Ancient Burial

Archeologists excavating an ancient Native American burial site in western Illinois in the 1980’s got an unexpected surprise…almost twenty years later. The site was constructed by the Hopewell people and consisted of a group of 14 burial mounds overlooking the Illinois River. Traditionally the funeral mounds were used to bury humans, but 2,000 years ago the Hopewell had chosen to include a wild cat.

The largest mound excavated contained the remains of 22 people, a child and a small animal which was originally thought to be a canine. It wasn’t until 2011 when Angela Perri, a Ph.D. student, came across the box of remains at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield while doing research did they discover the canine was actually feline.

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Bobcat kittens – Image Wikimedia Commons

The Bobcat, that had been carefully place in the mound with its paws together, was thought to be between four to seven months old and was found wearing a necklace made from bear teeth and sea shells. Upon examination the skeleton had shown no signs of damage or trauma indicating the animal had not been sacrificed or harmed before being buried.

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“Ancient Native Americans buried these bone pendants and shell beads together with the bobcat” – Image Kenneth Farnsworth

What makes this discovery so unique is it appears to be the only known ceremonial burial of a wild cat in a mound and the only decorated wild cat burial in the archaeological record. Perri who is now a zooarchaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany said the circumstances of the burial “suggests this animal had a very special place in the life of these people.” She also believes the necklace may have been a collar, a sign that the animal was a cherished pet.

While domesticated dogs were found buried in a separate location, the Bobcat was considered important enough to be buried with humans and may have had a spiritual connection to the Hopewell community. Researchers think that the discovery could also help provide insight into how dogs, cats and other animals were first domesticated.

Cats in Art – Hawaii Edition

Colorful, fun, and beautifully done the paintings by visual artist Linda Bachrach had me at meow. Linda is a Honolulu based artist who creates Asian inspired watercolor paintings featuring cats who are full of personality. Sweet, cheeky and playful I found her work warm and welcoming. Walking by an outdoor art show in Waikiki I spotted her paintings and I could not leave without picking up at least one print to take home with me.

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Hibiscus Cat -This darling cat came home to Toronto

Linda started painting in 1997 in San Francisco then in 2001 moved to Honolulu where she studied the basics of western watercolor painting. She creates her feline masterpieces using Chinese brush, bamboo, pen, twig, eyedropper dipped in ink, Japanese ink sticks and Gansai paints.

Besides prints Linda also creates original pieces on canvas and cards, a few that I really enjoyed are posted here with her permission.

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Waikiki, Cats, Hawaii, Honolulu, art, Lina Bachrach, watercolors, prints, San francisco, Diamond Head studio, paintings, cats in art

The whimsical works convey a love for her subjects with paintings sometimes featuring the personality of her own cats. The felines are all painted in a “loose and expressive style to capture the attitudes and personalities of these wonderful creatures. Most are imaginative in color and shape with a special mischievous look in their eye.”

If you find yourself in Hawaii be sure to stop by the art Art on the Zoo Fence near the Honolulu Zoo across from Kapi’olani Park in Waikiki on Sundays to say hi and pick up a Hawaiian cat to bring home. If you can’t make it out this way fear not, Linda’s work is available from her Etsy Store – Hawaii Cats with prices starting $18.

 

 

 

Book Review: Making Rounds With Oscar

Making Rounds with Oscar The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat is a book by Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician who works with dementia patients at Steere Nursing Home in Rhode Island where a cat named Oscar resides and became known for his unique abilities to predict the death of a patient.

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Before Dr. Dosa wrote this book he had written an essay on Oscar that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. After a huge amount of public interest and media blitz, I remember reading about Oscar in People Magazine, Dr. Dosa decided to write a book about his experiences working with the intuitive Brown and White Tabby.

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Dr. Dosa and the staff at the nursing home realize that Oscar is not just randomly picking patients to visit, but has a clear motive.

The book chronicles the experiences of patients at the nursing home and the interactions they have with Oscar, who foretells their passing with a visit. While the idea of death is not a happy one, the story is very uplifting and positive in its message which is made clear as you read. Some patients and families embraced the comfort that Oscar brought to them in their final hours or days, and some wanted him shut out of the room. Oscar wasn’t right every time, but his presence was a predictor of death so many times that the media created headlines like “If Oscar’s in your bed, you’re dead!”

The story demonstrates the benefit of animal companionship to elderly people and how animals are aware of much more than we give them credit for. A biological explanations is offered as to how a cat could know someone is dying, that Oscar is simply able to detect the chemical compounds given off by the body as an odor as cells die.

While a cats sense of smell is amazing I also feel they poses a different level of awareness and like most animals, are in touch with abilities that humans have long-lost or pushed aside. In this case I see Oscar providing patients with his own brand of treatment one that included comfort, compassion with his presence and a purr.

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Making Rounds with Oscar is a lovely book and is on my Favorite Cat Themed Books List. You can also see an interview here highlighting Oscar at work.

I Know Where Your Cat Lives

I would say most of us at some point have posted pictures of our cats on social media, Facebook, Instagram etc…but did you know that it is possible for someone to pinpoint where your cat lives on a Google map?

A Kickstarter campaign, that was fully funded, by Owen Mundy an artist, designer, programmer and Associate Professor in Digital Media Art at Florida State University created the site called “I Know where your Cat Lives“. It shows how we really relinquish our rights to privacy by posting on-line, and this case your cat is giving you away.

I Know Where Your Cat Lives is a data experiment that visualizes a sample of 1 million public pics of cats on a world map, locating them by the latitude and longitude coordinates embedded in their metadata. The cats were accessed via publicly available APIs provided by popular photo sharing websites.”

An interactive map allows you to view a “random” cat from somewhere around the world, or be more specific and look them up by country, city or street. I was curious and looked up my city but did not find any of Spinner. If the idea of having strangers look at your cat and possibly find out where you live is a little freaky don’t worry, you can have your cats picture removed from the site.

The way you would go about doing so is by increasing the privacy settings of the photos of your furry feline friends. Then within 30 days your photos will be gone from our site.

There is even a cool overview of Cats by Country chart so you can see top cities from around the world.

So what do you think? Creepy or cool? Does this make you think twice about sharing a picture of your cat? Leave your comments below.