The phrase “Dog Days of Summer” describes the most oppressive period of summer, between July 3rd and August 11th each year. But where did the term come from? And what does it have to do with dogs?

Many people believe the phrase stems from the fact that dogs tend to be sluggish during the hottest days of summer (aren’t we all?), while others say the days are so hot it causes dogs to go mad (how could you tell?). But the name is actually a reference to the fact that, during this time, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. This is why Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star.

In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the Sun. On July 23rd, specifically, it is in conjunction with the Sun, and because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth, accounting for the long stretch of sultry weather. They referred to this time “dog days.” Thus, the term “Dog Days of Summer” came to mean the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun — July 3 to Aug. 11.

All of this science can make me want to take a nap, but it also got me thinking about how cats are shortchanged – they can put a man on the moon but no one can invent some sort of sciency name having to do with a Cat? Not to worry – I am taking it upon myself to declare the purr-iod between February 15th and March 11th the “Cat Days of Winter”. The sciency name will be “Feles Brumalis” which if my Latin is correct (according to Google anyway) means “Cat of the Winter”. I feel smarter already!

This new holiday period, which I just invented, doesn’t have anything to do with science and more to do with stuff that we like and, with those parameters, I suggest “celebrating” this period by doing the 5 things that I enjoy the most:

• Sleeping – Increase your Sleeping Time from 16 hours to 18 hours or more!
• Playing with Random Objects – Shoelaces, Paper Bags, Boxes!
• Pestering People at the Worst Time – Bathroom! Laptop Computer!
• Hiding and NOT Coming When Called – An added benefit is the exercise that your human will get by walking around calling and calling you
• Eating – Extra cookies every day from February 15th to March 11th!

Feles Brumalis is coming soon – we just have to get through these hot days first…

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