October 30, 2017

Vibrissae or The Crazy Cat Lady's Whisker Collection

 Vibrissae: A Collection of Cats, Facts and Whiskers

Why do I collect whiskers? I don't really know.
It started on a whim, about 25 years ago.
Now I have almost two hundred, call me crazy,
From about a dozen different cats, and one dog named Maisy.

First whiskers from Zelda, then Sadie Baby,
By now I might be turning into that kind of cat lady.
They are my companions, familiars and kin,
In this way I honor their fuzzy contributions.

The first cat I remember, maybe I was two,
Was black and white Cori, with the sweetest mew.
Then a tabby named Fatty, who weighed 20 pounds,
A white persian Cotton, was the the next one around.

Later along came Alexander Boo Boo Kitty,
Sleek and grey. White Babylon was pretty,
Only on the earth for a year and a day,
She touched me most, more than words can say.

Whiskers are cool, here's some facts:
They are not just hair upon the cats.
Known as vibrissae, sensitive touch receptors,
They act like radar, little kitty interceptors.

Whiskers help cats to perceive, especially at night,
Fit in small places, figure out if they're tight.
Really, they act as the ultimate sensory gauge,
And just like us, whiskers change color with age.

In college I met Zelda, a cat from outer space,
Later in the stars, she took her rightful place.
Then at the flea market, we picked up Sadie Mae,
The Duchess of Nothing, the Queen of everyday.

As well as Rosie Posie, the Puddingest of Pops,
She kissed the girls and she never stopped.
For three long years, Ms. Calamity Jane,
Ruled our front stoop, then moved down the lane.

Did you know a group of cats is called a clowder?
And that here in Santa Cruz, we love our clam chowder?
A group of kittens is called a kindle - another fact,
There's always something new to know about cats.

For example, they appear in ancient inscriptions,
Yes indeedy, cats befriended the Egyptians.
Most cats have eighteen toes to hold all of those claws,
But polydactyl cats can have eight digits on any of their paws.

At the SPCA we met slinkster Sharkey Rue,
They said we'd rue the day - this was never true.
She'd slink around the house, slink through all the parts,
She was the slinksterest cat, slinking through our hearts .
(ref Fransceca Block)

At Herland we had a bookstore cat for a day or two -
But someone complained, sneezed, allergies, ah-chooo!
So at home did the Lilly Billy, little bit silly, come to stay,
What I loved about her most - she always had something to say.

Indeed, cats sleep about two thirds of the day,
This is to conserve energy - then pounce on their prey!
Felines have the most amazing retractable claws,
And about 30 sharp teeth in their maws.

Cats are persnickety - they don't like to get dirty.
They yowl when in heat - that's how they get flirty.
Actually, they can make over a hundred vocal sounds,
Expressing their needs, I mean, love with no bounds.

Next we were graced with the wonderous kittens,
Poppyseed Muffins and sweet Mango Mittens,
Then came our housemate's cats - Roxie and The Dude,
One was part Burmese, the other ragdoll with attitude.

Our next cat - a black, white orange combo,
Yes I am talking about June, the Calico.
She was alpha female, she showed no favors,
And so sweet Mango now lives with Jim, our neighbor.

Here is an interesting fact you might find strange,
Cats purr in the 20 to 140 Hertz range.
Helpful for illness, these purr-ticular vibrations,
Snuggling could be the best purr-scriptions!

Scientist took the time to carefully measure,
Just how a purr can lower blood pressure.
Lowering heart attacks, and reducing stress,
Healing bones, muscles and ligaments.

And then we had Maisy, who was very special,
Yes indeedy, she was trans-Pet-ual.
A cat trapped in a dog's body, she could even purr,
She had popcorn-y feet, and deep black fur.

As a perpetual cat-lover for all of my life,
Maisy taught me tolerance, acceptance of strife,
Just like their owner, trans, accepting and proud,
To be a part of a particularly colorful crowd.

Now Roxie! Now Rosie! Now Mango and Poppy!
On, CJ! On, Cotton! On, Alex and Sharkey
"To the top of porch! To the top of the wall!"
Each of these cats, I have loved them all.

For me it's whiskers, I'm curious what is your passion?
What do you pursue? What's your particular fashion?
Whatever you choose, whatever you select—
"Happy Collecting to all, and to all a good collect!"
(ref. Clement Clarke Moore)

You might not believes this, even think it's absurd,
But none of my pets' names are used for my passwords!
Simply talking about the weird thing I collect,
Helps me express my profound respect.

What will I do with these whiskers? Glad you asked,
I think I'll have them scattered, along with my ash.
I'm sure it's clear from what you read above,
What these whiskers really represent -  is unconditional love.

Every book sold supports the Santa Cruz SPCA
Please support your local animal shelter/fostering program.

Amber and Kayla make their home in sunny Santa Cruz, where they balance making good in the world with doing as much nothing as possible.