Cat Legends
The Siamese Cat

There are fairytale-like cat legends about the Siamese cat. Considering its stunning looks this is no surprise.

The Golden Goblet

One of the famous cat legeds about the Siamese is the famous story of the golden goblet that explains the eyes and tail of the Siamese. As any good story, it has developed in the telling and so there are several variations of the same tale. I have here combined all the elements into one story.

The core of the story is that a pair of Siamese temple cats guarded a golden goblet that had belonged to Buddha, when all the Siamese men were at war to defend their homeland.  The male Siamese was called Tien, and the female Chula.

There was a monk whose responsibility it was to make sure the goblet stayed safe, but he was too fond of alcohol and could vanish for days as a result, leaving only the cats to guard the precious object. Tien decided it was time to find a more reliable holy man for the job and left to find him. Chula remained, and did not leave the goblet from her sight. In fact she stared at it with such intensity she got crossed eyes. And of course sh egot tired, when Tuen did not return, and had to sleep. To be sure no one could take the goblet, she curled her tail around it before falling asleep.

In time Tien found a more reliable guardian for the goblet. When he returned with the holy man they found Chula still guarding the goblet . And not only that - she had given birth to five little kittens, all with crossed eyes and kinked tails.

(Another version tells that the goblet was actually went missing and the cats found it. While Tien went to tell it had been found, Chula remained and guarded it with the above mentioned intensity)

Image Copyright by Jagodka at Dreamstime

Princess's Rings

Original Siamese cats often had a kinked tail. Of course cat legends bloomed about the reason for this.

One story tells of a beautiful Siamese princess who loved to bathe in a stream every day. Of course she needed to take off her jewelry before going into the water, and as her beautiful Siamese cat was with her always, she slipped the rings into its tail.

There are two versions of this story about the kinked tail: one is that the rings of course kept falling off when the cat fell asleep, and the princess tied the cat's tail into a know to prevent this. I prefer not to believe this one, because surely the princess loved her cat so much she would never have hurt it like that.  The more likeable version tells that the cat crooked its own tail  to keep the rings from falling.

Copyright of image: Isselee at Dreamstime.

Another story also tells that the kink was caused by a Buddhist monk trying the cat's tail into a know to prevent himself from forgetting something. I doubt that - the Buddhist are kind to animals, after all.

The Blue Eyes of the Siamese

What do the cat legends tell about the sapphire blue eyes of the Siamese cat? Well, a war host came to rob the temple where the Siamese cats lived.  They headed for the altar with its valuables, with the intent of robbing everything. When they reached the altar, they found the Siamese cats sitting on the altar steps - they had such fiery red eyes and showed their sharp claws and teeth,  and meowed with such loud voices that the robbers did not dare approach them.  

Copyright of photo Serghei Starus at Dreamstime.

Thus the cats scared the robbers away. 

When the monks returned to what they thought was the robbed temple, they found it intact, thanks to the cats. As a thank you, the eyes of the cats were turned to heavenly blue - because of the way they served the heaven by saving the holy altar.

It is rather logical that the cat was said to have red eyes in this legend - after all the Siamese cats' blue eyes glow red at night, which is normally the sign of an albino cat. You can see this effect on many Siamese cat photos. You can read more about what causes this on the Siamese Looks.

Siamese Cat Legends:
Home for Souls

One of the spookier cat legends explains the reason these cats were revered for housing the souls of the deceased royalty.

When a member of royal family died, one of the Siamese cats of the family was chosen. The cat was placed inside the tomb which was then closed. It was believed this cat would receive the soul of the deceased and give it a home.  If the cat managed to escape the tomb, it was considered a sign that the sould had been able to move to the afterlife.  (Now this may sound cruel, but a hole had been made into the tomb to help the cat escape. )

Copyright of image Matthewgore at Dreamstime

Of course in the case of kings, in the cat's body the old king could supervise the coronation of the new king.

These soul-cats were then taken very good care of in the temples, and the deceased's family paid for their upkeep. If this is true, it may be that because these cats lived in temples, it was easier to keep the breed pure.

This may be the reason why it is said the Siamese cats were not given away easily -  what if the soul of your dear family member was in the cat? (Hmm - maybe, again, giving the cat away could rid the family of a relative that had not been so much liked?)

The Siamese cats were also believed to avert evil spirits, which people very much believed in in Siam. On top of this they were believed to bring good luck to their owners.

The King's Protectors

There are cat legends about how the Siamese cats protected the king of Siam. They sat on tall columns around the throne. If anyone threatened the king (or if the cats thought someone was a threat to the monarch), they jumped down from their pillars and attacked this person, knocking him down on the floor and scratching their faces. (This doesn't sound much like the Siamese cats we have as pets these days, but legends are legends…)


Photograph copyright by Kruglovorda at Dreamstime.

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