Cat Symbolism & Meaning
Cat symbolism and meaning can be alluring and mystical. From superstition to associations with Witches, to magic and intelligence. Cat has so many important lessons to offer.
Are you feeling directionless? Looking for more balance? Cat as a Spirit, Totem, and Power Animal can help! Cat teaches how to remain perfectly poised as you get your bearings. Delve deeply in Cat symbolism and meaning to find out how this animal spirit guide can soothe, calm, and support you!
Cat Table of Contents
- Cat Symbolism & Meaning
- Cat Spirit Animal
- Cat Totem Animal
- Cat Power Animal
- Native American Cat Symbolic Meanings
- Cat Christianity Symbolism
- Cat Celtic Symbolism
- Cat Mythology and Folklore
- Cat Dreams
- Cat in Astrology & Zodiac Signs
- Far Eastern Cat Symbolic Meanings
- Cat Tattoo Meaning
- Cat Spiritual Meaning
- Back to all Mammals
- Back to all Spirit Animal Meanings
Cat Symbolism & Meaning
What’s up Pussycat? Apparently, you have been up to a lot of shenanigans throughout history. Human civilization and Cats are tied together with a bow of yarn miles long. People either love Cats or hate them. Nonetheless, Cats and Dogs are the top two well-loved pets in the United States.
Cats were domesticated about 4,000 years ago. The Ancient Egyptians kept Cats to control mice and rats, particularly in food storage areas. The Egyptian symbolism and meaning for Cats were influenced by their hunting ability. No one could kill a Cat, or they would face the death penalty.
The true extent of the Egyptian veneration of Cats comes in the 2nd Century. Egypt and Persia are at war. The Persians were determined to take Pelusium, and they would do so with the aid of Cats. Soldiers on the towers saw the Persian troops carrying Cats into battle. Talk about a difficult situation! The Persian strategy of the day results in 7,000 losing their lives versus the over 50,000 Egyptians who perished. The Warriors simply refused to attack for fear of hitting the furry representation of Bast, the Cat-Headed Goddess. This event shows us that Cat Spirit knows the importance of properly used faith vs. twisting it for personal gain.
Bast was an immensely popular Goddess in that she presided over the home, fertility, and women’s mysteries. This does not mean this Kitty Goddess had no claws. She is a fierce defender of children and women. Cat Spirit remains a protective soul with ancient ties to the Sacred Feminine. In any case, the mummified remains of beloved Cats have been found everywhere in Egypt, ensuring that the Cat would travel safely to the Field of Reeds (akin to Heaven) and continue playing happily forever.
Egyptians weren’t alone in their fascination with Cats. The Druids felt that some Cats, specifically Black Cats were actually reincarnated humans who had to live as a Cat to atone for their previous life’s deeds. Romans associated Cat with the Moon Goddess Diana. Here, Cat was the household guardian. Muslim stories credit Cat for rescuing Mohammad from a poisonous snake. That’s why Tabby Cats have a marking that looks like the letter “M” on their forehead. Also, Norse legends say that the fertility Goddess, Freyja, has a magical chariot drawn by Cats.
Italians began domesticating felines. From there Cats spread throughout Europe. And they braved the long sea arriving with the Pilgrims in the New World. Cats were also spreading out from the Egyptian hub, most likely due to trade routes, into Turkey, Iran, India and eventually the Far East. By the 18th Century Cat had snuggled its way into considerable homes, be it a palace or a farmhouse.
Domestic Cats have qualities in common with their wild cousins. These include intense eyes, sleek bodies, and tenacious grooming. Cats both large and small are also ready to bound into a full-out run with pure spontaneity. Currently, there are nearly 40 pedigree Cat breeds, but the simple non-pedigree felines (termed Moggies) win the day (and the hearts) in our homes.
Key symbolism and meanings for the Cat Spirit include curiosity, clever, mysterious, magical, sensitive, independent, spontaneous, playful, attentiveness, dexterity and resourcefulness just to name a few.
Cat Spirit Animal
The Cat Spirit Animal is very selective about those they help, so take its presence as a compliment. Cat Spirit may arrive when you feel your timing is all off, and your patience is worn down to a thread. Cat helps hones your confidence and ensures the right timing so you can hunt down reliable options that position you with perfection. Teaching you when to act and when to wait is one of Cat’s greatest gifts.
Cat Spirit Animal also appears when you face a task you feel you are incapable of completing. Cat says, “Don’t be a scaredy Cat!” Your Spirit Animal is resourceful and adaptable. Sometimes you have to shake things up and get out of old patterns. Change your thinking and you’ll change the outcome.
When there are people or situations in your life from which you need distance, Cat Spirit enters as an aid. Your Animal Ally says “You’re too close for a decent perspective. Pause, think, and listen to your inner instincts.”
Cat Spirit Animal also bears a message of balance. Life is all about opposites; work and play or action and rest. If you’re working too much, it’s time to get your paws on a feather toy and romp to your heart’s content. If you never stop moving, find that sun puddle, relax, and enjoy a much-needed Cat-nap.
Cat Totem Animal
Those born with Cat Totem Animal are definitely night people. Darkness comes, and they awaken with energy and curiosity. A person with a Cat Totem will take proverbial “walkabouts” with no particular destination in mind. It’s all about the walk, being wrapped in the night and working personal magic.
If this is your Birth Totem, you are the ardent adventurer, including exploring your own inner space. You are naturally agile and able to land on your feet in seemingly impossible situations, and you engage life with the ferocity of a Lion in a Cat’s body.
Your perspectives on life are unique because you like checking out all the angles, touching them with your sensitive whiskers. No one will ever “own” you. Independence is the name of the game. Sure, you’re up for a good scratch, snuggle and warm lap regularly, but when you want to get up and do something well, you DO.
Your need for freedom means taking a periodic time out from the bustle of daily life. While you are a social “Cool Cat” the chaos gets overwhelming. Your comings and goings make you a marvelous mystery to those in your circle, and you love that. You don’t want to be pinned down in any way. Uniqueness is Cat Spirit’s mantra.
The Cat Birth Totem often portends an unpredictable life filled with antics, risks and a little bit of craziness. But you always have those 9 lives. Just be careful how you use them.
Sleep is essential to Cat Totem. You like your naps, and hate being disturbed at an unexpected time. If you are a friend to a person with this Birth Totem, do not wake the slumbering Cat unless they’ve told you when and how to do so.
Cat Power Animal
Reach out to Cat as a Power Animal when you are experiencing insomnia and other sleep problems. Think of the term “catnapping,” and you’ll understand how Cat as a Power Animal is the perfect aid for catching some sleep.
Cat is adaptable, so it makes an ideal Animal Ally when you face change and feeling resistant to it. Invoke Cat when you want the same adaptability of the flexibility of movement and decisions making. Cat comes to help you decide when it’s the right time to pounce while showing how to do so while remaining in balance.
If you are in a codependent relationship or depend too much on others, Cat arrives at a supportive Al-ly in the search for greater independence. When you need a confidence boost on your quest, Cat encourages you to free yourself from whatever hinders your emotional liberation.
If you’re interested in esoteric studies, petition Cat for help. The creature has ties to all things mysterious, and with its keen instincts, can show you how to sniff out secrets and hidden mysteries.
Native American Cat Symbolic Meanings
Domesticated Cats were late to the Native American culture arriving at the same time as Horses. Various tribes certainly kept them for useful, low-maintenance pets. In travel, Comanches would park their Cat on their shoulder then ride on.
Some Native Americans feared Cats. The Oglala, in particular, shunned our feline friend, thinking Cat had Powerful Medicine and could put curses on people. Even so, the general symbolism and meaning for Cats among the tribes were that of independence, guardian energy, Eros, the esoteric, and mystery.
To some Native people, such as the Hopi, the term Cat or Wildcat became synonymous with a rude man who was disrespectful of women. Thus Cat has unflattering associations in the vernacular of some Native people.
There are also stories depicting Cats as synonymous with greed and avarice. Mohave and Zuni people had more favorable associations with Cat, calling on Cat Spirit Animal to help them succeed in hunting expeditions and also seeing Cat as able to assist with healing.
Though it has been many generations since Cat first provoked hesitation or fear among some Native people, Cat is now commonly seen as an independent and intelligent animal companion and there is less of a deep seated bias against Cats compared to previously in history in which Cat was associated with evildoing and harmful magic. Some traditional stories talk of a creature called Pogumk, a Black Cat who was associated with witchcraft and destructive magic.
Some tribes associate Cat with the cardinal direction South and the color red. The Pawnee people have more of an attitude of reverence for Cats and see Cats as connected to their deceased Ancestors and to the stars. The fur from Wildcats was used as a protective garment in some tribes.
Christianity Cat Symbolism
What do Cats symbolize in the Bible?
In Christianity, Cat is often associated with evil and witchcraft, in this case as a sorcery synonymous with negative magic, as opposed to the more accurate use of the term “witchcraft” to refer to specific cultural or religious beliefs.
Cats, largely because of their hunting skills and cunning, predatory nature, are feared and portrayed negatively in Christian history. Also, Cats are associated with feminine energy and the link between Cats and female healers or witches further gives Cat a bad rap when it comes to traditional Christian lore.
During the Renaissance, Cats and other animals became less common in Christian art and iconography, however one exception to this is the depiction of a Cat at the scene of the Last Supper in a painting by Ghirlandaio.
Perhaps Cat Spirit Animal meaning was significant as an embodiment of the hunt or predator, representing deceit or trickery afoot at the Last Supper, before Jesus was betrayed. Cat may also have been included as a more mundane representation of the association between Christ and Lions, as it would make little sense for a Lion to be at the dinner table.
Though plenty of Christian practitioners in modern history have fallen in love with Cat and shared their homes and lives with these intelligent and intuitive animals, the association with Cats and trickery, deceit, witchcraft and bad luck presents a chapter in the history of Christian Europe that is not easily erased.
Some scholars attribute the rampant outbreak of Bubonic Plague to a decrease in the Cat population which resulted from superstitious beliefs about Black Cats, and then all cats, and witches. As the persecution of witches took hold throughout Europe, public paranoia spread and in many places, Cats were targeted.
With a decrease in Cats to keep the rodent population in check, the Bubonic Plague was helped to spread. So perhaps it is far more unlucky to try to eliminate Cat from your community than it is to take a chance that a Black Cat will cross your path.
Cats are aloof, independent and sly. They can be entertaining but they also very clearly have a mind of their own. When you examine the animals that typically represent Christ and Christianity, it is more common to find reference to gentle Lambs or faithful Dogs. Yet this doesn’t mean Cat has no place in Christian lore.
If we extend our view to Cat’s wild cousins, the Lion has quite an important role in Christianity and is sometimes used as a symbol for Jesus Christ.
Celtic Cat Symbolism
What do Cats symbolize in the Celtic stories and culture?
Cat has a special place in Celtic lore. In the Scottish highlands, tales are told of a Cat Sidhe, or a ghost-like Black Cat with white markings on their chest, who roam the mountainside, stealing the souls of humans.
Some accounts also depict this Cat as able to turn into a Fairy or even a witch. Associations with Cat Spirit Animal meaning and both magic, trickery, evil and spiritual growth are rampant in various tales from Celtic lore.
Cat’s eyes are magnificent and captivating. Perhaps the spiritual meaning of Cat’s eyes are also related to protection, magic and witchcraft. We can imagine how ancient people would be fascinated by a Cat’s eyes reflecting light in the dark in such a way as to almost appear to glow. This must have appeared both mystical and even intimidating.
More specifically, the story of Nuad, one of the Gods of the Tuatha de Danaan, or original people of Ireland, was said to have lost an eye and replaced his own eye with one belonging to his pet Cat.
Stories exist of shapeshifting Cats who would turn into human bards, warriors and sorcerers. Evil beings such as demons were considered to be able to take the form of many different animals such as Weasels and Cats. Thus Cat’s spiritual meaning can refer to both mystical power, sorcery and Divine Feminine power, wisdom and insight but also evil or the souls of the deceased, depending on the specific story.
Stories of a Welsh enchantress who’s Cat minions come to Earth to do her bidding further connects the meaning of Cat to magic and sorcery in Celtic lore.
Celtic myths connect Cat Spirit to Cerridwen, a Goddess of wisdom and magic. Cats can bring messages from the Goddess if She so chooses. The Norse also have the Goddess Freyja who presides over sexuality, wealth and all things beautiful. Her companions are two Cats.
Folklore in this region tells us that if you put out a saucer of milk near your cows, Cat Spirit will protect them from sickness. Stories say that Gogyfwlch (one of Arthur’s servants) had Cat eyes. Cats can shapeshift and walk the earth long after they’re dead. There are some stories of Druid priestesses keeping Cats and having them assist in magic.
Cat Mythology and Folklore
What do Cats symbolize in folklore?
The role of Cat Spirit in Celtic Tradition is truly the Cat’s Meow! Cat symbolizes the otherworld that is a mystery to the living. They guard the gates and the secrets that lie within.
If you know a Cat person, you can trust them with a secret since they hold their own very close to the chest. In fact, they will take this on as a sacred task and guard it vehemently until you say otherwise. Just remember to relieve them of that duty when it is no longer needed.
Cat people love some shenanigans, humor, and hijinks. You are a tad of a flirt, but always stay true to your heart. You may have a natural affinity for the Fey and working with those energies. Above all else Cat is honest. You never have to second guess a reply. Their words are their bond.
In Poland, there is a myth about how the Pussy Willow came to be. A mother Cat sat on a riverbank in total agony. Her kittens fell into the river, and she knew she could not rescue them all. The reeds on the bank heard her lament and showed compassion. They bent over the water allowing the kittens to climb up their leaves and returning them safely to their mother. Ever since then the reeds grow with fluffy blooms on their stalks as a reminder of that gentle kindness.
In Norwegian stories, there is a Forest Cat that is of fairy blood. He may be a goblin in disguise, no one knows for sure. However, if you see this Cat and stare deeply into his eyes you can see visions of other dimensions, realms, and magical creatures.
Siamese Cats were purportedly plain-furred until one of the Gods picked them up in admiration. As a result, Siamese Cats have shadow-like patches on their necks. Birman Cats were likewise plain until they touched the skin of a holy man which turned their fur golden and their feet pure white.
One British folklore tells us how a princess was blessed by Cats. Having been trapped by Rumpelstiltskin and having to spin 10,000 skeins of white to save her love from his curse, she was devastated thinking they were both doomed. Her three house Cats decided to do the spinning for her, so she would reach her goal. It is said that a Cat’s purr is the ancient remnant of the spinning wheel’s hum.
In Japan, tortoiseshell Cats are the luckiest, while Russians favor the blue. Tri-colored Cats appear as luck in Canada. In Indonesia Cats are rain-bringers. If you pour water on a Cat’s back, it will summon the storm (and a bit of wrath from the Cat we imagine). The Chinese favor ugly Cats for good fortune, and Buddhists believe that Cats with light colored fur attract silver while dark-colored fur brings gold.
Cats appearing in your dreams sometimes indicate the need to connect with the Feminine aspect of yourself or to get in touch with your sensual nature. Sometimes, when Cats strut into your dreams, it’s a call to awaken your inner child so you can get more joy out of life; it’s time to find that all-important balance between work and play!
Cats are highly sensitive creatures that rely on their instincts; as such, their appearance in a dream may be a calling for you to listen to your intuition. Doing so will help you avoid potential problems in your waking life. Since Cats closely connect to the Spirit World, their appearance in the dreamscape can also signal that you’ll soon receive a message from an Ancestor Spirit, Teacher, Master, Angel, or Guardian.
If you see a Cat nipping you, the dream represents neglecting something important. If the Cat is crying, it’s an omen of sorrow. A Cat following you means you have a secret admirer.
The color of the Cat you see in dreams can tell you more about the creature’s symbolism and meaning. For example, Orange Cats portend dramatic change or even fertility, so prepare and stand tall and be open to transformation. Grey Cats in your dream are a symbol of harmony, peace, foundations, and love. White Cats are your psychic self. Your gifts are growing. Nurture them.
Learn more about Cat Spirit by reading Dreaming of Cats: In-depth Cat Dream Meaning & Symbolism on WhatIsMySpiritAnimal.com!
Cat in Astrology & Zodiac Signs
One of the Celtic Animal Zodiac Signs is that of a Cat. If you were born between January 21-February 17th, you are the sign of the Cat. According to the Celts, this means you are smart, charming and often baffling. You like things a little askew as you know you land on your feet.
The Cat Sign is one of individuality and a hint of stubbornness. You want love and affection on your own terms. When you’re done or uncomfortable, you simply move on without a care. People born under the sign of the Cat are incredibly playful and a bit of a rogue. Surprises please you since you are hard to fool.
Those born under the Celtic Sign of the Cat are very intuitive, and your accuracy astounds or makes people wary. Part of your gift comes from simple observation, but the rest is all mystical. You are tuned into magic in every way.
While the Rabbit is the fourth zodiac symbol in Chinese Astrology, the Cat replaces the Rabbit in the celestial wheel associated with Vietnamese Astrology and Gurung Zodiac. In the Vietnamese system, the Cat is “The Flexible One,” and is associated with those born in the years 1963, ’75. ’87, ’99, and 2011. Those born under the sign are friendly, social, retrospective, but also secretive.
Far Eastern Cat Symbolic Meanings
Myths in the Far East are littered with Cats, including Goddesses like Li Shou, who had a Cat form. Cats participated in the Creation and at one time may have been able to talk like humans. At one time the Gods wanted Cats to oversee the world, and they firmly turned down that offer wishing to simply enjoy life, so the task fell to humans.
In both China and Japan, you will see statues of the Beckoning Cat or Maneki-Neko, near doorways of homes, temples, and businesses. It represents happiness, harmony, success, and luck. Finally, in early Japan Cats guarded manuscripts housed in pagodas. Only the noble could own them.
It is also said that the White Cat is associated with prosperity and good fortune. Black Cats, in this culture, is not a bad omen but rather a sign of warding off evil or keeping negative energy away, and therefore is protective.
In Chinese art and tradition, the image of a Golden Cat brings prosperity and fortune whereas a Red Cat brings good health. The depiction of a Yellow Cat is associated with helping to improve relationships.
Cats were also traditionally used in China to discourage rodents and preserve the production of silk, which was an important aspect of industry in this region.
Cat Tattoo Meaning
The meaning of Cat tattoos can vary depending on the specific person’s intentions. A Cat tattoo can scream “Cat lover” or commemorate a beloved companion animal Cat who has passed into Spirit.
Cat spiritual meaning can also be conveyed through body art. A Cat tattoo could symbolize Bast, the Egyptian Cat Goddess. When someone bears a Cat tattoo, they may be connecting with their mystical side and embodying their intuitive energy.
A person with a tattoo of a Cat can draw on this tattoo as a reminder of their ability to stealthily pursue what they desire and to hunt down their dreams and ambitions.
Cat spiritual meaning is also linked to the afterlife and to witchcraft and magic. Someone who has a Cat tattoo may have experienced many losses and have a strong connection to the afterlife and Spiritual realm.
Cat Spiritual Meaning
Cat spiritual meaning is best understood from the lens of what makes Cat unique among other animals. The meaning of Cats in pop culture and the folklore of a given society relates to the spiritual meaning of Cats on a broader level.
Affectionate, but independent. Predatory and also nurturing, Cats may be domesticated as companion animals, but they make it clear in no uncertain terms, you are not their “owner.”
This is the same spiritual energy Cat conveys. Cat shows you that you can both be devoted and loving but also have your own boundaries. Cat is associated with shape-shifting and magic because they are so similar to humans. It’s easy to imagine the spiritual meaning of Cats being based on the myth that Cat was a human who transformed into a four legged creature to keep an eye on others or to create mischief.
Their eyes are wise and knowing. Cat is intuitive and intelligent. They convey all of the traits that we humans pride ourselves on. Cat spiritual meaning is connected to the afterlife and other worlds.
This may be attributed to both Cat’s connection to deities like Bast but also to their nocturnal tendencies. Cats are happy to lurk all night, hunting under a Full Moon. Now, what can be more witchy than that?
A Cat’s lifestyle and best talents are reminiscent of a person who loves to gaze at the Moon, who enjoys the mysteries of the night, who is patient, stealthy and intelligent.
Cat’s protective and territorial instincts can bring a connection between Cat spiritual meaning and an individual’s exploration of the astral and spiritual realms. When a person goes into ceremonial or ritual space, we need to create protection and boundaries, psychically protecting ourselves from any energies we don’t intend to mingle with.
This is similar to how a Cat will protect their own territory and make it very clear when they do, or don’t want others to interfere. This same power of discretion is important to psychic work as well. Thus, Cat symbolism can relate to psychic development and our dealings with otherworldly beings.
Those who follow the tales about Lilith believe in this powerful deity’s ability to transform into a Cat and steal the breath of babies. Even in more flattering myths about Lilith, the Cat symbolism and meaning can relate to the independent and mystical nature of this original woman.
Cats have come to be associated with the dead, and even with people rising from the dead or with capturing souls from the recently departed. Thus for some people, seeing a Cat is an indicator of the presence of their Ancestors in Spirit while for others, Cat is an omen which must be guarded against in order to protect the dead.
The link between Cat and witchcraft, magic, and sorcery is also well established. When you want to explore your magical or intuitive nature or your connection to the Moon or divine feminine, Cat can be your guide.
Cat Symbolic Meanings Key