Thursday, January 26, 2017
The Myth of Cats' Nine Lives
Cats, both feared and worshipped throughout the ages, have always fascinated us. Like no other animal, felines are regarded as creatures with great power. In ancient Egypt, cats were revered as divine; later on, during the middle ages, they were “downgraded” to magical, but still holding great power, this time, dark or black power, but still power.
No one knows exactly where the myth of a cat’s nine lives (seven in Spanish-speaking countries; six for Arabs and Turks) is coming from. The most common theories point to a cat’s strong immune system and/or to the fact that cats seem to land on their feet when they fall from high places. Both nine and seven are numbers embedded with mysticism; seven in particular is believed to be a lucky number, the carrier of life and abundance. Nine (3*3) is regarded as a “trinity of trinities.” And cats truly seem to have good luck! Due to their speed and great agility, cats are able to jump and escape from many difficult situations. There is a lot of truth in the belief that a cat falling from a high altitude will land on its feet with minimal or no harm. On a study completed back in 1987, 90% of cats falling from altitudes ranging from two to 32 stories were able to survive. The other 10% were not that lucky, but still, this is an impressive statistic.
In English-speaking countries, nine lives are preferred. This number in particular seems to be coming directly from Ancient Egypt where, as we said, cats were revered as divine or sacred. The sun god, Ra, gave life to nine other gods, and together they were known as “the nine and Ra.” To visit the underworld, Ra used to transmute from human to cat, ultimately, becoming "one with nine lives." By association, nine is the number of lives attributed to cats from ancient times to the present.
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