Sunday, August 9, 2009
Don't get me wrong, folks. I didn't bring home a pet, cat or dog. Besides,there's already our handsome Robbie in the house.
A visit to a nursery recently renewed my fascination with whiskers, of the herbal kind. The plant - Cat's Whiskers or Misai Kuching, in Malay.
'How about some misai kuching?' said the gardener at the nursery. That struck a chord. 'Yes, please. Let me have 9 of them.' Suddenly I had visions of misai kuching growing bountifully in my garden as I had seen grow in the Lake Garden when I was on an outing with the members of the Selangor and Federal Territory Gardening Soc. Now seems the right time to give them a place in my garden.
The gardener only wanted a token as the plants were not looking their best. So, out of the poly bags and into the ground they went the next day after.
It's growing! And the first flower is out! But they are nowhere near the 1.5 m height that they can be. It's standing at about 1 foot tall with only a few leaves. Have been giving extra attention to all 9 of them. That part of the garden is not the choicest too , mostly of lateritic earth. So I topped it with some good stuff and the signs are good!
What's more exciting besides the colour of the flower showing are the WHISKERS! The flowers are hermaphroditic, bell-shaped, creamy white to bluish in colour. Now, follow the exerted filaments - they extend and look like CAT'S WHISKERS. What an apt name - MISAI KUCHING! And I'd say it's the whiskers that gives the plant the delicate look and beauty.
Now, for the real thing, the cat's whiskers. The cat has about 24 movable vibrissae('whiskers'). There are also some on each cheek, over the eyes, chin and other parts of the body.
The whiskers do the most amazing job. They aid sensation and navigation. They fan out to 'size' up an opening. At the tip of the whiskers are sensory organs called proprioceptors. These receptors are very sensitvie to pressure. If the whiskers touch the opening, then the space is too tight for the cat and it will not try to go through. If the 'signal' is ok, the kitty will go through .
Cats also use their whiskers on their legs to assess their prey - size, shape, position. How the cat holds its whiskers will let you know if it is happy, angry, friendly, threatened. Yes, I've seen the scowls on the face and how the whiskers draw back against the face when the kitty is angry.
My friend, Anya at KARELTJE en ikke !!! will be able to share many wonderful stories 'coz she's a cat lover and knows tons about cats. Do visit her blog and discover more.
This post is not complete though without exalting the goodness of the herb, MISAI KUCHING. The leaves have been used for generations to treat ailments notably:
1. bladder and kidney disease
2. circulatory disorders
4. joint stiffness eg. arthritis, gout, rheumatism
5. aids in excretion of toxins from the body
So,should you need a misai kuching herbal drink, get yourself a cuppa. Remember to whisk yourself to the good doctor should you need advice.
Therein lies the beauty of WHISKERS - herbal and animal!