Pulcinella: Piano Playing Puss

Cat of the Month ~ May 2012
Pulcinella was the name of the cat owned by Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti, the Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Spanish and Portuguese Royal Families, although today he is known mainly for his 500 (and then some) keyboard sonatas. Scarlatti and his cat
Scarlatti with his beloved Pulcinella
Photograph: Artists Impression by Ed
Scarlatti’s famous Fugue in G minor, is a one-movement harpsichord sonata popularly known as the Cat fugue or Cat’s fugue. The nickname, ‘The Cat Fugue’, which was never used by the composer himself but was introduced early in the 19th century, originates from a story about how Scarlatti came up with the strikingly unusual motif on which the fugue is built. Legend has it that Scarlatti’s pet cat was called Pulcinella. The composer himself described how his cat would enjoy walking across the harpsichord keyboard, being always curious about the sounds it made under his paws. Usually, this walking would produce a random series of discordant notes but … On this auspicious occasion, according to the story, Scarlatti heard and then wrote down an amazing phrase produced by the cats paw presses on the keyboard. The paper he used is still in existence:
Reproduction of the extract of the Cat Fugue” jotted down by Scarlatti
Image: by Scarlatti :-):
This particular ‘improvisation session’ had proven to be very fruitful, as he used the notes as a lead motif in his new fugue. Truly inspired, he went on to write the whole Fugue around these notes. The piece proved to be an overnight sensation and remains popular to this day. So from this legend the nickname ‘Cat’s Fugue’ was used in concert programmes in the 19th Century and was also used by later publishers of Scarlatti’s music. To hear Pulcinella’s very own inspired motif (The Cat Fugue) here is a rendition of the piece played by Veronika Kuzmina Raibaut on Piano.
“Cat Fugue” by Pulcinella/Scarlatti on Piano
Personally Norman, Oscar and I myself prefer the harpsichord version here….what say you?
“Cat Fugue” by Pulcinella/Scarlatti on Harsichord
We know (do we not?) that ALL cats are inspirational, everyday, but a special well done to Pulcinella ( R.I.P) for getting your name out there!

[source articles: Book – “100 Cats Who Changed Civilization” by Sam Stall, and Wikipedia.org]

The Fairest Flower of Them All

[ Mini heatwave here in England folks, hot on the heels of the wettest drought on record ( the day after the drought was announced it rained for a month and a half)! , Ed] I have been lolling in the shade today making a few feline observations on life, the Universe and the humans in our care which I thought I would share with you.
…just settling down in the cool borage

Photograph: Ed
Not two days ago my Tom human had his fleecy jacket on, zipped tight against the cold, but today he has exposed those pale, stubbly legs to the unexpected sunshine and, I’m sorry to say, it’s not a pretty sight at all, although he doesn’t seem to think so (bless). However there are other interesting things to look at to gladden a cat’s eye. There are bluebells swaying in the breeze and bees buzzing in the Borage, (if only I could raise the energy to give them a quick bat). Birds are busying themselves all over the sky, each one with its own unique song (and most delicious they all sound too).
… managed to raise myself for a stroll along the path…it’s so hot in this fur coat

Photograph: Ed
The humans are caught up in watching The Chelsea Flower Show and dreaming of having a calm, ordered Japanese garden with trickling streams and carefully clipped bonsai trees. But flower shows and the humans in my care, have seemed to miss the glaringly obvious – that whether you have a rustic French jardin, a manicured Elizabethan knot garden or a yard with a few pots of cheery geraniums, the most beautiful thing of all for the heart to see is a happy cat mooching around and bringing the garden to life with its inquisitive, furry, fabulous ways. So please let me suggest, to any readers who have a garden but no puss, that a visit to your local cattery or cat rescue center would bring even more sunshine into your life and complete the little patch of earth you call home perfectly, plus they will help with the digging in their own way, honestly! Love and purrs to all, Norman. x x

White tiger cubs born in the Ukraine

A white tigeress named named Tigrulya gave birth to four tiger cubs in a Yalta zoo on the seventh of May. The newborns are in good health and are being taken care of by staff at the Skazka Zoo in southern Ukraine.
Tigress Tigrulya showing off one of her cubs
Photograph: AP
The name of the mother tiger, Tigrulya, was chosen to honour the former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. A contest is now being held to name the four newborn cubs.
four tiger cubs
Four beautiful cubs, snug in a wooden basket
Photograph: AP
It is very rare that four white tigers are born in a single litter and what is more one of the cubs is an albino with no striped markings on his body at all. Previously (on the 4th August 2010) a litter of rare white tiger cubs were born at a zoo in northern Germany. These events are extremely important as fewer than 250 white tigers exist worldwide, most of them in captivity. It is said that less than one hundred white tigers exist in the wild.

Cheetahs Mark and Monty, maul woman

Two beautiful Cheetahs held in captivity at the Kragga Kamma Game Park in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, struck last weekend, and the trip of a lifetime to celebrate a Scottish woman’s 60th birthday, turned into a battle of life and death.
Don’t mess with a fully grown cheetah …
Photograph: Archibald D’Mello / AP Photo
The supposedly tame cheetahs attacked Violet D’Mello whilst her husband Archie looked on and, erm, took photos. Archie remarked afterwards “They seemed to be pretty docile. They said they were hand reared from cubs and were extremely tame and you could stroke them … and not only that, lay on them and they’ll do nothing to you”. The couple had just taken photos with the animals and were still in the petting area when one of the cats grabbed an 8 year old girl by the leg. Violet tried to stop the attack and allowed the girl to run for safety, but both cheetahs then turned on her in a savage attack that lasted for more than three minutes. Husband Archie kept taking pictures, documenting the horrific scene as the animals bit and scratched his wife’s head, legs and stomach.
… or you’ll end up in the dirt
Photograph: Archibald D’Mello / AP Photo
Violet recounted the story to the Port Elizabeth Herald reporter. “… my instinct took over while a guide tried to pull the cats off of me. Something inside me just said, Don’t move,..don’t move at all. Don’t react, just play dead” The 60-year-old lost a lot of blood during the attack and has a lot of stitches on both her thighs and her scalp, her husband said. Park manager Mike Cantor told the newspaper, “the park had never had any problems with the previously beloved cheetahs”. It’s not something we’ve ever really experienced. It’s obviously very unfortunate, and we’re looking into what may have startled or riled up the cheetahs”. The petting facility is now closed to the public while the park investigates the attack.

Thats cats for you!…., so wild and unpredictable (they’re born hunters after all) and that’s why we love em! Glad to hear no one was seriously hurt though, eh Norm. [Ed]

Black Panther

Black panthers exist in nature as a variant of several species of larger cat. The black colouration of these cats is caused by a genetic (specifically melanistic) variation in color often present due to adaptations to the environment in which the cat lives.
Cat of the Month ~ April 2012
Black Panther – In this case a melanistic leopard, which is the most common type
Photograph: creative commons licence

Examples of the black panther include:

  • Black Jaguars (Panthera Onca), found in Latin America and North America.
  • Black Leopards (Panthera Pardus), found in Asia and Africa.
  • Black Tigers (Panthera Tigris), found in Asia (and very rare).
  • Black Cougars (Puma Concolor), believed to exist in North America but never recorded.
When examined closely, all of these black panthers will in fact show their source cat markings underneath their black colouration. Their skin will look similar to a sheet of printed silk which has been stretched across their frame. This effect is known as “ghost striping”. The black skin is known to be an advantage in regions of dense forest (for instance) as it provides camouflage in the dark environment, and will allow the creature to hunt and stalk almost invisible to their prey. Another benefit of melanism, (recent, preliminary studies also suggest) is that melanism might be linked to beneficial mutations in the immune system, effectively giving these animals a longer and healithier life. It is interesting that melanistic and non-melanistic kittens can be part of the same litter. Several of the Black panther types are now described in more detail: Black Leopard Black leopards are reported in most densely forested areas in southwestern China, Myanmar, Assam and Nepal, from Travancore and other parts of southern India, and are said to be common in Java and the southern part of the Malay Peninsula where they may be more numerous than spotted leopards. They are less common in tropical Africa, but have been reported in Ethiopia, in the forests of Mount Kenya and in the Aberdares. The fur colour of these cats has been recorded as showing a mixture of blue, black, gray, and purple. Melanistic leopards are the most common form of black panther kept in captivity. and they have been selectively bred for decades for Zoos and the exotic pet trade. It is said that black Leopards are smaller and more lightly built than normally pigmented individuals. It is a myth that black leopards are often rejected by their mothers at an early age because of their color. In actuality it has been shown that poor temperament has been bred into the captive strains as a side-effect of inbreeding and it is this poor temperament that leads to problems of maternal care (in captivity only). The Cobweb Panther In the early 1980s, Glasgow Zoo acquired a 10 year old black leopard, nicknamed the Cobweb Panther, from Dublin Zoo. She was exhibited for several years before being moved to the Madrid Zoo. This leopard had a uniformly black coat profusely sprinkled with white hairs as though draped with spider webs. The condition appeared to be vitiligo; as she aged, the white became more extensive. Since then, other “cobweb panthers” have been reported and photographed in zoos. The Black Jaguar Jaguars produce either wholly black or wholly spotted cubs. Also a pair of spotted jaguars can only produce spotted cubs. Where melanistic genes appear in breeding pairs there can be many gradations in the colours produced in the resulting cubs. The allele genes are responsible for this wide variation in colour from dark charcoal rather to jet black. The black jaguar was considered a separate species by indigenous peoples. The British author, naturalist and ornithologist W. H. Hudson wrote: The jaguar is a beautiful creature, the ground-color of the fur a rich golden-red tan, abundantly marked with black rings, enclosing one or two small spots within. This is the typical coloring, and it varies little in the temperate regions; in the hot region the Indians recognise three strongly marked varieties, which they regard as distinct species – the one described; the smaller Jaguar, less aquatic in his habits and marked with spots, not rings; and, thirdly, the black variety. They scout the notion that their terrible “black tiger” is a mere melanic variation, like the black leopard of the Old World and the wild black rabbit. They regard it as wholly distinct, and affirm that it is larger and much more dangerous than the spotted jaguar; that they recognise it by its cry; that it belongs to the terra firma rather than to the water-side; finally, that black pairs with black, and that the cubs are invariably black. Nevertheless, naturalists have been obliged to make it specifically one with Felis onca [Panthera onca], the familiar spotted jaguar, since, when stripped of its hide, it is found to be anatomically as much like that beast as the black is like the spotted leopard. The Black Cougar There are no authenticated cases of truly melanistic Cougars (Pumas). Melanistic Cougars have never been photographed or captured in the wild and none has ever been bred in Captivity. There is wide consensus among breeders and biologists that the animal does not in fact exist. However, Black Cougars have been reported in Kentucky and in the Carolinas. There have also been reports of glossy black cougars from Kansas, Texas and eastern Nebraska. These have come to be known as the “North American Black Panther”. Sightings are currently attributed to errors in species identification by non-experts, and also by the incorrect estimation of the size of these cats when observed in the wild. Footnote: Of course black cats in general are the subject of countless folk tales, myths and anecdotes. Sightings of large black cats have been seen the world over in regions where there are no big cats known to exist at all. For example, here in the United Kingdom more than 2,000 large black cats have now been sighted in the Midlands (near here in fact [Ed]) on Cannock Chase. Finally, within the folklore of the native American Choctaw which has existed for centuries, Black panthers feature prominently, where, along with the owl, they are often thought to symbolize Death.

[source article: Wikipedia]