The Cat Myths of Mexico

by Giselle

This is my beloved 8 year old cat, Mankey
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

This is my beloved 8 year old cat, Mankey

Mexico is a country with a lot of traditions and legends and some of them involve felids. We can find stories about jaguars and their majesty, in fact, among mexicas (an ancient civilization from the central zone of Mexico also known as “aztecas”), Jaguars have a special place in their culture since they are the “dark side”, the force responsible of night and tides.

Maybe this was believed due to the nocturnal habits of this cat, and in addition there was a special kind of warrior to honor this great hunter: the jaguar warrior.

The domestic cat appeared after the Spaniards came to America, but these cats were not as popular as their relatives. Many people believed that these animals were evil, and were associated with witchcraft.

There’s a legend about this: A black cat died inside a house and the people who lived there didn't want to bury it because black cats are a symbol of bad luck and they would be cursed for the rest of their life so they decided to place it in the roof.

That night they began to hear strange sounds coming from the outside of their house. They noticed that the sounds came from the roof so they went to see what was going on. The black cat was surrounded by other cats and they were singing and dancing. Slowly the cat became alive again: Its tail moved first, then his head. When he was on his four paws again, he began to dance too, and when this happened all of them vanished in the dark.

Many people say that when we hear strange cat noises at night, they are trying to help their friends to leave this world.

Another popular belief is that when we see a cat licking its paws, somebody unexpected is coming home. Of course, this is not true.

Mexico as well as other countries is another victim of the mystery around the domestic cat. Maybe they are not essential in our history (as they have been for the Egyptians for example), because America’s small sized cats are wild and lonely hunters, but obviously we couldn't just ignore the elegance of their bigger cousins (like the jaguar or the cougar), they are an important part on the American cosmogony.


P.S. from Michael. Apparently in Mexico the saying that a cat has nine lives has been modified to seven (siete) lives! I don't know why. Perhaps the lifespan of cats in Mexico is shorter than in countries where they have nine lives.

P.P.S. In Mexico they have a legendary wild cat species called 'onza'. The small wild cat, the jaguarundi might be the onza referred to in old manuscripts as it is called onza in many Mexican states. However, it is not clear what species of cat 'onza' refers to. It might be the puma, jaguar or as mentioned the jaguarundi. Legend has it that the onza is not as timid as the puma - "It is not as timid as the [cougar]", wrote a Jesuit priest, Father Ignaz Pfefferkorn, in 1757. There is a report of a 14-year-old boy being attacked by an onza when it invaded a mission as per missionary, Father Johann Baegert.

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The Cat Myths of Mexico

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Sep 21, 2010 Black cats
by: Michael

Hi Giselle, thanks for your article. The cat and black cat generally still suffers from humankind's superstitions it seems to me. If it is not superstition it is plain fear of cats. A lot of people are a bit frightened of cats - I have no idea why!

I did a short article on black cat superstitions some time ago:

Black cats

And Elisa posted:

Satanic Cults and Cats

Michael Avatar

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