Worshiped as goddess or feared as an agent of the Devil, sacrificed to evil spirits or cherished for its powers of healing-the fortunes of the cat have fluctuated throughout history.

Lore of the Black Cat

Legendary lore has had a particularly dramatic influence on feline fortunes. In Britain the "blackberry" cat's reputation for devilment and mischief is due solely to the fact that it is born at the end of the blackberry season, this being the time of year when, according to an old tradition, Satan was thrown out of heaven into a blackberry bush (which he then defiled with his urine and spittle.)

Cat and Mouse

Cats and mice are often associated in legends concerned with the beginning of the world. According to one legend, not only did rodents precede cats but their existence was the reason for the cat's creation. At the time of the flood, we are told, there were no cats. Noah (showing one would have thought, extraordinary lack of foresight) took pairs of rats and mice into the Ark, with the result that it was soon over-run with vermin. Noah asked the lion, as king of the beasts, to do something about the situation. The lion sneezed, and from his nostrils appeared a pair of cats, which soon reduced the rodent population.

It has also been said that God created the cat, but that the mouse was Satan's creation; and the Devil's mouse did its best to destroy the life once and for all by nibbling a hole in Noah's Ark. Fortunately it was caught by God's cat, and the hold was closed by a frog who crept into it.

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