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Maneki Neko (Japanese Lucky Cats)
Have you come across a very special ‘breed of cat’ called the Maneki Neko? I am the proud owner of one of these charming cats…

Last December, my daughter bought me a golden Japanese Lucky Cat. Before she gave me my gift, I did not know anything about these cats, which are very popular in Japan. The figurines come in different designs and are called Maneki Neko. These cats are depicted as sitting upright with either one or two front paws raised.

My cat is gold coloured but they also come in white, red and tricolours. They can be made of wood, china and, more recently, plastic. Since I got my cat, I have been noticing them in Japanese shops in and around Manchester and York. The cats are popular with shopkeepers and as a lucky charm in Japanese homes. They are believed to bring luck, fortune and happiness.
The Maneki Neko cat has a red collar with a bell. This is reminiscent of the custom during the Edo era (1603-1868). A cat was an expensive pet up until the middle of the Edo era. The affluent ladies cherished their cats. They gave their beloved cats red collars made of Hi-chiri-men (a luxury item in the Edo era) and small bells to keep an eye on their cats. The typical pose of the ‘waving cat’ is actually reminiscent of a cat washing its face. This pose is seen by the Japanese as a welcoming gesture of beckoning.

Last Saturday, I visited Chester and saw some lovely china Maneki Neko and I thought I would share my enthusiasm for this sweet little cat with readers of OUR CATS. If you have a Maneki Neko, please send me a photo for this column.

Letter from Liz Mills

Bingley Cat Show August 2006, to the three Christines and Babs…
I would like to say a few words of thanks and observations, through Chris’s (Stalker) super column…

To Chris (STALKER) herself for printing some of my pieces (Mowgli is now very conceited after his stories were published)! The story of the ALAMO stall made a huge difference to my first few shows, getting me off to a great start. I have already been able to send out some cheques. The more I sell, the more I can donate. So every item people give me is valued. If anyone can bring just small carrier bags of goodies to shows, it does help it keep the stall interesting. Hopefully, I will be at the North West/Cheshire Area/Trans Pennine shows. Also, my friend Chris Mellor (of Feline T-shirts) is willing to accept these goodie bags at her stall. Chris does many more venues than I and covers all the country. Thanks Chris (S)

It is sad, but interesting, that this summer several cat rescue groups are reporting poor re-homing figures even of this season’s kittens. This is causing a backlog of older cats (a sort of bed-blocking) and thus delaying cats waiting to come in. The longer the animals stay, the higher the running costs. Let us hope it is just a glitch and not an indication that the neutering programmes are being ignored.

I had a lovely day at one of my favourite venues, Bingley. On the Saturday evening I stayed with Chris MELLOR (of Feline T-shirts) as usual. Even after a long day trading at Chester, Chris cooked up a splendid meal and we polished off a few glasses of wine as we caught up on show, stalls and other gossip. She also gave me several generous donations for the tombola/stall. Thanks Chris (M)

Thanks too, to Chris (BAMFORD) the Bingley Show Manager. I had a good space to do my charity stall and she had invited me to do a Tombola too. Wow! That was hard work, but fun, mind you - it played havoc with my vocal cords! It was a very happy successful show. Special thanks to Chris, David and the committee, who also donated many items to my stall. I was sadly too busy to go round the rest of the venue this year but hey! I was there to work after all! Thanks Chris (B)

There was a constant stream of people through the tent to look at the cats. It’s a great deal more ‘hands-on’, this show. It’s a great way to introduce the public to the hobby and each year someone new who we talk to is there, showing again, the following year.
The public love the stalls too (thanks to other generous stallholders for goodies and gifts to sell). I found the public very giving and interested in who I fundraise for. As it is an agricultural show they tend to be ‘animal’ people with a special interest in the cats. They love to regale us with snippets about their own ‘Fluffy’ or ‘Fred’.

The cats on exhibition play a special part at this show too, as the owners patiently talk to the visitors and explain about the breeds and rules of showing to the public, children in particular. Stalwart exhibitors Peter & Babs Bailey as usual threw themselves into the fun and it is to them my that final thanks go to for a special cash donation, as well as goodies for the stall and a couple of tinned treats to give to my cats when I eventually got home. Thanks Babs (BAILEY)

Liz Mills (Cloudfall) The Alamo Charity Trading Post
01745 856448 Email: lizinwales@tesco.net


The following poem was sent to me by Janet Howarth who runs a B&B in Llandudno. Janet says, “It is the unexpected which makes life as a seaside landlady interesting. It was still early in the season and the weather still wintry. The light was fading and a storm was coming in on the evening tide when ‘Mungojerrie’ rang my front door bell. That wasn’t the man’s real name - just the character he was playing from the musical, CATS. He was looking for a room for his parents, who would be attending his first night.

After he left, I searched for my copy of TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and found Mungojerrie and read again this collection of poems. which I hadn’t read since my sons were small.

Mungojerrie is my name
And dancing is my game.

Six o’clock and the doorbell rings
Along the hallway
And framed in the doorway
Stands a Cat
With a spring in his step.
Mungojerrie, he purrs his name
And asks to see a room.
‘Is it homely?
Is it warm?’
‘Will there be tea and scones, dripping with cream?’
Firelight attracts his attention.
The sheep skin rug wins approval,
The room will do nicely, he purrs.

Socialisation Classes for kittens in Australia and USA

Steve Dale is the resident pet expert on www.goodnewsforpets.com Steve recently reported on an innovative concept originally devised by Dr. Kersti Seksel, a veterinary behaviourist based in Seaforth, New South Wales, Australia. Dr Seksel began offering what she calls Kitty Kindys about 10 years ago. The 60-90 minute classes meets twice and are exclusively for kittens aged 7 to 14 weeks. “It all began when my clients in puppy classes wanted equal attention for their cats,” explains Dr. Seksel. “I believe that kittens deserve an education too.”

Typically, these Kitty Kindy’s take place at a vet’s surgery office. Seksel says, “At this young age, all you need to do is drop some treats in the carrier. Kittens are happy to jump inside. Now, a visit to the vet office is like a party; there are toys and treats, and other cats to play with.”
Dr Illona Rodan (a past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners) heard about Seksel’s ‘tutoring for tabbies’ and she immediately imported the curriculum from Down Under to her feline practice in Madison. “I’m sure people thought I was a little crazy,” she says. “But I knew these classes would save lives. The number one cause of death in indoor cats isn’t heart or kidney disease or cancer - it is people who give up on their cats’ bad behaviour.” Dr Rodan explained about one case, a cat called Freddy. He was a kitten who began scratching in all the wrong places. The owners were furious at Freddy. Dr Rodan said, “At least with dogs, if you don’t seek help from your veterinarian for behaviour issues, there is a dog trainer. For cats, people never had an option – now, there is one… and even better, that person is a veterinarian or someone working in conjunction with your vet. As a part of the class we answer specific questions, but we certainly explain that all cats need to scratch. We discuss scratching posts. Freddy had a post, which is why the owners couldn’t understand what was happening. But the post was carpet, and Freddy didn’t like using it. When the owners replaced it with a post wound with sisal and re-located the cat scratching post away from the litter box, Freddy was very happy to use it.” Dr Rodan says that if she wasn’t available as a resource, the situation may have worsened, and the bond between the family and Freddy could have disintegrated, with Freddie landing at a shelter.

Responding to critics of the Kitten Kindys (because of the possible health implications), Dr. Ian Dunbar, of Berkeley, California, says, “Sure, that (disease risk) can happen. Anything can happen. The reality is that more cats die because they scratch in the wrong places or miss the (litter) box than of feline leukaemia.”

Dunbar, a veterinary behaviourist and certified applied behaviourist, is credited with pioneering the concept of puppy kindergarten classes in the late 1970s into the 1980s. He says in some ways socialization classes might even be more beneficial for cats. “They’re indoors their entire lives, and that’s fine so they don’t get killed by cars. But they need things to do. Being socialized to go out into the world on a harness or in a carrier is wonderful.”

The guidelines have been included in the American Association of “Feline Practitioners Behavior Guidelines,” - free to download at:


Safe Arrival

I am delighted to report that I have a new litter of Burmese kittens, born last week. Mum and her six kittens are all doing well and providing me with lots of ‘time to waste’ - because I make any excuse to sit and gaze at them in awe.

I use the superb ‘Birthing Boxes’ designed by Annette Penny of AMP Newborn Ltd for my queens. The boxes come in three sizes and I personally like to use the medium box (rather than the small one designed for cats) as there is lots of room for the kittens during their early weeks. These super boxes are available in the UK from http://www.doghealth.co.uk/
0800 0744302.