Cat Mythology, a Collection of Feline Stories, Myths and Superstitions in Folklore and Legend
Cat Mythology covers many things. Stories, artwork, Gods and Goddesses, and entire ways of thinking. I’ve included the following poem because, to me, it shows how cats are loved and revered not just in ancient history, but even today. The thought of our cats waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge is a very comforting one, no matter what faith you follow. I hope you love it as much as I do.
~Raven Fabal, The Cat Lady
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour, those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together. ~Author Unknown
Most of us are probably familiar with at least some cat mythology. Some of our oldest phrases and names for things come from cats. These tales and myths are found all around the world, and cat myths continue to be created from ancient times all the way to present day.
Many myths portray cats as wicked felines with evil powers and as omens of bad luck. Others represent cats as clean, pure entities who are the bearers of good luck. Throughout the ages, cats have been honored and loved, feared and loathed but seldom ignored. There are as many cat stories and myths as there are cats in the world.
In Cat Mythology, I will explore many of these myths, and in some cases, what I like to call “Mythconceptions”. Those unfortunate tales which are not only untrue, but which foster hatred of cats and can be detrimental to cats as a species. There are so many myths, both positive and negative concerning cats. Here and in the pages that follow, I will attempt to bring you the best and most interesting ones.
Egyptian Cat Worship
You probably seen many figurines, posters and the like of Bastet, and already know that cats were worshiped in ancient Egypt. The Egyptian Goddess Bastet (or Bast) was sometimes portrayed as having the body of a woman with the head of a cat. However, Bastet was shown most often with the body and head of a beautiful black cat.
Bastet was known as the Goddess of cats, protection, stealth and independence. She bestowed the gifts of sexual pleasure, joy, beauty and grace. Cats were so revered that a person killing a cat, even accidentally, was put to death. I’ll definitely have more on this fascinating aspect of cat lore later.
The Cat in Celtic Lore and Shakespeare
Ancient Celtic lore speaks of Grimalkin, a grey cat with magical powers. Many works of art have been dedicated to the Grimalkin. While magical cats are nothing new, it is interesting to note that even the Great Bard, Shakespeare spoke of Graymalkin in Macbeth. In Act I, the first witch says, “I come, Graymalkin,” when her feline familiar calls.
The Pussy Willow
The Pussy Willow plant actually got its name from an old Polish cat myth. The myth goes as follows:
One day, a mother cat was sitting on a river bank, sobbing because her kittens had fallen into the rushing water and were sure to drown because she couldn’t get to them. Hearing her piteous cries, the long reeds on the shore felt sorry for her.
Taking pity on the mother cat, the reeds bent over so that the kittens could grab onto their long leaves and stalks, saving themselves and giving the mother cat back her precious babies.
Ever since, the helpful reeds have grown beautiful velvety blooms atop their stalks, both as a reward and as a reminder of the tiny kittens that clung to them in order to save their lives. The name Pussy Willow refers to those velvety little blooms.
Holy Men Love Cats Too!
The religion of Islam speaks of cats as being clean, useful animals. Which, of course, they are! In the Islamic world, the cat was respected and protected at least in part because cats were loved by the prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam. According to folklore, Mohammed's cat Muezza once fell asleep on the sleeve of his master's robe --instead of disturbing his beloved cat when he had to leave, Mohammed cut off the sleeve of his robe.
The bronze incense burner shown at left represents a cat with its mouth half open and ears pricked. In cat mythology, this posture often represents a warrior cat. The back, neck and chest are all perforated to allow incense to escape. On the cat's chest is an inscription in the Kufic script which says: "Valor, power, and glory." Now those are some very warrior-cat-like qualities, to be sure!
These are just a few examples of stories found in cat mythology throughout the world. There are in fact so many that I’ve decided to make this page the portal into the world of cat mythology. I will address each new story or myth on its own page. I've already begun with
Manx Cat Myths
. And most recently, in response to my community, I've added a page on
Witches and Cats
. One by one, I’ll bring you as many wonderful and interesting cat-tales as I can find. Once I’ve had a chance to add a few, navigation should be easy. Think of this as Cat Mythology Head Quarters, and access all the new myth pages from here.
I hope you enjoy your visits here, and remember, this is your cat site, too. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to
"I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior."~ Hippolyte Taine
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