Greetings, pawsome human minions and cat cohorts.
This morning I awoke to my mom chirping and blowing kisses at me. When I decided to acknowledge her presence, she swept me up in her arms and cooed, “Happy International Cat Day, Forrest!”
Now, I think every day is a celebration of cats, because, well, look at us. We are amazing.
But as you humans honor the feline kind every August 8th, I thought I might offer you a few cat legends and folklore from around the world. It’s good for humans to remember the mystical and magical surrounding their furry overlords. So I bring to you a few cat legends of old.
Celebrate International Cat Day with Myth & Legend
Cait Sìth, a Feline Fairy
Prowling the wilds of Scotland and Ireland, the cat sìth appear as large cats with coats of shiny black fur and a chest spot of white. The fairy cats have been said to be witches in disguise, ghosts, or even soul stealers, which led many people to fear them. But, legend says the fairy cats will bring good fortune to those who leave out a saucer of milk on Samhain.
Several tales surround the cat fairies In fact, the “King of Cats”, Tom and Tim Tildrum both were suspected to be cait sìth.
The Royal Cats of Siam
Siamese cats are famous for their colored points and their blue eyes. Often, those beautiful eyes are crossed, and legend offers an explanation behind the quirk. Siamese cats used to guard the royal treasures belonging to the King of Siam and the cats took their duties quite seriously. The loyal cats focused so hard on the treasure, their eyes went crossed Because they kept their tails curled around the trinkets they guarded, their tails gained the kink seen in some Siamese cats.
Maneki Neko, the ‘Beckoning Cat’
The famous statues of cats waving come to us thanks to the legend of the Maneki Neko or the ‘Beckoning Cat’.
As the story goes, a Japanese Emperor passed the temple of Gotoku-ji and a cat raised her paw in greeting at the Emperor. The waving cat caught his attention, drawing him forward so he might meet such an interesting feline. Just as he entered the temple, lightning struck the very spot in which he’d stood outside. From that day on, cats were associated with good luck and fortune.
Cats on the High Seas
Sailors of old saw the power in cats, viewing them as creatures of good omen. Beyond keeping the sailing ships vermin free, sailors believed felines could protect the crew from the plight of bad weather. Some thought cat harbingers of magic which protected the vessel from storms, but even without the power to bewitch the sky, feline behaviors often provided clues which helped sailors predict the weather.
Powerful Threats of the Middle Ages
Considered to be ill omens of evil, cats were wrongly associated with witchcraft and deviltry in the medieval centuries. The truth though? Humans just couldn’t understand how cats could be so purrfect and fell to fear of the unknown. It was a dark time for felines, especially black cats, but people learned the error of their ways and realized cats do bespell humans, but only with the majesty of our beings. No evil influences needed!
The Beloved of the Divine
Cats have often been the cherished companions of gods and goddesses throughout human history. Here are some of the divine figures who loved us throughout time and legend:
- Bastet – Worshipers of the ancient Egyptian lion-headed goddess held cats scared, thinking them to be the physical manifestation of the goddess herself. Our association with Bastet is just one reason cats were worshiped in those days. We have not forgotten the reverence afforded us by the ancient Egyptians, nor will we ever.
- Freyja – The Norse goddess of all things love, beauty, fertility, war, and death held cats sacred. To honor her, brides were often gifted cats on their wedding day. Sacred, yes, this term should be applied as much as possible to cats today as well, if my opinion matters. And it does.
- Li Shou – A deity of ancient China, Li Shou protected the fields, guarding the crops from rodents. Li Shou was believed to roam in the shape of a cat, giving felines high status. Without us, the grain would have fallen to the rats and mice. No crops shall fall on our watch!
As you see, we indeed deserve an international day of honor. And what’s the best way to honor your magical feline?
By offering tasty treats!
So, don’t forget to feed the cat.
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Feature Image: @llyzabeth/Instagram