Friday, December 07, 2007

Cats - Magical? Mystical? Or Just Playful?

Recently, we adopted a rescued cat that had been severely abused by her previous owners. They broke her leg and it was never set and mended crooked and bent. They then ran over her with a vehicle and broke her hip and crushed her pelvis. Again, they didn’t take her to the vet or give her any kind of assistance. They allowed her to suffer and yet, she survived.

Not only did she survive, she is the friendliest, sweetest and most loving cat I’ve ever known.

Her name is Sophie and over the past weeks, my heart has been captured by her. I began to think about the mystical and almost magical nature of cats and why they appeal to us as pets.

History is full of cats and what they are and aren’t. So as Sophie and our older cat, Bow, adjust to each other, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned over the years of having cats as my pets.

The first - I am a servant to their whims. I feed them, pet them, and play with them when they want. Never when I want. (g)

One of the most intriguing facts I learned about cats was how they became Egyptian demi-gods. I was surprised to learn it was the result of practical necessity. The pharaoh was besieged with a severe granary problem- Mice and rats. Rodents were getting into the granaries and eating and ruining the wheat. So a clever idea began to formulate. Cat owners were ordered to take their pets to the granaries at sunset and return for them at sunrise.

To encourage loyal participation in this new program, the owners were paid a rental fee for the use of their cats. Next, the pharaoh made the cats demi-gods to assure their owners treated them well. If the cat owners failed to treat their esteemed felines like gods, then they were penalized severely. The cats did their job and the granaries were spared being ruined by mice and rats.

Other folklore is full of various tales of a cat’s magical powers. For instance, it was said if a cat jumped over a dead body then the corpse would become a vampire. Of course, the cure was to kill the cat. Poor kitty!

And even more grotesque was the belief that a cat boiled in oil was the perfect dressing for wounds. Another superstitious belief was a cat could consume the illness of a human being and then the cat was killed or taken away from the home to assure a cure. And likewise a cat could create a disease.

From the Norsemen to China and India, cats have been revered and feared.

The ultimate belief that black cats were evil ‘familiars’ of witches thrived during the time of witch trials and persecution. There is an actual case from a witch trail where the woman accused of witchcraft owned a cat named, Pyewackett. It was argued that such a name was not something created by a human, but the devil.

In the B&W movie, Bell, Book, and Candle starring Kim Novak and James Stewart, Novak plays a witch whose familiar is named Pyewackett.

Cats are incredible creatures and our two keep us amused and bring so much love into our lives.


Sahara Kelly said...

Ooooh...Sally! My heart aches for what Sophie must have gone through, but I'm smiling that she's now in your loving hands. Or lap!!

I remember that wonderful movie with Jimmy Stewart - so does my sister. She recently adopted a stray black cat - he's a beauty and her SIXTH adopted cat - and named him Pyewackett!! LOL

I did point out to my brother in law that he's now formally living in a cat house! (grin)

Sally Painter said...

Hey Sahara! My heart ached too. She is one happy cat now. And we're spoiling her rotten.

I love the synchronicity of this post and your sister's cat! Too funny!

Nicole Austin said...

Poor Sophie! She's lucky to have found you, Sally!

Cats are pretty amazing. My cat seems to know when I'm not feeling well and stays close to my side.

Ciana Stone said...

Sophie is one lucky cat, that's for sure :) and I do hope she learns to type soon, that way when we're in the middle of instant messaging and she jumps on the keyboard I don't think you've suddenly gotten pissed and are hurling expletitives at me (%TGHNM*:ANJ)

I'm a big cat fan. At one time I had 35 rescued feral cats. What an interesting three years that was, watching the dynamics and becoming "part of the family". Of course the cat food bill was sky high, but like they say... trough for feeding 200.00... giant water bowls 100.00 .... the love of 35 cats ... priceless. Nothing like a cat blanket in winter when you're sitting outside by the fire :)

N.J.Walters said...

Poor kitty. At least she now has a wonderful, new home.

Cats are amazing. I wish I could own one, but I'm allergic to them.

Sally Painter said...

Thanks, Nic. Aren't they mystical creatures? I love cats!

Sally Painter said...

LOL. Sophie types better than I do. hahaha!

Sally Painter said...

NJ thanks. My daughter is allegic which is why we didn't have one until Bow showed up at a friend's wedding we were hosting in our front lawn. He was our first official cat pet in nearly 17 years. I used to have 13 cats before my daughter was born.