Monster Monday: Cat Sidhe

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Cat Sidhe.

Illustration by John Dickson Batten from More English Fairy Tales
Illustration by John Dickson Batten from More English Fairy Tales

In Celtic folklore, a Cat Sidhe is a fairy cat. It is said to be as large as a dog and all black except for a white spot on its chest.

In many legends the Cat Sidhe is a malevolent spirit that can steal the soul of a recently deceased person before the gods have a chance to claim it by passing over the corpse before burial. Many Celtic burial rituals can be traced to methods of distracting the Cat Sidhe, such as leaping games, playing music, and telling riddles.

Another legend says that the Cat Sidhe will bless a house if the occupants leave out  a saucer of milk for it on Halloween but curse a house that does not leave one.

In still other legends, a Cat Sidhe is not a fairy but a witch that can turn into a cat nine times.

Legends of the Cat Sidhe may have been inspired by the European wildcat or even be related to sightings of British phantom cats such as the Beast of Bodmin Moor.

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