Where the Cat Got Its Kink
A cat’s tail is a mystical thing. It is used by its owner to show any number of emotions as well as to send messages to its less-fortunate, two-legged, bald friends. There is the raised tail of awareness — the feline signal for “I see you and now I know you see me, so let’s start our negotiations.” Many have seen the flickering tail of impending doom. Rapid, side-to-side movement of the tail combined with the compression of the cat’s body into a tight ball indicates an attack is imminent. There is also the drumming tail of unachieved expectations. A cat will signal its displeasure at a situation while casually lying on its side and banging its tail on the floor or couch. This is to let everyone know that a situation has arisen that will require immediate attention and that, if the problem is not corrected, there will be trouble.
Cats’ tails also occasionally come with kinks. Some kinks are the result of accidents — a tail caught in a door or under Grandma’s rocking chair. Other kinks come from the careless or cruel act of a person grabbing the only available appendage in a vain effort to control a cat.
Other cats have tails that are naturally kinked. Some Siamese cats have this trait, but few people are aware of the legends that describe the origins of these kinks.
Once upon a time, a princess of Siam was bathing in a stream. She worried about losing her rings and looked around for a place to secure them. She then noticed her favorite cat had a kink in its tail. She placed her rings on the cat’s tail and was able to relax and bathe, knowing her faithful friend had her rings. Ever since that time, Siamese cats have been prized for their kinked tails.
The other tale, no pun intended, tells of a feline couple who went in search of a missing goblet from the temple they called home. They searched the jungle and found the sacred vessel. The cats agreed that the male would return to the temple to alert the priests while the female would stay and guard the goblet. The lady cat twisted her tail around the goblet to secure and protect it.
The male cat did not return to his mate with the priests for four days. When he returned he found not only the goblet and his beloved, but also five small kittens — for during his time away, his lady had given birth. Throughout all her exertions, the female cat had never released her hold on the goblet, and her courageous efforts had caused her tail to become permanently kinked. Mysteriously, her five kittens also had kinks in their tails. From that time on it was considered a good sign to have a cat with a kinked tail.
To this day, if you listen carefully to the mewling of Siamese cats, you can still hear the greeting the female cat gave her mate when he returned and first beheld his new offspring: “You try holding on to this damn cup while giving birth without ending up with a kinked tail, you useless bastard! Now go out and get me some fish or a nice savory mouse, cause I’m starving!”
Copyright 2009, Tom Chlipala
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