Cats (Domesticated)

~taken from "Animal Magic" by D. J. Conway 

The ancestors of the domestic cat were probably the African wild cat, Felis chaus, and/or the Karrir cat, Felis lybica.  These two species were tamed and honored by the ancient Egyptians.  Throughout Egyptians influence, domesticated cats were dispersed around the Mediterranean area.  Roman legions and settlers took them into Europe and Britain, where they obviously bred with local species.

A cat once common in Britain and other parts of the continent is the European wild cat, Felis silvestris.  It looks like a tabby cat in the size and general color, but is more powerful and heavily built.  It is still considered very savage.  No one has managed to tame one.  On occasion these can cross-bred with the more gentle domestic cats.  The European wild cat does not like civilization and today has retreated into the wilds of Scotland, remote areas of Central Europe, and on into Asia Minor.

In ancient cultures, the cat was both a solar and lunar animal.  It was said to by psychic and could predict coming disasters.  People thought is also could affect the weather, fence the expression "raining like cats and dogs."

Many deities were connected with some branch of the cat family.  Artemis and Diana were both called the Mother of Cats; the Roman goddess Liberty was portrayed with a cat at her feet.  Although the followers of Zoroaster believed the cat was a good creature given by Allah to help humans.  The Hindu goddess Shasti rides a cat, the symbol of prolific fertility and birth.

In Egypt, cats were sacred to Bast and Pasht; this veneration was well established by at least 1570 b.c.e., and by 950 b.c.e. was found in all of Egypt.  Bast represented the gentler aspects of the cat, while Pasht signified the more aggressive aspects.  Egyptians gave the cat the name mau, after the sound it makes.  A black cat was especially lucky and was the emblem used by physicians to advertise their services.  The temple cats of Bast, upon death, were mummified and buried with great ceremony.  Even cats belonging to common people were mourned upon their deaths---the family halved their eyebrows.  Killing a cat anywhere in Egypt brought the death penalty.  

The idea of the cat and its nine lives derives from an Egyptian belief that the goddess Pasht had nine lives.

In Celtic traditions, cats were associated with Underworld powers, the dead, and prophecy.  Often they were portrayed as evil creatures, but this may have been because the wild cats in Celtic countries were untamed.  Irish legends tell of a cat called Little Cat, who was a guardian of treasure.  In Wales, Great Cat was a powerful being born of Henwen, an enchanted sow.

In Norse myth, the goddess Freyja's chariot was pulled by two cats.  After the people converted to Christianity, Freyja became a witch and her cats became black horses possessed by the devil.  The new legend said that after seven years the car-horses earned the right to become witches disguised as black cats.  The rewrite of the Norse goddess story may be the origin of the unlucky black cat superstition.  Those taught to fear the devil would consider black cats to be his evil helpers. 

The Chinese said that the cat was a yin animal connected with evil, the night, and shape-shifting.  They believed that the appearance of a strange cat portended a change in fortune and that a black cat meant a positive-powered animal, a creature symbolizing peace and transformation. 

Cats were popular with Japanese sailors, for they said that they animals has power over the dead and kept away evil spirits that dwelt in the ocean. 

Although some of their legends tell how the cat was full of trickery and sometimes associated with ghosts, the Japanese still hold the animal in high esteem.

Cats are mischievous and love to play tricks on people.



The eyes of cats shine in the dark; they can see in total darkness.  Cats can't see in total darkness and their eyes do not shine unless there is light to be reflected in them.  They can, however, see better than humans or other animals in almost dark conditions because of the reflective coating on the inside of their eyes.

Cats will suck away the breath of children, invalids, and sleeping people, leaving them weak or even killing them.  Cats do not suck away the breath of anyone; this erroneous superstition developed during the witch-frenzy of the Middle Ages.

Cats are extremely nervous.  Cats aren't nervous; they just have superb reflexes.

In Britain and many places in Europe, a black cat crossing the road or entering your house is considered to be very good fortune.

In parts of Yorkshire the wives of fishermen keep black cats at home to ensure their husbands' safety at sea.

In southern England a black cat crossing the bath of a bride as she leaves the church is said to grant a fortunate marriage.

A sneezing cat is said to bring good luck to a bride, as well as being a sign of rain.


Magickal Attributes: 

A strong protector, especially when faced with a confrontational situation.   Knowing when to fight your way out of a bad situation and when to retreat.  Independent and self-assured.  Searching for hidden information.  Seeing spirits.



Littlest lion, panther in miniature,

Help me in my magickal endeavors.

Teach me to see my path through dark places.

Help me to sift necessary from the unnecessary

And to relax and enjoy life.

Strengthen my magick and carry it to its destination.