Daniel's Cat in the Snow is one of the cutest - it will melt the heart of even the most ardent cat hater. But whether you're a cat lover or hater, most people have come across one of those bad tempered moggies: the ones the owner warns you about - "you're fine to sit there, just don't stroke her…. and it's probably a good idea not to move too much… oh, she doesn't like people looking at her either, do you princess? HISSSSSS!"
There are some cats though, which even a well experienced cat-lady couldn't befriend:
"He opened his eyes,
Glowing both of them,
It was not for cowards,
To look at them."
Extract from the poem 'The Yule Cat' - by Jóhannes úr Kötlum
The Yule Cat is a very special feline in Icelandic folklore. It tells the story of a ferocious cat which prowls the snowy countryside during the Christmas period. If you were unfortunate enough to not receive any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve, the Yule Cat will come looking for you… and eat you! Now that's what I call adding insult to injury.
If like me you're thinking 'what… why!?', well, the origins lie in an old tale the farmers used to tell their (somewhat gullible) workers who were busy processing the autumn wool before the Xmas period - "if you don't finish this lot in time then people are going to get eaten!"; that's some incentive!
If the Yule Cat doesn't get you knitting a new jumper before Grandma's even made a cup of tea, then maybe the Behemoth will make you take these killer-cats seriously. Behemoth is a demonic black cat character in the famous Russian novel, The Master & Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov. Not only is this pistol carrying vodka quaffing cat the size of a wild boar, he can stand on his hind legs, transform into a human, and he loves telling jokes - which are usually in bad taste because he's actually Satan's sidekick!
But sometimes it's not necessarily the fierceness of a fantastical feline to send the humans into a frenzied furore. Because as we know, cats are very intelligent creatures, and sometimes they can cause just as much pandemonium using their very own canny wit. None more so than a certain miraculous house pet in Sati's short story, 'Tobermory'.
Tobermory the cat was the subject of an eccentric owner, Mr Appin, who spent 7 years teaching him to talk. After initially astonishing a small social gathering with his opening linguistic skills, Tobermory then goes on to spill the beans on all of the humans present - after all, pets see and hear things which no human was intended to witness. The humans soon forget about the moggie-miracle which has taken place, and end up all in a fluster, whilst hurriedly picking up their somewhat 'dirty laundry'.
I won't spoil the ending, but it would be wise for all cats to keep communications to a predictable and respectable meow, for now.
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In Greek mythology, Halcyone and Ceyx were lovers who incurred the wrath of the god Zeus by mocking him and his wife. Angered, Zeus killed Ceyx.