For a cat to die in an Egyptian home, is considered a most unlucky omen. It was also considered extremely unlucky, in Egypt, if a cat happened *to be burned in a house, and it threw the Egyptians into the deepest grief. They shaved off their eyebrows to show their sorrow, and respect, and were unlucky if they did not.
In Tibet, if anyone kills a cat, accidentally or otherwise, he will have the sins of the cat transferred to him; this not only means the sins of the present cat, but those of the person who is now incarnated in the cat, for his previous sins, in his life on earth before.
A cat of any color, whether an uninvited visitor or an established member of the family, must never be restrained from sharpening its talons at the expense of the table legs, since when he has scratched, he has scratched for luck.
Cats have been the objects of superstition from the earliest ages. In Egypt, they were held in the highest reverence, temples were erected in their honor, sacrifices and devotions were offered up to them, and it was customary for the family in whose house a cat died, to shave their eyebrows.
In the Middle Ages, they were regarded as the familiars of witches, and the black cat was the form taken by the devil whenever he pleased. It was therefore once considered very unlucky to have a black cat cross your path.
The “taigheirm” was an infernal magical sacrifice of cats, the origin of which lies in the remotest pagan times, and in the rites dedicated to the subterranean gods, from whom men solicited by nocturnal offerings particular gifts and benefits.
In the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland, in Iceland, Norway, and the Faroe Islands these black-cat sacrifices were still continued in Christian ages. Such horrible and criminal doings were well suited to the country, its melancholy aspect covered with eternal fogs, exposed to savage and incessant storms, oppressing the minds of men, and by the absence of external amenities, operating on the imagination in a peculiarly gloomy and grotesque coloring.
The Venerable Bede relates that the island of Lewis, and all the north of Scotland, was a place of assembly formalicious apparitions, demons and evil spirits, occasioning torrents of rain, thunder and lightning, failure of the scanty crops and confusion and anguish in the people. “Thus we see,” says Horst, “the whole of the British Islands, yes, and also the Highlands of Scotland, over-run with demons, who were like the legions of base spirits whom Solomon enclosed in a kettle and sunk at Babylon, but which on the kettle being opened in quest of treasure, streamed up into the air, spread themselves over the whole heavens, and thence over Asia and the world.” The midnight hour, between Friday and Saturday, was the authentic time for the horrible practice of “taigheirm,” and the sacrifice was continued four whole days and nights. After th? cats were dedicated to the devil, and shameful things done to them, which occasioned them such agony as to result in continual screams and screeches of pain, one of them was put on a spit, and amid horrible howlings, was roasted alive over a slow fire. The moment that the screams and moans of one tortured cat ceased in death, another was thrust over the fire, and not an instant for the four days was the sound still. After a certain continuance of this torture, the infernal spirits appeared in the form of black cats. There came continually more and more of these spirit cats, and their howling, mingled with those alive and roasting on the spit, were beyond words to describe. Finally a cat of tremendous size appeared as the ruler of all the train. Then the “taigheirm” was complete, and the sacrificer demanded of the spirit cats the reward of his offering, as riches, children, health, or other material benefit. The gift of second sight was always voluntarily bestowed, and ever after the sacrificer could tell the future and see absent events.One of the last “taigheirms,” according to Horst, was held in the middle of the seventeenth century, on the island cf Mull. The inhabitants will show the place. The word means “the cry of cats,” and was accursed for its use. All over Europe, cats were sacrificed to the subterranean gods, and the Egyptians were as superstitious as the Babylonians about cats. Under the teachings of Christianity, there is nothing to prevent cruelty to animals. Not a word of mercy or kindness is uttered in the Testaments of warning or guidance as to how man shall treat animals with gentleness. Therefore, “under Christianity, cats were sacrificed to an invocation of infernal spirits,” as under paganism their tribe was deified.