You have probably heard of the proverb: “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays and for the last three he stays.” Have you ever wondered why people say that cats have several lives? Time to discover the truth behind this famous myth!
Where did the myth about cats having nine lives come from?
The common misconception sprung from the cat’s incredible ability to always land on their feet. Our feline friends have proven that their agility and dexterity allow them to effortlessly climb high places, jump off, and land in one piece.
It is not simply caused by luck nor the presence of “magical powers” but the anatomy of the feline’s body. Here are the reasons:
- Felines have evolved to reside on trees which made them skilful in cushioning their fall.
- The flexibility of their ligaments and bones help cats minimise injuries from various accidents that can occur.
- Since cats have a large surface area than their weight, it reduces the pressure of their landing.
- They have ‘righting-reflexes’ which allows them to twist their body around swiftly whilst in the air if they dropped from steep places.
Plus, cats are also stubborn and independent animals that commonly tend to their injuries by themselves. They would usually go missing and people would think they have gone only to return after a few days.
The Myth Can Even Be Traced Back To Ancient History
Number nine was revered by the ancient Egyptians because it is related to Atum Ra, their sun god. Some historians say that Ra gave birth to the eight other deities, including the god of the sky, moisture, air, and earth. The sun god frequently takes the form of a feline when visiting the underworld and represents nine lives in a single creator.
Cat worship was also practised back in the Middle Ages. However, unlike the ancient Egyptians who believed that felines are gods, the Europeans regarded them as mystical beings. Medieval Europe was famously known as a perilous time for cats since some peculiar rituals involve throwing them from high towers. According to legends, back in AD 962, the Count of Ypres, Baldwin III, toss felines from a tower. It is still remembered in modern times with a yearly cat festival.
A number of countries believe that cats have multiple lives too. In China, cats were thought to have nine lives. But that is not always the number of lives a feline has in other places. For example, in Brazil, Germany, Italy, Greece, and other Spanish speaking regions, cats are believed to have seven lives. Meanwhile Arabic and Turkish traditions were less generous and only grant them six.
Cats that Would Make You Believe the Myth Was Real
According to the cat’s owner, Stephanie Gustafson, Wasabi was so busy trying to catch a mosquito that she fell out of the 11th floor of an apartment building in downtown Juneau. Gustafson says she normally closes her window for safety but one was open enough for the cat to fall through.
The whole incident was witnessed by Gustafson’s mom. She immediately dashed to where Wasabi landed. The poor cat was quietly curled up near a metal box with her eyes a little bit closed. What alarmed Gustafson’s mom was that Wasabi was bloody and her paw was limp.
The injured feline was brought to an emergency veterinarian clinic. They conducted an X-ray on her to determine if she needs surgery. It turns out Wasabi had a fractured radius and a few broken bones in the elbow. On the brighter side, she was able to survive the 11-storey-building fall.
The 3-year-old cat was literally frozen in ice when her owners found her buried in the snow. The northern Montana town Fluffy’s owners lived in were experiencing winter. The temperature was below freezing when they discovered Fluffy.
When the clinic staff took Fluffy’s temperature, they found out it was 90°F which is alarmingly low. The normal temperature for a cat is about 100° to 102°F.
After giving her an IV, they tried various methods to warm up the shivering kitty. They made use of heated towels, warm water, and hair dryers before they finally placed her in a heated kennel.
Since the owners were not at home when the accident happened, they have no idea how Fluffy got trapped under all that snow. According to the clinic, the cat might have tried getting to her “warm spot” judging from the other signs of injury and instead landed herself on the freezing snow.
The ginger moggie was able to escape death even after getting impaled on three eight-foot metal fence posts in Cricklewood, North West London. Luckily, the sharp spikes totally missed every vital organ and artery of Skittles.
No one has any idea how the cat ended up in such a dangerous predicament. However, they suggested that either Skittles fell from the nearby building or this was the work of the Croydon Cat Killer.
Skittles was able to successfully go through all the surgeries and on his way to recovery. “It’s an absolute miracle that this cat is alive, and even better, it’s looking like he won’t even have to have the damaged leg amputated,” Nicole Broster, Deputy chief inspector for the RSPCA said.
“A cat has nine lives” must not be taken literally. It simply means that cats are tough animals that are able to overcome perilous situations because of their physical abilities. But even though they have amazing longevity, we always need to remember they only have one life and it should not be taken for granted.