Sunday, December 11, 2011

Of Faerie Cats

Our neighbor stopped by last night to pick up a book, or rather my old Nook. She was looking to read Dickens’ Christmas Carol to her son and none of our neighbors could find a print copy.  I had it, however, in digital format.  I almost always download free classics.  You never know when they will come in handy. 

As we were lamenting our lack of a print copy and what that said about us as Writers/English Majors/English Teachers, Agatha Christie Kat, a/k/a The Poops, Poops McGee, The Wee Nitwit, Le Petit Poopie (as she is known in France), jumped up on the back of the sofa to see who was at the door.  Our neighbor, the same neighbor who checks in on our cats when we are out of town, told us that she was her favorite of our four cats. (Yes, I have four cats.  What’s it to ya?)  

“She looks like a Faerie Cat, almost magical,” she told us. 

A Faerie Cat?  I never thought of Agatha as being anything more than a foolish little creature that still chases her tail at six years old, hates her brother Tommy (a/k/a Thomas Jefferson Kat, Stumpy Tom, Capitan Tommy, The Toms) and who will always remain the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen.  She is a Siamese mix with crossed eyes, tortoiseshell points and a ringed tail.  See the picture below. 

As my husband says, “Everyone loves The Poops.”  And everyone does.  I spotted her from about thirty feet away at our local PetSmart.  She was sleeping in a cage and she called to me.  That may sound foolish, but I swear she did even though she was asleep.  I left him in line balancing the cat food and cat litter and went over to look at the little ball of white fur.  The woman who was manning the adoption station saw one look at how I was looking at the kitten and told me to go around back to pet her.  Yes, she knew a sucker when she saw one.  Agatha woke up and instantly starting purring when I petted her.  I was completely smitten.  My husband (who was just my live-in boyfriend at the time) told me I could have her if I wanted her.  We had two cats at home and didn’t really need a third.  He assumed I would come to my senses and say no.  He assumed incorrectly.  We went home with the kitten and had our first real fight.  He stalked off to go watch football and I was left with this fearless kitten that, we learned in the weeks to come, had more energy than both of other cat put together, hogged cat toys with ferocious determination and liked to bat at our eyelashes while we slept.  She was a two pound demon and almost went back to PetSmart that first week.  My husband now contends that bringing her home was one of the best things I did that year. 

On a side note, all of our cats were adopted from an organization that fosters cats until they can find them a new home.  Two came to us as kittens and two as adults.  In fact, we were Tommy’s third home.  We love our Fuzzy People.

I find that people either love or hate cats.  I don’t get the latter.  I have a cousin who tries to hit cats with her car.  I mean, who does that?  Someone should try to run her over with a car.  The fear or dislike of cats probably stems from old stories and prejudices.  Cats have been both revered and hated throughout history.

Faerie lore and folklore are filled with feline beasties. In this post, I’ll be talking about a few of them. 

If anyone is familiar with Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey books, you know Grimalkin, the Cait Sith.  He’s probably the most interesting character in the entire series and in my estimation is somewhere between an actual Cait Sith (or Cat Sith) and the Cheshire Cat sans the stupid smile.   Just so that you know, Grimalkin is a term used for an old or evil looking female cat.  Scottish folklore describes the Grimalkin as a Scottish Faerie cat who lives in the Highlands.  I was always under the impression that Kagawa’s Grimalkin was a male cat.  Well, they are her books.  She can do with them what she wants.

The Cat Sith is a nasty cat in Scottish Gaelic folklore.  He is huge, about the size of a dog, and is covered in shaggy fur with a white patch on its breast.  The Cat Sith has an arched back.  I picture something akin to cats in traditional Halloween decorations. Highlanders believed that the Cat Sith wasn’t actually a faerie but rather a witch in disguise.

 Another creature which may or may not be related to the Cat Sith is Big Ears.  Sometimes Big Ears is looked at as the King of the Cat Sith.   Either way, Big Ears is demonic cat of the Scottish Highlands.  He’s huge and (surprise, surprise) has big ears.  He also has scary yellow eyes to go with those disproportionately large ears.  Big Ears was summoned in an old ceremony called Taghairm, a barbaric ritual in which cats were roasted alive for four days. At the end of the four days, Big Ears would arrive and grant a wish or boon to the cat slaughters.  If I were Big Ears, I would have murdered those involved, but that’s just me.

In the folklore for the Lapp people of Scandinavia, there is a demon cat called the Smiera-Gatto, or Butter Cat.  This Butter Cat does what its name implies; it steals butter for its masters from their neighbors.  Good for those who have the Smiera-Gatto, bad for the neighbors.  We have something akin to the Smiera-Gatto.  The only difference Agatha steals butter for herself.  We can’t leave butter or imitation butter lying around.  Invariably when we come back to it, there are Agatha tongue prints in it.

There are countless other cat faeries.  Maybe someday I’ll do a Part Two of this post, but this one is getting a little long.

My husband and I honeymooned in Turkey.  I know, it’s an odd place to honeymoon, but the whole trip was amazing. We found in Istanbul (and the rest of Turkey) an interesting cat culture.  In the US, if you see a stray cat, you usually stay away from it.  In Istanbul, they feed and take care of the stray cats.  Those visiting the Blue Mosque often bring cat food for the mosque’s resident felines.  There is some sort of connection with Islam and cats though I’m not exactly sure what it is.  Anyway, here is a few of the Turkish Cats we took pictures of. 

Such a handsome cat!

We dubbed these two the Twins of Ephesus.

We called this one Mary. She hung out with us one day by the pool at our hotel.

A cat we found at the Book Bazaar snoozing in a pile of old money.

Taking a nap in a bowl.

Two cats hanging out with a merchant on a street in Istanbul.

A cat getting a drink in the broken down fountain in front of our hotel.

The special Van Cat.  It has one blue and one green eye. They are a Turkish breed and very rare.

She was treated like a princess by the merchants on the street she lived.


  1. Very interesting post! I agree, your cat does have the look of a Fae. Cat people all the way at my house!

  2. Thanks for commenting, Veronica. She is a special cat!

  3. First off, I've been reading through all of your posts and your blog rocks! I'm a writer myself, and I deal with Irish and Scottish Fae primarily. I put my own twist on the Cat Sith and called it the Cat Bas or Death Cat. It's violent - when it attacks, its claws release a venom that cause a fever and hallucinations that all the people around you are ghosts or dying people trying to take you to the other side.

    Some people think the Cat Sith is based on the Kellas Cat, a real creature found in the Highlands in the 80's. I liked that there was a bit of a base in fact. I think that always makes the Fae just that bit creepier.

    L.M. Murphy
    Murphy's Pub, writing blog:
    See Murphy Write, personal blog:

    1. Hey, thanks! I glad you enjoyed the posts. Cat Bas sounds like an interesting and frightening creature.

    2. I read through the whole blog in one night, haha. It was great! And yeah, I had a lot of fun having a mated pair of the cats attack my kelpie. :D (My guy would be terrified if he heard me say that.)

      I post snippets on my writing blog. Pretty sure the Cat Bas is mentioned in a few recent-ish ones if you'd care to poke around. :)

      L.M. Murphy
      Murphy's Pub, writing blog:
      See Murphy Write, personal blog: