Cats Encyclopedia







The Mysterious Cat


by Joan Moore


 


Contents

The Cat in Cultures & Religions Worldwide

Ancient Egypt
Judaism
 Classical Greece
The Roman Empire
Celtic and Christian Europe
Scandinavia and Northern Europe
 Buddhism

China and Japan

Islam
Russian Folklore
Native, North and South America
African Cat Lore
Australasia and Oceania

Supernatural Cat

Cats in Witchcraft
Cat and Woman
The Psychic Cat
The Occult Cat

A Western Astrological Guide to the Cat

Mythical Cat
Cat Legends
Feline Esoterica

 

 

 

 


China and Japan



Cat with Fish, Calcutta
 

The Chinese have the oldest surviving civilization in the world, beginning with the Shang dynasty in around 1650 ΒΡΕ. Records recall rulers' consultations with ancestral spirits and emphasise a male-orientated society with an earthly reflection on the 'unworthiness' of a ruler when rivers dried up and earthquakes and other natural phenomena occurred.
The ancient religion of Shinto, 'the way of the Gods', is the oldest system of belief in Japan. Buddhism and Confucianism, followed by Zen, emerged later. One of the chief deities in the Shinto pantheon was Amaterasu the Sun goddess, who symbolised fertility and was said to be the bringcr of good fortune.
First China and then Japan absorbed Buddhism from India. While Indian Buddhism was concerned with the individual's path to enlightenment, the Ear Eastern version was more family-based. Gradually deities evolved, and the female goddess Kkuanyin, 'bestower of children', became a popular fertility totem.
The Chinese and Japanese depicted the cat in delicate and finely executed watercolours on parchment and silk.These works of art indicate that the cat was important in the oriental way of life: apart from its obvious use in keeping vermin away from the precious stocks of silk, the air of equinamity which surrounded the cat and its aura of inner wisdom were qualities with which Buddhists could empathise. So the cat found its way into the pantheon of oriental deities, one such being the Chinese cat god Li Shou, said to ward off evil spirits of the night. Agricultural deities too, were often depicted in the form of cats.
The Chinese believe that the size of the pupil of a cat's eye is determined by the height of the Sun above the Earth's horizon. To tell the time, they simply lift up the lid of a cats' eye. In China, white cats are linked with the Moon and arc thought to steal moonbeams.

 


Hiroshige

 

Black in colour and black in spirit

Black cats have appeared in numerous demonic guises throughout the ages, and some emerged from watery beginnings. In ancient China manuscripts tell of a cat owned by an Emperor which bathed in a pool of water following three days of rain. Suddenly the cat transformed itself into a dragon, flew off and was never seen again.

Revenge and dark deeds

In sixth-century China it was believed that after death people sometimes changed themselves into cats in order to take revenge upon their enemies, saying that if you were afraid of a cat you must have been a rat in a previous existence. A lady of the period, whom the Empress had condemned to die, threatened to return and change the Empress into a rat so that she might catch and kill her.
According to Chinese myth cats were supernatural creatures who could detect ghosts and evil spirits. Subsequently, in certain parts of China cats were held to be very special and even worshipped. It was thought that cats could not only see demons but also be demons themselves, and for this reason dead cats were not buried but hung in trees to scare evil spirits away from those passing beneath.

Tri-coloured cats

In Japan tortoiseshell or tri-coloured cats are considered to be lucky, and long ago Japanese sailors took these mike neko on their voyages. The cats' behaviour patterns foretold storms, enabling the sailors to return to port in safety. The animals were also kept as rat-catchers on the boats, and to deter the 'honourable ghosts' of the sailors' ancestors.


Hiroshige
 

Superstition in Japan

The Japanese are superstitious about their cats and prefer their own native short-tailed variety, the Japanese Bobtail, because these are said to be less likely to 'bewitch humans'. The figure of a cat with its left paw raised is commonly seen in gift shops in Japan, where they arc sold as souvenirs. It is believed that the beckoning cat brings good fortune to its owner.
In Japan, cat-vampires could be recognised by the fact that they had two tails. This is another reason that the Japanese native Bobtail cat was so popular.
The Japanese believed that a black spot on a cat signified that the cat's soul belonged to one of their ancestors. A frequent figure in old Japanese folk tales was the fearsome vampire cat, sometimes seen in the guise of a wicked sorcerer who could turn himself into a cat and eat disobedient children!
In the legend of the vampire-cat of Nabeshima, the creature killed the favourite concubine of a prince and took her form. Each night as the prince visited her he became weaker and weaker. But the cat-woman was seen by a guard during the night, which rendered it harmless. The creature escaped to the countryside but was eventually tracked down and killed.
In old Japan it was believed that a black cat could cure spasms if placed on the stomach of sick person. In this way it was thought that black cats could also cure melancholia and epilepsy. Conversely, in China black cats were omens of sickness and poverty.
Long ago it was said that a Samurai warrior, caught in a terrible storm, took refuge beneath a tree. His gaze rested on a nearby temple, in whose doorway he saw a cat which raised its paw and appeared to be beckoning to him. The warrior followed the cat as it disappeared into the temple, and at that moment the tree under which he had just been sheltering was struck by lightning. The Samurai turned to thank the cat for saving his life, but the creature was nowhere to be seen.

Guard cats

In Japan during the 600s CE sacrifices were made to the Guardian of the Manuscripts, a sacred cat whose duty it was to guard the precious papyrus rolls from rats and mice. The Japanese also used images of cats to guard their mortuary chambers from rats. Whether this method proved a successful deterrent is not recorded, but it must have been given some credibility since a seventeenth-century wood carving of a cat placed over the door of a shrine in the Nikko temple was said to have driven all rodents from that sacred place.
Often, in Japan, live animals as charms were replaced by their images, such as the popular seated cat with its paw raised to the side of its face. This good luck symbol appeared at the doors and entrances to a variety of businesses, ostensibly beckoning people to come in and buy their goods.

 


Koynagui Sei

 

Phantom cats

Japan has a legend of a feline spirit which each year demanded a human sacrifice. Λ soldier travelling through the mountains, stopped the night at an old ruined temple. At midnight he found himself surrounded by a number of ghostly cats which chanted: 'Don't tell Shippeitaro about it.' The cats disappeared and the soldier resumed his travels until he came upon a village whose inhabitants were in great distress.
It appeared that a beautiful young village girl had been put in a cage from which the dreaded phantom cat would carry her off to his lair and then devour her. When the soldier enquired who Shippeitaro was he was told it was the name of a large brave dog.
That night the soldier, accompanied by some village youths and the dog Shippeitaro, lay in wait for the phantom cats and their monstrous leader, a huge torn. The soldier flung open the cage door as the huge cat leapt forward, and in a flash the brave dog seized the cat and slew it with one blow. Thus the village was saved from its ghastly annual ritual of providing a human sacrifice.

 


Islam


Arabic script from 1350

 

The Islamic faith was founded by Mahomet, who was born in Mecca around 570 CE. Having knowledge of both the Christian and Jewish religions, Mahomet was committed to the banishment of paganism. Islam in Arabic means 'submitting oneself to God' and respect for all life was one of the basic tenets of the Islamic faith.
These teachings arc recorded in the Koran and reflect the principles of one of the world's major religions. Today, most of the approximately 600 million followers of Islam live in the Arab countries South-West Asia, North and East Africa, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Malay peninsula and Indonesia.
It is said that, due to Mahomet's love for his cat Muezza, the cat became sacred to the Muslims. One legend tells that, while living in Damascus, the Prophet and his cat sat one day in deep contemplation. While doing so the cat fell asleep in her masters robes, the sleeve of which Mahomet cut off so as not to disturb her slumber. At this, Muezza purred her thanks and arched her back to be stroked. Mahomet stroked her three times, thus ensuring her a place in Paradise, and vowed that she would never fall from there.
In this way, it is said, the Prophet gave the feline species in general the power of always landing on its feet.
Mahomet allowed Muezza to enter the mosque at will. According to legend, the 'M' (for Mahomet) mark on the tabby's forehead was created by the Prophet as he laid his hand lovingly on the brow of his favourite cat.

Before Islam

It is known that, before the coming of Islam, Arab peoples in Persia worshipped a Golden Cat and that gatu, meaning 'cat', occurs in Zend, the ancient Zoroastnan language once spoken there. Centuries later the Knights Templar, commissioned by the Church in England to recruit money for the Crusades, became involved in cat worship and the various cult practices that this entailed.
 


Islam

 

Noah's Ark

Reputedly told by Mahomet, there is a legend relating that when Noah built his Ark he had two of every living thing except the domestic cat, which was unknown at that time. The rains came and the rats and mice began to multiply, so that the store of food disappeared at an alarming rate. Noah, in despair, asked the lion for his advice. The lion thought and thought and then sneezed, whereupon two little cats jumped out of his nostrils. The cats began hunting immediately and the number of rats and mice grew less and less. The terrified survivors disappeared into their holes, never to be seen again.
Mahomet's version of this legend appears in an early Muslim scripture and includes the words: 'God therefore caused the lion to sneeze and when there came forth from it two cats, the rats then concealed themselves from the view of the cats . . .'
 

A Persian proverb

Two mice stole a piece of cheese and, unable to agree over its equal division, they decided to ask an old cat who had long since given up chasing mice to be the judge. 'Gladly,' replied the cat. 'See, I will divide the cheese fairly for you.' The wily old cat took a knife and cut the cheese into two unequal parts. She then placed these on the scales and, finding that they did not balance, cut off a piece of the larger portion and swallowed it. Seeing that the other part was now too heavy, she cut a piece from this also and ate it. She repeated this process until there was only a very small piece left on one of the scales. Gobbling it up, she quickly explained: And this is for my fee!'

 


Tutkey

 

The Angora and the Turkish Van

The breed known as the Angora originated in the Turkish city of that name, now known as Ankara. Much admired for its long, silky coat and quiet, graceful charm, the Angora had a long, slender, 'oriental' type body. An English writer in 1868 described the Angora as a "beautiful variety with silvery hair of fine texture, generally longest on the neck but also on the tail'. The white variety of Angora was felt to be the only true representative of the breed, but in its homeland the Angora is known by other names according to colour. The red tabby variety is called the sarman, the silver tabby is the teku and the odd-eyed white is known as Ankara kedi.
Another variety which evolved within the Angora breed was the Turkish Van. Living high in the mountainous regions around Lake Van, these cats were white with auburn colouring restricted to the cars and tail. Predictably, the Van was an expert swimmer, earning it the name of the Swimming Cat.

 


John Lewis

 



Russian Folklore
 

Cats do not significantly figure in the Russian Orthodox religion, but the country's richly entertaining literature and folklore offer a pertinent insight into the warmth and humour with which the Russian people regard the domestic cat. The cat is seen as a charming, often rakish figure residing in, and typifying, the warm, friendly, well-kept Russian home. Here the cat sleeps by the fireside, adding much to the general wellbeing and happiness of the family circle.
The Russian cat also has a place on the farm, often to be seen pitting its wits against other barnyard animals. Here, the cat shares its cheerful image with Riaba the hen, another creature which enjoys a firm niche in Russian folklore. In the countryside, usually only an unthrifty, lazy person had no cats. Houses of such people gave no shelter to horses, cows or hens, which were the usual property of even the poorest peasant family. The Russian proverb 'He even has no cat' meant that the life of that person was in complete disorder and disarray.
Cat lore surrounds life's rites of passage such as births and marriages, and tales of vagabond cats with a twinkle in their eye tell of the wily feline whose lively brain inevitably helps him outwit his enemies.
All of Russian life is reflected in the adventures and antics of the cat in that country's myth and legend, providing fascinating reading for all cat-lovers and for those simply interested in folk tales from other lands.



Cat in Russian Folklore

 

White cats and black cats

Snow-white cats with soft, fluffy coats were extremely rare in Old Russia, and therefore of great value to devotees of the unusual. Cats such as this lived in comfortable houses and  spent their days not climbing trees but quietly  drowsing on splendid sofas, protected from the  outside world and content to be the beautiful playthings of their owners.
Black cats were thought to be unlucky in Russia, since black signified evil and held connotations of the Devil. It was considered a bad omen if a black cat crossed a person's path, and if someone had had a troubled day he would be asked if a black cat had crossed his path that morning.

An age-old symbol

Despite the fact that in Old Russia the cat was always believed to be a symbol of warmth and friendliness in the home, it was felt that in its own subtle way the cat was privy to many mysteries and lived according to its own laws. That it was said to be a 'lock without a key' only enhanced its charm and reinforced beliefs that it harboured magic forces.
As elsewhere throughout the world, the shamans or medicine-men of Old Russia had a special knowledge of herbs and potions which helped to cure many diseases and injuries. The secret techniques were passed down the generations and carefully preserved. To make these potions more potent the shamans either
added ashes from a portion of burnt cat fur or took one cat whisker, pounded it into a powder and added it to the mixture as a 'magical ingredient'.

 


Philip Steer

 

The imperial Antichrist

During the rule of Peter the Great in the seventeenth century, Russia's merchants became very discontented. Peter's reforms halted their freedom and many were deeply insulting to their traditional ways. Rumours spread that the Antichrist had arrived, and Peter was depicted wearing a black cat's head and tail to show that he belonged to the dark world of evil.

Cheerful adventurer

Striped or tabby cats were popular in Russia. These were the heroes of folk tales, and as a rule were endowed with great cunning and resourcefulness. They were cheerful cats, total optimists who never gave up on any situation! A bit of a bandit, an adventurer, a daring Don Juan and definitely not a supplier of goods (like Riaba the hen), the tabby cat of folklore enjoyed stealing the most tasty delicacies from his owner's cellar.
The striped cat's appearance wasn't too respectable, either — he was often seen with a torn ear and no whiskers on one side! However, he undoubtedly enjoyed his disreputable role in Old Russian folklore and all his adventures were described with great humour and sympathy!

 


Micha Koeck

 

Moving bouse

When a family moved to a new home and all the house contents were neatly-packed into the horse-drawn wagon, the family would return to their house and sit down quietly for a moment or so. This ritual was called 'sitting for the trip' and was always followed before any long or difficult journey. Then they would collect their cat and set off for their new home. To leave the cat, especially if it were old or sick, was considered impossible — it would mean the loss of prosperity. So, as official keeper of wellbeing in the home, the cat always moved to the new abode with its owners.

Welcome prediction

Should the cat of the house vigorously rub its muzzle with its paw, its owners would smile and say: 'The cat is washing, we shall have guests!' Much excitement and preparation would then ensue, since it was always a happy event to have guests in Russia.
Following the arrival of the guests, everyone would sit around the tea table with the traditional samovar and the lady of the house would say: 'We have been waiting for you — Koshka was washing for you!'

 


Native, North and South America
 

In America, the earliest record of the introduction of the domestic cat is revealed in the chronicles of a French missionary who, as a token of friendship, gave a cat to the Huron Indians. The Indians accepted the cat but left it to die, not realising its value as a rodent killer.
The Native Americans were preoccupied with bravery and the prowess of their warriors, and the Chippewa people of eastern Canada tell how a serpent spirit came to one of their braves as he slept. In his dream, the young man wrestled with a ferocious wild cat and was about to succumb when the serpent appeared, wound itself tightly around the cat's flailing body and so allowed the brave to escape. The dream foretold that the warrior would overcome an adversary with the help of a wise tribal shaman.
It is interesting to note that a North American lynx, fitting the description above, was brought to Britain in 1505 by two Portuguese explorers on their return from Newfoundland. The cat was presented to King Henry VII and mentioned in the royal accounts as a 'catte of the mountayne', or catamount, then the commonest term for the British wild cat.
In 1749 cats were imported into the New World from Europe, when colonies of settlers in Pennsylvania were overcome by plagues of rats. The usefulness of the cats in this respect became widely appreciated, and in 1750 the first domestic cat was imported into Paraguay in South America for the price of a pound of gold.
Around this time, cats of the traditional tabby pattern became very popular and travelled with their owners to the Americas — specifically to the Boston area. Today, almost half of the Boston cats are of the classic tabby pattern, and the range which the original venturing toms travelled can be seen and assessed by the numbers of cats featuring this coat pattern in the neighbouring areas. Consistent with other means of travel, this fact is also evidenced by the same tabby markings seen in San Francisco, Dallas, Houston and Mexico City.

 


Paul Gauguin

 

The Maine Coon

One of the oldest breeds of cat in America, and claimed to be that country's first native breed, the Maine Coon is accompanied by an amazing myth testing the credulity of even the most novice cat lover. This splendid animal originated in the State of Maine and was first recorded in 1861 with mention of one called Captain jenks. Some authorities hold that the breed was the result of matings between longhaired cats sent from France by Queen Marie Antoinette in the eighteenth century and Maine working cats. But American folklore has it that, because of the dark tabby coat and bushy tail, semi-wild cats must have mated with raccoons — hence the name Maine Coon.
Not unlike the Norwegian Forest Cat, the Maine Coon is a hardy cat with a shaggy, semi-longhaired coat. It is also one of the largest of the cat breeds — males can weigh around 5—7kg (11 — 151b). One magnificent example was said to have weighed 18kg (40lb). First exhibited in America in 1895, the Maine Coon is now a popular cat in both the USA and the UK.

Vengeance is sweet

When the witch-hunting mania of the mid-seventeenth century spread across the Atlantic to New England, the village of Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony became the focus of malevolent hysteria.
One story told was that a young woman swore vengeance on the object of her unrequited love. The young man who was the centre of her ardent attentions remained indifferent to her charms and indeed, refused to acknowledge the girls persistent blandishments. 'There'll come a day when a she-devil will come out of the darkness to seek him out!' she vowed.
One night when the young man lay in bed he was awakened by an unusual sound. The curtains stirred and a ghostly shaft of moonlight fell across his quilt. His eyes strained into the darkness but he could see nothing except the pale light of the full moon, and eventually he fell asleep once more.
Then a faint scratching sound came from the direction of the window. The young man leapt from his bed and looked out — again he saw nothing. But, glancing into a dark corner of the room, he saw two glowing orbs — the young man shrieked and a devilish creature sprang at him, hissing and spitting and clawing at his body.
In abject terror the youth sank back on to his bed as the creature, still hissing and rasping like a demonic cat, hurled its soft, furry form on to his chest. Petrified, the young man lay still, fearing that if he made any move it would be his last. Then tremulously, he mouthed the words: 'In the name of God and all that's holy, begone!' Whereupon the beast snarled and cowered, relaxed its grip and slunk away into the darkness.

 


Franz Chariet

 

Faithfulness of cat — and man

During the Spanish-American War of 1898, a salvage expert named Hobson had been given the task of towing a Spanish wreck, including the ship's cat, into the port of Charleston, South Carolina. A great storm arose in the Gulf of Mexico and it was decided to cut the wreck's tow rope to allow both wreck — and cat — to sink. The wreck drifted to an island and Hobson, who had grown attached to the cat, persuaded the captain of a small ship to take him out to rescue the animal. They set off, only to find that the cat had been adopted by the islanders.
At great cost the salvage expert bought the wreck back, and as they set sail for the mainland another storm arose which the captain of the ship put down to the presence of the cat. Hobson disagreed, saying that the cat had acted with great bravery in staying with the wrecked ship. From that time, the island towards which the wreck had drifted was called Cat Island.

Folklore and superstition

In New England it is said that a person can tell the time and tides by looking into the pupils of a cat's eyes. In Wisconsin, if a cat washes itself while seated in a doorway it is believed that a clergyman will soon visit the house. A strange black cat visiting a home in Ozark country is said to bring good luck, but if it stays the opposite can be expected to follow. A certain American tribe perceive the waning Moon as a victim of mice, which in lunar mythology are seen as creatures of the darkness, nibbling away at its sides until they have totally consumed it. In Native American lore, when the cat is seen to represent the Sun the Moon is sometimes likened to a white mouse.

 


Karel Appel

 


African Cat Lore

Seen in her original form as a lion-headed goddess, Egypt's Bast was the earliest of the 'big-cat' deities. Her alter-ego, the war-like Sckhmet, was also lion-headed. Big cats, with their ability to hunt down large prey and feed on their flesh, were a symbol of great strength and power. Kings, tribal chiefs and other leaders therefore associated themselves with the cunning and skill of these magnificent beasts, keeping lions, cheetahs and other large cats to enhance their power and status.
Their skins were worn to invest the wearer with all the prowess and hunting skills of the big cats and similarly, united in battle, the war-lord in his chariot drawn by large, fierce-looking cats presented a formidable sight to the enemy. The cheetah's swiftness was legendary, the leopard renowned for its hunting prowess, and the saying 'as brave as a lion' has been a popular epithet since the Assyrians, Persians and Babylonians created much of their royal myth around the King of the Beasts.
While lion bones have been found at the site of ancient Troy (in modern Turkey), the close relationship between felines and royalty can be traced even further back in history. Solomon's throne was supported by lions, and in Ancient Egypt the coronation of a Pharaoh depicts the ruler seated on the Lion Throne. The Sphinx, said to be the protector of thresholds and personifying royalty, featured the body of a lion and the head of the Pharaoh.
Although lions once roamed through much of the Middle East, today they are mainly restricted to Africa, particularly Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. But the Dark Continent is, as ever, still in the thrall of the big cat. Some West Africans believe that the human soul passes into the body of a cat at death, and to kill a cat is taboo for this reason.
In addition to Western or European witches, African wise-women or shamans and Zande witches have been associated with the domestic cat as well, having cat daughters or cat familiars, and are said to kill people by showing their cats to them.

 


Christian Pierre

 

The Leopard

Living in both Asia and Africa, where black panthers (melanistic leopards) arc not uncommon, leopards are renowned stalkers. Their uncanny ability to avoid their hunters has earned them the name of were-leopard — half-human and half-animal. In medieval legend it is said that the leopard was born of a mating with a lion (leξ) and a pard, a panther having no white specks in its coat.
Though familar with Christianity and Islam, much of African culture and religion is still based on animism, seeing gods in living creatures and natural objects. In many African societies the leopard is an important symbol of physical strength and spiritual power. In Nuer society, the leopard is also a symbol of crop fertility and the priest wears its skin during fertility rites. Masks, too, representing the head of a big cat (the head is the part of the animal which is believed to hold its power) are worn during tribal dances so that the wearer is protected from evil and is enabled to dance like the animal.
 

Lunar lore

Some West African people believe that a lunar eclipse is caused by a cat eating the Moon. The belief is that the Sun returns along the same path at night as that followed during the day, and that a lunar eclipse means that the Moon, having lost her way, has stood in the way of the Sun and is being devoured by him. A ritual of slow hand-clapping is said to help the Moon by persuading the solar cat to release her from his mighty grasp.

 


Australasia and Oceania

The Antipodes continually fascinate with the myths and Stone Age origins of the indigenous Australian Aborigines, the New Zealand Maoris and the exotic traditions of Oceania (a group of islands and archipelagos stretching in a great triangle from New Zealand to Hawaii and Easter Island). There is no evidence to suggest that the cat held a place in the ancient mythology of these locations. Tξ the Australian Aborigine, the nearest approach to a 'domestic' animal was the dog-like dingo. And while Maori guardian spirits included owls and other birds, lizards and fish, totemic symbols appear to be of objects rather than of animals.
Captain James Cook himself may well have introduced the first domestic cat to the Antipodes when, in 1773, he landed on the group of islands in the South Pacific now known as the Cook Islands. Following Cook's discovery, Australia became a British colony in 1788.
From popular myth surrounding the various reports of 'cat-like creatures' in Australia, it is obvious that some kind of wild carnivore did and probably still does exist. Evidence of this is both sketchy and ambiguous.

 


Anonymous, Vietnam

 

A 'tiger' of questionable origin

An early eighteenth-century report from an employee of the Dutch East India Company in Batavia cites the existence of a 'tiger' in Queensland, Australia.
Several instances of the creature appear throughout the ensuing years and it became known as the Queensland tiger. Reports maintain that the body was dog-like, the head and neck short and the coat fawn to grey and striped, tiger-fashion. Paw pads armed with terrifying lance-like claws gave credence to reports that the creature had caught and killed kangaroos. A Queensland tiger skin was said to measure five feet long from nose to the tip of the tail.

. . . a 'panther'

A panther-like animal reported to have been seen in New South Wales, northwest of Melbourne, the Wimmera outback and other isolated places describes a cat-like creature with a long, curving panther-like tail. Reports of these (rare) sightings reveal a head which is described as small, as were the cars and nose; a lithe body and a sleek dark coat. Generally only seen at a distance, slaughtered livestock, mainly sheep, seem to be its calling card. Lore similar to that of the mysterious British 'Beast of Bodmin' surrounds the Australian 'panther'.

. . . and a 'puma '

In the late 1970s reports of a sighting of a large cat, described as 'puma-like', were seen in the Australian press. Again active in New South Wales territory, a 'tawny' creature with 'large yellow eyes and fang-like teeth' was shot dead after purportedly stalking a father and son. The two men skinned the animal and left behind the remains, effectively ruling out positive identification.The pelt, examined some two years later, was said to resemble a large feral domestic cat rather than a puma.

A cat is a cat. . . or is it?

Reports of a fierce, strong-bodied carnivore excite a frenzy of speculation especially if it seizes and kills domestic livestock. Thar there are marauding cat-like creatures roaming the countryside in various parts of the world is not in doubt, though good photographic evidence and reliable, believable descriptions are rare and often conflicting. However, the fact remains, something out there stalks the plains and undergrowth, killing livestock in order to survive and only occasionally allowing itself to be seen by an unsuspecting human. Is it truly a cat? And if so, what is its origin? T he feline enigma continues apace . . .

 


Pablo Picasso

 

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