Do cats have belly buttons?

We were tickling the baby and pointing out her adorable little belly button, when one of us said, “I wonder if cats have belly buttons.”

We both felt like we should have known this. For one thing, you’d think we would have come across it on at least one of our four cats.  A couple of the cats have even been shaved – for medical reasons, not because we’re weird – and I’ve never seen any sign of a navel.

“Well they’re mammals,” said my wife.  “Don’t mammals all have belly buttons?”

“I think so,” I said, “But a litter…it just seems like a lot of cords, you know? Like they would get tangled or something.”  Yeah, I forgot my basic reproductive science – separate amniotic sacs and all that.  At any rate, now I had to know: do cats have belly buttons?

Results for “cat belly button”:

Google’s featured result comes from dailymail.co.uk. Leaving aside my question about why cat belly buttons are considered news, this article reveals that cats do, in fact, have navels, although they look more like faint scars than cute little circles.

cat-belly-button-2
I see it!
cat-belly-button
I…kind of see it!

The article explains that it is less visible because the mother chews off the kitten’s umbilical cord.

 

I need more information than that.  I mean, our belly buttons result from detachment of the umbilical cord, and while human moms generally do not chew them off, I don’t see why scissors or a scalpel or whatever would leave a more prominent mark than teeth.  Time for my next source.

UCSB ScienceLine offers three answers, the last of which provided my answer: humans tie the remaining cord into a knot, which becomes a belly button. Of course now I’m wondering why cats don’t need to do something similar, or why humans feel the need to do so.  Hang on a sec…

OK, I just went down a very interesting rabbit hole about lotus birthdelayed cord clamping, and humans without belly buttons. Briefly, it’s not the knot that turns into the belly button.  Apparently cats (and many other mammals) tend to the umbilical wound in a way that minimizes scarring.  Also, the scar that does form tends to be obscured by fur.

Moving on to later (less relevant) results:

Search results on later pages were frankly distressing.  Rather than belly buttons on cats, several sites present cats on belly buttons.  I’m not even going to post a picture of a cat butt tattoo, because I feel that you should decide for yourself whether or not you want to see it.

Conclusion:

Cats do have belly buttons, and, alas, some belly buttons have cats.

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Sizing up children 

Me: I think my next post is going to be about children’s sizes.
Wife: Nice! Yeah, they make no sense.
Me: Right. And what the hell is a 6x, anyway?
*pause*
Wife: It’s that thing when you try really hard and then achieve your goals.
Me: Huh?
Wife: You know, six-exsss?

Holy crap. 6xful Dad joke, baby.

As my wife noted, baby clothing sizes make no sense. My one-year-old daughter currently fits into sizes 9 months to 2T (more on sizes with letters later). When she was first born, we discovered that “newborn” and “0-3 months” are different sizes. I don’t know how you can get more newborn than 0 months, but sizeguide.net specifies 4-8 lbs for newborn clothes, while 0-3 month clothes will fit babies 9-11 lbs.

Then you have things like this:

layette-6-12
According to Merriam-Webster, layette refers to “a complete outfit of clothing for a newborn infant.”  So how can you have one in size 6-12 months?

But today’s question is about slightly bigger clothes. Children’s clothes (in the US) run from 2 to 6, roughly corresponding to age. Here is a helpful chart from sizeguide.net.

US Size Height, inches Weight, lbs
2t 33-35 24-28
3t 36-38.5 28.5-32
4t 39-41 33-36
4 42-44 37-41
5 45-47 42-46
6 48-49 47-53
6x (girls) / 7 (boys) 50-51 54-58

The careful observer will note, however, that the number 4 appears twice – once with, and once without a T. Now I am happy to admit that children grow fast, and there may well be a need for more than one size per year. But why is it only there at size 4? And then when you reach size 6, boys continue – logically – to size 7, while girls grow into size 6x.

Regarding 6x, reference.com saves the day once again.  They explain that girls often go through a growth spurt around age 6, necessitating more than one size for that year. However, size 6 is the end of the line for “little girl” clothes, with size 7 and up reserved for older girls. 6x allows for clothing that is both the right size and the right style for your growing 6 year old.  Boys have a different growth pattern, and do not need the extra size.

Ebay user awkwardmomma explains about 4 vs 4T.  The T stands for toddler, and size 4T is often roomier in the bottom to accommodate diapers.  Size 4 is often longer and narrower.  Other clothing lines seem to use 4 and 4T in a similar manner to 6/6x – the size is the same, but the style is different.

So there is in fact some method to the madness.  Still, it is not to be relied upon, and awkwardmomma offers this sage advice: stick to brands that offer height and weight ranges for their sizes.  I’m still curious about shoe sizes, and why one company’s size 4 dress is another company’s size 6, but maybe I’ll come back to those another time.

Wishing everyone happy holidays and clothes that fit well 🙂

An orange by any other name? 

“Is this a mandarin?”

“Satsuma.”

“Oh. What’s the difference?”

“I don’t know, but these say they’re satsumas, so….”

“It tastes just like a tangerine.  I mean, it brings back memories of sitting on my aunt’s lap and eating tangerines when I was 3 or 4.”

“I don’t know what to tell you, baby.”

A normal person would have dropped the subject at this point, but I have this blog because I am not normal in that particular way.  I now need to know what makes a satsuma a satsuma, a mandarin a mandarin, and a tangerine a tangerine.

Top Search Results for “satsuma tangerine mandarin”:

  1. HS195/CH116: The Satsuma Mandarin – EDIS – University of Florida
  2. Orange, Tangerine, Mandarin, Satsuma, Kumquat. Citrus Fruit.
  3. [PDF]Tangerines, Mandarins, and Satsumas – Urban Harvest

First of all, I was surprised that the top three results were sites I had never heard of.  I was expecting Wikipedia, Yahoo answers, etc.  I was also surprised to see that, at first glance, my suspicion that satsumas and mandarins were the same thing appeared to be correct.

According to fruitpages.com, mandarins, satsumas, tangerines, and clementines are types of citrus reticulata, a “small type of orange with loose skin.” Further down, however, they describe the clementine as a cross between a mandarin and an orange, and a satsuma as “a special crossing from Japan.”  Neither the University of Florida site nor the urbanharvest.org’s PDF were helpful in clarifying the relationships between these terms. The fifth result, eatyourbooks.com, looked promising, but Chrome said I shouldn’t open it – hackers or some such.

Result number eight finally had a straightforward answer.  According to reference.com, satsumas and tangerines are members of the mandarin family, and canned mandarin oranges are usually satsumas.

Other Results:

The top result on page 10 was an excerpt from Volatile Compounds in Foods and Beverages, which you may purchase from Barnesandnoble.com for a mere $401.89. But if you would rather spend 400 bucks on mandarins, I can save you some time and money by telling you that the high number of volatile compounds in mandarins results in their complex flavor.  Also, there are in fact 36 species of mandarin, and “tangerines are not a group of natural significance, and the term is used for convenience only.”  Harsh.

Page 10 also includes a recipe for Satsuma Mandarin and Vanilla Upside Down Cake (thanks to Martha Stewart), and information on identifying and growing mandarins.

The Takeaway:

Mandarins come in different varieties, including satsumas and tangerines (screw you, Volatile Compounds, tangerines were important in my childhood), and they are juicy and delicious.

Thanks for reading!

Broth vs Consomme

It started with two cans of cat food.

“What’s the difference between broth and consomme?” asked my wife.  (Cat food has gotten very fancy, but that’s a topic for a separate post.)

“Not a lot,” I replied.

She paused, then said, “I didn’t expect you to have an answer that quickly!”

“Well, I mean, I think they’re pretty much the same thing.  Maybe different words used for different cuisines?  Maybe consomme is just fancy French broth…maybe I should look it up.”

Google says:

The top three hits come from marthastewart.com, culinarylore.com, and healthresearchfunding.org. Even before clicking the first link, I learned that I was missing part of the question.  In addition to broth and consomme, I also needed to consider stock.

Martha says that broth is basically what happens to water after meat and/or veggies are cooked in it.  Stock is stronger, usually cooked slowly for the purpose of extracting maximum flavor.  Consomme, as it turns out, earns its fancy name, which literally means “finished.” It is stock or broth clarified using egg whites, and can be served on its own as a complete soup.

Culinarylore.com adds that stock is generally understood to involve bones, which add gelatin to create a richer liquid than broth.  They also point out that concentration is at least as important as clarification in making a good consomme.

On page 10, I found another variation: Kobi’s Kitchen describes Chinese style consomme as being “halfway between a Western consomme and a broth.”

On page 16, I found someone else with the same question I had.  A poster on rouxbe.com asked, “Is [consomme] just a fancy French name for broth?” Turns out it’s not.