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Saturday, March 16, 2002
Conspiracy behind itty-bitty kitty tails
By AMY CHAVEZ
There is one question about Japan that even the Japanese cannot answer: What has happened to all the cats' tails? I have never seen a kitten without a tail, but adult stray cats in Japan seldom have tails. Although many Japanese have offered theories, no one seems to really know the answer.
One Japanese offered the following theory: "Very dangerous life for cat in Japan. Tail get caught in car door."
Hmm. Since when do cats drive?
Another person suggested that cats get their tails run over by cars. But wouldn't that just leave them with very flat tails?
I'm beginning to wonder if it's not the cats who get rid of their own tails. Since you never see any stray tails lying around, it's not just a case of Eeyorian cats misplacing their tails. Perhaps they're "yakuza" cats and we only see the ones who have made a mistake and had to cut off their tails as retribution. But I wonder what kind of a mistake a gangster cat could make:
Gangster boss cat: Sid, did you get the shipment of illegal catnip?
Sid: Meow, sir. Here it is.
Boss cat: Yuck, Sid. What is that smell?
Sid: I peed on it, sir.
Boss cat: You whizzed on 50 million yen worth of catnip?
Sid: Meow, sir. Of course I did. It was in my territory.
Boss cat: Someone get the saw!
Or maybe cats have "wisdom tails" like wisdom teeth -- they are considered a nuisance, so cats have them removed. Too impatient to wait hundreds of years for their bodies to evolve without tails, cats lop them off as a coming-of-age ritual.
At any rate, the tails must have gone somewhere. This makes me wonder: Is somebody hoarding tails? Certainly I'm not the only one who has regarded the fur trim on the hoods of winter coats with suspicion.
It's very possible that someone is storing up tails to make fashionable cat tail goods. Don't say yuck! People have been wearing animals for centuries: leather for clothing, bone and teeth for jewelry, and corpses for stoles. Cat gut has been used in stringing tennis rackets for decades. So why not use wisdom tails? With so many stray cats in the world, there is an endless supply of tails.
Long, fluffy cat tails could be used in women's fashion accessories such as purse straps, belts and stoles. How about as hair elastics, headbands, or an array of tails sprouting out of hats? For the modern Daniel Boone look, hang a cat tail on the back of your hat. Cat tails sewn together would make trendy obi belts for kimonos.
Putting a stick through a long white Persian cat tail would give elegance to pens, conductors' wands and presentation pointers used for charts and maps. For more practical uses, cat tails could be used as dusters, ribbon to tie up a special gift, brushes for Japanese calligraphy or as large, reusable Q-tips.
They could even be used on the end of a stick as a prop to switch back and forth when you are irritated -- like having your own tail. Seamless cat tails could provide protective cylinders for storing drumsticks, pens or kitchen knives. Or how about as a covering for the ultimate trendy Hula-Hoop?
The remainders -- the stubby tails, scrawny tails, too curly tails and just plain ugly tails -- could be used as filling for pillows and replace the rock-hard Japanese "sobamagura."
The only problem is, some people are allergic to cats. I suggest these people use rabbit tails instead. Wait a minute -- rabbits just have stubs for tails too. Which leads us to the question: Where have all the rabbits' tails gone?
Contact Amy at email@example.com or visit the "Japan Lite" home page at www.amychavez.com