di Andrea Romanazzi
Dear readers, why a dossier on cats? Well, this work will seek to delve into the sacredness of this animal in various cultures and shed light on what lies behind the proud and cunning gaze of our domestic friends.
The feline has always been a companion to humans. According to recent archaeological findings, wild cats were already present around human settlements in the areas of North Africa and the Middle East 10,000 years ago. They were attracted by the presence of rodents. The presence of these animals was beneficial to humans: they kept mice away from stored wheat crops, hunted harmful insects and parasites. These were the main reasons why their presence began to be tolerated and they were domesticated. In ancient Mesopotamia, for example, around 200 mummified and perfectly preserved cats dating back to the Neolithic period were found, indicating that even at that time, the animal must have been considered sacred or at least highly respected. Geneticists and paleontologists, including Italian researcher Claudio Ottoni with the project “FELIX – Genomes, food and microorganisms in the (pre)history of cat-human interactions,” have decoded the DNA of some of these cats, discovering that they were already domesticated back then [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0202]. Most likely, the first cat to be domesticated by humans was the Felis silvestris lybica, also known as the African wildcat or desert cat. This noble animal soon became a symbol of the numinous world and an image of the deities. Thus, the cat began its journey among cultures, traveling by land from the Middle East and Anatolia to Egypt and then along maritime trade routes to different European ports, eventually reaching the North Sea between the 8th and 11th centuries. Let us venture into the often little-known cults, beliefs, and mysteries associated with this animal.
The cult of cats in Ancient Egypt
History tells us that the ancient Egyptians were the first to officially attempt to domesticate the cats living near the Nile Delta in order to drive away the mice infesting the city granaries. Cats became such sought-after and useful animals that the Egyptians themselves banned their trade, leading to a kind of “black market” operated by Phoenician pirates. Such a sought-after animal was certainly destined to become sacred. And so, the cat embarks on its noble and dignified journey towards the realm of the gods. Called “mait” or “mau,” meaning “one who can see,” the cat was initially associated in Egypt with the cult of the Eye of Horus, of which it was often considered a reincarnation, and later with the god Ra. The cat thus became an expression of solar deities, as evidenced by the cult of the Great Cat of Heliopolis, an explicit form of Ra and protector of the rising sun, Khepri, from its eternal enemy, the malefic serpent Apophis. There even exists a hymn to Ra as the “solar cat” in Chapter XVII of the “Book of the Dead,” praising him as the lord of life. “…I am this Great Cat that was at the lake of the Ished tree in Heliopolis on the night of the battle when the foe was smitten. That which I had done was what hath been done; the foe was overthrown by means of the Great Cat. What is this? The Great Cat is Ra himself, and he was called so because of the speech of the god Sa saying: “he is like (Miu) unto that which he hath made; thus hath he become Miu.” (Translation by E.A. Wallis Budge).
The cult of the cat in Ancient Egypt:
The story tells us that it was the ancient Egyptians who first attempted to officially domesticate the cats that lived near the Nile Delta in order to keep away the mice that infested the city’s granaries. Cats became such a sought-after and useful animal that the Egyptians themselves banned their trade, creating a sort of “black market” by Phoenician pirates. Such a coveted animal certainly had to become sacred. Thus, the cat embarked on its noble and dignified journey towards the gods. Called “mait” or “mau,” meaning “the one who can see,” the cat was initially associated in Egypt with the cult of the Eye of Horus, often considered its reincarnation, and later with the god Ra. The animal was therefore an expression of solar deities, as evidenced by the worship of the Great Cat of Heliopolis, an explicit form of Ra and the protector of the rising sun, Khepri, from his eternal enemy, the malevolent serpent Apophis. There even exists a hymn to Ra as the “solar cat” in Chapter XVII of the “Book of the Dead,” where he is praised as the lord of life.
However, soon the cult of the cat became increasingly autonomous. The first Egyptian deity to possess feline characteristics was Mafdet, “she who runs fast,” an anthropomorphic expression with the head of a cheetah. She was the goddess of justice, and during the New Kingdom, Mafdet spiritually presided over the judgment hall in Duat, where the enemies of the pharaoh were decapitated with “Mafdet’s claw.” She was also the guardian of the pharaohs’ chambers, protecting them from snake bites and scorpions. The cult is attested as early as around 3000 BC, making it one of the oldest cat-related cults in the world. However, it is not a cult directly connected to the cat, although a papyrus states that “…Mafdet tears out the hearts of wrongdoers, presenting them at the feet of the pharaoh, just as cats present rodents or birds they have killed or mutilated to humans.”
Subsequently, the goddess Sekhmet became the most revered and well-known feline-related deity in Egyptian religion. Depicted as a lioness, she was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and their guide in battles. Sekhmet was also a solar deity, considered the daughter of Ra and the bearer of the solar disc. Among the most important deities acting as the vengeful manifestation of Ra’s power, she was called “the mighty,” and it was said that the hot desert winds were her breath. A legend tells that when sent to Earth by the god to punish humankind, she would have destroyed almost all of humanity if Ra himself had not deceived her by pouring ochre red into beer, making it resemble blood, causing her to become intoxicated and fall asleep.
Although there is no doubt that these two deities were related to the cat, the Egyptian cult most closely associated with felines is probably that of the goddess Bast or Bastet. Often associated with Sekhmet, she first appeared during the Second Dynasty. Originally worshipped as a lioness goddess, Bastet represented the gentler aspect of felines. The iconographic transformation of the deity is closely linked to the cat, reflecting the change in the animal’s function: from a wild animal and hunter that defeats the serpent, the enemy of the Sun, the feline, and thus its divine counterpart, becomes the protector of the domestic hearth. Bast embodied the more domestic animus of the cat and was
Although there is no doubt that these two deities were associated with cats, the Egyptian cult most closely related to the feline is probably that of the goddess Bast or Bastet. Often associated with Sekhmet, she appeared during the Second Dynasty. Originally venerated as a lioness goddess, Bastet represented the gentler aspect of felines. The iconographic transformation of the deity is closely linked to the cat, reflecting the change in the animal’s function: from a wild hunter that defeats the serpent enemy of the Sun, the feline, and therefore its divine counterpart, becomes the protector of the domestic hearth. Bast embodied the more domesticated animus of the cat and was invoked against contagious diseases, epidemics, and evil spirits.
In the case of Bastet, we are also dealing with a solar goddess. She was the daughter of Ra and Isis, as well as the consort of Ptah, with whom she had a son named Maahes. As the protector of Lower Egypt, she was seen as the defender of the pharaoh and, consequently, of the Solar God. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, Bastet, along with other deities such as Hathor, Sekhmet, and Isis, was associated with the Eye of Ra. She was also a goddess of pregnancy and childbirth, perhaps due to the remarkable fertility of domestic cats. Her cult reached its peak in later periods, particularly in the city of Bubastis in the Delta, where, according to Herodotus, periodic celebrations were held in her honor, including processions of sacred boats and orgiastic rituals. Every year on her festival day, it was said that the city attracted about 700,000 visitors, and the cats were adorned with gold jewelry and allowed to eat from their owners’ plates. Cats had become so sacred in Egypt that specific necropolises were established to accommodate mummified cats.
When the temple’s sacred cats died, they were buried with the honors and ceremonies of state funerals. Around 300,000 mummified cats have been found in archaeological sites such as Speos Artemidos and Saqqara. In later periods, particularly during the Hellenistic period between 323 and 30 BCE, the cat began to be associated with Isis, as indicated by an inscription at the Temple of Edfu that reads, “Isis is the soul of Bastet.” Most likely, the cult of the cat had become so important and widespread that the priests of Isis wanted to appropriate it. A curious object associated with the cat began to appear: the sistrum, a musical instrument consisting of a horseshoe-shaped metal frame pierced by three or four movable rods and ending in a straight handle. When shaken, it produced its characteristic sound. The feline was often depicted at the top of the instrument, sometimes portrayed with a crescent moon on its head, as evidenced by a sistrum preserved in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, on whose base there is the image of a cat sitting on its hind legs, while on the top, another cat is depicted lying among its two kittens.
The animal was so important and revered that it was protected by pharaonic laws: anyone who killed a cat received the death penalty. The Mau had thus become part of religion and traditions, but above all, it had earned a place in the hearts of Egyptian families.
The Cult of the Cat and Norse Cults
From Egypt, we move to the Norse world. Here we find the goddess Ceridwen, who liked to transform herself into a black cat, and Freya, the goddess of sexual love, beauty, seduction, and fertility, who traveled in a chariot pulled by two flying cats, one male and one female, representing life and death, darkness and light.
According to tradition, awakened by tremendous noise caused by Thor riding in a chariot pulled by two goats, Freya quickly caught the attention of the god, scolding him for making so much noise until he moved away towards a river. There, the god was struck by an adorable song that relaxed him to the point of falling asleep. It was the sweet sound of a cat trying to lull her kittens, Bygul and Trigul, to sleep. Thor thought they would be a nice gift to make amends with Freya, who indeed fell in love with them at first sight and immediately welcomed them to pull her chariot. There are also stories of heroes connected to the figure of the cat, such as the exploits of the Irish king Cairpre, known as “Cathead.” Other legends tell of an island inhabited by men with feline heads and warriors with helmets covered in the fur of wild cats, who instilled great fear in their enemies. This tradition probably refers to the tribe of the Kati, present in Caithness, the “promontory of cats,” in Sutherland. In ancient times, dressing in animal skins was believed to transform oneself into the animal, acquiring its powers and abilities, as evidenced by the Pawnee hunters or the Mau-Mau, the leopard men who terrorized the British soldiers in the Central African colonies, as well as the Norse warriors known as Ulfhednar, the wolf heads, and their close cousins, the Berserkers, the bear shirts. Cats regularly traveled on Viking ships to hunt mice.
Remains of Egyptian cats have been found in the Viking trading port of Ralswiek on the Baltic Sea dating back to the 7th century AD. Cats are also considered sacred in Druidry. The goddess Brighid, known in Irish tradition as “the daughter of the bear,” had a cat as her companion. In Welsh tradition, the goddess Ceridwen, in her manifestation as the great sow Henwen, is said to have given birth to a wolf cub, an eagle, a bee, and a cat. Philip Carr Gomm, the chosen chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD), emphasizes the connection between the cat and the Mother Goddess venerated by the Celts. N.J. Princeton, in reference to the cat, speaks of the “druidic beasts from the cave of Cruachan.”
The Cat in Russian-Siberian Tradition It was probably the Viking ships that brought the cat to Russia. After all, “Rus” is a term introduced during the High Middle Ages to refer to the Scandinavian populations living in the regions that are currently part of Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia. For Slavic peoples, cats were powerful animals in the fight against evil spirits. In the past, the Rus primarily lived in villages, and every house had a cat as a remedy against mice. Due to the cold, the Russian feline was characterized by long fur. Thus, we speak of the Siberian forest cat, usually simply called the Siberian cat, an ancient breed that is believed to be the ancestor of all long-haired cats. While there are no written traditions related to the cat in Asian shamanism, we find it associated with Weles, the god of plains, the underworld, and livestock, as well as with the thunder god Perun in Slavic polytheism. There are also numerous fairy tales and folk stories that narrate about heroic cats. In the Russian tale “Kip the Enchanted Cat,” humans are transformed into cats by a witch’s curse. Raised by a princess, they eventually turn back into handsome princes and marry royal princesses. Another famous cat in Russian folklore is the “Russian Blue,” which is said to have ridden with the Cossacks and traveled on Slavic merchant ships. It was first introduced to England in 1860 when a ship previously docked in the port city of Archangel, in the far north of Russia. Known for its beauty, it was greatly loved by the British royal family and the Tsars, who appreciated its gentle nature and aristocratic appearance. It was Peter the Great, the founder of St. Petersburg, who brought a cat back from a trip to Holland. Later, his daughter, Empress Elizabeth, ordered many cats to be sent to the court for mouse hunting. Even when the royal palace was later transformed into the Hermitage Museum, the cats were never expelled. There is still a colony of cats residing in the museum’s basement, with three caretakers dedicated to their needs and a small hospital. In May 2013, there were 74 cats, both male and female. To this day, the museum organizes “Cats Day,” a day when the public queues not to visit the works of Velázquez, Caravaggio, or Matisse, but to see the felines.
The Cat in Eastern Tradition
The cat is also a sacred animal in the Eastern region. In Hinduism, the goddess Durga is depicted as a woman riding a feline. In Thailand, Siamese cats were cared for in the temples of the deities and used as guard animals. The Siamese cats were the only ones privileged to climb onto the king’s throne. One of the most famous legends, transcribed in various books, tells the story of a pair of cats, Cula and Tien, who remained as guardians of their Buddhist temple while the old monk set off in search of a new priest to take his place. Similar in appearance but profoundly different is the Burmese cat, the incarnation of the gods of the ancient Khmer people. Monks known as kittah were dedicated to them, residing in the Lao-Tsun, or House of the Gods, a beautiful temple covered in gold leaves. Legend has it that originally, the guardians of the Temple of Lao Tsun were white cats with yellow eyes. The High Priest, Mun-Ha, with blue eyes, had a beautiful cat named Sinh as his companion. One day the temple was attacked and Mun-Ha was killed. Upon his death, Sinh placed his paws on his master, and the cat’s white fur took on a golden hue, while his eyes turned blue. However, his paws, which had touched the priest, remained white as a symbol of purity.
Also originating from Thailand is the Korat, bred since ancient times as evidenced by the famous manuscript “Smud Khoi,” or “Book of Cat Poems,” in which this cat is mentioned, along with sixteen other breeds, as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. In its homeland, the name “Si-Sawat,” pronounced “see-sah-waht,” means bluish-gray, but the word “sawat” alone means prosperity or good luck. Even today, Thai tradition associates magical properties with this feline, and it is believed that it can bring rain, vital for rice cultivation. The cat is thus carried around villages in the northeast of the country and sprinkled with water to ensure that the rice paddies are flooded. It is also known as the cat of prosperity and for promoting a happy and comfortable married life. It is often given to couples who are about to have a child because it is believed that placing it in a newborn’s cradle will protect them and ensure peaceful sleep. In Thailand, Korats are rarely purchased and are instead preferred as gifts since their ability to bring good luck should not have a price. They are considered a very precious gift reserved for important individuals such as nobles, diplomats, or even the king.
In China, the goddess Li Shou was depicted in the form of a cat and worshipped by farmers to protect their crops from mice and rats. An ancient Chinese myth tells that at the beginning of the world, the gods appointed cats to oversee their new creation, granting them the power of speech. However, the felines, more interested in sleeping under cherry trees and playing with falling flowers, paid no attention to the workings of the world. Three times the gods checked on what the cats were doing, and all three times they were disappointed to see their sentinels sleeping or playing. Thus, the gift of speech was taken away from them and given to humans. But since humans seemed unable to understand the words of the gods, cats were entrusted with the important task of being interpreters, a belief still prevalent in China.
From this nation, the cat, known as Neko, is said to have arrived in Japan around 538 AD, although the first official evidence is recorded in the diary of Emperor Uda, between 887 and 897 AD
The Cat and Monotheistic Religions
The cat also plays a role in monotheistic religions. Some apocryphal gospels provide detailed accounts of Christ’s love for these animals. “Jesus arrived in a village where He saw a stray kitten suffering from hunger, pleading for food with its meows. He picked it up from the ground, wrapped it in His cloak, and let it rest on His chest. As He crossed the village, He gave the cat food and water. And it ate and drank and showed Him its gratitude. He then gave it to one of His disciples, a widow named Lorenza, who took care of it. And some of the people said, ‘Does this man take care of all animals? Are they perhaps His brothers and sisters for Him to love them so?’ And He said to them, ‘Truly, these are your brothers and sisters, who have the same breath of life from the Eternal. And whoever takes care of the smallest among them, providing food and drink in their sorrow, does it to Me. And whoever intentionally allows one of them to suffer scarcity and does not protect them when they are mistreated, allowing this wickedness to happen, is as if they inflicted it upon Me. Indeed, what you have done in this life will be done to you in the next.'”
Another popular legend tells that when Jesus was in the manger on the night of His birth, He was very cold. A Syrian cat jumped into the makeshift cradle to warm Him with its fur. To thank the cat, the Madonna stroked its forehead, which is how the famous “M” mark, which cats of this breed display on their faces, appeared. Prophet Muhammad also loved cats deeply. According to legend, the “M” mark just mentioned, which characterizes the Syrian cat, was generated by the blessing given to the animal by the Prophet. In another famous story, it is said that when Muhammad was called to prayer, he found his cat sleeping on his arm. Instead of disturbing it, Muhammad cut off the sleeve of his robe and let the kitten continue sleeping. Upon returning from prayer, the cat greeted the Prophet by purring, and Muhammad, moved by this, not only reserved a place for the cat in paradise but also, by placing his hands on the animal’s back three times, granted it the ability to always land on its feet without harm. The Prophet’s affection for cats is reflected in many beliefs and traditions. According to one tradition attributed to Aisha, one of the Prophet’s wives, it is permissible to perform ablutions with water in a container from which a cat has already drunk. In Islam, unlike dogs, cats are not considered “impure.”
Another legend tells that while passing by Lake Van, Allah saw a completely white cat in the water. Thinking that the cat was drowning, Allah held it by the head and saved it. Shortly afterward, Allah saw other white cats diving into the lake and swimming, realizing that the cat He had saved was not in any difficulty. However, where Allah had touched the cat, a red spot remained. From then on, the Van cat was also called the “Cat of Allah,” now known as the “Turkish Van.” An interesting fact within this curiosity: The Turkish government, inspired by a popular belief that the great statesman Ataturk had been reincarnated as a semi-longhaired white cat, declared the white variety a national treasure, promoting a strict program of protection and breeding.
Even the origins of cats, according to monotheistic faiths, are sacred. Concerned about the increasing number of mice, Noah asked for help from God, who instructed him to touch the head of the lion or rub its nostrils. As a result, the lion sne
ezed out a pair of cats. In Persia, the “Persian” cats were often companions of Sufi monks. It is said that one of the most revered Sufi sheikhs had a domestic cat that wore shoes to keep its paws clean since it was allowed on the prayer carpet. Once, while walking around the house, the cat was beaten by one of the sheikh’s servants. However, upon witnessing the scene, the sheikh punished the servant with a rod and made him apologize to the cat. According to Attar, cats were the only animals allowed to climb onto the prayer carpet, and it is said that the famous jurist Emad Faqih Kermani taught children to imitate the cat during prostrations in prayer.
A Persian myth from the 14th century sings the praises of a cat-king who led a great battle against mice. The rodents, it is told, had superior weapons, but the Persian felines had claws, intelligence, and fangs on their side. The heroic cat, even after being captured and tied to a pole, broke free with its claws and single-handedly routed the rodents. Their distinct beauty, characterized by long fur, quickly led them to be brought by merchants to Europe, where they became indispensable in royal households. In Italy, the first Persian cats were traded in 1620 by Pietro della Valle. The Persian breed quickly gained popularity after being imported to England, where cat shows became popular in the 19th century, and from there to the United States.
The Cat and Witchcraft in the Western World
Is the cat a symbol of prosperity and well-being, then? Not always and not in all eras. In reality, the first demonization of the cat did not occur, as one might think, with the advent of Christianity, but much earlier, in Jewish culture. This is not too surprising, considering that cats were sacred in the Egyptian world, which was seen as an “antagonistic” culture. Christianity merely exacerbated this aspect. Between 1000 and 1700, millions of cats, along with their owners, were burned at the stake because they were seen as expressions and embodiments of evil.
In his sermons, Saint Dominic identified the cat with the devil, and the acts of his canonization tell the story of how he defeated a huge black feline with flaming eyes and tongue. It was in Pope Gregory IX’s papal bull “Vox in Roma” in 1233 that these animals were described as bringers of misfortune and chosen participants in Sabbaths, where it was customary to kiss their hindquarters. Similarly, the cat was associated with the heretical sect of the Cathars through a mistaken etymology that derived their name from “cattus.”
The official extermination of felines, especially those with black or red fur, occurred when it was decided that any devout follower of God who encountered a cat was obliged to inflict excruciating punishments on the poor creature. Thus, in 1484, Pope Innocent VIII decreed that any woman who fed cats could be accused of witchcraft, and it is perhaps from here that the figure of the “cat lady” in many Italian stories originates. The phobias towards felines may have originated from the numerous confessions of witches, who admitted to introducing animals into the homes of their victims to inflict harm and attending malevolent gatherings in the form of cats.
For example, the story of the witch Chicchera di Navelli, from the province of L’Aquila, tells how she used to go to Benevento in the form of a cat: “Within an hour, I go back and forth to the walnut tree in Benevento.” Matteuccia da Todi, one of the most renowned alleged witches in Italy, also confessed to going to the Sabbaths at the mystical walnut tree in the form of a cat: “…and immediately, a demon in the form of a goat appears in front of her, and she herself is transformed into a cat, riding on the same goat and always going through ditches, going to the said walnut tree, hissing like lightning…” Accounts of witches being impaled for this reason testify to a widespread fabric of beliefs and fears across the territory.
According to many popular traditions, when a cat had an eye removed or a limb amputated, women in the village would be found the next day missing an eye or limb. For example, there is a story from Abruzzo similar to many others found throughout the country, published by Di Giacomo in “Leggende del diavolo” (Legends of the Devil), for Universale Cappelli:
“…A woman had only one son, who was going to get married and had chosen a young woman of his liking… after nine months, a beautiful baby girl was born… she had not even started teething and was chubby and big. And gradually, little by little, she becomes sick and dies… the same thing happens to five other infants who came after her… The young man was advised to be careful at night and to let the newborn sleep close to him, and if he saw a cat on the bed, he should immediately chase it away… One night, after hearing a noise like the wind at the door of the room,
hears something on the bed, turns around, and sees a cat. In an instant, he grabs the cat and, with the razor he had prepared under the pillow, cuts off its foot. The next morning, the mother wakes up and wails. The son asks, “Mother, what’s wrong?” She replies, “Son, you have killed me, you have killed me.” And he sees that she has a severed hand…” Similar narratives speak of mysterious cats that would roam near the cribs of newborn babies at night.
In 1612, in Coredo, Val di Non, some witches were prosecuted, accused of casting spells after transforming into cats: “…it has been heard that a few years ago, a cat went into Fidrizza di Fidrighi’s house, and it was so agile that they couldn’t make it run away, and a brother named Fidrigo stuck a burning stick in its mouth, and the next morning, Tornella was seen with a bandage around her neck, suggesting that she was that cat…” Lastly, in the Nogaredo trial, it is written, “…and I became small, small in the form of a cat, and we went together to Sparamani’s house, entering through the lower part of the stable… and when we reached where Cristoforo was sleeping alone, he didn’t wake up from his sleep, and I never helped her…” The cat figure was particularly associated with love rituals, which eventually led to the Sabbaths. In the Alpine regions, it was customary to play the “game of the cat” in February, where young men from the village would secretly visit their loved ones by climbing at night onto woodpiles or rooftops. This tradition was so widespread that when strange noises were heard inside a house, the girl’s parents would repeat the phrase, “There’s the cat, asking to be let in.”
In this case as well, the origins of the ritual are ancient. It was Diana who taught women how to visit their men by assuming the form of a feline. The cat became a symbol of secret love, an ancestral sentiment that should be kept in the deepest chambers of the heart. Thus, those who tread the path of Love are guided by the cat, as darkness does not exist alongside it. Since this tradition was soon banned, young people continued to meet clandestinely, seeking refuge in caves and other Alpine shelters where frenzied music was played, sometimes referred to as the “music of the cats.”
The Renaissance of the Cat
The resurgence of the “cult of the cat” in Europe took place in the 18th century when cats became protagonists in many tales and fairy tales. It was Maria Catherina d’Aulnoy who, in her famous fairy tales, narrated the story of the “white cat,” which tells the tale of a prince who encounters a bride in the form of a cat. And who doesn’t know the fable by Giovanni Francesco Straparola, better known as “Puss in Boots”? “Trust me, bring me a hat, a pair of boots, and a sack, and I will make you a rich man.” During the Victorian era, cats were once again elevated to a regal status. Queen Victoria, intrigued by archaeological discoveries related to the worship of cats in Egypt, adopted two blue cats. Charles Dickens was so fond of his cats that they were the only ones allowed to enter his study, even when the author was working. Mark Twain, William Wordsworth, John Keats, and Thomas Hardy were all great admirers of cats. Lewis Carroll created the character of the “Cheshire Cat” in his adventures of Alice in Wonderland, while Guy de Maupassant wrote a book about cats and their relationship with buildings: “I have noticed that almost all houses have long, narrow passages through the walls, from the cellar to the attic, from the maid’s room to the master’s bedroom, so the cat is the king, the master of the house.” It is likely that these secret passages gave rise to legends of ghost cats. Joan Georg Sulzer spoke of “superior animals” capable of surviving physical death. However, perhaps the most well-known modern cat is Le Chat noir, “The Black Cat,” an emblematic image associated with a famous establishment for shadow theater and cabaret in Montmartre, Paris, founded in November 1881 by Rodolphe Salis. The cat thus became a symbol of creative inspiration within artistic circles and the emerging spiritualist movement. Among New Age enthusiasts, it is said that the purring sound enhances the propensity for dreams and dream flight. Today we know that a cat’s purring emits a frequency in the range of 20 to 140 Hertz, known for its therapeutic effects in reducing stress, lowering the risk of heart attacks, alleviating symptoms of dyspnea (breathing difficulties), and even strengthening bones. In some traditions, moreover, a cat’s sleep is believed to be a journey to the afterlife and the realm of ancestors. In many belief systems, the cat is also considered the guardian of the dream realm. The cat’s sleep is thus not only a simple rest but also a moment of transition between various worlds: while the body sleeps, it is the immortal soul that keeps its eyes open. So let us have a “good flight” and from now on, let us make our cats a little more “sacred.”