How Cats Keep Evil Spirits Away
I’ve always found the legends and mythologies surrounding cats to be quite interesting. Some cultures believe that they rule the underworld. Some believe they steal your breath while you sleep. Still others believe it is a bad omen for a black cat to cross your path.
The most interesting to me is the rumour that they help to keep your home free from ghosts or evil spirits. I have a simple and satisfying theory based on my own experience as to how cats may have acquired this useful ability. I shall introduce this theory to you via two anecdotes:
1) Between moving out of my parent’s basement and moving in with my girlfriend I had an apartment completely to myself. At night, when I turned the lights off and climbed into bed, I took any noise very seriously. Creaking boards, taps on the wall, moaning, all these noises stirred me to nervous wakefulness.
In order to convince myself that the noise was not anything to worry about, my mind would immediately begin to search for things could have caused it. Was it the building settling? Was it the wind? Was I still dreaming when I heard it?
For the lifeless taps and creaks, these answers were sufficient to calm me. With the noise identified as a simple, inanimate physical event, I could go immediately back to sleep.
Once, I was plagued by a soft but persistent noise that was quite obviously very alive. To me, it sounded like a person standing in the room with me scratching themselves or quietly leafing through a book.
I rose on several occasions, jumping out of bed at the sound to claw at the wall in search of the light-switch. Over several exhaustive searches of the room, I became increasingly agitated as I failed to find signs of anything that could be making this noise.
I’ll cut this story short and tell you that the culprit ended up being a moth that had been trapped between my window and the screen. Once identified, calm relaxation resumed.
2) After moving in with my girlfriend and her cat, it took me a little time to adjust to the presence of a small animal in my home. At night, on hearing the cat walk past my door, I would be startled out of light sleep only to say to myself: “Oh. It’s only the cat.”
As time went on, I became used to bumps in the night, creaking floor boards, taps at the door and even soft whining. On hearing any of these potentially frightening noises, I wouldn’t even flinch.
These days, I’m so used to cat noises in the night that even if I hear a sound that seems unlikely to be a cat, I conveniently explain it away as feline tinkering.
The point I am trying to make with these two anecdotes, if you haven’t guessed already, is that a cat is an easy scapegoat for the noises of the night. I don’t mean to crap on anyone’s beliefs or take any sort of stand on whether or not ghosts exist. I am merely pointing out that there could be a ghost moving up and down my hall each night, causing the floor to creak and even occasionally knocking things off of shelves and I wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep because I have an explanation.
However else you might claim that a cat banishes evil spirits, I’m going to take a stand here and say that this is the most common and effective way in which they do so: Not as vigilant guardians of their owners or a threatening deterrent for ghosts, but as a convenient explanation for things that go bump in the night.