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The cat sìth is a fae from Celtic mythology.

Appearance Edit

These felines appear with black fur and a white spot on their chest (and occasionally with a white blaze on their head). They are around the size of a dog, and while they stand on four legs while near people, they rear up on their hind legs and act as humans do when they aren't being watched. Some even wear clothes. In many myths, they are indistinguishable from ordinary cats until they are caught standing upright. It is often depicted with its back arched and its fur standing on end, in the manner of a frightened cat.

Behaviour Edit

Descriptions of the cat sìth vary wildly, though they are almost always independent, trickster-like figures. The two most common depictions are those of supernatural cats or witches who can transform into a cat's form and back eight times. On the ninth transformation, they would be forced to remain in feline form forever.

One common myth involves the cat sìth stealing a person's soul after death before it was claimed by the gods. According to the myth, a person's soul stays near their body until it is claimed, so great pains were taken to keep cats - and especially the cat sìth - out of the room with the corpse. To keep the cat sìth away, games of leaping and wrestling (which they loved to watch), catnip, riddles (left unanswered so that the cat would ponder them), and music (which they would stop to dance to) were common tactics. In addition, all fires nearby would be extinguished, as they were drawn to the heat. This vigil was known as the Feill Fadalach, or Late Wake.

On Samhain, a Gaelic festival, the cat sìth would bless any house that left out a saucer of milk, but curse those that did not.

Related myths Edit

There once lived a cat sìth of the witch variant named Anne, who married a man named Evian. The two of them fought off Norse invaders, but when Anne noticed her partner in mortal danger, she transformed into a cat to frighten the attackers away. However, this was her ninth transformation, and she was condemned to that form forevermore. However, The Auld Ones, touched by her sacrifice, allowed her to return to human form for the seven nights of the full moon.

In the folk tale King of the Cats, a man sees several black cats with white marks on their chests carrying a coffin with a crown on top. One of them tells him to "Tell Tom Tildrum that Tim Toldrum is dead." When he returns to his wife and cat, Old Tom, and passes on the news, the cat exclaims, "What?! Old Tim dead? Then I'm King o' the Cats!" He then climbs up the chimney and vanishes forever.