Baby Jesus and the Manger Cat

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)

The Cat in the Manger by Michael Foreman

The Cat in the Manger by Michael Foreman

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 PoC 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 its 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 its 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.

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.

Baby Jesus and cat

Baby Jesus and cat. Image in public domain.

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

From Baby Jesus And The Manger Cat to Feral Cats

Note: this article was first published at Christmas 2010. It is still current.

Comments for
Baby Jesus And The Manger Cat

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RatingThe 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 emphasises 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.


Ratingthoughts
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


RatingCats 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. šŸ˜‰
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...


RatingYes
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

 



Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Elisa Black-Taylor

Elisa is an experienced cat caretaker and rescuer. She lives in the US. As well as being a professional photographer, Elisa has been a regular contributor to PoC for nine years. See her Facebook page.

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9 Responses

  1. Miguel_Luigi_Von Minzel says:

    This is a stupid, self-serving fantasy which has no basis in historical reality. Stop promoting Egyptian cat-worship in the Messiah’s name. It’s insulting to the intelligence of any rational monotheist.

    I am not a Christian, in case you’re wondering.

    • Michael Broad says:

      It is a fantasy but some people like it and it makes a nice story for some people. Try and respect others. You’re a Muslim right? Well the Koran is full of crap as well.

  2. QuinceMatt says:

    Cats MASTER unconditional love. God IS unconditional love. Cats are closer to God than humans are. YES, add a Cat to the manger. The scene won’t be complete without atleast 1 Cat. #UniversalTRUTH

  3. K. Hampton says:

    Watch this video from the reputable PBS “NOVA” series; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/animal-mummies.html

    It explains how and why all sorts of species of animals were mummified to act as prayer-note envelopes to send prayer pleas to the god or goddess of your choice. Species of animals from ibises, to crocodiles, to even full-grown bulls were mummified and their “spirit” was used to send a message to that animal’s kindred deity. The “soul” of the animal was supposed to carry your prayer-note directly to the lap of the deity represented by that species. It was big business for them, they sold mummified animals of any species to any visitor from any lands as a way of contacting their favorite deity. Like a fed-ex to send messages to your gods. Cats, of course, being the most prolific and easiest to breed for mummification were also the least effort and cost (compared to catching an ibis, crocodile, or the expensive and extensive effort to mummify a full-grown bull; for example). The only value cats had to them were when cats were dead and mummified for a pre-addressed message envelope to contact their Bastet. This is why they found over 300,000 young mummified cats buried there. Bastet was the bargain-basement of gods, her popularity created by being the cheapest to talk to this way.

    Acting as protectors of grain-stores in The Fertile Crescent had nothing to do with why cats became popular back then. That explanation for cat popularity is nothing more than another false urban-legend today. Their popularity came from being the most inexpensive, easiest to breed for sacrificial purposes, and the easiest to mummify animal to be used as pre-addressed prayer envelopes. If a cat is to appear in any manger scene today it would have to be a young dead cat that was mummified with a birthday greeting embedded in the wraps of the dead cat.

    Time to update all your stories with a little honesty and truth. Ever hear the phrase, “Thou shalt not lie.” Start doing so.

  4. M. E. King says:

    My 2011 Holiday Card

  5. Mary Jane Caston says:

    That is a lovely story .I wish I could find a copy of that it actually gave me chills when I read it.Thank You

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