COMMENT: Sadly, due to a lack of education, many people in Kenya, especially along the Indian Ocean coast, still believe, hundreds of years after cats were persecuted during the Middle Ages, that domestic and stray cats are evil. As the spaying and neutering of cats in Kenya is probably rare, they procreate which doesn’t help. Further, when the female cries out to attract attention during the mating season, when she is on heat, this apparently drives people crazy. They appear to believe that this is the sound of the devil crying out.
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Naturally, this leads to cat abuse and cruelty. But not everybody in that part of the world is as superstitious. Peter Mwadime Charo, 36, loves his five cats. But he lives in a community where they are generally loathed.
He appears to allow his cats to procreate. Not a good idea. One of the kittens is black. Black cats, as you can imagine, are the embodiment of the devil to many Kenyans according to the report that I’m reading online (yenisafak.com).
“I love cats but people here don’t. They believe cats are evil.”
He said that there are many cases of witchcraft in his community. The gossip is of spooky stories. When a cat enters a person’s house, the occupant might call out loudly to get rid of the evil spirits which have entered. Or they might accuse a neighbour of being involved in witchcraft. Sometimes they believe that a neighbour has shape shifted into a cat to spy on them. All of these are dangerous superstitions which can lead to aggravation and violence.
Charo said that it sounds silly but it’s true. And it happens across all of Kenya and East Africa. He said that: “People attack cats and some are killed just because of this. The mating call makes for a horrific time for cats.”
Jacky Salil, 30, a student at Taita Taveta University, said that it is not just in the coastal region where people are afraid of cats. Some people do love them but many are afraid. He said that some of the stories coming out of villages are hard to imagine. He said: “They cry like babies sometimes. The stories and superstitions are just too much.”
Phineas Telewa, a university student, likes cats because they are cute and cuddly. He said that there is nothing evil about them and that they are not a bad omen.
You will notice that the two people who like cats and understand them are university students. Education removes superstitions. Superstitions are dangerous and work against animal welfare.
It is shocking to me that the belief of the Middle Ages that the cat was associated with Satan has been carried forward to the modern age. These beliefs were held more than 1000 years ago. How can people still believe this today? Education is the key.
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