Thursday, December 29, 2011

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.....


When a westerner comes to India there are many things we discover that we never have heard or seen before. Hubby swears it would take 7 lifetimes to discover all of India and well...I only intend to live this life once so I figure if it comes up I'll learn about it and if not then I won't. In other words I'm not seeking to know everything about India but some things catch my curiosity and I just can't resist.

One of those things is cats. In the US the over abundance of stray cats (unowned cats) is a big deal. We have so many cats lingering around everywhere that our SPCA has been running campaigns to spay and neuter for years to try to bring down the numbers of homeless little kitties. When I got to India there was hardly a cat in sight. Something I'm just not used to. Then one day a stray cat (pictured above) got into my room and came back the next day and on one occasion he ate my chocolate cake. Hmph.

Well, I said something to hubby and he told me not to let the cat in (like I opened the door and invited it lol) and we got into a discussion about cats. As it turns out some people here actually have a fear of cats. I guess that could happen anywhere but this isn't the normal phobia type fear. He was explaining to me (and he wasn't clear on it so I had to Google) how in parts of Hinduism there is a belief that cats have a connection to the afterlife and if a cat comes to your house and calls (meows) then someone in the home is going to die that night.

This *fascinates* me. In Satanism it is believed that cats are "familiars" in which they can communicate with the underworld. I even have a creepy story to back that up and even though it will make this blog post longer I'm going to share!!

Last year when I was homeless I slept on the floor at a friends house. This friend was married to a Satanist (which worried me I must admit) and one day when I left the house to go to work there was a dead bird on the step at the back door to their house. I told the husband and he said in a serious tone that he shouldn't have talked to that cat the other day and then told me about them being "familiars." I figured he was full of crap and went on to work without a second thought. Then the next morning a squirrel was in the exact same spot on that bottom step only this time not completely dead but with noticeable teeth prints in his neck. To say the least I was more than a little freaked out and her husband this time got annoyed and went off to find the cat. The cat was watching the house when I got back from work and I left two days later for good!

So now back to this Hindu thing. I think I find it fascinating because of the similar beliefs between Hinduism and a fairly western religion. I see these kinds of things a lot but to be honest I just love kitties. To think they could possibly be linked to evil would break my heart so I simply must know!

Now the same cat is coming to our house on a regular basis and niece feeds it. This gives me the chance to see how the family interacts. MIL is scared of it and freaks out. Chachi is scared of it but has the capacity to lure him back up the steps to the terrace and close the gate. Uncle ji thinks it's fun to use his foot to make the cat jump (not kicking it just lifting it up with his foot) and he likes to pick at the cat which pisses me off. Hubby is certain the cat will come in our room and do it's business on the floor (to which he has refused to clean up lol). FIL fusses endlessly about the cat and nephew doesn't seem to care one way or the other if the cat exists though he does laugh when something funny happens in regards to the cat. I've gotten the cat to heel and hang out with me a time or two.

I'm not able to find any reputable (or even non-reputable) website that mentions the same belief about cats calling out meaning someone is going to die. So I can't advocate or deny that belief. I did find the typical crap about how cats are often seen as a bad omen, black cats crossing your path means bad luck, etc that most westerners are already familiar with. I found sites that had mention of witches turning into cats and all kinds of other crazy stories. Nothing notable or even of interest. The best information I got on cats only said that animals are often associated with Gods in Hinduism and they were able to read signs, predict the future and determine auspicious dates. It actually said animals but specifically mentioned cats. That page is here. I wouldn't use that page as a reference for an academic paper but it is an okay reference if you are interested in learning new things.

Have you guys ever heard any strange superstitions, myths or customs related to cats in India?

Other interesting sites:
This one talks about a Goddess, Sasti, who stood on the back of a house cat.

3 comments:

  1. I never heard the whole death and cat story, DH told me that in general hindus don't like cats because they find them cunning and always have a air about them like they are in deep thought and plotting something. I also heard that cats are considered to be unpredictable, unlike a dog who is loyal to their owner, a cat has its own agenda, and it seems people in India don't like this trait about about cat.

    I had cats growing up because my mom liked their idependence and the fact they can look after themselves and don't need to be taken out for a walk to do their little business :)
    We now have a dog because DH loves dogs, I like them too, not sure I would want a cat again, because finding someone to come feed the kitty at home when we are away would be an issue here in India, and I know from experience that cats are more territorial creatures and don't do well when relocated to a new place, even if it is temporary.

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  2. Yeah I can't find anything to back up the death claim. I have also heard about the cats not being as loyal too but that is kind of realistic of the cats here. I chalk it up to them needing to survive. Our kitty came here very undernourished and I've noticed now he makes the rounds between a few houses that have started feeding him and he's getting fat lol. So he's more loyal than they think. He hangs out here and plays with niece for an hour or two a day before moving on to eat at the next house. And if he is so disciplined in making these rounds that shows some degree of loyalty, at least to his belly lol.

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  3. Yeah no question that cats are loyal, I grew up with some :) They just are loyal on their own terms LOL som maybe that is where the lack of loyality percieved in India is coming from. If you feed them they will come back, they aren't stupid ;-) Which species on this planet would say no to easy food.

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