|Sub grouping||Fairy, witch|
|Similar creatures||Phantom cat|
|Other name(s)||Cat Sidhe, Cath Sith, Cait Sidhe, Fairy Cat|
The Cat Sìth (Scottish Gaelic: [kʰaht̪ ˈʃiː]) or Cat Sidhe (Irish: [kat̪ˠ ˈʃiː], Cat Sí in new orthography) is a fairy creature from Celtic mythology, said to resemble a large black cat with a white spot on its chest. Legend has it that the spectral cat haunts the Scottish Highlands. The legends surrounding this creature are more common in Scottish folklore, but a few occur in Irish. Some common folklore suggested that the Cat Sìth was not a fairy, but a witch that could transform into a cat nine times.
As proposed by British cryptozoologist, Karl Shuker, in his book Mystery Cats of the World (1989), it is possible that the legends of the Cat Sìth were inspired by Kellas cats, which are probably a distinctive hybrid between Scottish wildcats and domestic cats only found in Scotland (the Scottish wildcat is a subspecies of the European wildcat, which is absent from elsewhere in theBritish Isles). Typical Kellas cats resemble large black wildcats, but with some peculiar features closer to domestic cats, and have probably been present in Scotland for centuries, maybe even some two millennia or more. Others believe that the Cat Sìth was inspired by the Scottish wildcat itself.
The Cat Sìth is all black with the exception of a white spot on its chest. It is described as being as large as a dog and chooses to display itself with its back arched and bristles erect.The King of the Cats
In the British folk tale The King of the Cats, a man comes home to tell his wife and cat, Old Tom, that he saw nine black cats with white spots on their chests carrying a coffin with a crown on it, and one of the cats tells the man to “Tell Tom Tildrum that Tim Toldrum is dead.” The cat then exclaims, “What?! Old Tim dead! Then I’m the King o’ the Cats!” Old Tom then climbs up the chimney and is never seen again.
The people of the Scottish Highlands did not trust the Cat Sìth. They believed that it could steal a person’s soul before it was claimed by the gods by passing over a corpse before burial; therefore watches called the Feill Fadalach (Late Wake) were performed night and day to keep the Cat Sìth away from a corpse before burial. Methods of “distraction” such as games of leaping and wrestling, catnip, riddles, and music would be employed to keep the Cat Sìth away from the room in which the corpse lay. In addition, there were no fires where the body lay, as it was legend that the Cat Sìth was attracted to the warmth.
On Samhain, it was believed that a Cat Sìth would bless any house that left a saucer of milk out for it to drink, but those houses that did not let out a saucer of milk would be cursed into having all of their cows’ milk dry.
Some people believed that the Cat Sìth was a witch that could transform voluntarily into its cat form and back eight times.If one of these witches chose to go back into their cat form for the ninth time, they would remain a cat for the rest of their lives. It is believed by some that this is how the idea of a cat having nine lives originated.
In popular culture
- Caith Sith is a recurring figure in the Final Fantasy series. It appeared as a summoned monster in Final Fantasy VI(called ‘Stray’ in the original English translation of the SNES version) and as a playable character in Final Fantasy VII in form of a robotic puppet of a black-and-white cat. After going through a major redesign, nine Cait Siths, numbered in Gaelic, appear in Final Fantasy XI‘s Wings of the Goddess expansion, as time travellers sent by the Goddess Altana to end the Crystal War. In Final Fantasy XIV, Caith Sith appears yet again to aid the player in the storyline around the Shadow of Mhach series of raid dungeons..
- In the Dresden Files novel “Cold Days“, Cat Sith is a powerful servant of the Queen of Air and Darkness, Mab.
- In the game Enchanted Folk and the School of Wizardry, Cat Sith is a mysterious blue cat that sets up shop in the Haunted House.
- In the manga Aria, a cat named Cat Sith has been the king of the cat kingdom in Aqua for at least 100 years.
- In the Kamen Rider Seriestokusatsu show, Kamen Rider Wizard, a Phantom called Caitsith serves as the monster of episodes 4 and 5.
- A Cait Sith named “Kuro” (“Blackie”) is tamed as a familiar, by main character Okumura Rin, in the Blue Exorcist manga and anime.
- Cait Shelter, with as its crest a multiple tailed cat, is the name of a guild in the Fairy Tail manga and anime.
- In the video game Folklore, the Cait Sidhe is a species in the Faery
- In the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, the Cait Sidhe are a sub-race of fae who are ruled by the local King of Cats, Tybalt.
- Cait Sith appears as an enemy in La-Mulana. Here it appears as an all-white (in the original version) or all-golden (in the remake) cat riding a ball, earning it the nickname Cat-Ball.
- The ending of Diane Duane’s A Wizard Abroad mirrors the story of King of the Cats with the exception that the new monarch is female.
- Cat Sith is an archfiend in the videogame Soul Sacrifice.
- Aos Sí
- Celtic mythology in popular culture
- Cù Sìth
- Cath Palug
- Beast of Bodmin
- List of fictional cats
- Phantom cat
- The Black Cat (short story)
- MacGillivray, Deborah. “The Cait Sidhe”.
- Mystery Cats of the World. Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0-7090-3706-6.
- The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures. Harper Element. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-4351-1086-1.
- Encyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft. St. Paul: Llewellyn. p. 76. ISBN 1-56718-257-7.
- “The King o’ the Cats”. More English Fairy Tales.
Some secondary and tertiary sources, including well-known and influential authors such as W.B. Yeats, refer to aos sísimply as “the sídhe” (lit. “mounds”).
In Gaelic mythology
In many Gaelic tales the aos sí are later, literary versions of the Tuatha Dé Danann (“People of the Goddess Danu”)—the deities and deified ancestors of Irish mythology. Some sources describe them as the survivors of the Tuatha Dé Danann who retreated into the Otherworld after they were defeated by the Milesians—the mortal Sons of Míl Espáine who, like many other early invaders of Ireland, came from Iberia. Geoffrey Keating, an Irish historian of the late 17th century, equates Iberia with the Land of the Dead.
In Gaelic folklore
In folk belief and practice, the aos sí are often appeased with offerings, and care is taken to avoid angering or insulting them. Often they are not named directly, but rather spoken of as “The Good Neighbors”, “The Fair Folk”, or simply “The Folk”. The most common names for them, aos sí, aes sídhe, daoine sídhe (singular duine sídhe) and daoine sìth mean, literally, “people of the mounds” (referring to the sidhe). The aos sí are generally described as stunningly beautiful, though they can also be terrible and hideous.
Aos sí are sometimes seen as fierce guardians of their abodes—whether a fairy hill, a fairy ring, a special tree (often ahawthorn) or a particular loch or wood. The Gaelic Otherworld is seen as closer at the times of dusk and dawn, therefore this is a special time to the aos sí, as are some festivals such as Samhain, Beltane and Midsummer.
The sídhe: abodes of the aes sídhe
As part of the terms of their surrender to the Milesians the Tuatha Dé Danann agreed to retreat and dwell underground in the sídhe (modern Irish: sí; Scottish Gaelic: sìth; Old Irish síde, singular síd), the hills or earthen mounds that dot the Irish landscape. In some later poetry each tribe of the Tuatha Dé Danann was given its own mound.
In a number of later English language texts the word sídhe is used both for the mounds and the people of the mounds. However sidh in older texts refers specifically to “the palaces, courts, halls or residences” of the ghostly beings that, according to Gaedhelic mythology, inhabit them.
The fact that many of these sídhe have been found to be ancient burial mounds has contributed to the theory that the aos sí were the pre-Celtic occupants of Ireland. “The Book of Invasions”, “The Annals of the Four Masters”, and oral history support this view.
Others present these stories as mythology deriving from Greek cultural influence, deriving arguments mainly from Hesiod‘sWorks and Days, which portrays the basic moral foundation and plantation techniques of the citizens of Greece and describes the races of men, created by the Greek deities. However, these views have been deemed unlikely, and the so-called influence can be reasonably explained by the similar moral foundations stemming from the two cultures’ Indo-European background.
The story of the Aes Sídhe is found all over Scotland and Ireland, many tales referring to how the Norse invaders drove Scottish inhabitants underground to live in the hills. This part of the legend contributes to the Changeling myth in west European folklore.
Types of aos sí
The Banshee or bean sídhe, which means “woman of the sídhe“, has come to indicate any supernatural woman of Ireland who announces a coming death by wailing and keening. Her counterpart in Scottish mythology is the bean sìth (sometimes spelled bean-sìdh). Other varieties of aos sí and daoine sìth include the Scottish bean nighe: the washerwoman who is seen washing the bloody clothing or armour of the person who is doomed to die; the leanan sídhe: the “fairy lover”; the Cat Sìth: a fairy cat; and the Cù Sìth: fairy dog.
The sluagh sídhe—”the fairy host”—is sometimes depicted in Irish and Scottish lore as a crowd of airborne spirits, perhaps the cursed, evil or restless dead. The siabhra (anglicised as “sheevra”), may be a type of these lesser spirits, prone to evil and mischief. However an Ulster folk song also uses “sheevra” simply to mean “spirit” or “fairy”.
Creideamh Sí is Irish for the “Fairy Faith”, a collection of beliefs and practices observed by those who wish to keep good relationships with the aos sí and avoid angering them. The custom of offering milk and traditional foods—such as baked goods, apples or berries—to the aos sí have survived through the Christian era into the present day in parts of Ireland, Scotland and the diaspora. Those who maintain some degree of belief in the aos sí also are aware to leave their sacred places alone and protect them from damage through road or housing construction.
Detailed info on the Felis Selvestris Grampia can be found H E R E
So, to answer the initial question,
Am I a Cat Sidhe?
I can’t tell you that, cause then i’d have to kill you!
But you never know eh?!
I may just be a myth