when it's over.
(Unless, of course, there's tuna...)


Cats on Tuesday, Pt. 8

P-spectrum Utility Re-vibratory Response

We now examine in detail a very interesting aspect of the Feline Unit: the P-spectrum Utility Re-vibratory Response (PURR).

You may have noticed that your Feline Unit seems to have the uncanny ability to land on its feet and generally sustains very few injuries. This has recently been attributed, in part, to the healing properties of the PURR. What I will here call the “P-spectrum” comprises reverberating pulses generated in the throat region of the Feline Unit at a frequency of, optimally, 20-140 hertz (Hz).

P-spectrum vibrations at these frequencies have been found uniquely therapeutic for healing, pain relief, muscle growth and repair, and joint mobility.

We have all surely noticed our Feline Units employing the PURR during pleasurable activities, but the PURR is also activated under stress, while giving birth to new units [although it is strongly suggested that this option be deactivated, since their reproductive capabilities are quite astounding], and during pain and healing.

PURR may or may not be accompanied by the kneading trance.

Pumas, like our domestic feline units, also purr.

Following are excerpts from a few studies of the PURR which owners and aficionados of Feline Units may find interesting if they desire additional information on the subject.


“Scientists have demonstrated that cats produce the purr through intermittent signaling of the laryngeal and diaphragmatic muscles. Cats purr during both inhalation and exhalation with a consistent pattern and frequency between 25 and 150 Hertz. Various investigators have shown that sound frequencies in this range can improve bone density and promote healing.”

Scientific American (January 27, 2003)

Cheetahs also purr.


So do ocelots...

“Cats do not have near the prevalence of orthopedic disease or ligament and muscle traumas as dogs have, and non-union of fractures in cats is rare. Researchers believe that self-healing is the survival mechanism behind the purr. There is extensive documentation that suggests that low frequencies, at low intensity, are therapeutic. These frequencies can aid bone growth, fracture healing, pain relief, tendon and muscle strength and repair, joint mobility, the reduction of swelling, and the relief of dyspnea, or breathlessness.

“Results indicated that despite size and different genetics, all of the individual cats [in the study, which included the cheetah, puma, serval, ocelot and the domestic cat] have strong purr frequencies that fall within the range of a multitude of therapeutic frequencies and particular decibel levels, see Fig. 3. Frequencies of 25 and 50 Hz are the best, and 100 Hz and 200 Hz the second best frequencies for promoting bone strength. Exposure to these signals elevates bone strength by approximately 30%, and increases the speed at which the fractures heal.”

Solving The Cat's Purr Mystery using Accelerometers, Elizabeth von Muggenthaler and Bill Wright, Brüel & Kjær, 2003

...and servals.


Serval kittens...

[Don’t let the kooky look of this site put you off—this is the most comprehensive summary of the subject I found, and it’s excellent.]

“There is another clue found in a study performed by Dr. T. F. Cook, (1973) The relief of dyspnoea in cats by purring, New Zealand Veterinary Journal. A dying cat who could not breathe (they were considering euthanasia), was found to breath normally once it began purring. The purring opened up the cat's airway, and improvement was "remarkable and the next day commenced to eat...." Three species of cats have a strong harmonic at exactly 100 Hz, the vibrational frequency found to relieve dyspnea. One species within 2 Hz and one species within 7 Hz of 100 Hz. It could be that the cat's purr decreases the breathlessness by vibratory stimulation.

“Is it possible that evolution has provided the felines of this world with a natural healing mechanism for bones and other organs? Researchers at Fauna Communications believe so.

“Being able to produce frequencies that have been proven to improve healing time, strength and mobility could explain the purr's natural selection. In the wild when food is plentiful, the felids are relatively sedentary. They will spend a large portion of the day and night lounging in trees or on the ground. Consistent exercise is one of the greatest contributors to bone, (Karlsson et al, 2001), and muscle (Roth et al, 2000; Tracy et al 1999), and tendon and ligament strength (Simoson et al, 1995; Tipton et al 1975). If a cat’s exercise is sporadic it would be advantageous for them to stimulate bone growth while at rest. As well, following injury, immediate exercise can rebreak one and re-tear healing muscle and tendon (Montgomery, 1989). Inactivity decreases the strength of muscles (Tipton et al, 1975). Therefore, having an internal vibrational therapeutic system to stimulate healing would be advantageous, and would also reduce edema and provide a measure of pain relief during the healing process.”

The Felid Purr: A bio-mechanical healing mechanism, Fauna Communications Research Institute


...and obsidian kittens.

Free cat sounds, including purrs, for your listening pleasure.