HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE DARK AGES (PART 10)

The Cat in Japan: The cat reached Japan from China in the late 900’s during the Edo period reign of Emperor Ichigo (986-1011).  At first only the rich could afford such a rare pet, and so the cat became popular amongst royalty.  The young Emperor loved his cats, and when on the 19th day of […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE DARK AGES (PART 9)

The Cat in China: By Western accounts the cat arrived in China around 200BC (Turner et al., 2000) most probably acquired from Roman merchants.  However, Chinese mythology mentions the cat goddess Yifan Zhang, who was known to have led a legion of cats to uphold righteousness and to found the Chinese nation before the Shang […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE DARK AGES (PART 8)

The Cat in India: In India the cat, known in Sanskrit as Acoubouk† or Margara, was frequently mentioned in the original fables of Bidpay, also known as the Panchatantra (Hered, 1829, p.309).  The original of the Panchatantra, or the “Five Discourses”, is credited to a King who feared that his sons would not be able […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN PERSIA – THE DARK AGES (PART 7)

The History of the Cat in Persia: Before reaching the Far East, cats travelled through Persia and India via the Silk Routes where Persian Zoroastrians, in stark contrast to the Arab Muslims, considered the cat evil and treacherous.  During the Sassanian Empire (224-651), the cat in Zoroastrian mythology was said to have been created by […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE DARK AGES (PART 6)

History of the Cat in Islam:          Unlike Christianity in the Dark Ages, Islam took a much kinder view of the cat primarily due to the Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) (570-632AD) compassion for the enigmatic beast.  There are several stories of Mohammed interacting with cats.  The first is that his favorite cat, Muezza, fell asleep on […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE DARK AGES (PART 5)

History of the Cat in Christianity and Judaism: No doubt due to the cat’s association with the devil, evil and Paganism, only one obscure reference to the cat appears in the Bible. The Letter from Jeremiah contains one mention of the cat when referring to Pagans in the Book of Baruch†.  There are yet other […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE DARK AGES (PART 4)

Because Viking raids continued into the 9th century, Irish monks continued to flee the on-going invasions by travelling to far off havens.  One such monk exiled in Reichenau on Lake Constance is immortalized for writing a now famous poem in honor of his cat, Pangur Bán†. The cat, not yet completely identified with the devil […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE DARK AGES (PART 3)

Cats in Lindisfarne Gospel and Book of Kells   Even though, on the one hand, Christianity sought the total destruction of the old ways and temples during the Dark Ages, on the other, in their place, it began to erect a handful of churches and monasteries that blossomed into isolated centers of art, writing and […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE DARK AGES (PART 2)

CATS AND SAINTS During the Dark Ages the cat, not yet completely reviled, still had its admirers even amongst those closest to the church.  As the contest between Christianity and Paganism raged, St. Gertrude of Nivelles in 640 became known for her benevolence towards cats.  Most often pictured with rats and mice at her feet, […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE DARK AGES (PART 1)

History of the Cat Background: The Dark Ages were a time of great turmoil and instability.  Hegemony over territory and religion were the driving factors in the ongoing conflicts of the age, and amidst this upheaval, the plague of Justinian claimed all those it could. Tribal kingdoms remained in continuous conflict over territory, and with […]