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CATS AND THE SUPERNATURAL

CATS AND THE SPIRIT WORLD

The ancient Chinese believed that the glow from a cat’s eyes could scare away evil spirits.
According to the ancient Egyptians, the life-giving rays of the sun were stored overnight in the eyes of a cat for safekeeping.
Buddhists in South-East Asia thought that the souls of the dead pass into the bodies of sacred cats before moving on to the next life.
A common belief is that cats can see the aura or psychic energy that surrounds the body of humans.

CATS KNOW  

Ancient Egyptian priests kept sacred cats and used them to predict the future. Every twitch of a whisker, yawn,  sneeze or stretch foretold some coming event.
According to old lore, if you see a cat sleeping with all four paws tucked under its body, that means bad weather is coming.
French peasants believed that a black cat could lead the way to buried treasure,; you had to find a place where five roads met, then turn the cat loose and follow where he went.
Dutch people kept cats out of rooms where they were having private family discussions were going on, because they thought that a cat could spread the news around town

CATS AND THE SPIRIT WORLD

A widespread belief is that cats can see the spectre of death.
In Transylvania folklore (Rumania and Hungary), a cat jumping over a corpse means that the corpse will become a vampire.
In 16th century Italy, people believed that if a black cat lay on the bed of a sick man, he would die.
A cat sitting on top of a tombstone was considered a sign that the soul of the dead person was possessed by the devil.

SAILORS AND CATS

Sailors used cats to predict the voyages they were about to embark upon. Loudly mewing cats foretold a difficult voyage; a playful cat foretold a voyage with good, gusty winds. If a cat licked its fur against the grain, it meant a hailstorm was coming; if the cat sneezed, then rain was on the way.
Cats were always well fed by sailors because of a popular belief that cats could start storms through magic stored in their tails.
For sailors, the worst possible act was to throw a cat overboard. Storms and all kinds of misfortune were sure to follow.
Fisherman's wives kept black cats while their husbands went away to sea.  They believed that the black cats would keep their husbands out of danger. 

 CATS IN RELIGION

Mohammed cut off the sleeve of his robe rather than disturb his cat from resting on it.
According to Islamic legend, the 'M' marking on the forehead of tabby cats was created when Mohammed rested his hand lightly on the brow of his favorite cat.
There’s an old myth that cats were created when Noah's ark became infested with rats.  Noah commanded the lion to sneeze and out came a cat!
Christianity in the Middle Ages became obsessed with witches, and cats, especially black cats, were associated with witches, either as supernatural servants or as the transformed witches themselves. The cat population of Western Europe fell very low towards the end of the Middle Ages.
It was believed that a kitten born in May will be a witches cat.
Queen Elizabeth I reportedly ordered burning of dozens of cats on her coronation, as sign that she intended to get rid of witches.

CATS FOR GOOD AND BAD LUCK

In the early 16th century, a visitor to an English home would always kiss the family cat to bring good luck.
Black cats can be bringers of good or bad luck according to particular circumstances and particular forms of folklore. But to find a white hair on a black cat is an infallible guarantee of good luck.
If a black cat crosses your path while you are driving, the only way to avoid bad luck is to turn your hat around backwards and mark an X on your windscreen.
Dutch immigrants in Pennsylvania (US) used to place a cat in the empty cradle of a newlywed couple. The cat was supposed to grant the parents’ wish for their children.
Beware! if you kick a cat, that leg will develop rheumatism; if you drown a cat, you will die by drowning.
According to French lore,  a girl who treads on a cat's tail, has no chance of finding a husband for the rest of the year. 

DREAMING OF CATS

Dream of a tortoiseshell cat, and you’ll be lucky in love; dream of a ginger cat, and you’ll be lucky in money and business; dream of a black and white cat and you'll have luck with children, e.g. the birth of a child; dream of a multicolored cat and you’ll have luck making friends; dream of a tabby and you’ll have luck for your home and all who live there.
Best of all is a dream with a white cat, meaning good luck in general.
To dream of a white cat means luck in creativity, spiritual matters, divination and spellcraft.
If you dream of two cats fighting, you’ll become involved in a quarrel of suffer an illness in the family.
If you hear the scream or the mewing of a cat, then some false friend is trying to do you harm.
If you dream of being badly scratched by a cat, you can expect sickness and trouble.

 

All cat photos on this page are courtesy of Jonathan Leger's cat photos webpage

 

 

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Richard Harland.