Symbolisms of Cats
In many cultures, there are myths about cats, which are known to have more than one live to live.
The curious thing about cats is that there isn’t a unanimous opinion about the number of lives they supposedly have: Chinese culture believes that cats have nine lives while Spanish says that the can have six of seven lives. Turkish and Arabic legends claim that cats have six lives.
In Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet” the author refers to cats as having nine lives. There is an ancient English proverb that state that “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays and for the last three he stays”. This quote seems to mean that, through the cat life’s cycle, it changes his behavior, tending to give most affection when they become older, as they aren’ t able to trace their preys as they did when they were younger. Some people explain that, over time, cats survived many situations that other animals wouldn’t. Cats are particularly known for both their dexterity and agility. Like their ancestors in the past, they prefer high places for stalking their prey and avoiding larger animals. The evolutionary consequence is that they are extremely good in falling down and surviving.
The “nine theory” about cats is found in both Chinese and Egyptian cultures. In the former, the number nine is connected with luck, while in the latter, the god Atum-ra took the form of a cat, when visiting the underworld and gave birth to eight other major gods. Then, this myth attached the cat with the ideas of fertility and power.
In the Arabic culture, cats are respected as members of the family and protectors of the houses against deadly insects and harmful animals such as scorpions. They’re even depicted in paintings near scholars and bibliophiles, as they preyed mice that destroyed books.
In the Japanese culture, the Maneki Neko – a sitting cat with his paw raised – represents good fortune and good luck. According to an ancient legend, a landlord was protected by a cat which waved to him. Curious to approach the cat and find out the meaning of the gesture, the landlord was protected from a lightning struck, preventing him to die. In Japan, the waving cat is also a presence in many businesses as a way to welcome customers.
However, due to religious reasons, in the Medieval and Early Modern Europe, cats weren’t treated well. They were burned, thrown off towers and executed in many ways, as they were linked with evil spirits. Nowadays, some people still believe that cats – especially black ones – bring bad luck.
The symbolism of cats is diverse, varying from culture to culture and also over time. Although there are plenty of significance, we can say that cats are notable for their remarkable personality and are great companions!