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 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.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Please note the cat used as my intro photo can be purchased at Amazon.com or other online stores.
Note: this article was first published at Christmas 2010. It is still current.