On the Trail of Cat Tails

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

What has happened to all the cats’ tails in Bali? You hardly ever see adult cats with tails here.

One person offered the following theory: “Very dangerous life for cat in Bali. Tail get caught in car door.”

Hmm. Since when do cats drive?

Another person suggested cats get their tails run over by cars. But wouldn’t that just leave them with very flat tails? Besides, wouldn’t we be able to see the tread marks? Luckily there are no studded snow tires in Bali.

Since you never see any stray tails lying around, it’s certainly not a case of Eeyorian cats misplacing their tails. And although I’ve seen “lost cat” notices with a phone number to contact should you find it, I’ve never seen a “lost tail” notice. The Balinese are known to have ngaben (cremation) ceremonies for field mice, in which they cut off the tails and burn them (they used to burn the entire corpses but recently changed to burning just the tails to save time — um, save time in Bali?). But I doubt they’d go through so much trouble to have a ngaben ceremony for cats’ tails.

I’m beginning to wonder if it’s not the cats themselves who get rid of their own tails. Maybe cats have “wisdom tails” like wisdom teeth; they’re considered a nuisance so cats have them removed. Too impatient to wait hundreds of years for their bodies to evolve without tails, the 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. After all, people have been wearing animals since the beginning of civilization, and even to this day we use 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 wouldn’t people 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 belts. (Now, now cat lovers don’t get upset; we’re just pretending!)

Putting a stick through a long, white Persian cat tail would give elegance to pens, conductor’s 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 painting 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.

Tailless cats definitely look tougher. They almost look criminal, like street cats that’ve lost their tails in fights or in kitty gang warfare. Perhaps feline gangs are copying some of the rituals of the Japanese mafia member who have to cut off a finger if they do something wrong. And we only see the cats that have made a mistake. But I wonder what kind of mistake a gangster cat could make:

Gangster Boss Cat: Sid, did you get the shipment of 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 one million bucks worth of catnip?

Sid: Meow, sir. Of course I did. It was in my territory.

Boss cat: Someone get the saw!

But in all seriousness, the situation of having so many cats without tails looks like a business opportunity to me. Surely you could sell hairpieces for cats—tail wigs, if you will – to cat owners in Seminyak. C’mon, young entrepreneurs, what about it? Give the store dog tails a run for their money:

Long-haired coiffed Persian tail pieces on sale this week! Bring your cat in for a quote now! Also new this season: bold, beautiful Black Smoke Siberian tails! Going to a costume party? How about our exotic silver-spotted Savannah? Need a Halloween costume for your cat? How about our nine-tailed wig called “cat o nine tails?” Or perhaps your cat would like to go Egyptian with our hypoallergenic hairless Sphynx tail piece? If it’s a Christmas gift you’re looking for, then get that tail your Manx cat has always wanted! Discount for litters of four or more. Tail rings and body jewelry also available.

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