Cat sitting, looking left
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The cat sith (also cait sith or cait shith) is a fairy cat of the Highlands of Scotland. It is described as being black and as large as a dog, with a white spot on its chest. Some considered it to be a transformed witch rather than a fairy.[1][a]It was a commonly held belief that blacks cats were actually witches who had taken on the form of a cat, which they could do up to nine times.[2] The beast may have been inspired by sightings of Kellas catsA Kellas cat is a black Scottish feline, initially considered to be a myth or a hoax. – a felid hybrid of domestic cats and Scottish wildcats.[3]

Coffins had to be guarded before burial to keep the cat sith at bay, as it was said to steal the souls of the recently deceased before they had been claimed by the gods.[4] Efforts were also made to distract the animal from its task by sprinkling catnip around the house and extinguishing the fire in the room where the body lay, to make it less welcoming for the sinister visitor.[5]

But the cat sith could also bring good luck if it drank from a saucer of milk left out for it on the Gaelic festival of Samhain, marking the beginning of winter.[5]

Citations



Bibliography


Campsie, A. (2017, January 11). The Highland Myth of the Soul-Stealing Black Cat. The Scotsman. Retrieved from https://www.scotsman.com/news/the-highland-myth-of-the-soul-stealing-black-cat-1-4337308
Emerick, C. (2018). The Scottish Wildcat in History and Legend. Mythic Dawn: A Journal of European Mythology, (1), 36–38.
MacKillop, J. (2004). A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford University Press.
Nowak, R. M. (2005). Walker’s Carnivores of the World. JHU Press.
Rhodes, C. (2012). Black Cats and Evil Eyes: A Book of Old-Fashioned Superstitions. Michael O’Mara Books.

Notes

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a. It was a commonly held belief that blacks cats were actually witches who had taken on the form of a cat, which they could do up to nine times.[2]