Caturday felid trifecta: The perfect origami cat; Hemingway’s cats; children design aircraft for the famous flying cat Wopsie

From the Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese-themed website, we have an article about a boy who figured out how to create the perfect miniature origami cat—after nearly two years of trying. Click on the screenshot to read:

Here’s the tail:

Yuga Arisawa spent two years perfecting his technique for crafting origami cats from tiny sheets of paper that require 83 creases and three hours of intense concentration to make.

Just one miscalculation, and “You can end up with a distorted face or a wrinkled trunk,” he says.

Aside from using his fingers, Arisawa, 21, relies on a simple set of tools–awl, cutter, tweezers and toothpicks mainly–for his work.

“You have to use all your fingers to make the right movements and apply the right level of pressure.”

He starts by putting a crease into a square-shaped piece of Japanese traditional “washi” paper measuring just 5 centimeters [JAC: two inches] on each side, before unfolding it. He forms another crease in it and unfolds it again, repeating the process over and over.

A misplaced crease of even less than a millimeter could ruin the finished product.

Arisawa is employed by Corsoyard, a handmade “washi” manufacturing studio based in this central Japan city. His job is to make origami cats, which are then treated with acrylic coating and marketed as “Origami Jewelry” ornamental charms for pierced earrings and necklaces.

With the help of toothpicks, tweezers and other tools, Arisawa forms 83 creases in a piece of paper, which he subsequently sets about folding.

A finished cat and the acrylic-coated product (photos by Yoichi Kawazu):

They aren’t cheap, but given the labor and skill it takes to make one, the price seems reasonable:

It takes Arisawa three hours or so to fold a cat, and his work, originally a washi piece only 5 cm per side, ends up with a price tag of 10,800 yen ($100), including tax.

And Arisawa’s tools:


If you’re an ailurophile, you’ll know that Ernest Hemingway had cats, and in his Key West home kept polydactylous cats. Their polydactylous descendants still roam the grounds.  But do you know the “11 Facts About Hemingway’s Cats” presented by Mental Floss?  Here are two of them:

Hemingway’s Cats Have Creative Names. 

The Hemingway House and Museum website notes that Hemingway named all of his cats after famous people, a tradition the curators continue today. Over the years, cats have been named after everyone from Zane Grey and Marilyn Monroe to president “Hairy” Truman, Fats Waller, Kermit “Shine” Forbes, Truman Capote, Bugsy Siegel, Billie Holiday, and Cary Grant. Tour guide Jessica Pita told radio host Arden Moore that employees vote on the names.


Hemingway’s Cats Were the Subject of a Federal Complaint

The five-year battle kicked off in 2003, after a visitor—who was concerned about the cats’ welfare—filed a complaint with the federal government, according to NPR. The USDA claimed the museum was exhibiting the cats without the proper license (which it wouldn’t have been able to qualify for anyway—the license requires animals be enclosed). Employees of the Hemingway House claimed that the USDA sent undercover agents to “pose as tourists and get pictures and surreptitiously tape the cats,” according to CBS.

The agency threatened to fine the museum $200 per cat per day (or $10,000) or to remove the cats from the premises, and the museum eventually asked a federal court to intervene. Eventually, an animal behaviorist not affiliated with the museum or the USDA suggested that the cats—which appeared to be well cared for—be allowed to stay if a special fence was installed. The museum agreed, and the cats got to stay.

Caption from HuffPost, which couldn’t resist a gratuitous snipe: “Circa 1940’s, Author Ernest Hemingway pictured at breakfast with a group of cats feeding at his feet, Ernest Hemingway, (1899-1961) US writer of novels and short stories and Nobel Prize winner, was also a keen sportsman, He was prone to a melancholic, self destructive personality (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)”

There are currently 45 cats on the grounds, and here are some photos of the current residents:


Finally, we have a BBC article about the celebration of the first successful round-trip transatlantic crossing by an airship, which took place in 1919. Here’s the huge ship: the R34, which was  634ft (193m) long. The trip was from England to Long Island and back.

Photo courtesy of Diss Museum

Why am I writing about airships on a cat post? Because at the bottom of the BBC’s article you can see this picture:

BBC Caption: R34 airmen at Pulham airfield with the gramophone presented to them by Thomas Edison, and Wopsie the cat. The R34 can be seen in the background

Yes, there was a (deliberately placed) stowaway on the ship: Wopsie the cat.  You can see the tail of Wopsie at Forces Network, which has a photo and a bit of backstory:

Smuggled on board, the crew found a cat named Wopsie who had been taken onto the ship by stowaway William Ballantyne.

Mr Ballantyne was one of the airship engineers who was supposed to stay behind to save weight.

Wopsie became a part of aviation history, and now engineering company Leonardo is encouraging children to design their own aircraft for Wopsie to fly in.

Ballantyne and Wopsie (photo from the Leonardo company)

And at the site below, you can see that the RAF and the defense company Leonardo are having a competition for children to design their own plane for Wopsie to fly in (click on screenshot):

The competition, which marks the 100th anniversary of the RAF, will see children drawing their invention on a piece of paper or build it with any materials, to send a photo of it to the organisers.

The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, said: “Many children will not have been aware of this story and going back in time to share that spirit of adventure with them will inspire them to imagine, and hopefully build, the future of aerospace.

Designs will be judged by a joint panel of representatives from Leonardo and the RAF, and the winning design will be announced in October.

Applications are now open and children can apply online.

If you go to the #WopsiesTale Twitter site, you’ll see some of the entries. Here are three:


h/t:  twj, Kevin, Ginger K,


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 20, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    The RAF 100. I guess I should have known about that but did not. The British Air Force is nearly 30 years older than our own. What the heck took us so long?

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted July 20, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Trolling through Wikipedia will give the history:
      Royal Flying Corps (part of the army) founded 13 April 1912, Royal Naval Air Service (part of the navy, naturally) founded 1 July 1914 – just before the outbreak of WWI, merged into the Royal Air Force 1 April 1918. So not quite sure why this is the 100th anniversary.
      Aeronautical Division of the US Army Signal Corps founded 1907, became Aviation Section on 18 July 1914,and it – via the US Army Air Forces, became the USAF on 18 September 1947.
      So the US has an older history of military aviation, but the British formed a separate military service earlier.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted July 20, 2019 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        I think the U.S. Army was very slow to let go of any part of their control and losing control of aircraft was difficult because they considered the primary mission of air was to support the infantry. They were allowed to stay in the helicopter business but that and small airplanes was about all they got. The marines on the other hand, had complete control of their own air support.

  2. Derek Freyberg
    Posted July 20, 2019 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    There’s a little YouTube video showing Arisawa making one of the cats:

    and Corsoyard’s web site has a number of his other creations under “Origami Jewelry”, including goldfish, elephants, and balloons:
    (site’s in Japanese, but there are pictures, and I suppose you could use Google Translate).

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted July 20, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Apologies for imbedding the video, I thought I was just copying the link.

  3. merilee
    Posted July 20, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink


  4. MKray
    Posted July 20, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    The tail of Wopsie … or the tale…?

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted July 20, 2019 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      I think, to quote Terry Pratchett, is was a pune, or a play on words. 😀

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 20, 2019 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    The Hemingway House and Museum website notes that Hemingway named all of his cats after famous people, a tradition the curators continue today.

    If I take three paces off my front porch and stare down Whitehead Street, I can see the brick wall around the museum they made outta Papa’s old home — for real, not like Sarah Palin and Russia.

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 20, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      I think we needs a photo Ken! (But I still believe you.)

    • merilee
      Posted July 20, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Do Pspa’s kitties ever come visit you, Ken?

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