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Cat Superstitions: Tortoiseshells and More

By Yona Williams    9/23/09

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If you're planning on hitting the open waters for a fishing trip, perhaps you should read what a cat has to do with the luck and safety of your journey. Also, the kind of cat can mean all the difference when it comes to enjoying good fortune or receiving a prosperous harvest. In this article, you will also explore what the tortoiseshell cat means to different cultures.

Sailors and Fishermen Beliefs

Superstitions about cats were also found in the chatter of sailors and fishermen, who believed if a cat fell over the side of the ship while traveling into the sea, the creature would seek revenge by summoning a storm to cause the ship to sink. Some fishermen will toss a small piece of fish into the ocean to appease 'the cat,' which they believed was a witch. This witch would go to sea with her lover, who was a fisherman. When the man uncovered the truth – that he had fallen for a witch, the other fishermen wanted to drown her. She transformed into a cat and stirred up a storm that caused destruction upon all the fishing fleet.

A Real Gossip

In Netherlands, there is a saying that you don’t discuss private matters of the family in front of the family cat or you run the risk of having the feline run about town with all of your personal news.

Tortoiseshell Cats

Displaying a pale orange and black coloring, tortoiseshell cats, also known as 'torties' are often mistaken for the calico breed, but are different because they have very little white on their coat. Throughout the world, superstitions surround the existence of this cat. A couple of superstitions include:

The Japanese view a tortoiseshell cat who has more white on its coat as a very lucky creature. As for sailors, a tortie tomcat (considered a rarity) is said to bring fair skies.

In Scotland and Ireland, if you come across a stray tortie that selects you as his or her new home, you will encounter a string of good luck.

Residents of England have a superstition that you can eradicate a wart by rubbing the tail of a tortie cat on it, but only during the month of May.

Some residents of Normandy (located in the northern part of France) believe in a rather morbid superstition – that if you spot a tortie, you will die in an accident.

However, for Edgar Allen Poe, the tortoiseshell cat was not only an inspiration for his story, "The Black Cat," but also watched over his wife when she was ill. His tortie named Catarina often perched on his shoulder while he wrote.

Ceremonial Cats

The gray Korat cat, which displays the same color as a rain cloud, plays a role in Indonesian ceremonies, as it is sprinkled with water in an attempt to bring rain for the crops of farmers.

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