St. Patrick's Day Tales: The Irish Cat Kings

3 comments

Ah, St. Patrick’s Day: a day full of history, tinged with myth, magic, and gallons of green beer.

 

st paddys day cats green cats

 

Besides wearing green and pretending to be Irish for the day, there’s that guy, good ol’ Saint Patrick, who shook his stick and banished of all the snakes on the Emerald Isle. And don’t forget about those stingy leprechauns sitting on pots of gold at the rainbow’s ephemeral edge. 

leprechaun cats costumes for cats outfits for cats

“ 'They’re always after me lucky charms.’ There, I said it. Can I take this off now?”

 

Celtic folklore has always been imbued with a sense of magic and mystery, especially when it comes to cats.

The King of Cats

Cait Sidhe, pronounced “caught shee,” and translating to “fairy cat”, were said to be the King of Cats. They were thought to be mythical, fairy creatures who took the form of large, all-black cats with a white patch on their chests.

 

black cat dancing black cat superstitions

 

These mythical moggies were more fairy than cat, fearsome felines who could steal the souls of the dead if the family didn’t distract them with riddles designed to stump the curious cat mind; But they could also bring blessings.

 

cats and dogs love boop boop the snoot

"Boop. This dog is blessed."

  

 

On the night of Samhain (a Celtic festival similar to Halloween), if you left a saucer of milk out for the fairy cat, your house would be blessed. If no milk was left for the mysterious black cat, you would be cursed and all your cows' milk would dry up.

my name is cow cats and cows 

Lady Francesca Wilde, mother to none other than famous author Oscar Wilde, wrote about Cait Sidhe, calling them the King of Cats. “A most important personage in feline history is the King of the Cat,” writes Lady Wilde. He is a cat who has “genuine claims to royalty” despite having the appearance of a rather “common looking fellow.”

 

eldar zakirov royal cats king cat

Artist: Eldar Zakirov

Lady Wilde spun a tale about an old woman who gave shelter to a black cat and her two kittens. She let the three cats warm themselves by the fire and fed them a saucer of milk, to which the mother cat said, "You have been very civil to me, and I'll not forget it to you."

With that, the black cat and her kittens ran up the chimney, never to be seen again. But in their stead, they left the woman a piece of silver, more silver than she could ever make in a month. 

 

The Black Bog Cat 

Or, as I keep calling it, The Black Blog Cat. 

Black Bog Cats are mysterious creatures who prowl the boglands and peat marshes of Ireland. Unlike the superstition that paints black cats as omens of misfortune, if you come across a Black Bog Cat in Ireland, you will be granted great wealth and happiness. Small sculptures crafted from the very turf these Bog Cats are said to prowl are sold in many stores to grant luck to travelers!

 

 

The Calico Cure

An old Irish wives’ tale claims that if you’ve got a wart on ye olde foot, just rub it on the nearest calico cat's tail: instant Wart-Be-Gone! 

 

Sláinte! Have a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day! And maybe Tweet us or tag us on Instagram (@meowingtonsco or #meowingtons on Insta) cute pictures of your cats dressed up in some St. Paddy's Day Cait Sidhe #swag. 

 


3 comments


  • Bobby McBride

    Anyone wishing to study the history of cats and their owners must by all means look into ancient Egypt.


  • andrew fitzherbert

    With accounts of “Cats” in ancient times,or even “Cat Legends”, it really helps to know in what text the reference is found. The French version of Wikipedia asserts that Saint Patrick was fond of a cat. I know that “Lives” of Saint Patrick were written in Ancient Times, I wonder if any of them mention his pet cat? I was pleased that your site names Lady Wild, the scholarly recorder of legends, for her reports of Fairy Cats. Currently I am investigating French Websites for data on the History of Cats, I’ve done hundreds of cat-searches by Google in English. but already know that French sources have details not found in English Although I trace “cat history”, there is still a great deal to find out. My special interest is “people who enjoyed their pet cat”, in past centuries, but I am also interest in the question. “How Widespread were Cats?” for each century. I only recently discovered, that while traders selling meat-for -cats were common in the 1800s, sellers of meat-for-cats drove round London three hundred years earlier than that! There must have been plenty of people buying meat for their pet cat.


  • jmuhj

    I have one of those little cats made from Irish turf. Very unusual!


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