Cats are fascinating animals that have been a part of human history for thousands of years. They have been worshipped, feared, loved, and hated by different cultures and civilizations. They have also inspired countless stories, legends, and myths that reflect their mysterious and diverse nature. In this article, we will explore how cats are portrayed in different cultures’ mythologies and folklore, and how these portrayals can inspire the creation of unique cat character names. Whether you are writing a fantasy novel, a fan fiction, or a role-playing game, you can use these influences to give your cat characters more depth and meaning. You can also use a warrior cat name generator to get some ideas for your cat names.
Cats in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was one of the first civilizations that revered cats as sacred animals. Cats were associated with the goddess Bastet, who was the protector of the home, women, children, and fertility. She was also the goddess of joy, music, and dance. Bastet was often depicted as a woman with a cat’s head or as a cat herself. She had a cult center at Bubastis, where thousands of cats were kept and worshipped. When a cat died, it was mummified and buried with honor.
Cats were also seen as symbols of luck, protection, and magic in ancient Egypt. They were believed to ward off evil spirits and diseases, especially those related to snakes and scorpions. They were also valued for their ability to hunt rodents and pests that threatened the crops and granaries. Cats were so respected that killing one was punishable by death.
Some examples of cat names inspired by ancient Egyptian mythology are:
- Anubis: The god of mummification and the afterlife. He had the head of a jackal.
- Isis: The goddess of magic, healing, and motherhood. She was the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus.
- Maat: The goddess of truth, justice, and order. She was depicted with a feather on her head.
- Nefertiti: The famous queen of Egypt who was known for her beauty and power.
- Ra: The sun god and the king of the gods. He was often shown as a man with a falcon’s head.
Norse Mythology: Freyja’s Connection to Cats
In Norse mythology, cats were associated with the goddess Freyja, who was the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and war. She was also the leader of the Valkyries, the female warriors who chose the slain heroes to go to Valhalla. Freyja had a chariot that was pulled by two giant cats, who were gifts from Thor, the god of thunder. These cats were described as gray or blue in color and very strong and loyal.
Cats were also seen as symbols of independence, grace, and agility in Norse mythology. They were admired for their hunting skills and their ability to survive in harsh environments. They were also believed to have magical powers and to be able to see things that humans could not.
Some examples of cat names inspired by Norse mythology are:
- Loki: The trickster god who was known for his mischief and cunning. He could shapeshift into different animals, including a cat.
- Freya: The alternative spelling of Freyja’s name.
- Odin: The chief god and the god of wisdom, poetry, and magic. He had two ravens named Huginn and Muninn who brought him news from all over the world.
- Sif: The goddess of wheat, fertility, and family. She was the wife of Thor and had golden hair that was cut off by Loki as a prank.
- Skadi: The goddess of winter, hunting, and skiing. She was also associated with wolves and snakes.
Cats in Japanese Folklore
In Japanese folklore, cats were often portrayed as supernatural beings with various abilities and personalities. One of the most famous examples is the Maneki-neko or beckoning cat, which is a figurine of a cat with one paw raised as if inviting someone to come closer. The Maneki-neko is believed to bring good luck and fortune to its owner and is often displayed in shops, restaurants, and homes.
- Bakeneko or monster cat: This is a cat that has transformed into a yokai or a supernatural creature. It is said that a cat can become a bakeneko after living for a long time, growing very large, or being mistreated by humans. A bakeneko can shapeshift, speak human language, control the dead, and cause mischief or harm. Some bakeneko are benevolent and protect their owners, while others are malevolent and curse their enemies.
- Nekomata or forked cat: This is a type of bakeneko that has two tails. It is believed that when a cat’s tail grows too long, it splits into two and the cat gains more power and intelligence. A nekomata can manipulate fire, create illusions, and summon other cats. Some nekomata live in the mountains and prey on humans, while others live among humans and act as guardians or familiars.
Some examples of cat names inspired by Japanese folklore are:
- Tama: This is a common name for cats in Japan that means “jewel” or “ball”. It is also the name of several famous maneki-neko, such as the one at Gotokuji temple in Tokyo.
- Kuro: This means “black” in Japanese and is a fitting name for a cat with dark fur. It is also the name of a bakeneko that appeared in the manga and anime series Blue Exorcist.
- Yuki: This means “snow” in Japanese and is a suitable name for a cat with white fur. It is also the name of a nekomata that appeared in the video game Persona 4.
- Mimi: This means “ear” in Japanese and is a cute name for a cat with big or pointed ears. It is also the name of a cat character in the manga and anime series Kamisama Kiss.
- Chi: This means “blood” in Japanese and is an edgy name for a cat with red or orange fur. It is also the name of a kitten character in the manga and anime series Chi’s Sweet Home.
Celtic Folklore: Cait Sidhe
In Celtic folklore, the Cait Sidhe (pronounced “caught shee”) is a mythical cat creature that resembles a large black cat with a white spot on its chest. The name means “fairy cat” in Scottish Gaelic. The Cait Sidhe is said to have the ability to steal souls from the dead, shapeshift into a human, and grant wishes. It is also associated with the festival of Samhain, the Celtic New Year, when it would roam the countryside and demand a share of the crops and milk from the people.
The Cait Sidhe is sometimes depicted as a solitary creature, and sometimes as part of a group of eight or nine cats led by a king or queen. The king or queen of the Cait Sidhe is said to wear a jeweled crown and a bell around its neck. Some legends say that the Cait Sidhe are actually witches who can transform into cats nine times, and that if they do so for the ninth time, they will remain as cats forever.
Some examples of cat names inspired by Celtic folklore are:
- Bran: This means “raven” in Welsh and Irish, and is the name of a giant king in Welsh mythology who had a cauldron that could resurrect the dead.
- Morrigan: This means “great queen” in Irish, and is the name of a goddess of war, death, and fate who could shapeshift into a crow or a wolf.
- Rhiannon: This means “great queen” in Welsh, and is the name of a goddess of horses, birds, and the moon who rode a white horse.
- Finn: This means “white” or “fair” in Irish and Scottish, and is the name of a legendary hero who led a band of warriors called the Fianna.
- Aine: This means “radiance” or “splendor” in Irish, and is the name of a goddess of summer, love, and fertility who was associated with fire and the sun.
Cats in Islamic and Middle Eastern Traditions
In Islamic and Middle Eastern traditions, cats are generally viewed in a positive light, as they are considered to be clean, intelligent, and friendly animals. Cats are also respected for their role in protecting humans from harmful creatures, such as snakes, scorpions, and rats. According to some hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), the Prophet himself was fond of cats and treated them with kindness and compassion. He even named one of his cats Muezza, and would let her sleep on his cloak or drink from his water.
There are also many folklore and stories featuring cats in Islamic and Middle Eastern traditions. One of the most famous ones is the story of the Simurgh, a mythical bird that was the king of all animals. The Simurgh had a nest on a tree that contained all the seeds of the world. One day, a snake tried to climb the tree and eat the seeds, but the Simurgh’s cat guard chased it away. However, the snake managed to bite the cat’s paw, causing it to bleed. The blood dripped on the seeds and gave them life, creating all the plants and animals on earth.
Some examples of cat names inspired by Islamic and Middle Eastern traditions are:
- Muezza: The name of the Prophet Muhammad’s cat, which means “the one who is pampered” or “the one who is cherished”.
- Rumi: The name of a famous Persian poet and mystic who wrote about love, spirituality, and nature.
- Layla: The name of a legendary Arab woman who was the object of an unrequited love story with Qays, a poet who went mad with his passion for her.
- Zara: The name of a star in Arabic, which means “star” or “flower”.
- Amir: The name of a prince or leader in Arabic, which means “commander” or “ruler”.
Unique Cat Names Inspired by Mythology and Folklore
If you are looking for some unique and meaningful cat names for your characters, you can use the various mythological and folklore representations of cats as inspiration. Here are some examples of cat names based on different cultures and traditions:
- Bastet: The name of the ancient Egyptian cat goddess who was the protector of the home, women, children, and fertility. She was also the goddess of joy, music, and dance.
- Freya: The name of the Norse goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and war. She was also the leader of the Valkyries and had a chariot pulled by two giant cats.
- Tama: The name of a common Japanese cat name that means “jewel” or “ball”. It is also the name of several famous maneki-neko or beckoning cats that bring good luck and fortune.
- Bran: The name of a Celtic raven god who had a cauldron that could resurrect the dead. He was also the king of Britain and a giant.
- Muezza: The name of the Prophet Muhammad’s cat, who was pampered and cherished by him. He would let her sleep on his cloak or drink from his water.
Cats in Indian Culture
Cats have a long and complex history in Indian culture, where they have been both revered and reviled. Cats are associated with the goddess Shashthi, who is the protector of children, fertility, and childbirth. She is often depicted with a cat’s face or accompanied by cats. Cats are also linked to the god Shiva, who is said to have created the first cat from his dreadlocks. Shiva’s consort, Parvati, is sometimes shown holding a cat in her arms.
However, cats are also seen as symbols of bad luck, deceit, and witchcraft in some parts of India. They are believed to be able to steal the breath of infants, cause misfortune if they cross one’s path, and serve as familiars for sorcerers and witches. Cats are also associated with the goddess Kali, who is the destroyer of evil and the embodiment of death. Kali is often portrayed wearing a garland of severed heads and a skirt of human arms, and sometimes holding a cat’s head in her hand.
Cats are not very popular as pets in India, where they are outnumbered by dogs and other animals. However, some people do keep cats as companions, especially in urban areas. Cats are also valued for their role in controlling rodents and pests that can damage crops and spread diseases. Cats are respected for their intelligence, independence, and grace, but also feared for their cunning, stealth, and power.
Cats in Canadian Culture
Cats are widely loved and appreciated in Canadian culture, where they are among the most common pets. According to a 2019 survey, there were about 8.3 million cats living in Canadian households, compared to 8.2 million dogs. Cats are seen as friendly, loyal, and affectionate animals that can provide comfort and companionship to their owners.
Cats also have a significant presence in Canadian art, literature, and media. Some of the most famous Canadian cat breeds are the Foldex, the Cymric, and the Sphynx. The Foldex is a cross between a Scottish Fold and an Exotic Shorthair, resulting in a cat with folded ears and a round face. The Cymric is a long-haired version of the Manx, a tailless cat that originated on the Isle of Man. The Sphynx is a hairless cat that was developed in Toronto in the 1960s from a spontaneous mutation.
Some of the most notable Canadian cat characters are Garfield from the comic strip by Jim Davis, who was born in Canada ; Salem from the sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who was voiced by Canadian actor Nick Bakay; and Bucky from the comic strip Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley, who was named after Canadian hockey player Bucky Boucher. Some of the most acclaimed Canadian cat authors are Margaret Atwood, who wrote The Penelopiad from the perspective of Penelope’s cat; Alice Munro, who featured cats in many of her short stories; and Yann Martel, who wrote Life of Pi about a boy stranded on a boat with a Bengal tiger.
Cats in Chinese Culture
Cats have a mixed reputation in Chinese culture, where they are sometimes admired and sometimes despised. Cats are associated with the goddess Li Shou, who is the protector of crops and fertility. She is often depicted as a woman with a cat’s head or as a cat herself. Cats are also linked to the god of wealth, Zhao Gongming, who is said to have a cat as his mount. Cats are also valued for their role in controlling rodents and pests that can harm the harvest and the health of the people.
However, cats are also seen as symbols of bad luck, laziness, and cunning in some parts of China. They are believed to be able to steal the breath of infants, cause misfortune if they cross one’s path, and serve as agents for evil spirits and witches. Cats are also associated with the ghost month, which is the seventh month of the lunar calendar, when the gates of hell are opened and the spirits of the dead roam the earth. During this time, people avoid contact with cats, as they are thought to attract ghosts or become possessed by them.
Some examples of cat names inspired by Chinese culture are:
- Mao: This means “cat” in Mandarin Chinese and is a simple and common name for cats in China. It is also the surname of Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China.
- Bao: This means “treasure” or “precious” in Mandarin Chinese and is a cute and affectionate name for cats. It is also the name of a type of steamed bun that is popular in Chinese cuisine.
- Mei: This means “beautiful” or “pretty” in Mandarin Chinese and is a fitting name for a cat with attractive features. It is also the name of a giant panda who lives at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
- Long: This means “dragon” in Mandarin Chinese and is an impressive and powerful name for a cat. It is also the name of a mythical creature that is revered in Chinese culture as a symbol of strength, wisdom, and good fortune.
- Hua: This means “flower” or “splendid” in Mandarin Chinese and is a suitable name for a cat with colorful or elegant fur. It is also the name of a famous female warrior who disguised herself as a man to join the army in place of her father.
Cats in European Culture
Cats in European culture have a long and varied history, ranging from admiration and respect to persecution and demonization. Cats were associated with different gods and goddesses in ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome. They were also valued for their role in controlling rodents and pests that could harm the crops and the health of the people.
However, in the Middle Ages, cats were seen as symbols of bad luck, deceit, and witchcraft by the Christian Church. They were often tortured, killed, or burned alive during festivals or witch hunts. Cats were also blamed for spreading diseases such as the plague, which was actually caused by fleas carried by rats.
In the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, cats regained some of their popularity and respect in Europe. Cats were admired for their beauty, elegance, and intelligence by artists, writers, and philosophers. Cats were also kept as pets by royalty and nobility, such as Louis XIV of France, Catherine the Great of Russia, and Queen Victoria of England.
In modern times, cats are widely loved and celebrated in European culture. Cats are among the most common pets in Europe, with over 100 million cats living in European households . Cats are also featured in many European art, literature, and media works, such as the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, the poems of William Blake, and the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Modern Cultural References
The mythological and folklore associations with cats continue to influence modern culture in various ways. You can find many cat-related references in literature, film, and popular culture that draw from these sources. Here are some examples:
- The Cat in the Hat: A children’s book by Dr. Seuss that features a mischievous cat who wears a red and white striped hat and causes chaos in a house.
- The Lion King: A Disney animated film that tells the story of Simba, a lion cub who is destined to be the king of the Pride Lands. The film is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet and draws from African mythology and culture.
- Harry Potter: A fantasy book series by J.K. Rowling that features several characters who can transform into cats or have cat-like traits, such as Professor McGonagall, Hermione Granger, Mrs. Norris, and Crookshanks.
- Sailor Moon: A manga and anime series by Naoko Takeuchi that features a group of teenage girls who fight evil with the power of the moon. They are guided by two talking cats named Luna and Artemis, who are based on the Greek goddesses of the moon and hunting.
- Cats: A musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber that is based on a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The musical features a group of cats who call themselves the Jellicles and have their own names and personalities.
Cats are fascinating animals that have been a part of human history for thousands of years. They have inspired countless stories, legends, and myths that reflect their mysterious and diverse nature. By understanding the meaning and origin of these mythological and folklore representations of cats, you can create unique and meaningful cat character names for your creative works. You can also use a warrior cat name generator to get some ideas for your cat names. Whether you prefer spooky or sweet, there are plenty of options to choose from. Happy naming! 😻