Émile Bertrand's poster for Jules Massenet's Cendrillon, advertising the première performance at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra-Comique, Paris.
Émile Bertrand’s poster for Jules Massenet’s Cendrillon, advertising the première performance at the Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique, Paris.

They tell the fabulous story that, when she was bathing, an eagle snatched one of her sandals from her maid and carried it to Memphis; and while the king was administering justice in the open air, the eagle, when it arrived above his head, flung the sandal into his lap; and the king, stirred both by the beautiful shape of the sandal and by the strangeness of the occurrence, sent men in all directions into the country in quest of the woman who wore the sandal; and when she was found in the city of Naucratis, she was brought up to Memphis, became the wife of the king…

Strabo, Geographica, Book 17, 33.

CINDERELLA.– The mention of ladies attending assemblies in slippers, and of pumpkins and lizards being found in the garden, makes it probable this story came from the East. Chindee is Hindoo word for ragged clothing, and Ella a not uncommon woman’s name in India. The story of Catskin, in Mr. Halliwell’s Nursery Rhymes of England, very like that of Cinderella, is to be of Eastern origin. The main incident in the story of Cinderella has a parallel in history. Strabo relates that an eagle let fall the slipper of Rhodopis into the bosom of a king of Egypt, who was so struck with the smallness of it, that made proclamation he would marry the female to whom it belonged. In the Fairy Tales of the Countess of D’Anois, Cinderella appears under the name of Finetta — a name not unlike the Tamil word Punetta, meaning Little Kitten, and used by Hindoo women when addressing their children. Pussy (pusei) is also a Tamil name for a cat. The Tamil belongs to the Turanian family of languages, of which the Lap, Fin, and Turkish are members. What is the generally accepted derivation of our word pussy? H.C.

Notes and Queries, 3rd S. IX. Jan. 6, ’66.

The King o’ the Cats

The King o' the Cats, print by Paul Bommer, Cromer, Norfolk, United Kingdom.
The King o’ the Cats, print by illustrator Paul Bommer, Cromer, Norfolk, United Kingdom.

The reader may have met with the story of the “King of the Cats,” in Lord Lyttleton’s Letters. It is well known in the Highlands as a nursery tale.

Sir Walter Scott.

A traveller, benighted in a wild and mountainous country, (if my recollection does not fail me, in the Highlands of Scotland), at length beholds the welcome light of a neighbouring habitation. He urges his horse towards it; when, instead of an house, he approached a kind of illuminated chapel, from whence issued the most alarming sounds he had ever heard. Though greatly surprised and terrified, he ventured to look through a window of the building, when he was amazed to see a large assembly of cats, who, arranged in solemn order, were lamenting over the corpse of one of their own species, which lay in state, and was surrounded with the various emblems of sovereignty. Alarmed and terrified at this extraordinary spectacle, he hastened from the place with greater eagerness than he approached it; and arriving, some time after, at the house of a gentleman who never turned the wanderer from his gate, the impressions of what he had seen were so visible on his countenance, that his friendly host enquired into the cause of his anxiety. He accordingly told his story, and, having finished it, a large family cat, who had lain, during the narrative, before the fire, immediately started up, and very articulately exclaimed, “Then I am King of the Cats!” and, having thus announced its new dignity, the animal darted up the chimney and was seen no more.

— “Letter XXXIX” Lyttelton, 2nd Baron Lyttelton, Thomas,
Letters of the Late Lord Lyttleton (ed. William Combe, 1807).

Pangur Bán

Riechenauer Schulheft (Reichenau Primer), Folio 1 verso / 2 recto, displaying the poem Pangur Bán; St. Paul's Abbey, Lavanttal, Carinthia (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86a/1).
Riechenauer Schulheft (Reichenau Primer), folio 1 verso/2 recto, displaying the poem Pangur Bán; St. Paul’s Abbey, Lavanttal, Carinthia (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86a/1).

Preserved in the Reichenau Primer (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86b/1 fol 1v), and now kept in St. Paul’s Abbey in the Lavanttal, Pangur Bán (Gaelic “white fuller”) is a circa 9th century Old Irish poem composed by an anonymous Irish monk about his pet cat. The poem, which compares the activities of the cat with those of the scribe himself, bears similarities to the poetry of Sedulius Scotus or Scottus (fl. 840-860), an Irish teacher, Latin grammarian, and scriptural commentator.


Messe agus Pangur Bán,
cechtar nathar fria shaindán:
bíth a menmasam fri seilgg,
mu menma céin im shaincheirdd.Caraimse fos, ferr cach clú
oc mu lebrán, léir ingnu;
ní foirmtech frimm Pangur bán
caraid cesin a maccdán

Ó ru biam, scél gan scís
innar tegdais, ar n-óendís,
táithiunn, díchríchide clius
ní fris tarddam ar n-áthius

Gnáth, húaraib, ar gressaib gal
glenaid luch inna línsam;
os mé, du-fuit im lín chéin
dliged ndoraid cu ndronchéill

Fúachaidsem fri frega fál
a rosc, a nglése comlán;
fúachimm chéin fri fégi fis
mu rosc réil, cesu imdis.

Fáelidsem cu ndéne dul
hi nglen luch inna gérchrub;
hi tucu cheist ndoraid ndil
os mé chene am fáelid.

Cia beimmi a-min nach ré
ní derban cách a chéile
maith la cechtar nár a dán;
subaigthius a óenurán

Hé fesin as choimsid dáu;
in muid du-ngní cach óenláu;
du thabairt doraid du glé
for mu muid céin am messe.


I and Pangur Bán, my cat
‘Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight
Hunting words I sit all night.Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way:
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

— English translation of Pangur Bán by Robin Flower.

In the 2009 animated movie The Secret of Kells, which is heavily inspired by Irish mythology, one of the supporting characters is a white cat named Pangur Bán who arrives at the monastery of Kells in the company of the monk, Aidan of Iona. A verse of the poem is read out during the credit roll.

Felis silvestris grampia

Habitabit Lupus cum Agno

"Wolf shall live at peace with lamb..." -- Isaiah xi. 6.
“Wolf shall live at peace with lamb…” — Isaiah xi. 6.

Fàilte Sorcha!

Sorcha the Polydactyl Cat.
Sorcha the Polydactyl Cat.

Polydactyly is a congenital abnormality, genetically inherited as an autosomal dominant trait of the Pd gene with incomplete penetrance.

Normal cats have a total of eighteen toes, with five toes on each front paw and four toes on each hind paw; polydactyl cats may have as many as eight digits on their front and/or hind paws. Tiger, a Canadian polydactyl cat with twenty-seven toes, was recognised by Guinness World Records as having the highest number of toes on a cat. Various combinations of anywhere from four to seven toes per paw are common, and the number of toes on either the front or rear paws is typically the same. Polydactyly is most commonly found on the front paws only, it is rare for a cat to have polydactyl hind paws only, and polydactyly of all four paws is even less common.

Welcome to your family, polydactyl Sorcha!

Domina Dulcis

Sadie the Cat enjoying the afternoon on the love seat.