Fairy Cats

Some time ago, I posted a blog about giant cats –– after a gamekeeper I know shot one by mistake. Because the University where I ply my trade is bursting at the seams, one of my classes acquired a couple more members, ceased to fit into its assigned room, and has had to be put in a spare Zoology classroom. Finding myself in this alien territory, I naturally had a look around: averting my eyes from posters advertising seminars on trichinosis, I saw a giant cat in a glass box, being treated very much as part of the local fauna. This particular beast came from Kellas in Morayshire, where they are apparently a known phenomenon. In the dialect of the North-East they are apparently ‘Wangie Cats’, and in Gaelic, ‘cait sith’, which is, fairy cats. They are domestic cat/wildcat hybrids, though they seem to reach a larger size than is the wildcat norm –– the one they had in the case was a good two feet from nose to rump, with another twelve inches of tail. Twice the length of a small cat, one and a half times the length of a big one, more like four times the weight. Odd that the hybrid seems bigger than either progenitor, but not impossible. According to the note in the glass case, cait sith (at least in Morayshire) are normally black, with a sparse distribution of long white guard hairs like whiskers singly all over the body –– completely unlike domestic black cats which are black and white in patches, though being black rather than mackerel-tabby suggests that the domestic genes are dominant. The giant clouded-tabby colony hereabouts is obviously a little different, though interestingly, they have also troped to a domestic rather than a wildcat coat pattern. If cait sith are usually black, then they would explain a lot of stories. They’re actually significantly smaller than a Labrador (though a good match for, say, a small border collie), if what you are actually doing is looking at one which is dead and stuffed, and are thus able to consider it at leisure, but they look so HUGE for a cat I can well understand people getting them totally out of proportion. Given the capacity of a fifteen-pound cat to assert its personality, the notion of a thirty-five-pounder is formidable indeed.
On a more domestic front, Miss Cat (who is quite large enough, thank you very much) has made once again one of the happy discoveries of her little year. There is a nip in the air. There is, consequently, a patchwork quilt over the duvet. Miss Cat has once more discovered that sleeping on the duvet (goosefeather), but under a quilt for total ambient temperature control, represents total feline bliss. The only thing is, from a human point of view, if you sort of more or less wake up and put a hand out to the cat you never know quite what you’re going to find. Sometimes a sort of ribbon of catness, an immense, weasel-like body thrown down like a silk scarf, sometimes a bundle of immensely long legs, apparently held together by a body the size of an orange, or if the night has turned very cold, an impervious, silky knot. But at least, since she is not a ‘cat sith’, 1) there is room for all three of in the bed, and 2) my hand is not taken off at the wrist.

One Response to “Fairy Cats”

  1. Jon Says:

    Our two very un-sith-like cats have developed, among the more complex of their bad habits, a sort of a square dance based on the bed.

    She sleeps on the bottom corner of it, he turns up, leaps on, she looks suspicious, he prowls, she leaps off, he settles down, she slinks back on, he stirs, she goes again, sits underneath, he leaps onto her, everything goes blurry and noisy for a while. Repeat until tired.

    He also has the habit of creeping under the top cover, whereas she clearly suspects that doing so would be an uncalled for additional invitation to be jumped on by energetic siblings, who would then pretend that they had thought it was a mouse under the covers.

    Cat politics.

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