Cats are quite popular. In fact, most of the APS Core team are proud crazy cat ladies, present company included. But what is it about our furry feline friends that makes them so irresistible and cute? All they need to do is look at you with their gorgeous big eyes, and you are instantly smitten and willing to turn the world for them.
Cats have played a major part in history for centuries, from being worshipped as idols in Ancient Egypt to being the faithful sidekick of witches, we have to wonder what is so special about them! What is really interesting is that there are countless legends and lore that connect cats with the supernatural, and we’re not just talking about witches and such.
Like the paranormal, cats are either loved or hated. Cats have popped up in religious texts both as angelic creatures as well as agents of the Devil. Either way, it hasn’t stopped the internet from being completely obsessed with cats.
Agents of the Devil
Kitty lore is fascinating. Sure, our present-day and age tends to put our feline friends in the spotlight with videos, memes, and countless cat-related social media accounts. But they weren’t always loved with the same intensity. In fact, cats were believed to be agents, or even literal incarnations, of the devil. In 1233, Pope Gregory IX made this exact declaration about black cats. Sadly, this resulted in numerous kitties being exterminated as an effort to keep the devil at bay. We now know today that this was a grave mistake, as cats were major helpers in keeping the rats at bay. With less kitties to catch rodents, the Black Plague was able to grow and spread considerably fast, wiping out a major percentage of Europe. Thanks, Pope Gregory IX.
Take Our Breath Away
It was also believed that cats would “suck the breath” out of babies, likely as an explanation for SIDS back in those times. This belief remained for hundreds of years. Even in 1791, an Annual Register said, “A child of eighteen months old was found dead near Plymouth, and it appeared, on the coroner’s inquest, that the child died in consequence of a cat sucking its breath, thereby occasioning strangulation.” While kitties have been known to sit on our faces and chest while we sleep, they are hardly stealing our breath. Well, at least we hope they aren’t.
Familiars to Witches
I know this is a HUGE shock for you, but cats are heavily linked to witches. Who are we kidding? They still are! Sadly, this has also created a certain stigma to kitties, especially black cats. We see black cats take over Halloween decorations, and they are one of the most recognizable symbols of scary stuff. While cats were worshipped as gods during the times of ancient Egypt, that soon ended during the Middle Ages. We now know what happened to the kitties that were thought to be agents of the Devil, and this included the furry companions of witches. Sadly, many of these kitties were tied up with their owners and suffered the same fate.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, witch trials were prevalent. They were literally in battle with the Christian Church. The church didn’t like that people were going to witches for their medicinal needs amongst other things.
They Have Superpowers
Did you know that the Celts believed that cats were once humans that roamed the Earth? It’s believed that people who committed bad acts in life had to return for another life as a cat. In Japan, it was traditional for a single woman to have a cat. It is believed that the cat will attract handsome suitors. In Scotland, a cat appearing on your doorstep is considered to be a good omen. In Buddhism, it was once believed that once you die, your soul is transferred to a cat for safe-keeping.
We know that cats are legendary, and it’s not just in their own minds. There are several legends about cats all over the world. Some of our favorites include Jólakötturinn, the Yule Cat, who tormented the people of Íslendingar. The cat roamed the countryside looking for men, women, and children to eat…specifically if they weren’t dressed in their Christmas best.
Then we have Irish and Scottish folklore, which has a legend of the Cat Sìth, who sulks around the countryside looking for souls to steal. In fact, at wakes and funerals, a lot of effort was made to make sure the Cat Sìth didn’t steal the soul of the dearly departed. This include having catnip and loud music to distract the oversized Cat Sìth.