A new addition to the family has taken over our lives and our sofa this week. Spook – a mischievous fuzzy kitten – is a great hit with my children, but perhaps not yet so popular with our beloved ageing puss, Mog.
I’ve written before about black cats (of which Spook is one) and their cultural connection to witches and all things dark, but there are many folkloric references to cats in general. Here are a few you may or may not be aware of…
Cats have nine lives
Everyone has heard that cats have nine lives. Sadly the truth is that if a poor kitty happens to get squished by the wheel of a car, he won’t have another eight attempts to learn not to run in the road. The myth of nine lives probably originated from the fact that cats are pretty nimble, can squeeze into tight spots and run fast when they need to; in other words, if they are in a deadly situation they have a good chance of ‘getting away with it’. An old English proverb said, “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays”. Seasoned cat owners will recognise that this pretty perfectly reflects the life of a moggy, and obviously the reference to ‘nine lives’ has stuck.
Cats can predict the weather
I have always thought that my cats could tell when a thunderstorm was coming. They seemed edgy and nervous, unable to settle or doze off. Looking into this, reassures me that this notion is not just an indication of me being slightly neurotic about my pets! One brilliant folktale suggested that cats carried storms in their tails and that to prevent a damaging storm, owners should keep their feline friends content. Sounds to me like a cat made that one up! Talking of tails, according to folklore, a cat’s tail always points in the direction of the wind. A cat sitting with all four paws tucked underneath is an indication of cold weather to come. A cat washing it’s ears expects rain. And if your cat hisses at you, you’d better leg it as there is sure to be an earthquake!
Cats give us signs
If your cat is enjoying a good wash and suddenly stops to stare at you, you will soon get an important message. If the said puss is washing it’s face in front of the fire, the message is likely to be good as this is a sign of good luck. You may be inclined to call a vet if your cat sneezes three times in a row, but it may be better to call a doctor as this is a sign that someone in the family will get flu. Atchoo!
Cats can be unlucky
Black cats are traditionally linked to witches and the devil, but normal everyday moggies are not to be trusted either if you believe folklore… It is unlucky to have a cat on a boat and especially unlucky to lob it overboard as the crew will perish in a storm. Forgetting to feed your cat on your wedding day will lead to a soggy wedding (and a hungry cat). Moggies born in May will never catch mice, and will be prone to being sad for the rest of their lives. If your cat follows you down the road, you will have bad luck (mine does this all the time, eek!). Dreaming of cats is also unlucky and means that your friends will be nasty to you. Dreaming of a black cat at Christmas means that you will become seriously ill imminently, and not just because you’ve over-indulged on mince pies.
Cats certainly have a magical mysticism about them, even when they’re licking their bottoms. Pay more attention to your moggy, it may be trying to tell you something important…