Baby Jesus And The Manger Cat

by Elisa Black-Taylor
(USA)

This would be a great manger cat

This would be a great manger cat

This would be a great manger cat Furby has his version of the M mark (photo added by Michael)

There are a lot of nativity scenes in my area this time of year celebrating the birth of Jesus. However, none of them are completely accurate if this story is to be believed.

Today I'd like to tell the readers here at pictures-of-cats.org the story of baby Jesus and the manger cat.

Shortly after the birth of the baby Jesus, his mother Mary was having a really hard time calming her child. She was weary after traveling and giving birth and asked God for his help. The stable was very cold and first Mary asked all of the stable animals to move in closer to help warm her baby. But the stable was small and this was impossible for the other animals to do.

Legend says a mother tabby cat with a new litter of kittens was in the stable at the time and she poked her little tabby head up for Mary to see. The cat then came over and climbed into Mary's lap. About this time the baby Jesus began to cry again and nothing would calm him. The cat jumped from Mary's lap and curled up next to the baby Jesus. Mary was unable to remove the cat from the manger. She didn't mind the cat sleeping in her lap, but laying on her child was different. The cat was content and the purring became louder and louder until all of the animals were synchronized to the calming sound. That night animals and people alike slept well. Especially baby Jesus.

The next morning Mary awoke refreshed and asked God to bring a blessing onto the cat. She traced the letter "M" on it's forehead and that is why all tabby cats have the letter on their forehead. It is the letter for Madonna and serves as a reminder that God sends extraordinary help in a time of need.

I believe this story could very well be true. For one reason, there are usually rats and mice in barns and stables. An innkeeper would likely keep a cat for this reason. Even if the cat wasn't what you'd call a "pet" to the innkeeper, it served it's purpose in keeping down the rodent population.

There's also the chance the innkeeper allowed a feral cat to stay as it would be difficult and time consuming to keep a cat run out of a stable. Better to leave well enough alone. Cats have always been drawn to barns for shelter. Whether 2000 years ago or today, a barn or stable would be seen as a place of safety and comfort to a cat.

So I believe the story of baby Jesus and the manger cat. Although Finn recites a similar but different story.

There are several children's books on the subject and they can be purchased from Amazon.com.

The Cat in the Manger by Michael Foreman:

Abigayil The Story Of The Cat At The Manger by Rouben Mamoulain:

Now for my discussion question. Do you believe nativity scenes set up this time of year should feature a sleeping tabby cat at the feet of baby Jesus? I have a fake cat that is identical to a real sleeping cat that would be perfect for this, so I know it wouldn't be hard to add a manger cat. What do you all think? I honestly think adding a cat would get a lot of response from both Christians and cat lovers. A manger scene with a cat would definitely be remembered as a highlight of the Christmas season.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Please note the cat used as my intro photo can be purchased at Amazon.com or other online stores.

Elisa

Sources:

http://cats.about.com/cs/tabbycats/a/tabby_cats_2.htm

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Baby Jesus And The Manger Cat

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Dec 27, 2010
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The cat is o.k. there
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

Darlene, I love that you have such strong faith in Jesus! There are certainly some things written about Him which should not ever be changed. However, some things are what we call "adiaphoron" which are neither commanded nor forbidden, and do not touch on the central teachings of the Gospel. The cat there or not there is adiaphora to me, because it doesn't change the main facts of the story.
Also, I think if you went back in time, you would see cats there as well as the traditional stable animals. There are a lot of cats in that part of the world-- small cats, but bigger than our domestic cats. They are wild, but live close to people, helping the people by catching mice and rats.
God loves his whole creation and we, his creatures, glorify Him. There is no animal or person whom you could not represent being there at that first Christmas, whether they actually were or not. Showing a cat there emphasizes that Jesus loves His whole creation, and therefore isn't wrong, whether there was a cat there or not.
Personally, I can't see how there wouldn't have been. Whether the cat comforted Jesus or not we'll never know, but what barn or stable do you know of where there aren't some cats around?
Also,in reality, the wise men weren't there yet. They came later. And we don't really know how many came. So if the "three wise men" can be shown as being there that night, then I think a cat certainly can be.


Dec 25, 2010
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thoughts
by: darlene burrow

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU TOO THE STORY YOU WROTE WAS VERY SWEET BUT I THINK AFTER ALL THESE YEARS YOU SHOULDN'T ADD A CAT TO THE SEEN BECAUSE IT JUST WOULDN'T BE RIGHT DON'T GET ME WRONG CATS ARE MY WORLD TO ME WHY CHANGE IT AFTER ALL THESE YEARS IF YOU DON'T KNOW IF ITS TRUE OR NOT BEST LEAVE IT ALONE BECAUSE JESUS IS TRUTH


Dec 24, 2010
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Cats must have been blessed...
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Merry Christmas to you too, Elisa.
The Middle East was the craddle of the domestic cat, so of course there must have been cats in Bethlehem back then. And a person as compassionate as the Mary described in the Bible and the legends would of course have been a cat person too. ;-)
The common thing about this story about Virgin Mary as well as the other one featuring the Prophet Muhammad is that people of all times have been delighted with the beautiful tabby pattern and searched for an explanation. Cats are so wondeful companions to us humans that they must have been blessed somehow...


Dec 24, 2010
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Yes
by: Michael

Hi Elisa, at the time of the birth of Jesus the wildcat had been domesticated for 7,000 years!

They were barn cats, domesticated but living outside as working animals keeping down rodents.

On that basis it seems to me that it is highly likely that there was a domestic cat in the manger. A manger is a trough or box of carved stone or wood construction used to hold food for animals (as in a stable).

And tabby cats are the world's most common as the markings are the most efficient - nature created this pattern as the best general camouflage.

So, yes, I say there should be a tabby cat in the nativity scene. This would possibly help promote respect for the domestic cat from those who lack it.

Thanks for the article Elisa.

Michael Avatar



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