Monthly Archives: August 2013

Book Review – The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat

Belle loves Henri!

By Julia Williams

William Braden, the creative genius behind the Henri, le Chat Noir empire, has done what I’ve dreamt of doing for years. William not only put his cat to work, but now supports himself fully with Henri-related ventures!

Whereas most pet owners merely watch their cat or dog blissfully sleeping away and just wish they’d wake up and do something to defray the cost of their kibble, William had a vision.

Well…actually I made that last part up. I don’t really know if William had a vision for his now-famous French-speaking cat or not, way back in 2006 when Henry (the tuxedo kitty’s real name) appeared in his first internet video. But after the second video catapulted Henri to fame, lightbulbs surely went off in William’s brilliant mind.

He had created an unforgettable character — the world’s first existential cat philosopher – who was filled with ennui and bent on pondering his tormented existence. Filmed in black and white to parody French film noir, William’s video won the Golden Cat Award at the 2012 Internet Cat Video Film Festival, and late film critic Roger Ebert declared it “The best internet cat video ever made.” Yes, it’s that good!

Legions of Henri fans snapped up the t-shirts, coffee cups, posters, mouse pads, Henri “pawtographs” and other merchandise that followed, and now…William lives off his cat! At least that’s what the press release said for the latest Henri endeavor – a delightful little book titled The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat.

The hardcover book (in black and white, naturally!) is a collection of doleful Henri quotes that purrrfectly illustrate the disenchanted house cat’s cynical outlook on life. There are also 45 gorgeous photos, mostly of the handsome Henri but a few of his supposedly simpleminded feline roommate, aka “the white imbecile.”

If you’re a fan of the Henri videos, you simply must have The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat in your library! It also makes a great gift for a cat lover. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“When I watch you go about your activities, make no mistake about my intentions. I am not curious or coy. I am judging you.”

“I sleep because every time I open my eyes, the world is still there.”

“Looking into the garden today, I saw another version of myself meeting my gaze. A celestial counterpart, free in all the ways I am trapped, yet longing for the safety of my prison. It turns out it was just a raccoon.”

Cat treats are a poor substitute for real answers to the mysteries of our existence. Yet, I do not reject them.”

“My thumbs are not opposable, yet I oppose everything.”

If I had one itsy bitsy quibble with this great book, it would be that the experience of reading it is far too short. It’s certainly not a book you’ll take on summer vacation to while away a lazy day at the beach. In fact, you can finish the book in ten minutes. I definitely wanted more Henri after that last page! But here’s the thing – you’ll come back to the book again and again, and each time the experience will be just as enjoyable.

Buy it. Read it. Give it to a fellow cat lover. Or keep it on your coffee table to (in Henri’s own words) “make you look smart.” Indeed!

Henri, le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat is sure to become a cat classic.

Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of this book for review, but all opinions and philosophical musings in this post are wholly my own.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

EmailGoogle GmailBlogger PostTwitterFacebookGoogle+PinterestShare

CANIDAE Grain Free Pure – Great Pet Food Just Got Better!

NEW PURE FORMULAS FEATURE FRESH MEAT, WHOLE FOODS AND SIMPLE RECIPES, AND AN EXCITING NEW LOOK!

After much research and development at our Ethos Plant in Brownwood, Texas, we came up with new recipes for all of our Grain Free PURE formulas for dogs and cats. These new recipes are made using only 7 to 10 key ingredients—with added vitamins, minerals and natural flavors—and fresh meat or fish are the first ingredient in every bag. We are excited to share these nutritious, simple recipes with you and your pets!

Formulas for dogs include PURE Elements made with fresh lamb, PURE Land made with fresh bison, PURE Sky made with fresh duck and PURE Sea made with fresh salmon. These dry formulas also include whole foods like sweet potato, chickpeas and peas. All of our dry foods are now formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all adult and senior dogs. And while these four formulas are not recommended for puppies, we are working on a brand new dry formula that will expressly address the nutritional needs of dogs under one year of age. Our can formulas are approved for all life stages—including puppies, adults and senior dogs.

Read More »

Can you take your Dog on Public Transportation?

By Langley Cornwell

As the economy continues to evolve, there have been some notable changes to the transportation industry. More and more Americans are switching to smaller cars, and sales of hybrid automobiles are on a steep upward trend. Families that used to be two-car households are figuring out creative ways to drop down to one car and eliminate the inflated cost of gasoline, property taxes, maintenance, etc. for that second car.

As a response, public transportation is taking on a more important role in the new American lifestyle. We have a long way to go to catch up with many of the countries in the European Union, but I’ve seen giant strides even in the small southern town where I live now.

Fortunately, some trains, buses, trolleys and light rails now allow pets. Be aware, however, that there are still many restrictions for this method of transportation when your travel companion walks on four legs. At this time, people that plan to have their pet accompany them must avoid Amtrak and Greyhound; neither carrier allows animals on its trains and buses.

Other than avoiding Amtrak and Greyhound, there are no standard guidelines to follow when determining whether a certain train, trolley or light rail system will allow pets and, if they do, what their rules and regulations are. Before making your plans, check for updates and new information regarding which carrier in your area of travel allows pets and what restrictions apply.

If you’ve determined that pets are allowed to travel with you on public transportation, make sure you both adhere to good travel etiquette. Here are some tips:

Read More »

How Archaeologists Use the Power of a Dog’s Nose

By Linda Cole

Dogs are famous for their acute sense of smell. Beagles have been employed as bed bug detection dogs, and they sniff bags in airports to check for illegal fruits and vegetables being brought in by travelers. Drug and bomb sniffing dogs are trained to detect the smallest hint of contraband or explosives. More recently, archaeologists have discovered a dog with a good nose can be trained to search for smells that will tell us about our historical past buried in prehistoric grave sites. Now that’s a dog with a keen sense of smell!

When comparing scent receptors, we humans are woefully inadequate to dogs. Humans have around five million scent receptors in their nose, and the average canine has around 200 million. Adding to a dog’s extraordinary scenting ability is an organ located on the roof of the mouth that allows them to “taste” a smell, as well. So when we catch a whiff of steaks grilling on a BBQ close by, you can imagine how that mouth-watering scent is affecting your dog. Dogs are also capable of honing in on one specific smell among many. Once they find what they’re looking for, their focus is on that one smell, and they can follow it to its source. That’s why it’s nearly impossible to evade a tracking Bloodhound.

Historical Human Remains Detection dogs (HHRD) are trained to sniff out lingering odors from bones and teeth in old grave sites, some that may be thousands of years old. These unique canines are the newest detection dogs, and they help humans search for information underground that is difficult for us to find on our own. These specially trained dogs have been used by archaeologists, construction companies and ordinary people to locate American Indian burial sites, lost family cemeteries and unmarked grave sites.

We live in the present, but our history is buried in the past. We learn who we are as a people by understanding who we were in the past. Spread across this land are historical and prehistoric grave sites that can take us back to another time. In many cases, finding a hundred-year-old family burial spot isn’t of any real value to most people, but it is to the family searching for their roots.

Read More »

Do Dogs Fall in Love Like in the Movies?

By Tamara McRill

Remember that romantic kiss scene in Lady and the Tramp? You know the one…where they are eating a big plate of spaghetti and unknowingly slurping away at the same noodle, until their snouts meet in a smooch. Then Tramp noses the last meatball across the plate to Lady.

Aww. So adorable, right? Not to kill the cuteness factor, but have you ever wondered whether dogs can really fall head-over-paws in love like that?

Doggy love is a hard topic to find solid research on, maybe because it’s hard to qualify the emotion separate from simple affection. A lot of scientists seem to just flat out not believe in it.

Anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Social Lives of Dogs, believes that dogs can fall in love. In her book, she tells the story of Sundog and Bean, two dogs that met each other by chance and only had the pleasure of each other’s company for a brief period of time. Bean’s owner was a builder and they were off as soon as the job was finished.

Sundog would still faithfully wait to hear the sound of the vehicle Bean’s owner drove, but to no avail. He stopped eating and slept more often. Even bringing in another female dog didn’t interest him. As for Bean, her owner believed she was yearning for Sundog, even to the extent that she would run away, looking for him.

Read More »

Meet Quint, The Painting Cat!

By Julia Williams

I’ve profiled many talented felines here over the years, including therapy cats, photographer kitties, cat burglars, bestselling author cats and even a TV newsCATster.  Today it is my great pleasure to introduce you to another gifted feline – Quint, a cat who paints! Quint’s abstract art is just exquisite, and the kitty himself is quite the charmer. I know you will enjoy getting to know “Quint the Painting Cat” just as much as I have.

Julia: How old are you, and how long have you been painting?
Quint: I turned one year old at the beginning of May. Everyone says I’m still a baby, so I get lots of kisses. That’s not so bad. Officially, I took up painting last October. Unofficially, I’d been practicing my paw-strokes for about a year.

Julia: Your paintings are so beautiful! How did you pawrents discover that you had this artistic gift? 
Quint: Thank you! And thank you for calling it a gift! My pawrents didn’t think it was that at first. I’m not using names or anything but when I was little, I used to watch my dad get ready to face the world each morning and during that time somehow, little white dots would magically appear on the bathroom mirror. Well, no dot is safe with me! I’d touch and pat each one and sometimes, the dots would smear and swirl and that made me want to tug at each one even more. Mom wiped away my art every day and I had a fresh canvas to work on the next morning. When I was a little older, one day I thought the walls of our Cat Den looked boring and needed some help. The way mom tells it, I graduated from toothpaste on a mirror to cat litter smears on her walls. And that’s when I think I finally got through to them – I’m an artist and I needed a more acceptable outlet!

Julia: Why do you like to paint? 
Quint: Hmm, I think most artists don’t know why they do what they do. We just feel the need to express ourselves differently than most. This fall marks one year since I began painting and that milestone excites me. When something excites me, paint helps me express my excitement. Oh, and it’s fun to get colors on my big, white paws.

Julia: Could you describe your painting process? 
Quint: Sure, that’s easy. Usually, mom picks up on my restlessness and pulls my cardboard ‘studio’ together quickly. If I’ve been outside admiring flowers or sitting in my window watching birds, mom uses those color cues to set out a few paint dabs in a shallow bowl along with whatever I choose to paint on that day – small square canvases or heavy artist paper. When she tells me she’s ready, I find one of my mousies to take with me; for extra inspiration, and we get to work! I touch some of the paint and dab it on the paper. Sometimes, I’m in the mood for bold streaks and hard paw prints and sometimes I try to be more gentle and delicate. It all depends on my day!

Read More »