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Appalachia Through My Eyes – Cats

My life in appalachia - Cat folklore

Cats have long been associated with spooky folklore. According to the Frank C. Brown Collection of NC Folklore :

  • seeing a black cat is bad luck (Back in the day when I was a teenager-riding the roads with my best friend, every time we saw a black cat she would lick her finger and make a X mark on the windshield to ward off bad luck)
  • if a cat follows you home-it brings bad luck with it
  • if a black cat enters the house through the front door it brings good luck
  • if a black cat looks through the window-bad luck will soon befall the house
  • if a black cat licks its fur the wrong way trouble will come to the entire family (how do you know if its lick is wrong?)
  • it is good luck to pull a black cats tail
  • if you kill a cat-its soul will come back to haunt you

I’ve also heard:

  • cats can steal a baby’s breath
  • cats are supposed to be familiars for witches
  • cats will gather around a house where a body is lying in state
  • to cure a sty rub the tail of a black cat across your eye

If you have any cat folklore-hope you’ll leave me a comment!

Tipper

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

 

 

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Anastasia
    October 6, 2011 at 1:28 am

    If a girl treads on a cat’s tail, she will not find a husband before a year is out.

  • Reply
    RB
    October 5, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    In my opinion, cats are also some of the most wonderful animals in creation. They would give their life to save their young, the are often very entertaining to watch, and they are ever loyal to whomever is able to run the can opener. ;o)
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    October 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I’ve heard most of those Tipper. The older generation swore by them.. I don’t know how true they are but when one runs across the road in front of me, It makes me weary…Susie

  • Reply
    Toni Hodges
    October 5, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I have owned many cats, some black and other various colors, no matter their color they were all very curious and some very lovable. But all were truly good-natured.loved hearing all the superstitions associated with cats. I can’t imagine not having one (or two) as pets. Thanks for sharing. My neice has a cat all black that has extra digits on each from paw. Never saw a cat like that before.

  • Reply
    LINDA L. KERLIN
    October 5, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Quite frankly,i do not believe any of those old wives tales for at one point of my life I had 13 black cats all named Midnite in different languages and Had a baby and a small child and the baby is now 36 years olde…and I still have only black cats—-in my opion they have the nicest manners of all cats. Linda Kerlin

  • Reply
    B f
    October 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    tIPPER ,
    AS TO THE CATS TAIL RUBBED OVER YOUR EYES TO CURE A STYE
    WELLLLLL
    I THINK I,D PREFER THE STY.AS I,D PROBABLY HAVE A SEIZURE IF A CAT GOT THAT CLOSE(HA)
    HAVE A GREAT DAY

  • Reply
    dolores
    October 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Your topic today is right up my alley. We have our third cat; she is not really into people, just us. She is sixteen plus years old. She was white when we adopted her; with color change she looks like she has been playing in the chimney. Although part Siamese, she never meowed until she was twelve, that was after the other kitty passed away at twenty plus years.
    A folklore I had learned as a child was not to have a black cat walk in front of you. You also didn’t want a black cat to go under a ladder while you were standing on it. Your picture looks like what I call a tuxedo cat. Very pretty, especially the whiskers.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    October 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I had a black cat I named Takoo after the Jamaican voodoo priest who finally did in Anne Palmer (the witch of Rose Hall). Poor guy was rescued out of a dumpster and never was quite right, but I took care of him as much as he’d allow. He never was much for petting, either. Sometimes he’d allow it, but then he’d turn and BITE YOU!!!!! Like I said, never quite right.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    October 5, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Tipper,
    I love cats…
    Most of the folklore you mentioned I have heard in some form or other..
    Also if a black cat crosses your path, turn and go back in the direction you came..and choose another route to where you were going..
    A family member in my husbands side hated and was afraid of cats so much that she fainted when one would show up in the yard…
    They can look deep into your thoughts and into your very soul..They also hear and see things we cannot see and hear, to the point of being very scary at times..We have a watch cat!..I watch him to see if he is bothered by something..If he is then it frightens me until I find out what it is…I think old Fluffy sees ghosts..when he follows something with his eyes and especially if he stares at the wall with his full attention.
    Cats often have other “care business” elsewhere to attend to, and can disappear for weeks or years at a time…Then come back and walk in the door, go where the feed bowl was like they had just taken a short stroll outdoors…This happened to me..He was neutered so he wasn’t doing the mating business either…He looked at us like “Whaaat, I had something to do, and I wasn’t gone that long?”
    I never really trusted anyone who didn’t like cats…or dogs for that matter…
    Thanks Tipper, I have a million cat-tails..errr..cat tales…

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    October 5, 2011 at 11:51 am

    That are some interesting facts. Some I have heard and some I have not.

  • Reply
    Ken
    October 5, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Tipper,
    We once had a cat named Quincy. He
    was so funny growing up, musta felt real good cause he’d take
    running fits through the house. But after he got his speed up,
    instead of going through an open
    doorway, he’d jump about 4 feet up
    on the wall and just stick until
    the inertia let him go.
    Other times I’d have my legs all
    stretched out and under a long
    coffee table and ole Quincy would
    come across the carpet with his
    stealthly walk and just as he got
    under the table, I’d draw my legs
    back up quickly. The table usually
    moved and I got balled out by my
    oldest daughter…Ken

  • Reply
    Elizabeth K
    October 5, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I love cats and have always had them around me – no lightening strikes, no bad luck! ; ) Very independent and smart!
    This however is true – dogs have masters, cats have slaves!!!

  • Reply
    John Ratterree
    October 5, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Granny said it was the smell of milk that draws cats to a baby’s mouth.
    Seeing the cat over the baby’s face and the coincidence of crib death may have something to do with the idea of them stealing the baby’s breath.

  • Reply
    Jen
    October 5, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Some of these are new to me…not sure I’d rub a cat’s taile, black or not, across my eye with a sty. Have a great day!

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    October 5, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Cats were worshiped as Gods in Egypt and other middle eastern cultures (and perhaps elsewhere), as any museum goer knows.
    Some recount the legend that Alexander the Great defeated the city of Babylon by catapulting dead cats (there worshiped)over the wall, whereupon the city surrendered.
    And let’s not forget the oft-told, if little verified, tale that the persecution of cats as evil familiars during the middle ages helped to fuel the
    Black Death, as plague carrying rats (really, their fleas carried the bacilli)multiplied multi-fold in the absence of predation.

  • Reply
    Charline
    October 5, 2011 at 8:54 am

    A strong belief and re-telling of a tale among the older folk in my family was that of a cat “taking the baby’s breath” or smothering the sleeping baby. A lot of others must have told it, too – swearing it happened in “their” family, way back, to some distant relative. Funny, how with all the cat-loving families these days, we never hear that one any more.
    But, I wonder if anyone else had this tale handed down: In a remote cabin, there lived a spiteful old woman and her just-as-spiteful coal black cat. When the cat had done some mischief, it was thrown into, or chased into the fire, only to jump right out! The next day, the old woman was seen sitting in her rocking chair, not a hair on her head and even her eyebrows singed off…

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 5, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Tipper, as I read this post I was thinking your picture of Two Toes was really nice. It didn’t show that he is a little on the chubby side, but then you had to go and tell everyone what a big boy he is. I sometimes call him Chunky Monkey. LOL!
    He was a feral cat, born in the woods behind my house. It was a long, long time before I could pet him. He is now very loving to me, but standoffish to everyone else.
    I love cats and give no credit to any of those bad thing that cats are credited with. I suspect they get all that bad press because they are such independent creatures!

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    October 5, 2011 at 8:29 am

    When I was growing up, my grandmother would not let my cat sleep with me because she was sure that it would steal my breath. Supposedly when they lay on your chest and start kneading their paws on you, that is when they are stealing it!
    Whenever we had a thunder storm, I was not allowed to pet my kitties because the cats would draw the lightning and I would get electrocuted.
    I should probably be embarrassed to admit it, but any time ANY cat, regardless of color, runs across the road in front of me, I have to make 3 sets of 3 “X”s before my car passes the point where the cat run across my path. Obsessive, I know!
    This one is a bit gross, when a cat licks its hindparts, which ever way it’s rear leg points is the direction that your next company will be coming from.
    After a quilt was finished, single girls could gather around the quilt and hold the edges. Then, someone would toss a cat into the center and they would start tossing the cat up and down on the quilt. Whoever the cat jumped off beside of would be the next one to get married. Poor kitty!
    Kimberly
    thewheelanddistaff.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 5, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I have 2 black cats, the only thing spooky about them is that I am quite certain they can walk through walls. Either that or are able to transport themselves to where ever you do not want them to be.
    I have always owned black cats. Their temperament is so sweet and they are always great talkers.

  • Reply
    Tipper
    October 5, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Sandra-I should have mentioned: The Cat in the photo is named 2 Toes-and he is the fattest cat I’ve ever seen : ) And he will never ever let me pet him!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    October 5, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I’ve heard of quite a few of those old sayings. Wonder why the “black” cat gets all the bad raps.

  • Reply
    sandra
    October 5, 2011 at 7:46 am

    some of these i have heard and some not. that is a spooky eyed cat in your photo. i have a few pics of my dogs with spooky eyes. will have to dig them out. cat eyes reflect light in the dark, we notice that when we see them on the road in the dark.

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    October 5, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Cats have nine lives (but that sure hasn’t been true for me!)
    A cat will always land on its feet–also not always true!
    Cats draw lightening, I think that’s true, haha!
    I think I read somewhere that if a cat jumps over a dead body or a coffin, the person turns into a vampire..I never heard that one till a few years ago.. probably comes from Europe.
    That’s all I can think of right now.

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