Cats in Celtic Folklore: The Cait Sidhe

There is a mythological set of cats that makes its home in Celtic folklore. In Scotland, they are referred to as cait sith while in Ireland they are cait sidhe. Both versions are pronounced “caught shee” and translate into English as “fairy cat.” For the sake of simplicity, and because I’m of Irish decent, I will use “cait sidhe” for this article.

The cait sidhe are not ordinary cats, but rather fairies, witches, and other spirit-realm-type creatures taking the form of a cat. Those that have seen them describe them as being unusually large, all black cats with a spot of white fur on their chest. Generally, the cait sidhe is viewed as fearsome.

Irusan, King of the Cats

cats-in-celtic-folklore-cat-with-crown-copyLong ago lived a poet named Senchan Torpeist. This poet was so known for his ability to roast people with his rhymes that even Shakespeare wrote about him. Shakespeare noted that when Senchan began to criticize some mice on his kitchen table with his rhymes, they all dropped dead from shame.


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