Mae Clair’s Cabinet of Curiosities: The Nine Lives of Cats #felinefolkore #catlegends

Art concept. Vintage still life with old books stacked near lighted old-fashioned candle, carnivale mask in background

Hello and Happy Tuesday! Today I’m discussing one of my favorite subjects—cats!

I love all animals, but cats are my favorite. As a kid I grew up with cats, dogs, goldfish, hamsters, gerbils, a parakeet, tropical fish, even a chinchilla. As an adult, I bonded with cats and never looked back. These animals have alternately been revered and feared throughout time. From the ancient Egyptians who worshiped them as demi-gods, to the people of Medieval England who believed they were the accomplices of witches, felines have known extreme highs and lows. Maybe the reason they’re said to have nine lives.

Arafel, my first cat came from a litter of farm kittens. I always told her she looked like a little woodland creature from myth.

Hmm.

McDoogal was a rescue who entered our lives a year after Arafel. If his name sounds familiar, you may be thinking of my novella, In Search of McDoogal. I always joke with my husband that McDoogal worshiped me because he was so attached.

More likely, the cat’s agility and its uncanny self-righting mechanism, allowing it to survive falls from great heights, is where the myth originated. Felines are extremely graceful, swift, and able to squeeze into small spaces—traits that add to its undeniable mystique.

Of all domesticated animals, the cat is the least tame. Like its wild kin, it is most active during early morning hours and at night, the best times for hunting prey. The nocturnal aspect of the cat and its ability to see in the dark also support the nine lives belief. Blessed with enhanced senses and fluid agility, this clever and crafty animal could easily live nine lifetimes.

When superstition was rampant, many believed a witch could take the form of her cat familiar nine times, thus giving the cat nine lives.  Another tale involves a cat entering a home where nine hungry children resided. Nine fish had been set out for the children to eat, but the cat devoured them all. The poor children died of starvation while the cat met an untimely end from gluttony. When the feline arrived in Heaven, God was so angered by its selfishness he made it fall to the earth for nine days. The nine lives of the children reside in the cat’s belly, which is why it must die nine times before finally being able to rest.

Sometimes those nine lives came in handy. Seafarers knew cats were able to predict storms, which is why they considered a cat onboard ship good luck. It wasn’t simply a matter of running roughshod over vermin.

Onyx, my last lovely boy. Everyone said he was so handsome with his silky black coat he could have been a show cat.

That was something Noah knew about. When the ark set sail, there were no cats onboard. Rats and mice multiplied and soon overran the boat.

 In desperation, Noah asked the lion for help. The great beast sneezed and two cats were born, the only animal not originally created by God.

Raven, my current lovely girl. I fell in love with black felines after owning Onyx, and even wrote a novella called Food for Poe that addresses the issues they sometimes have getting adopted. As the “child of my later years” she is spoiled beyond belief!

Whatever you believe, there’s no denying these frisky and entertaining animals have found a place in our hearts, whether for a single lifetime or nine. Disney gave us The Three Lives of Thomasina while Stephen King terrified us with Pet Sematary.

I prefer my cats cuddly and affectionate over Mr. King’s variety which is why I’m dedicating this post to the lovely felines who graced my life with companionship–Arafel, McDoogal, Onyx, and Raven. I wish the first three would have been able to hang around for eight more lifetimes!

To close, I leave you with my favorite cat quote. Nothing against dogs, (I love them too), but I think this quote speaks volumes about the mind of a cat:

A dog looks at you and says, “You take care of me. You must be a god.” 
A cat looks at you and says, “You give me food and shelter. I must be a god.”

57 thoughts on “Mae Clair’s Cabinet of Curiosities: The Nine Lives of Cats #felinefolkore #catlegends

  1. Fun post. We’ve had 11 cats (still have 4). Each one has been different. The huntress, the window snoozer, the skittish one, the snuggler . . . They’re such interesting characters with amazing abilities. I have no doubt sailors of old were onto something when they kept a cat onboard to predict storms!

    Liked by 2 people

    • They really do have different personalities don’t they? Arafel was my huntress, McDoogal a jester/clown, Onyx was just all-round social with everyone, and Raven is my talker/snuggler. Arafel was good at predicting storms too. She would have made a good ship’s cat.
      You’ve had a lot of cats, Priscilla. I love that you still have so many. The most I’ve ever had at one time is two!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. You know I adore this post – and that quote is spot on. But graceful isn’t a word I’d use to describe Bond. I’ve always told him he’s the least graceful cat I’ve ever known. He tries to cover up his falls, trips, and stumbles, but we know better.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love cats too and have been owned by at least one all my life. We lost our last baby after nearly 17 years, and my husband is dragging his feet about getting another. So I’m back to fostering cats for a local rescue group. Must have a fur baby in my life!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Sharon, I’ve never fostered. I admire all those who do!
      I know it must have been really hard saying goodbye to your own cat after 17 years, I’m glad you have rescues to fill the void until you bond with another fur baby. 🙂

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  4. Wonderful post, Mae. I didn’t know the legends you mentioned, but I can certainly see how they evolved. I don’t have any cats right now, but I sure have lots of stories about when I did. They are amazing creatures for sure. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are wonderful creatures. I never understood how some people just don’t care for them. Mind-boggling!! 🙂
      My favorite legend about cats is the one about the lion sneezing. It’s just so cute, LOL!

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  5. I prefer cats, too, MC. We’ve had lots of dogs and cats, and I loved our dogs, but cats win out. My current one, Garfield, is part Maine coon and sheds enough hair for another cat on a weekly basis. We got him from the local animal shelter, and we are thinking of getting him a companion! He is such an independent cat, I wonder what he’ll do?.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mae, Marigold sends greetings to you and Raven. Cats were always a part of my life growing up, and in Ronnie’s and my early years together. We had one named Orange Bunny, one called Straighten Up, and several with Egyptian, goddess, and mysterious names. Two brothers were Lindsay and Paul Revere. I love how cats can go from a puddle of butter to a string. Thank you for sharing the folklore and history. I am thankful the lion sneezed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, I love seeing photos of Marigold, Flossie. Raven sends her greetings.
      I didn’t realize you and your husband had so many cats before your dog (I remember her too). What great names you gave them! I agree about their swift change of moods, and like you I am incredibly grateful to that lion! 🙂

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  7. I love the photos of your cats, Mae. I too, wish your first three had lived right more times. Come to think of it, I didn’t realize there were no cats on Noah’s Ark. I’m glad the lion created them. I had only one white cat with four black paws. She lived for about 15 years with us and died of old age and a heart attack, I think, after being scared by a dog darting on her. Loved our book McDoogal!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your cat had a long life, Miriam, and I know she was well loved. I’m convinced we’ll see our beloved pets again Heaven. With all the blessings promised in God’s kingdom, I’m convinced our pets will be there in bodily form. If the lion lays down with the lamb, then surely cats can be there, too. 🙂

      P.S…I’m glad you enjoyed McDoogal!

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  8. Great post, Mae. I’m a fellow cat lover and have ended up with a houseful of them 🙂 They seem to find me. Beautiful photos of your fur babies. I have two black kitties with such unique personalities. I love the quote at the end..so true!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know you love cats, Denise. It’s great that yours have companionship with each other, and I love that two of them are black kitties.Poor things have it rough when it comes to adoption.
      I’m glad you liked the quote. It’s my favorite of all cat quotes, LOL!

      Like

  9. Well, you know I love cats. I’ve had at least four black cats. My grandfather always said if a black cat showed up at your house, it brought good luck! My little blank Manx, Little Bit “found” us. We once had a black cat that showed up on Christmas Eve. We named her Eve. 🙂

    Fascinating stories about the reason for their nine lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know how much you love cats, Joan. We are so alike in that respect (why doesn’t it surprise me?).
      I’m glad Little Bit adopted you. He is such a beautiful black cat. And I’m smiling about the cat you had named Eve. What a perfect name, given she when she arrived. I’m sure she was a special gift, too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Interesting post and beautiful pictures Mae. I love that black beauty Raven but from a distance only. I’ve never lived with cats but discovered how selfish they are when I visited my younger daughter. Her cat was scared of her dog and hid whenever he was in the living room but could scare me to claim his favorite place on the couch at night! He looked me in the eye and meowed me away! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Sounds like your daughter’s cat was determined to get his way. They do like to claim things and can get huffy if their routine is disrupted. They’re definitely creatures of habit, Balroop.
      I’m glad you can still appreciate Raven from a distance. She has the sweetest little meow and is loving to everyone she meets, but she is bonded to me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Loved this! I’ve never heard most of the cat legends about nine lives. I especially liked Noah and the rats and mice. And the quote about cats and dogs was wonderful. The Egyptians were on to something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Judi. So glad you enjoyed my post. My favorite cat legend is the one about Noah and the Ark and the lion sneezing. It’s just so cute. Egyptians and cats have come up several times in the Old Testament fiction I’ve been reading. Cats definitely had the good life, LOL.
      Glad you enjoyed the quote too. It’s my absolute favorite!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. What a fun post, Mae! I have never heard a couple of those ‘nine lives’ legends. 🙂 Especially, the one about Noah and the ark. Even though I am allergic to cats (they make me sneeze and my eyes water and itch) we had a cat for eighteen years. She was beautiful and independent and a heat-seeker. As Rick got older and sicker, she adopted him and I’d find her on his lap every evening. He always had a heating pad. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, I love the story about Rick and your cat, Jan. You can’t beat a lap cat. 🙂
      I have a friend who is allergic to cats, yet she had one for years, too. Her kids wanted one and she couldn’t say no. It amazes me that some people will tolerate such allergies for the love of an animal.
      And cats are definitely heat-seekers! I’ve heard that if there is a sunbeam to be had, a cat will seek it out!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I loved seeing pictures of all your feline family members. Each a beauty.

    I never heard where the nine lives myth came from. Or the part about a lion sneezing cats into existence to help Noah. Fascinating stuff. Loved this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Staci, and the photos. The lion legend is my favorite. I can just see that lion sneezing out kittens, LOL.

      I loved being able to share photos of my fur babies. Arafel, McDoogal and Onyx were all so special and touched my life in so many ways. Raven still does and is attached at my hip. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  14. This post never did show up for me. I had to go searching for it. I’ve written two cats into my stories. One was a friend that occupied a man’s grave, and the other was actually a robot. I would consider owning a cat once we run out of dogs. They are easier keepers for sure.

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  15. I’m a little partial to cats myself and have my own black feline. His name is Midnight. They really do have a special thing about them. Magical even. Thank you so much for sharing some history, Mae, and for the pictures.

    Liked by 2 people

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