Blessed Bubba   2 comments

Watching a made-for-cats Video by Lady Birchwood
Watching a made-for-cats Video, a photo by Lady Birchwood on Flickr.

My now-17-year-old cat, Bubba, was rescued from a feral lifestyle when he was about 5 months old. Considering the fact that he was born under the neighbor’s porch, the offspring of a feral queen and an unknown father, there is virtually no chance that he carries any kind of pedigree. He’s an “alley cat” of mixed and undetermined ancestry.

However, for being a “mutt” of a cat, he has some distinct markings and characteristics. His marking are known in the cat world as “van” (pronounced von), meaning that he has the butterfly pattern of color on his head and a colored tail to match with the rest of his body being white. (His mother, a feral cat we fed for close to a year, had the same markings.) There is a recognized breed of cat called the Turkish Van which has an ancient and colorful history.

I’ve read quite a bit about the Turkish Van breed just because Bubba resembles it so strongly. One legend of the Turkish Van is that they can have patches of color on their bodies, and this has been explained through history as the “mark of Allah.” As this article states, “The spot on the left shoulder resembles the shape of the print of a thumb due to the presence of the agouti gene, which is responsible for tabby coloration and always present in red color in cats, giving rise to lighter and darker tones in the red marks of Van cats. The mark on the left shoulder can look as if the coloration was pressed out from the center to the periphery under the pressure of a finger. The Kurds call this mark the thumbprint of Allah’s right hand, and consider it a sign of good luck. There is a local legend telling that Allah (that means the Lord or God) blessed the Van cat by putting His right hand on it as the cat left Noah’s Ark. In the places on the cat’s coat where the Creator had touched it (head, shoulder and tail), the flaming marks appeared.”

Look at the photo of Bubba (the cat with his paw touching the bird on the TV screen). I’ve always been fascinated by that thumbprint-size patch of color on the left side of his neck just above his shoulders. For years, I’ve placed my thumb on that spot and marveled that it was like someone imprinted him with an inked thumb. Later, I found out in my reading, that the Turkish Van may have a spot of color like that, a marking that is known either as “the mark of Allah” or the “thumbprint of Allah.”

I’m a scientist by nature and education. No, I don’t put much stock in legends and folklore. However, some of it is emotionally touching, and I love this story of how the cat received his mark. It means he’s a blessed cat. That makes me feel good, so I’m going to hang on to that tale. My cat is blessed, no matter how he acquired that mark!

As Bubba (a ridiculous name! I just couldn’t figure out the special name he deserved so we call him by a nickname, his formal name unknown to us) is now in the autumn of his years, I’ve looked more and more at that mark. I’ve wanted to preserve it, to have in my possession to hold in my hand whenever I want. I took the scissors to him Thursday morning after we got home from the vet and removed his Mark of Allah. (Of course, it’s still there, just trimmed short.) I placed the colored fur in an industrial strength plastic bag and marked it with the date. His “thumbprint” will grow out in the days ahead and he’ll have his full display of “blessing” again soon. And I’ll have mine to hold onto and treasure forever.

Blessed Bubba, the cat with the special name that we do not know!


Posted May 15, 2011 by StPaulieGrrl in cats

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2 responses to “Blessed Bubba

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  1. What a nice post! Bubba is so lucky to have as loving mummy as you 🙂 And thank you so much for educating me about this breed. I never heard of them, but I think I may have one, my Sundae. She doesn’t have a thumb of Allah, but she does have that spot on her side. You’ve met her, right?

  2. Yes, I’ve met Sundae, much to my pleasure. She’s a lovely cat!

    I was explaining to my vet yesterday about the Turkish Van breed and the legend of the “mark of Allah.” She hadn’t heard of it, either, but she said to me that Bubba is very blessed — because I’m his mom. I was very, very touched!

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