Folklore Profile: Cat Sith
In Celtic mythology, there are legends about a phantom cat that is said to haunt the Scottish Highlands. Described as standing as tall as a large dog or small calf, the phantom is known as Cat Sith, which translates into Fairy Cat. The feline is said to be completely covered in black hair except for a patch of bright white on its chest, it also presents itself regularly with its back arched and its hair standing up as if ready to fight at a moment’s notice. Because of this, the phantom is said to be extremely aggressive towards all those who stumble upon it.
While there are many stories out there involving the Cat Sith, two prominent ones are told most often when speaking of this phantom. The first legend tells of how in ancient Scotland, it was thought that the phantom cat had the ability to steal the souls of the dead. It was said that if a person were to die and a Cat Sith walked either alongside or over the body before the gods had a chance to bring the soul to the afterlife, the phantom would keep it for itself. Because of this, bodies of the deceased were watched over day and night until they could be buried. Those taking part in the watches (known as Feill Fadalach, which translates to Late Wake) made sure to be as loud as possible in order to keep the cat away from the body. The watchers also made sure to never light a fire during this time as it was well known that a Cat Sith would be drawn to the flames as way to warm is ghostly body.
The second well known legend speaks of how the Cat Sith was not actually a phantom cat at all, but rather a witch in disguise. Cat Sith Witches were thought to have the ability to transform into cats if they pleased, but they were only able to do this a total of eight times in their entire life. If a witch were to transform a ninth time, they would be stuck in their new cat form forever. Some feel that this particular legend was the starting point for the idea that all cats have nine lives.
While the legend of the Cat Sith makes for some pretty interesting stories, does its “existence” have any basis in truth? Some researchers think the answer is yes. It is believed by some that the legend of the Cat Sith could have originated from ancient sightings and interactions with either European Wildcats (a larger subspecies of wildcat), local Kellas Cats (black cats found in Scotland which are hybrids of wild and domestic cats), or Eurasian Lynxes (which were once found in Scotland but have not been seen again since medieval times).
Other researchers feel that the Cat Sith legends are directly related to the Alien Big Cat (ABC’s) phenomenon that is found throughout the world. While there have been many famous cases of extremely large cats being seen throughout Europe – some of the most well-known being The Beast of Bodmin Moor, The Beast of Bevendean, The Beast of Trowbridge, The Fen Tiger, and The Black Beast of Harborough – there have been over 140+ Alien Big Cat sightings in Scotland alone since 2010. The most recent large cat sighted in Scotland was spotted on the border of Edinburgh and Ormiston and has since become known as The Beast of Ormiston.
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Google