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Fragments 6

Colin (the cat) meets Colin (the Secretary of State)
Libby and Cashew

Colin meets Colin

The Secretary of State greets his namesake

Caricature's Colin Powell, the ACFA's Cat of the Year in 2004

Colin the cat on the podium at the Department of State, Apr 2004

Each year the American Cat Fanciers' Association (ACFA), founded in 1906 and the world's largest non-profit register of pedigree cats, holds a competition for the 'cat of the year'. It is usually won by one of the major breeds such as a Persian, a Maine Coon or a Siamese. However, in 2004 the winner, after a year of gruelling competition in which he was judged — and won — no fewer than 290 times, was a Bombay cat, a minority breed, named Caricature's Colin Powell.

He was named for 'a person of colour who has made, and continues to make, significant contributions to the world' — in this case, of course, the then Secretary of State for the US, Colin L. Powell. A photo opportunity was held at which the cat met his namesake, who declared him 'the best cat in the country'.

Colin meets Colin - Secretary of State Colin Powell holds his namesake, Apr 2004
Colin with Secretary Powell and the president of the ACFA

Secretary Powell also had the privilege of choosing a name for a kitten born on Independence Day, July 4th, a son of the celebrity cat. Mr Powell said that he would like to name the youngster after Ralph Bunche, the first black American to receive a Nobel Peace Prize and one with connections to the State Department as well as to the cause of peace. The kitten was duly named Caricature's Ralph Bunche.

For a fuller account of the event and Mr Powell's speech, see this page (Internet Archive copy).


and Cashew

Cashew's seeing eye helper Libby, ASPCA Cat of the Year in 2008

Libby the cat with Cashew the dog Cashew, named for the shape of her ears, was a yellow Labrador-cross dog who was picked up as a puppy from the local ASPCA centre and went to live with the Burns family in Middleburg, Pennsylvania. When the dog was about 7 years old, in 1998, postal delivery worker Terry Burns came across two malnourished kittens huddling in a box in a pet shop and took them home to give them some love and care. He named the orange tabby Libby, because her fur was the colour of Libby's brand of canned pumpkins, and her shyer sister he called Lucy. He was not sure they would survive, but they thrived and grew into handsome cats.

Over the years, a friendship developed between Libby and Cashew. As time went by, Cashew became weaker and increasingly blind and deaf. She needed more assistance from her humans — and Burns noticed that Libby spent more and more time with the dog too, even sleeping in her kennel with her. The dog's feline friend took on the role of Cashew's personal guide, and they became inseparable. When Cashew was taken on a lead for her daily walk in nearby woods, Libby would sometimes follow, seeming to be concerned for her friend's well-being. At home or outside, the cat would help by nuzzling Cashew's shoulder and steering her away from obstacles such as trees or furniture, so that she wouldn't bump into them. At mealtimes she would guide the dog towards her food and water dishes. It was a remarkable friendship, and without it Cashew would likely have been very lonely.

Libby and Cashew, Middleburg, Pennsylvania When the inevitable happened and Cashew died, for some time Libby would wander in and out of the kennel where they had shared a bed; but then she seemed to realise her friend had gone for good, and no longer showed any interest in the kennel or in walking in the woods. Instead she made herself a new home in a different part of the property with her littermate Lucy and Gracie, a silver tabby that Burns found abandoned on his postal route.

Terry Burns' mother had entered Libby in a 'Hero Pet' photo contest run by Reader's Digest — and her story was picked up by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). She was chosen as the ASPCA 'Cat of the Year' in 2008 for her remarkable service as an intuitive and extraordinary guide for a disabled canine. Libby herself couldn't attend the presentation lunch at ASPCA headquarters in New York, but the Burnses proudly received the prestigious award on her behalf. As for Libby, she has started to get along with Besse, the family's large but gentle new black Labrador.

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Our featured feline at the head of the page, and your companion through Feline Fragments, is Maggie. She came as a kitten from Powys Cat Rescue. One of their volunteers had seen her wandering around, apparently uncared for, and thought her rather young to be just left to roam. The person 'responsible' for her said she 'didn't care', and so the youngster was taken in for rehoming. Only about 4 months old when I brought her home in 2003, she was a self-assured soul, probably because of her early experience, and was soon climbing all the available trees in the garden. She was a determined hunter in her earlier days, and was usually outside, but now prefers snoozing unless the weather is good. She has superb whiskers — and as the photo shows, loves getting into things! (see it here without the puzzle effect)

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