Cat Legends

Cat legends worldwide

Cat Legends from Around the World

cat legends

Ccoa – The Evil Cat Demon of Peru

The legend of Ccoa is told in the Indian Quechua tribe in south Peru. Ccoa is a huge cat, almost three meters long and has dark stripes running down his fur.

This evil cat has control over lightning and the hail. Ccoa has the power to ruin crops and wipe out humans. Offerings must be made to Ccoa on a regular basis to keep on the safe side.

The Golden Flower – Kinkwa Neko

An old Japanese cat legend tells the story of female cats called Kinkwa Neko or Golden Flower. They had orange-colored fur. These cats were feared as they had magical powers.

The Kinkwa Neko had the ability to transform themselves from a cat to a beautiful woman. It would not be so bad if it stopped there, but the worst was yet to come. The Kinkwa Neko devoured human beings.

One story tells about a most unfortunate man who gave an orange-colored cat to his relatives. He was quite unaware that the cat was Kinkwa Neko in disguise.

When he returned to visit his relatives the house was empty. On the floor he found torn rags and human bones scattered around the room.

Old American West Tale

Many stories were told about the cactus cat by the frontier men of the old American West during the 19th century.

This was a fearsome animal indeed. It had front legs made up of shard blades of bones.

The Cactus Cat used these front bones to slash the giant cacti and then it drank the sap.

After drinking the sap the Cactus cat became quite intoxicated.

Frightening screams from Cactus Cat could be heard during the night.

Children Beware

“There is an old legend in Iceland about a family up in the mountains who are the descendants of the trolls. The parents are names Gryla and Leppalúdi.” They have thirteen quite mischievous children. The mother, Gryla was known to help herself to naughty human children and use them in her famous stew.

The thirteen kids, also known as the Yule Lads, arrive one at a time the thirteen days before Christmas to the homes of humans. Children leave a shoe on the window sill. If they have been good the Yule Lad will leave a small gift, if they have been bad the Yule Lad will put a potato in the shoe.

The Yule Lads leave one day at a time the thirteen days following Christmas. The tradition continues to this day in Iceland.

Gryla owns a frightful cat named Jólakatturinn. The cat is known to have a huge appetite for eating children, especially at Christmas time.

The only thing that can save a child is something new to wear. The legend explains that only children who have not been lazy throughout the year receive new clothes and are thereby saved from becoming the next dinner for the gruesome cat.

Patripatan – The Cat that went to Heaven – India

In Salangham there was a prince who owned a beautiful white cat. The prince of Salangham was inclined to send his cat to pick a flower from the heavenly tree. Upon arriving in heaven Patripatan simply loved the place and forgot all about the task.

Three hundred years passed before Patripatan finally felt obliged to fulfill the assignment. Patripatan was given a branch full of gorgeous blooming flowers.

Upon his return he found that the people had not aged one bit. The heavenly flowers Patripatan secured that the country was transformed to a place of beauty and tranquility.

King Arthur and the Fisherman

Once there was a fisherman who promised God to give him the first fish he caught in his fishing net.

As it happened the first fish was large and grand looking. He could not bear to give it up. The second time he drew the fishing net up the same thing happened.

The third time the fisherman hauled in the fishing net, he found a little black kitten in the net.

The fisherman decided to keep the kitten and forgot all about his promise to God.

As time went by, the cat grew. The black cat grew larger and larger. It seemed it would not stop growing.

The cute little kitten had grown into a hideous and extremely ill-tempered cat. The enormous cat was fierce and there was nothing anybody could do about it.

As expected the gruesome cat killed the fisherman and his family.

The cat moved into a cave and started terrorizing the nearby villages. Merlin and King Arthur were called to help.

Together the two of them approached the cave. They lured the cat out. A dreadful and bloody fight came about.

Eventually King Arthur managed to kill the cat.

The mountain was always to be known as “The Mountain of the Cat”.

Read More Cat Legends

Legends about how the Tabby cat got the M-marking

Stories about why the Manx cats are tailless

Birman – why it is considered the “Sacred cat of Burma”

Legends about the Siamese cats

Cats in mythology

Cats in Religion

Maneki Neko – Lucky Cat

Tabby Cat

tabby cat legends

What is a Tabby Cat?

Tabby Cat

Tabby cats are found in a variety of different breeds. A tabby cat is not a cat breed on its own. The name implies the characteristic coat patterns of the cat.

The color of the cat does not determine whether it is a Tabby or not. The main factor is the pattern of the coat.

Tabby cats usually have a marking on their forehead that many people claim resembles the letter “M”.

There are several different coat patterns that are commonly classified to being tabby.

Mackerel – These have narrow stripes.

The mackerel tabby cats are naturally is named after the mackerel fish.

There is a clear resemblance in the pattern markings.

Blotched – Some people prefer to call these cats the “Classic Tabby” or the “Marbled Tabby”.  This pattern is the most common in Tabby cats. The color patches are arranged in large blotches.

Spotted – As the name implies these cats are have a spotted coat pattern. The spots may vary in size.

Ticked – These cats have quite tiny ticked markings on their coat.

The name “Tabby” is actually derived from the word “Atabi”. Atabi was a special kind of silk made in the Attabiah district of Baghdad. This silk was extremely popular in England. The striped patterns on the silk were compared to those of the striped cats.

Tabby Cat Legends

The M Marking on the forehead

Anyone who has seen a Tabby cat will have noticed the characteristic pattern of the letter M on the forehead. There are a couple different traditional stories about why the Tabby cat is marked with what resembles the letter M.

Not surprisingly the Christian and the Muslim communities have their own stories to tell commemorating their faith.

The Virgin Mary, Jesus and the Cat

This legend takes us back to the manger in Bethlehem shortly after the Virgin Mary had given birth to Jesus. Mary laid her newborn baby to rest in a manger. She was desperate to get some sleep in order to restore her strength.

Baby boy Jesus was not at all too pleased with his first crib. The hay in the manger was rough and irritated his tender skin.  The racked from the animals close by kept him awake.

The baby Jesus started crying as one would expect under the circumstances.

A stray cat happened to wonder by. The cat paused at the sound of the baby crying.  Instinctively the cat jumped into the manger and settled down next to Jesus. Jesus peacefully fell fast asleep snuggled up against the soft and warm cat.

tabby M marking

In loving gratitude Mary stroked the forehead of the cat. As she did the cat received the mark of Mary.

The M would for all eternity be a reminder of Mary’s gratitude of the lovely act of kindness.

How this legend came about is uncertain. If we read the Bible we find that not once is there a reference to cats. Our beloved feline friend is totally absent in the Holy Scripture.

Prophet Muhammad and the Cat

It is told that the Prophet Muhammad loved cats.

There are five pillars (requirements) in Islam that every Muslim needs to respect.

  1. There is only one God and Muhammad his prophet.
  2. Pray five times every day.
  3. Fast during Ramadan.
  4. The giving of alms.
  5. Pilgrimage to Mecca provided it can be afforded.

Muhammad was sitting with his favorite cat. The cats name was Muezza. Muezza had fallen asleep on part of the robe that Muhammad was wearing.

As he sat there quietly he heard the call to prayer. Muhammad needed to go but did not want to wake up his cat. He took out his knife and very carefully cut off the sleeve of his robe.

The cat slept undisturbed and Muhammad attended the prayer meeting.

Legend has it that ever since that special incident the tabby cat has the mark of Muhammad on its forehead.

Maneki Neko

Maneki neko Japanese Cat

Japanese Lucky Cat

Anyone traveling to Japan cannot help but notice the sculptures of colorful cats with one paw lifted.

Maneki Neko

They seem to be all over the place, in restaurants, shops, places of business and even in the streets. They come in all sizes and qualities.

They are always shown with a lifted paw in a beckoning position.

Most of the time only one paw is up, but occasionally both paws will be lifted. Not unreasonably these cats are often referred to as the “Beckoning Cat”.

Actually Maneki Neko is Japanese for “Beckoning Cat”. Neko is “cat” in Japanese.

The Japanese Lucky Cat, the Beckoning Cat is a talisman. This beckoning cat is believed to bring lots of good fortune for any who associates with it.

In shop windows the Maneki Neko will invite customers and prosperity; in restaurants the lucky cat may be responsible for many happy guests and so on.

Undoubtedly thousands of Japanese firmly believe the Beckoning Cat, Maneki Neko is good for business.

The Beckoning Cat is seen at the entrance of business as though the cat is beckoning the customers to enter.

It can also be worn as jewelry. It will protect the wearer from bad luck and pain.

The Lucky Cat is most fortunate for prosperity and many Maneki Neko are used as piggy banks. Key chains with a Lucky Cat attached to the chain are also quite common.

The Maneki Neko Legend

Gotokuji temple
Maneki Neko Cat figures at the Gotokuji Temple

There are several legends about the Beckoning Cat. Here is the most popular legend of the waving cat.

There once was a very poor monk. This monk owned a cat named Tama. He loved his cat dearly. Whatever food he had he shared with his cat. The monk and his cat lived in a small temple called Gotokuji in Western Tokyo.

One evening a terrible storm emerged.  An extremely wealthy feudal Lord happened to be on a journey and was passing the temple as a thunderstorm broke out. The feudal Lord took shelter under a tree nearby.

As he was standing there under the tree, he caught sight of a cat sitting outside the temple door. He watched the cat and his curiosity arose. It seemed the cat was waving as though it was beckoning him to come.

The Lord felt drawn towards the cat and started walking over to the temple door. As he stepped away from the tree, lighting struck and hit the exact same place as he had been standing.

The feudal Lord had no doubt that the beckoning cat had saved his life. He made friends with the poor monk.

In gratitude he donated a large sum of money to the Gotokuji temple.

The monk and his cat Tama were blessed with prosperity for the rest of their lives.

Cats in Mythology

cats mythology worldwide

Bastet- The Egyptian Cat Goddess

The goddess cat in Egyptian mythology is well known in the world of mythology.

The goddess cat was named Bastet, also known as Bast. The goddess cat was highly admired and respected.

Bastet Egyptian cat goddess large statue

Bastet was worshipped as the protector goddess of Lower Egypt and guardian of the pharaoh. Bastet was also defender of the chief male deity, Ra, a solar deity. Some referred to Bastet as “Lady of Flame” and “Eye of Ra”.

In ancient Egypt there was a death penalty for killing a cat. It did not natter if the cat was killed on purpose or if it was an accident.

When a cat died, the ancient Egyptians would show their grief by shaving off their eyebrows.

Dead cats were mummified. When Bastet’s temple was excavated more than 300,000 mummified cats were discovered. 

Many hundred thousand mummified cats have been found also in other places in Egypt.

In the city of Bubastis there was a temple devoted to the sacred cat goddess Bastet. Today the place is called Tell Basta.

The name of Bubastis in Egyptian is normally transcribed Per-Bast. Bubastis is the Greek name of the Egyptian Per-Bastet.

PER means “house” and the second word is the name of the goddess Bast or Bastet. The phrase means “House of Bast”.

Tell Basta/Bubastis is located by the River Nile about 90 km north-east of Cairo. It is just outside of the Egyptian city Zagazig.

As many as 700 000 Egyptian pilgrims would make the journey to participate in the yearly festival of Bastet.

The festival of Bastet was the most dazzling of all in the Egyptian calendar as described by Herodotus (an ancient Greek historian, 5th century BC):

“Barges and river craft of every description, filled with men and women, floated leisurely down the Nile. The men played on pipes of lotus.

The women on cymbals and tambourines, and such as had no instruments accompanied the music with clapping of hands and dances, and other joyous gestures. Thus did they while on the river: but when they came to a town on its banks, the barges were made fast, and the pilgrims disembarked, and the women sang, playfully mocked the women of that town and threw their clothes over their head.

When they reached Bubastis, then held they a wondrously solemn feast: and more wine of the grape was drank in those days than in all the rest of the year.

Such was the manner of this festival: and, it is said, that as many as seven hundred thousand pilgrims have been known to celebrate the Feast of Bast at the same time.”

Ra, the Sun God as “Great Cat Ra”

There is no doubt that Bastet is the most known cat goddess in the world of mythology. Most of us have heard about Bastet, but not every knows the cat as a god has an exceedingly older history.

Before the era of Bastet the male cat in Egypt represented the Sun god named Ra.

The female cat represented the mother goddess named Mut. The goddess Mut would much later become the cat goddess known as Bastet.

In the “Book of the dead” there are passages about the “Great Cat Ra”.  The British Museum in London has a preserved copy from approximately 1580 B.C.

This particular papyrus shows an image of a large cat with a knife in his right paw and his other paw on the head of a python.

Great Cat Ra is about to stab the enormous python in its head.

The python represented Apep, the enemy of the Sun god Ra.

In the background is the Egyptian tree of life, called the Persea tree.

The hieroglyph was translated by the English Egyptologist, Sir Ernest Budge (1857-1934). It goes like this:

“I am the cat who fought near the Persea Tree in Annu (better known as Heliopolis) on the night when the foes of Nebertcher were destroyed.

Who is the Cat?

This male Cat is Ra himself, and he was called “Mau” because of the speech of the god Sa, who said concerning him:

“He is like unto that which he has made; therefore did the name of Ra become Mau”.

Others, however, have said that the male Cat is the god Shu, who made over the possessions of Keb to Osiris.”

Freya – Two Cats

The beautiful goddess Freyja in Norse mythology  had a carriage drawn by two cats.

The goddess Freyja was the goddess of love, sorcery and death.

Nobody had better knowledge of sorcery than Freyja.

The goddess Freyja taught the chief god Odin the art of witchcraft and sorcery.

It seems evident that ever since the Viking times cats have been associated with magic and witchcraft.