Here are some interesting tidbits and trivia about Cats:
Cat Folklore and Magick
The Historical Cat
The Superstitious Cat
The Homing Instinct
Fascinating Feline Facts
Cat Folklore and Magick (author unknown)
Cats have been associated with deities, witches and magick for centuries. Here are some snippets of cat-related folklore. Cats have been sacred to more than one religion, and at different times and places have been considered both good and bad luck-bringers. The Egyptian goddess Bast was both lion-headed and cat-headed and attended by cats and therefore cats were sacred and revered in Egypt; killing one was a heinous crime, and when a household cat died mourning rites were performed for it. Cats were often found in temples and were ritually fed; stray cats were treated with honor and fed, and the household cat was allowed to share the family's food. Cat amulets were produced and elaborate cat-sized sarcophagi crafted for cats who had died, who were often embalmed as humans were. Followers of the goddess Diana also considered the cat sacred because she once assumed the form of a cat, and cats were under her special protection. In Scandinavia, Freya's chariot was drawn by cats. The Celtic goddess Ceridwen was also attended by white cats, who carried out her orders on earth.
Cats are traditionally associated with witches, and it is generally assumed today that witches' familiars were (and are) always cats. However, during the Burning Times any small animal that was kept in the house was suspect, and records show that accused witches were forced to confess having familiar spirits in the form of cats, rats, mice, dogs, weasels and toads. It was also firmly believed that witches could take the shape of cats, and accusers sometimes claimed that they were followed or tormented by witches in the shape of cats. In 1718 William Montgomery of Caithness alleged that hordes of cats gathered outside his house nightly and talked in human language; he claimed to have killed two of them and wounded another one night and awoken the next morning to hear that two old women had been found dead in their beds and another badly injured.
In Britain and Australia black cats are considered lucky, and in some places white cats are correspondingly unlucky. In many parts of Europe and in the United States, however, it is the black cat who is ill-omened. In Britain tortoiseshell cats will bring their owners luck, and blue cats bring luck in Russia. An old saying about black cats is that 'Whenever the cat of the house is black, the lasses of lovers shall have no lack'. It was said that if the household cat sneezed near a bride on her wedding day, she would have a happy married life.
To meet a black cat is usually fortunate, especially if it crosses one's path. In some districts the luck is only considered released if the cat is politely greeted, or stroked three times. Sometimes it is considered unlucky if the cat runs away from the person, or turns back on its own tracks. To meet a white cat is bad luck, except in those countries where white cats are the luck-bringers. If a black cat comes into a house or onto a ship, it is considered a very lucky sign, and the cat should never be chased away in case it takes the luck of the house with it. Seamen avoid the word 'cat' while at sea, but to have a cat on board is lucky, especially if it is a completely black cat with no white hairs. To throw the cat overboard raises an immediate violent storm; no sailor would do such a thing to the ship's cat, and in fact cats are rarely left on an abandoned ship but are generally rescued with the sailors. In Yorkshire, if a sailor's wife kept a black cat,
her husband would always return safely from the sea; this sometimes led to black cats being stolen.
Cat hair and bones were often ingredients of charms and spells, and even now a few hairs from a cat are supposed to increase the power of a spell, although this now appears more common in England than in America where the hair of a wolf appears to have taken over. In previous centuries the tail of a black cat was believed to cure a sty if stroked over the afflicted eye, and a tortoiseshell cat's tail was considered to remove warts. Three drops of a cat's blood smeared on a wart was also considered to cure it. If a person in the house was very ill, it was thought that throwing the water in which the patient had been washed over a cat, and then driving the poor creature away, would transfer the illness to the cat and drive it out of the household. It was said that every cat should be given two names; a country rhyme states 'One for a secret, one for a riddle, name puss twice and befuddle the devil'. This saying was based on the belief that one person could gain power and ascendancy over another simply by knowing his or her real name; by giving the household cat two names, once for common use and one secret and never revealed to outsiders, the pet which had the run of the household could be protected from becoming a tool of evil or of outside infiltration.
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The Historical Cat
The cat species began over 30 million years ago with the Saber-toothed tiger, which hunted deer, antelope, horses and buffalo. It became extinct 11,000 years ago.
Imperial Palace Of Kyoto, Japan:
In the year A.D. 999, a white cat imported from China gave birth to five pure white kittens. Moved by this unusual event, the Emperor decreed that these charming animals be brought up with as much care and attention as if they were infant princes.
Law Of Manu:
In Orthodox Hinduism, it is specified "He who has killed a cat must withdraw to the middle of the forest and there dedicate himself to the life of the animals around him until he is purified."
This ancient Nubian word is thought to be the origin of the word cat.
The writings of Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived around 500 B.C., tell us that the Greeks were the first to import Egyptian cats for the purpose of protecting their harvests from rodents. They had to go to Egypt and steal the cats because the Egyptians refused to let them go, which resulted in a series of diplomatic incidents.
Grand Coulee Dam
This structure was built with the help of a small white cat. Unable to thread a cable through 500 feet of drainage pipe, engineers tied one end to the cat's tail and placed her in the pipe, and she brought it through, thus solving a major engineering problem.
During the reign of the great cat goddess, Bast, cats were given the very best care their owner could afford. Sick cats were treated with the care usually only given to children. They were adorned with jeweled collars, and pendants were hung about their necks with silver, bronze, or golden chains. Sometimes the ears would be pierced to hold gold earrings or jeweled studs. When a cat died the whole family went into mourning and shaved off their eyebrows as a mark of respect for the beloved pet.
The Nordic goddess of love and fertility is depicted riding in a chariot drawn by gray cats. Farmers would leave out offerings of fresh milk for her cats, hoping to ensure good crops and protection from bad weather.
There is no mention of cats in the Bible. Scholars think this is because cats were worshipped in Egypt at that time, and the cat was deliberately left out of the scriptures to make sure those rival gods did not tempt people back to old religions.
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The Superstitious Cat
If a black cat crosses your path without harming you, it is said to mean you are protected by the devil.
If a black cat walks into the room of an ill person, who later dies, it was blamed on the cat's supernatural powers.
In some parts of the United States, a black cat crossing your path is considered unlucky. In Britain and Ireland, it is considered good luck.
If a strange black cat enters your home uninvited, you will have great fortune throughout the year. If you shoo it away, it will take its gift of good luck with it.
A black cat aboard ship is a very good omen... if your man is a sailor, keep a black cat in your home to insure his safety while at sea.
In the 1400s when witches were burned at the stake, their cats were ordered burned along with them. They were viewed as not only her private link with the devil, but it was also believed witches could turn themselves into cats and back into human form at will.
Thus, in a superstitious society it became increasingly impossible to know if a cat was really just a witch in disguise.
Another belief was that witches allowed their cats to suck their blood -- intertwining the vampire legend among the superstitious.
The many superstitions revolving around the black cat began as new religions emerged -- ones that denounced all things considered holy by previous religions (as in the ancient Egyptians belief in the Goddess Bast (a black female cat).
Black cats, with their yellow eyes and nocturnal habits, embodied darkness and mystery, and became associated with the supernatural and evil. They gained a reputation of being witches' helpers, reincarnated evil spirits and bearers of bad luck.
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The Homing Instinct of Cats (author unknown)
What do birds, bees, salmon, rats and cats have in common? (Besides being members of the animal kingdom?) They all have a homing instinct - the ability to find their way back home even after traveling long distances over unfamiliar territory. Cats are well known for their ability to do this and we often hear about them in the news or read about stories in books. In "Extraordinary Cats" for example, a cat named Sooty finds his way back to an old home after his family in England moved more than 100 miles away.
Then there is Pillsbury, the eight year old English cat who has made the eight mile journey back to his former home 40 times. According to London newspapers, he makes the trip, which takes him across busy roads and through herds of cattle, at least once a week. Luckily, his owners always retrieve him.
Perhaps you've heard about Tigger, the three-legged cat who has made the three-mile return trip to his old home more than 75 times!
BUT - perhaps the round-trip record is held by Ninja, the tomcat who moved with his owners from Utah to Washington State in 1996. He disappeared shortly after arriving in his new home, only to turn up at the old Utah address - 850 miles away - one year later!
Just how these extraordinary cats can "home in" on their old haunts isn't completely understood, but researchers do have some clues about how other animals find their way:
For salmon, it seems that the smell of their home waters is key. For birds and bees, navigating by the sun, stars, or moon appears to help. Other animals can orient themselves with the help of magnetized cells in the brain, which act like tiny compasses which help them decide which way is north. Sea creatures may even use the sounds that rumble through the oceans as guideposts.
Do humans share the cat's amazing direction-finding abilities?
Researchers aren't sure, but so far, studies haven't turned up any magnetized cells in our brains, although early navigators certainly learned to use the sun and the stars to steer by.
"It is not yet clear exactly what kinds of unique navigational systems humans may have," Patricia Sharp, an expert in neuroanatomy at Yale University, told "Scientific American" "I suspect that humans have similar systems - but at present, there is no evidence to support that suspicion." In the meantime, then, perhaps we'd best just follow our cats.
I envy the cat! I have a hard time finding my car in the parking lot after shopping at the mall. I have many good strengths and talents, but a sense of direction is NOT one of them. I guess I need a guide cat!
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Fascinating Feline Facts
Here's a collection of "fascinating facts about your frisky feline's physique (say that three times fast!):
· Both humans and cats have identical regions in the brain responsible for emotion.
· A cat's brain is more similar to a man's brain than that of a dog.
· Cats have 30 vertebrae, 5 more than humans have.
· A cat's field of vision is about 185 degrees.
· Cats have 32 muscles that control the outer ear (compared to human's 6 muscles each). A cat can rotate its ears independently 180 degrees, and can turn in the direction of sound 10 times faster than those of the best watchdog.
· A cat can jump 5 times as high as it is tall.
· Cats step with both left legs, then both right legs when they walk or run (like a camel).
· In relation to their body size, cats have the largest eyes of any mammal.
· Most cats do not have eyelashes.
· A domestic cat can sprint at about 31 miles per hour.
· A kitten will typically weigh about 3 ounces at birth.
· The typical male housecat will weigh between 7 and 9 pounds, slightly less for female housecats (well, I guess all of my kitties are "above average!").
· Cats take between 20-40 breaths per minute.
· Normal body temperature for a cat is 102 degrees F.
· A cat's normal pulse is 140-240 beats per minute, with an average of 195.
· Cat's urine glows under a black light.
· Cats lose almost as much fluid in the saliva while grooming themselves as they do through urination.
· Cats do not have a collarbone, so they can fit through any opening the size of their head.
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Page updated 10/10/2002