Cats and Witches....How They Became Such Close Friends

Winged cat by Stephanie Law Below are two articles about Witches and Cats and how they came to be so closely associated to one another. I found it quite interesting as my cat, Radar, is my familiar and joins me everytime I'm in the Kirk. Witches and Cats Witches and cats became firmly linked together during the "Reign of Terror" of religious persecution in medieval Europe. Religious bigotry has often utilized the trick of changing other peoples heroes and gods, into devils and villains. And so it was that the cat once protected and worshiped by the ancient Egyptians, became despised and persecuted from before the 10th until the 18th century. A very early record of the linking together of witches and cats concerns the ceremony of Cat Wednesday which took place in the city of Metz in Northern France. This involved hundreds of cats being burnt alive in the belief that they were witches in disguise. Papal might was brought down upon witches and cats in the 13th century when horrible acts of atrocity were carried out on humans and felines. Black cats in particular were believed to be agents of the devil, especially if owned by an elderly woman. The Celts believed that cats had once been human and had been changed into felines as punishment for their wicked ways. Cats were sometimes tied up with silver ropes because it was believed that these creatures had the ability to protect hallowed treasures. Later, Catholic culture mixed with Celtic beliefs and the cat became thought to be the witch's familiar. In the 16th and 17th centuries tens of thousands of witches and cats were put to death in Germany, 75,000 in France and 30,000 in Great Britain. Cats were often tortured, along with their unfortunate humans, before being burnt, or buried alive. A 17th century English serving wench Joan Flower, along with her two daughters, was hung for practicing witchcraft. Joan and her daughters were employed by the Earl of Rutland and were accused of cursing his family. His sons had died, and his wife had become barren, and someone had to take the blame for it. It was said that the daughters had stolen some of the Earl's possessions and given them to their mother who rubbed them on the fur of her cat uttering curses. Nothing is recorded about the fate of the cat, but it is unlikely that it escaped with its life. Witches and cats have had a long association with Halloween. Because cats are nocturnal creatures and do their roaming at night, they were seen as the servants of witches and out to harm those that the witches had cursed. It was also believed by some that witches had the supernatural power to change into cats and so more easily carry out their wicked deeds and escape detection. Mythical stories recount great gatherings of witches when the seasons changed, on the eve of May Day and on the eve of October 31. Source information: © Copyright - witches and cats Cats Should Be Happy To Be Alive Now, Not a Century Ago Religious fanatics have historically taken other people's heroes and turned them into villains to suit their own religious fervor. For instance, the ancient horned god that protected earlier cultures was transformed into Christianity's evil devil. Also, Freya, the Viking Goddess of love and her faithful cats became a loathsome witch with her "familiars." And so, began the darkest time in the history of cats. How did the sacred feline of Egypt become the wicked sorcerer's cat of medieval Europe? The church deemed the cat "a beast dangerous to soul and body," and for centuries sanctioned the persecution and execution of felines. The earliest record we have of actual cat executions is in the year 962 at the city of Netz in the northeast of France. The ceremony of "Cat Wednesday" took place on the second Wednesday of Lent. This involved the burning alive of hundreds of local cats on the grounds they were witches in disguise. This was the start of feline persecution which was to last eight centuries! In the fifteenth century the reign of terror for witches and their cats intensified - over 200,000 "witches" were executed in Europe and wherever possible cats were destroyed with them. Because cats were seen as evil, all finds of frightening powers were attributed to it: i.e. its teeth were said to be venomous, its flesh poisonous and its hair lethal. The only cats who were tolerated were farm cats who were allowed to live as unloved pest controllers. As if it wasn't bad enough to be a cat ... if you happened to be a solid black cat, you didn't stand a chance. Black cats were thought to be actual evil spirits and if it happened to befriend a lonely old woman - and, especially if the lonely old woman happened to be ugly - both could depend on an untimely death by fire. These executions lasted until the beginning of the nineteenth century and found their way from Europe to the New World (remember Salem?). This savage persecution perpetrated against an animal whose only serious task was to rid human habitations of infestations of disease-carrying, food-spoiling rats and mice seems incomprehensible to those of us who are currently owned by multiple cats. And, those of us who happen to also be Christian, must wonder at this strange chapter in the history of human and Christian kindness. Luckily for the cat, we have come full circle and once again worship our sometimes aloof, always entertaining, graceful feline companions. But, perhaps we can now better understand the look of suspicion that might show in the eyes of a stray cat hoping for a gift of food? Remembering what a human is capable of inflecting upon one of their own kind in the name of religion, how can we expect the cat to automatically trust their life into our "hands of human kindness?" Source site:
Load Previous Comments
  • Alastrine Adair

    all of mine were rescues as well and each animal seeked me out to help save them. I am blessed with my little clan of cats. They are truly special in my life and they bring such joy, they know how to cheer me up when I am sad, they know how to be still and quiet when I need quiet time, and then they know how to be silly and crazy and make me smile. they are big on bringing me gifts times 5 lol.I am forever rescuing birds and releasing gifts that they shower me with lol. Every single one of my babies sleeps on the foot of my bed all curled up with one another and my feet...
  • Gwendolynn

    Ach..of course it's away my dear...I love cats, dogs and just about any animal...though I'm not fond of very large spiders or flying cockroaches...ugh...
  • Gwendolynn

    Yes....flying cockroaches...Here in Florida they are called Palmetto bugs, as they are commonly found in the Palmetto bushes and they are huge....You can throw a saddle on those big boys and ride '