Myth Monday: The Hideous Wampus Cat (Cherokee Legend)

Myth Monday: The Hideous Wampus Cat

By Kara Newcastle





Imagine this; you’re taking a twilight stroll through the countryside of North Carolina, wandering down an old road through the sparse woodlands. The sun is just sliding past the horizon, turning the shadows of trees dark and long. Crickets and peeper frogs are beginning to sing in the tall grasses. Occasionally, you can hear the lowing of cattle not far in the distance as they settle down in their pastures for the night.

Imagine that you decide that it’s getting too dark, so you decide to head back home. As you meander along the road, it gradually occurs to you that you can’t hear anything anymore. All the frogs and crickets have fallen silent. You glance around, thinking that’s weird, but shrug to yourself and assume that maybe you were the one who startled them all into silence. You keep walking.

As you come upon a bend in the road, you hear what sounds like rustling. Alarmed, you look up, and so can see the tall weeds along the side of the road shudder, as though something is passing through it. Your heart picks up speed, but you tell yourself that because the weeds aren’t moving very much, it must be something small. Like a rabbit. Or a fox. Those live around here in the country …

Your mouth goes dry and you freeze in your tracks as the huge, slender head pushes through the grasses, followed by one large paw, then another. A massive, pitch-black feline shape eases out onto the road, its glowing yellow eyes turned in the direction of the farm where you had heard the cows earlier.

A flicker of hope shoots through you. This thing—this giant cat, massive black panther, this creature that should not be here, not in North Carolina, not anywhere in America—hasn’t noticed you. It’s too interested in the cows.

Just as you think that, the unnatural creature turns its head. It stares straight at you, unflinching, for an eternity.

And just when you start to fear that this panther has decided that you would make a much simpler meal that a cow …

That’s when it stands up on its back two legs.

Like a human.

If you live through this encounter, congratulations—you have just met the demon panther of North Carolina and the Appalachia region: the Wampus Cat.

The Wampus Cat is probably the most famous cat-monster in the United States, and its legend—and sightings—stretch back to long before the Europeans ever considered coming to the New World. The Cherokee were most familiar with the hideous creature … because it used to be a member of their tribe.

As with most myths that are variations to the story, but the most common tale begins with a beautiful Cherokee woman who was married to a handsome, accomplished hunter. The woman was devoted to her husband, and while he seemed to love her as well, he frequently left her in their home so he could go on long hunts by himself. In those days, some of the women would accompany men on the hunts to help prepare and carry home the game they caught, but this woman’s husband absolutely insisted, demanded, ordered, that she not accompany him ever.

This didn’t sit right with the woman. In time, she began to wonder, then worry; what if her husband wasn’t really out hunting? What if he was sneaking off to be with another woman? The wife tried to get her husband to tell her, but he adamantly refused. Every time he refused to tell her what he was doing, the more convinced the wife became that he was cheating on her.

Finally, the woman couldn’t stand it anymore. One night after her husband set out, the woman wrapped the pelt of a mountain lion around herself and snuck after him. She followed her husband deep into the woods, moving carefully so he never suspected that she was there. It was growing late in the evening before the husband reached his true destination—a large bonfire in the center of the woodland, with many of the men from their tribe gathered around it.

Puzzled, the woman crept up as close as she could to the fire and listened. She heard the men tell secrets and stories, practicing magic—this knowledge was forbidden to women. Realizing what she had stumbled upon, the woman tried to crawl away, but her hand accidentally came down on a brittle twig on the ground. The snap was as loud as a thunderclap.

In a heartbeat the tribesmen descended on her, grabbing her and her mountain lion pelt up and dragging her into the light of the fire. Before the frightened woman could explain or her shocked husband could intercede, the shamans, outraged that their secret rites had been exposed, placed a curse upon the woman so that she could never speak of what she saw, and to keep other women from trying to spy as well.

Before the woman knew what was happening, the mountain lion pelt she wore adhered to her skin, and she was violently transformed into a half-woman, half-mountain lion beast. Horrified at what had been done to her, the cat-woman flew into a rage and disappeared into the forest, appearing periodically to stalk and kill humans in revenge for what was done to her.

By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK – Black Jaguar on the move

In time white settlers came to the area, and while they were successful in driving out the Cherokee, they had no luck getting rid of the thing they called the Wampus Cat (I’m not 100% sure why they called it that, but I’ll look into it.) There have been dozens if not hundreds of sightings throughout the years of a large black cat killing livestock, attacking humans and generally just lurking in the vicinity. Some people don’t believe that it exists at all. Some believe that it’s just a misidentified animal, others say it’s just a black panther that escaped from a zoo or private collection or otherwise wandered up from Mexico (before you suggest it’s a black mountain lion, let me just point out that mountain lions apparently do not possess a gene for melanism, and there has never been a documented case of a black mountain lion). And still, others still swear that they’ve seen the creature that’s easily twice the size of a cougar and can walk around on two legs, moving just like a human. There have been scads of blurry cellphone videos depicting what appears to be a large black cat from these areas, but so far, they all seem to prefer walking on all fours.

The Wampus Cat is not the only werecat beast in the United States … either that, or it has an incredibly huge range of territory it travels. The best-recorded case of a Wampus Cat or other werecat-type interaction with a human occurred on the night of April 10, 1970, in Cairo, Illinois. Mike Busby, an auto mechanic, was on his way to pick up his wife from work in Olive Branch when his car suddenly began to sputter and die. Figuring he could fix whatever was wrong, Busby pulled off to the side of the road alongside a stretch of woods, got out of the car and popped the hood. Unable to clearly see what the issue was in the darkness, he tweaked what he thought was the problem, then started to close the hood.

That’s when he heard the noise—something big. Running fast.

Coming straight at him.

By Bob Adams from George, South Africa – Black Jaguar with supper.

Busby managed to turn and look just in time to see a huge black cat lunging for him, its jaws wide and clawed paws outstretch. It knocked the terrified man to the ground and began to claw and bite him as he struggled. The monster opened its jaws to snap down on his throat, and Busby shot a hand up, grabbing the thing’s lower jaw and straining to pull it aside. In response, the cat creature struck him in the face, and Busby later said it felt like he was being punched. That, coupled with the fact that Busby reported that the claws were dull, would make one think that this was some lunatic in a  cat costume that came out of the woods and attacked Busby, but Busby claims that the thing was making noises like a large cat would, that it was heavy and solid and very real, with wiry, jet black fur.

Hurt, bleeding, terrified, the desperate Busby tried to play dead, and as he went limp and the cat-thing relented its attack. As the creature towered over Busby, the headlights of a passing diesel truck swung over them. The driver, John Hartsworth, was shocked by what he saw and slammed on his brakes but didn’t stop. The light and the noise seemed to scare the beast because it sprang off of Busby, leapt up on two legs and ran back into the woods!

As I understand it, Busby managed to crawl back into his car, started it up with no problems, then continued into Olive Branch, where John Hartsworth was waiting for him. Both men went to the nearest hospital, where both men recounted the attack to skeptical police. The police insisted that Busby had been attacked by a wolf and even later reported that they shot and killed one wandering near where the Mike Busby had been attacked. Busby, who is still alive as of the writing of this blog, doesn’t believe it; he knows he was attacked by a giant black cat that ran on two legs, and it swears to it to this day.



Writing Wednesday: Finding the Time to Write

Writing Wednesday: Finding the Time to Write

By Kara Newcastle



Princess Elizabeth by William Beechley




Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.

—JK Rowling



I know finding time to write can be hard. Life can get in the way. I was working three jobs (not counting all my book marketing and whatnot), but I was doing pretty well with my writing, blogging and cartooning for a while. Then came the Christmas season, so I was extra busy at two of my jobs, and I started teaching more classes at my dojo. There were times where I didn’t get home before midnight some nights, and then I had to get up early to do it all over again (oh, and please, no bullshit ranting about the wickedness of capitalism, okay? I knew what I was getting into and I was okay with it.) On top of that, my mom is getting older and needed extra help, so in the end I had very little free time for a while. If I ever had a free minute, then I was doing chores, was too tired to even consider sitting in front of the computer, or, honestly, just plain forgot about it.

Then, about a month ago, I was just about to go to bed when I happened to glance over and saw my computer, sitting silent and loyal on my desk. Startled, I sat bolt right up and thought, “Wait … when was the last time I wrote?”

That was alarming to me; I had gotten so distracted by a million other things in my life that I hadn’t realized that I wasn’t doing any creative writing or blogging at all. Alarm turned to irritation, and I vowed to get back on track with writing.

Of course, it can be hard to find time to write—this is something I hear from a lot of people who want to write but just don’t. If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, take a look at some tips for finding writing time, both from established authors and moi.

  1. MAKE time to write: If you really want to be a writer and you feel like you don’t have a spare moment to catch your breath, let alone put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), you’re going to have to make time to write. JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone while her daughter napped. John Grisham would get up early, write for a while, go to work at his law firm, come home and write again after dinner when the kids were asleep. When Stephen King was a high school English teacher, he’d write during the students’ study hall, and then at home when the kids were asleep. Ursula LeGuin wrote while her children slept (I’m sensing a theme here.) Agatha Christie found time to write twelve novels while working full time as a nurse during World War II. Sue Grafton wrote whenever she could find a spare minute while working full time and raising her children. The list goes on, but the story remains the same: they were all busy, but they all made time to write. You can find it too if you think about it. Lunch break, before work, after work, late at night, get up extra early in the morning, during your commute (so long as you’re not the one driving), waiting for a movie, after the kids go to bed, while the kids are school, while you’re sitting on the toilet—you get the idea. You can make it work. (In case you’re wondering, I’ve been staying up to write. So far, I have not fallen asleep on my keyboard. So far.)
  2. DON’T wait for the right time to write: Just an FYI: there will never be the perfect time to write. Yes, you have responsibilities, but the second you start thinking, “I can’t write now, I have to take out the trash, fold the laundry, learn Mandarin and clip my toenails!”, you take priority away from your writing and assign it to mundane things that really can wait (and then you start using as it a go-to excuse to avoid writing altogether.) Decide what things need attention immediately (grocery shopping, bill paying) and what can wait a bit longer (washing the car, alphabetizing the spice rack.) I can already hear a bunch of you saying, “But Kara, if I don’t do it right away, then it’ll never get done.” Two things. 1: Apply that attitude to your writing. 2: Learn to be disciplined and responsible and get your other projects done quickly … or hire a cleaning lady.
  3. People are going to have to learn to survive without you: One of the big hurdles for writers are the people in their lives distracting them. No, you can’t shut them out of your life entirely, but you can’t let them run roughshod over you either. For example, I have a relative who has suddenly decided that she’s too old to be doing certain things anymore (seriously, typing in an email address?) When she was legitimately sick I had no issue with helping out with things like grocery shopping and vacuuming, but when it got to the point where she was incapable of doing simple tasks and hefting responsibilities onto me that I had no business doing, I had to put my foot down. Yes, there was some rage and some nasty things said, and she likes to tread on my boundaries, but I refuse to give in. My time is mine, and I want to use even just a little bit of it to write. Your time is your time too. You’re entitled to it, it belongs to you. Tell people to back off (saying it nicely would be best, but make it known in unequivocal terms that your writing time is important,) condition yourself to accept that things will possibly be a wreck (things may get messy—deal with it), teach your kids/spouse/relatives/friends to live without you for a little bit every day. If people continue to bang at your door, find a place to write outside the house—far outside, where it’d be too much of a hassle for them to track you down.
  4. Be happy to get ANY writing done: You had five minutes and you managed to scratch out a sentence and a half. GREAT!! That’s a sentence and a half more than what you had before. Don’t feel like you need hours to write, or that you need to produce ten pages of story in order to accomplish anything—just write whatever you can in whatever time you have available.
  5. Don’t get distracted!: It really sucks to have some time to write, only to discover you’ve frittered it all away by watching fourteen possum videos on Youtube, or fell in the “one more episode” trap with Netflix. Be responsible with the time you have, because it might be a while before you get it back. I mentioned this in a blog a long time ago, but I set up folders on my Internet browser labeled with each day of the week, then fill them with shortcuts to sites I visit regularly and other things I’ve been meaning to look at. I try to get some writing done, and when I’m finished (or I feel too fried to keep going), I look at the folder marked for that day, visit those sites, don’t visit anything else, and then get back to work. As for TV, I’m working on avoiding idle watching, sticking just to shows I watch regularly, saving the rest for Prime and Netflix, limited to an episode or two a day. There are applications out there that you can download to help you stay on task or spend less time on the Internet, but I won’t suggest any of them until I’ve researched them first (if you’ve tried them give me some recommendations so I can blog about it!)
  6. Learn to seize the moment: The second you realize you have some time to write, do it! You could have two free hours to write, but if you spend 45 minutes cruising the Internet beforehand, you’ll have 45 less minutes to write. Bookmark whatever it is that’s trying to lure you away and get to writing.
  7. Write even if you don’t feel like it: This is something I had to train and retrain myself to do; you have free time, but you’re too tired or irritated to write. Write anyway. It might not be the greatest prose you’ve ever banged out, but at least you’ve got something, you’re keeping the flow going, you can always go back and fix it later, and you’ll feel better that you got any kind of writing done. Don’t get hung up on how it sounds or all the spelling mistakes you’re making, because right now they’re not important. What is important is that you’re doing any writing at all.
  8. Use anything you have to write: One thing that irks the crap out of me is when I have time to write, and I really want to write, but I’m not at home in front of my computer. Luckily, I have a variety of different things to write on until I get back home; my cell phone, my iPod, my tablet, a good old-fashioned notebook, a scrap piece of paper swiped from the scrap piece of paper bin. Don’t feel confined to one medium to write, use whatever you can and transcribe it later.
  9. Get an accountability partner: Find someone (a friend, significant other, relative, whatever) and form a pact: you will work on your projects together for a set amount of time. You will check in with each other frequently to make sure that you both have accomplished your goals for that day, and if one of you slacks off, the other one can pile on the guilt. In other words, you are held accountable for your work that day, so if your goal is to spend, say, fifteen minutes of undistracted writing, and your partner’s goal is the same (or could be anything, really, as long as it’s productive), you check in with them and say, “Hey! I wrote for fifteen minutes!” and your buddy says, “Me too!” Or, you can say, “Um … I didn’t get any writing done,” your buddy can say, “Seriously? I got two pages done. Why am I working my ass off and you’re not?” I haven’t gotten to try this yet, but many people say the guilt-tripping helped them a lot.
  10. Be willing to make sacrifices: If you really want to write and you’re hurting for time, you might have to give up some activities on occasion. If you have a habit of watching TV immediately after dinner, taking the dog out for a walk, helping the kids with homework and then going to bed, you should consider giving up TV for a little while (odds are you can always record it or find it streaming.) Hang out at the bar with your buddies for three hours every Friday? Cut it down to two, use that free hour to write. Invited to party that you kinda want to go to, but not really? Skip it, stay home and write. Play video games all day long? Quit it, play for an hour or two, spend the rest of the time writing. You want to see a movie that just came out in theaters? It’ll be there a while longer, sit down and write. Yes, it might suck at first, but once you see the progress you’ve made with your writing, you’re going to feel a lot better about it.
  11. Don’t be so hard on yourself: Let’s say that you’ve got so much going on in your life that you really can’t afford to take time away from it to write. Let’s say that you were planning on writing, but something very important came up that drew you away. Maybe you had an opportunity you couldn’t afford to miss, or an obligation to fulfill. Maybe you’re just too tired. If any of that is true, then it’s perfectly okay to not write that day. Be reasonable with yourself about your abilities and your expectations. Don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t get a chance to write. If you really want to write, you’ll find the time.

Myth Monday: Bastet, the Cat Goddess (Egyptian Myth)

Myth Monday: Bastet, the Cat Goddess (Egyptian Myth)

By Kara Newcastle




You know that old joke about how cats used to be worshipped as gods, and cats have never forgotten it? Well, the ancient Egyptians really did worship cats—as goddesses, with Bastet being the most popular.

If you’ve looked at any ancient Egyptian art at all, you’ve likely seen Bastet (also known originally as Ubastis—which you might recognize as the goddess that Ren the multi-tailed Nekomancer from the Monstress comics worships—then as Bast, then Bastet, among other names) in either her form as a cat-headed woman carrying a type of sacred rattle known as a sistrum or more likely as a gracefully poised cat. Both forms depict her gentle and fun-loving side, but don’t be fooled; just like real cats, Bastet was complex, and could be deadly.

Before the worship of Bastet took place, the Egyptians worshipped the savage war goddess Sekhmet, a woman with the head of a lioness. Sekhmet had been dispatched by the sun god Ra to eliminate wickedness on earth, and nearly succeeded in wiping humanity out before she was stopped. Bastet was seen originally as Sekhmet in a much more calm state, and in time this gave rise to the belief that Bastet was a separate deity, but was no less fierce; likely having seen the way cats hunted and the way feline mothers protected their kittens, the Egyptians worshipped Bastet as a protectress of the home, of women and children. She soon became known as the spiritual bodyguard of the pharaoh as well.

By Rama, CC BY-SA 3.0 fr,
Cat Playing with Kittens, Egyptian Late Period Picture by Rama, Wikimedia commons

The Egyptians noticed how their cats’ eyes seem to glow in the dark, and they came to believe that the kitties actually stored some of the sun’s fires in their eyes. This led to Bastet being associated with the sun god Ra, and some artwork depicts Bastet accompanying the sun god to the Underworld where she (or Ra in his own cat form) slays the doomsday serpent Apep by slicing off his head with a knife. Some myths also say that when a soul fails to pass a purity test posed by Maat, the goddess of truth, Bastet releases the fires of the sun which obliterate the sinful spirit. Another story (which I might write about sometime) shows Bastet as an avenging goddess and protector of the dead, thoroughly humiliating a tomb raider out in public.

There was more to Bastet than just violence, though. Due to cats’ impressive reproduction rates, Bastet also became a goddess of love, sex and fertility, and was often shown with a litter of romping kittens at her feet. In myth, Bastet is frequently said to have married Ptah, the architect god of Memphis (other versions say Ra), and together they had the lion-headed god of war Maahes. Bastet is also said to be the mother of the perfume god Nefertum, possibly because her original name meant something to the effect of “She of the Ointment Jar” (offerings of perfumes were made to her in alabaster—repeat: alaBASTer, that’s where we get the word—jars.)

She also loved laughter (any cat owner will tell you about all the times their cat has cracked them up), music and dancing. Every year thousands of women and men—but no children—made pilgrimages to her city of Bubastis, where they celebrated her in a huge festival of dancing, drinking, joke telling, women lifting up their skirts to flash people (a combination of fertility blessing and a throwing-off of modesty), and lots of sex.

So Bubastis was basically Las Vegas but without the casinos.

To top it all off, since cats hunted the rodents that invaded the granaries, thus protecting the food and cutting down on pest-related diseases, Bastet was also seen as a defender of humankind against plagues and disease. All these traits made Bastet the second-most popular goddess in Egypt after Isis, and cats, her sacred animal, the most popular and protected creature there. Cats were seen as a manifestation of Bastet, so they were well cared for, and anyone caught killing a cat was executed.


Unfortunately, the Egyptians’ love for Bastet and cats might have been their undoing; according to legend, King Cambyses II of Persia wanted to annex Egypt to his empire. Knowing how the Egyptians loved cats, Cambyses ordered his soldiers to paint cats on their shields, then collect hundreds of cats and set the terrified kitties out between them and the Egyptian army. Fearful of angering Bastet if they harmed the cats or marred the images, the Egyptian army was said to have surrendered instantly. The historian Polyaneus wrote that Cambyses then proceeded to pull cats out of a bag (that’s not where we get the term) and throw the poor things into the faces of the Egyptians, mocking them for surrendering their city over a cat.

Nothing Cambyses said would change the ancient Egyptians’ minds about the cat and Bastet, and soon Bastet’s popularity spread into Rome. She was worshipped for hundreds of more years until Christianity unseated her and many of the other old gods. While she’s not worshipped as a goddess anymore, Bastet still continues to be popular in the world of art and entertainment—most notably now as a character in Neil Gaiman’s book and TV show American Gods.


Myth Monday: The Cats’ Elopement (Japanese Fairy Tale)

Myth Monday: The Cats’ Elopement (Japanese Fairy Tale)

By Kara Newcastle

Cats_sitting_on_sink by LaurenNicole7911


A long time ago in Japan, there lived two cats. One cat was Gon, a handsome male who lived in a house with an acclaimed music teacher. Gon was a lovable friend and excellent mouser, so the music teacher was very happy to have him.

Across town lived Koma, a beautiful female cat. She belonged to a lady who loved every little thing about the sweet cat. The lady often hugged Koma against her and said, “Oh, Koma, what would I ever do without you?”

At night, the cats of the city would wander the streets and rooftops to meet and play, and it was one these nights that Gon and Koma met, under the spreading limbs of a blossoming cherry tree. Gon was instantly captivated by the pretty green-eyed Koma, and Koma was immediately smitten by the strutting Gon. Every night they met, exploring the city, hunting mice together, whispering and cuddling. At last, Gon declared his love for Koma, and asked her to marry him. Koma was beside herself with delight and said yes.

The next morning, Gon went to his master and Koma went to her mistress, and each cat asked permission to depart from their home in order to marry and live together.

Gon’s master, the music teacher, was aghast. “What? Have you leave? Never! I need you here with me, hunting the rodents!”

Koma’s mistress, the lady, was horrified. “What? Have you leave? Never! I need you here with me, being my companion!”

Worried, the cats pleaded with their owners. Gon urged the music teacher to go to Koma’s owner and offer to buy her. The music teacher offered a price, but the lady refused. Koma begged the lady to buy Gon, but the music teacher dismissed any offers. Each human then grabbed their cat and spun away from the other, each telling their felines that they must never meet again, and that they had to stay home.

Furious, Gon charged out of his house the second the music teacher set him down. Angry that the lady would deny her the right to see her true love, Koma wriggled out of the woman’s grasp and ran away. The two cats met each other under the cherry tree and agreed; if their owners would not let them marry, then they were going to have to run away and elope.

And that’s exactly what Koma and Gon did. Wrapping their tails together, they struck out through the city, hunting mice and accepting offerings of food from kindly humans as they passed, searching for the perfect place the marry and start a family.

Not long after leaving their homes, Gon and Koma came upon a high wall. Scrambling up it was no effort for them, but they were overjoyed when they saw what was on the other side; an exquisite garden, filled with colorful, wonderfully scented flowers, winding trees and curving ponds.

sorakuen in kobe hyogo orefecture japan by 663highland

“This is the perfect place!” Gon declared as he sprang down into the garden, Koma right on his tail. “It’s so quiet, and the wall will keep strangers out—let’s live here!”

“Gon, it’s amazing,” Koma breathed as she gazed around the garden. “I love it!”

Pleased, Gon rubbed his head against Koma’s, and together they trotted across the trim grass, searching for the best place to make their home.

However, even paradise has its evils, and as Koma and Gon came down over an arching bridge, a growl cut the air around them. Startled, Koma and Gon froze, their heads snapping around in the direction of the fearsome sound. Their eyes widened when they saw the source; a big, lean, black guard dog, lounging beside the pond. It narrowed its beady eyes at them and slowly rose up onto its feet. It growled again, louder, its lips curling back over its hooked white teeth.

Horrified, Gon puffed all his fur out and raised his back. “Koma! Quick, climb a tree!”

Not needing to be told twice, Koma spun around, raced across the grass and scrambled up the trunk of a juniper tree just as the dog roared and lunged forward. Seeing that his beloved was only halfway to safety—well within the reach of the dog’s fangs—Gon screamed and threw himself in front of the charging dog, raking all of his claws across the beast’s nose and muzzle. Howling in pain, the dog barreled forward, opening its jaws wide and clamping them down on Gon’s body.

“Gon!” Koma shrieked as the dog shook the yowling cat back and forth. With a snap of its head, the dog whipped Gon to the ground. Gon bounced with the impact, rolling across the grass. He laid there, dazed, in pain, distantly aware of the dog stalking towards him—

“Stupid mongrel!”

Too weak to be surprised, Gon struggled to lift his head, watching as a human man—a groundskeeper—rushed down over the bridge he and Koma had traveled, raising a rake high over his head. Swearing through clenched teeth, the groundskeeper brought the handle of the rake down hard over the black dog’s head, making it yelp in pain and surprise.

“Get away from that poor cat!” the man shouted, swinging the handle at the dog’s face, making it whimper and back away with its tail between its legs. The man menaced the dog a bit more, driving it further away from Gon, making sure it wouldn’t dare come near him. Once he was satisfied that the dog would keep its distance, the groundskeeper spun around and fell to his knees beside Gon.

“Oh my,” he gasped, gingerly sliding his hands under Gon’s battered body. “You’re hurt. Don’t worry, I’ll bring you to Nozomi-hime—she knows how to heal animals.”

Gon barely heard any of this as he slipped into unconsciousness, the world closing in around him. He had no time to warn the groundskeeper that poor Koma was hiding in the juniper tree. Koma saw the groundskeeper hurry away with Gon in his arms, but when she tried to cry out, the dog snarled. Too frightened to speak, Koma huddled in the tree as the black dog circled beneath, trapping her there for hours until a guard came to collect it at night.

Koma had no idea where Gon was.


It was hours before Gon woke up, and he blinked in surprise to see the smiling face of a young woman dressed in beautiful robes kneeling beside him. She was Princess Nozomi, the daughter of the emperor. She loved animals, and it had so troubled her to see them hurt that she became very skilled in healing them. After the groundskeeper had brought Gon to her, Nozomi-hime tenderly cleaned Gon’s wounds and bandaged his bruised ribs, laying him gently down on a silken pillow, then waiting patiently for him to wake.

Seeing Gon’s puzzled face, Nozomi-hime smiled brighter. “It’s all right, little one, you’re safe here in the palace with me. Can you tell me your name?”

Gon opened his mouth and was alarmed when no sound came out. He swallowed hard and tried again. “Gon …”

“Gon? You look like a Gon.” Seeing him struggle to speak, Nozomi reached down and delicately stroked his head. “No, no, don’t waste your energy. It’ll be some time before you’re well enough to speak and move. You just lay right there, and I’ll bring you whatever you need.”

‘I need Koma!’ Gon wanted to wail, but he had no strength to speak. Distraught, he put his head down and told himself to concentrate on recovering. The sooner he recovered, the sooner he could find Koma.

He prayed she was all right.

Gon recovered slowly but steadily, still struggling to speak. Nozomi-hime took care of his every need, and Gon was thankful for everything she did. She kept him in her room, fed him and cleaned him and talked to him, helped him to walk again. Gon grew to like her very much.

As Gon recovered in the princess’s quarters, he soon learned that though Nozomi loved animals, there was one animal she absolutely despised; it was a large, green snake that lived in the gardens. The snake was obsessed with Princess Nozomi, visiting her every single day, proclaiming his love for her. Every day he asked her to marry him, and Nozomi repeatedly turned him away. When the snake demanded that she marry him—or else—Nozomi ordered him removed from her gardens. The snake was angry. Gon was worried that he would try to do something bad.

800px-North_American_green_snake,_San_Antonio_Zoo_DSCN0681 by Billy Hathorn

One night as Nozomi-hime slept in her bed and Gon dozed by her feet, the lattice shutters on her window rattled softly. One shutter nudged open, and the blunt nose of the jealous snake eased over the sill. He slithered down to the floor, his evil forked tongue darting out, his yellow eyes fixing on the princess’s sleeping form. He bared his fangs briefly in rage; she had denied him for the last time.

The sound of a venomous snake gliding along the floor is nearly imperceptible to human ears, but Gon’s ears were much more attuned. He snapped awake in a flash, sitting up just in time to see the snake’s tail vanish beneath the bed. Shocked, Gon spun around to warn Princess Nozomi, but he jolted in horror to see the wicked creature had already wound itself up along the bedpost beside Nozomi’s head. The snake’s head hovered over Nozomi’s throat. It bared its fangs. It hissed.

The alien sound startled Nozomi awake, and the second her eyes focused on the snake rearing above her, she screamed in terror.

Every inch of fur standing on head, Gon summoned an infuriated shriek and lunged, leaping over Nozomi-hime and slamming his jaws down around the snake’s throat. Shocked, the snake tried to roar and thrashed wildly, but Gon clung on, digging his fangs in deeper, raking the snake’s long body with his claws. As Nozomi darted out of the way, Gon wrestled the snake down off the bed, dragging it to the floor. Pulling the outraged serpent far away from the princess, Gon shook his head hard, beating the snake against the floor. At last, the evil thing hung limp in Gon’s jaws, and the brave cat spat the sinuous body out in disgust.

Astounded by what had happened, Princess Nozomi rushed to Gon and gathered him up in her arms, kissing his head. “Oh Gon! You were so brave. Thank you for saving me! How can I repay you? Name what you want, anything, it’s yours.”

Gon purred but said nothing, only resting his head sadly on the princess’s shoulder. All he wanted was Koma … but it felt like it had been so long.

What if she left?

Days passed, and though Gon at least regained his full strength and voice, he never told Nozomi-hime what he wanted, though she pleaded with him to share. One morning he padded over to a sunny spot on the princess’s veranda and laid down, sighing …

No sooner did Gon put his head down on his paws did he notice two shapes in the garden. Two cats. One was a big, rough looking male that Gon had seen around the palace before, bossing and bullying the other cats there. The other was much smaller, and the big male had driven it deeper under a bush. The small cat hissed wildly and swatted at the big brute, but he would not go away.

Gon’s hackles stood up; he could never stand to see big cats like that picking on smaller ones. Growling mightily, he sprang to his feet and charged down the path. “Hey! Leave that little cat alone!”

Baring his teeth, the bigger cat rounded on Gon. “And who’s going to make m—?” Realizing who was standing before him, the bigger cat’s eyes shot open. “O-oh, it’s you Gon, the Snake Killer. I didn’t—I—”

Gon puffed out his tail and laid back his ears. “I don’t care what your excuses are. Get lost, and don’t pick on any more cats!”

Cringing at Gon’s tone, the bigger cat muttered under his breath, but turned and slunk away without ever raising a claw—he knew better than to challenge the princess’s feline champion. Gon smirked at the bully’s retreating tail, then ducked down and peered under the bush. All he could see was the little cat’s paws and swishing tail. “It’s all right, you can come out now.”

Sighing gratefully, the little cat pushed through the bush’s woody twigs. “Oh, thank you so much. He just wouldn’t leave me alone …”

She stepped out of the leaves, and Gon felt his heart stop in his chest. He stared opened mouth at the beautiful little cat as she blinked in the bright sunlight up at him.

“Koma!” Gon cried.

Cat_1111 by huxiaofeng

Startled, Koma flinched. “How did you know my na—? Wait …” Blinking hard, Koma squinted, then slowly inched her tiny pink nose closer to Gon’s. She took a deep sniff.

Her eyes flying wide open, Koma jolted, all four of her paws actually leaving the ground. “Gon?! Is that you?”

“It is! It’s me!”

“Gon!” Koma squealed, throwing herself at her beloved. They fell into a laughing, purring pile, rubbing their faces and heads against each other, licking each other ecstatically.

“I didn’t recognize you,” Koma gasped as Gon wrapped his arms around her and buried is face in her soft fur. “You look so different. What happened? Where have you been?”

“Koma, I’m so sorry I couldn’t find you. That stupid dog hurt me, and Nozomi-hime kept me inside the palace until I was better.” Standing up, Gon took Koma’s paw. “I saved the princess’s life, and she promised me anything in return. Let’s go to her right now and asked to be married.”

Paw in paw, the two lovers ascended the steps and entered the palace, walking straight up to Princess Nozomi. Together they told their story, and Nozomi was so moved she was more than happy to permit them to marry, and promised them that they would never ever be separated again, inviting them to live with her.

In time, the princess took a prince as her husband, and he loved Koma and Gon just as much as she did. Koma and Gon had many kittens, and Princess Nozomi and her husband had many children, and they all lived happily ever after.

Myth Monday: Why Cats Like Women (African Folktale)

Myth Monday: Why Cats Like Women (African Folktale)

By Kara Newcastle




August has a lot of cat holidays, with International Cat Day on August 8, Black Cat Appreciation Day August 17th, and National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day August 22, so I thought I’d spend the month writing some cat-themed blogs! Here’s one of my favorite cat-related stories, a folktale from Africa. I’ve read a few different versions, so I put together pieces from all of them. Enjoy!


gray tabby cat
Photo by Erika Augusto on


Long ago there was a Cat. The Cat lived by herself on the savannah, but it wasn’t easy; there were lots of dangerous animals living in the tall grasses that would have no problem turning the Cat into a snack. The Cat could run fast, and she could climb trees, and she had sharp teeth and claws, but there were animals that were faster than she was, and animals that could climb trees and had sharper teeth and claws—and most of those animals were bigger than Cat. She knew she had no hope of protecting herself. So, one day, Cat decided that the best way to survive in the wild was to befriend the strongest, toughest animal out there, and have them be her guardian.

The Cat set out on a walk, and soon came upon a huge, fearsome lion as it strode through the grasses. Spotting Cat, Lion raised his huge shaggy head and licked his lips. He stared dead at Cat, and just as Cat was starting to think that she was about to become lunch, she blurted out, “Lion! I’m so happy to find you. There are so many animals out here that would eat me as soon as look at me. Can you help?”

nature africa wilderness lion
Photo by Pixabay on

Lion chuckled. “You need someone to protect you, cousin? Stick by me. There’s no predator bigger or stronger than me. I rule this land. All others flee before me.”

Delighted, Cat fell into step beside Lion, and for days they lived together as friends. Things were going well … until the ran into Elephant. Elephant was a huge bull with massive white tusks, and when he saw Lion, he didn’t even bat an eye. He was coming one way down the path while Cat and Lion were coming up the other. They met each other in the center and stopped dead.

Growling, Lion lashed a paw in the air. “You! Elephant! Stand aside.”

Lashing his trunk, Elephant trumpeted loudly. “Why don’t you make me, you sorry excuse for a hairball?”

Lion never could handle an insult, and he launched himself at Elephant with a thunderous roar. Elephant stood his ground, and as Cat watched in horror, Elephant scooped his massive tusks under Lion’s body, lifted Lion up and, with a sharp whip of his head, sent Lion flying into stand of trees.

“Yeah, let that be a lesson to you,” Elephant sneered as Lion slumped to the ground, dead from the impact.

Heartbroken, Cat wailed. “Oh no! The Lion was protecting me from all the big animals out here. What am I going to do? I’ll get eaten for sure!”

Surprised by her cry, Elephant squinted down at poor Cat. “What’s wrong? You need somebody to protect you? You should have come to me first! Lions might have teeth and claws, but I’m a lot bigger and stronger. Nothing messes with me.”

elephant near plants and trees
Photo by RENATO CONTI on

Taking a look at Elephant’s immense size, Cat decided that he was right and joined him. They lived together for many days, but in time, the unthinkable happened; as Elephant busied himself pulling leaves down from tree branches with his trunk, a strange, two-legged creature snuck up behind him. Reaching a safe distance, the thing launched a spear at Elephant’s neck, catching him dead on. The Elephant stood no chance against the attack and collapsed into a heap.

Cat huddled down nearby, too frightened to move. She flattened her ears back as the two-legged thing approached the dead Elephant. As it circled around Elephant’s legs, it saw the puffed-out Cat crouched there, watching it with huge, frightened eyes.

The two-legged beast cocked its head at Cat. “What are you? A tiny lion?”

Terrified, Cat shook her head wildly. “I’m not a lion! I’m a cat. I was just looking for somebody to protect me from the bigger and scarier animals out here, and Elephant said there wasn’t anybody bigger than him.”

The creature laughed. “Well, Elephant was wrong. I’m a Man. I can kill things that are big and scary.”

Cat winced. “How? You don’t have claws or fangs. You don’t look very strong.”

“No, but I’m smart. I make weapons and tools so I can hunt big animals. If you need protection, you should come with me. There are things out in the wild that are big and strong, but I can face any of them.”


Intrigued, Cat studied Man. No claws, no fangs, he wasn’t big and strong … but he had killed Elephant with just a pointy stick. Man should have been easily pickings for any animal out there, but he was totally unafraid.

Maybe he was the strongest, toughest animal out there.

Encouraged by the thought, Cat agreed, and walked alongside Man back to Man’s village. As they walked, Man proudly told Cat of all the animals he could hunt, and they were all animals that could have hurt or killed Cat, so Cat was feeling better and better about her new guardian. There couldn’t possibly be anything tougher than a man.

Reaching Man’s house, Cat saw movement in the open doorway. Another two-legged creature leaned out, watching them approach.

Smiling, Man pointed to the new two-legged thing. “That’s Woman. She’s my wife.”

Before Cat could ask what a “wife” was, she saw Woman’s face darken. Woman scowled, then stormed out of the house, meeting them halfway. She reached out and took the spear out of Man’s hand, and Cat felt her jaw drop open in amazement; Woman could just take Man’s weapon away like that? And he didn’t try to stop her?

“Took you long enough,” Woman snorted as she scanned Man from head to toe. “You were supposed to go out and get meat for your children, but you came back empty handed? Again?”

Taken aback, Man stood there and blinked rapidly. “I—well I—I did, but—I got an elephant—”

“Yeah? Where is it?”

Cringing, Man looked down at Cat. “Well … I—”

“You go back out there and bring back the food that you promised you’d get us!” Woman roared, thrusting the spear back at Man. “And make it fast, they’re hungry!”

Cat watched in utter disbelief as Man—the same weak, two-legged thing she had seen take down the huge Elephant with just a stick—stuttered an embarrassed apology to Woman and turned around, making his way swiftly back out to the savannah. Cat couldn’t believe it …

There was something tougher than Man?

Feeling eyes on her, Cat glanced up and flinched, seeing Woman staring down at her.

Woman arched an eyebrow. “What are you, little one?”

Cat blinked. “I’m Cat. I’ve been looking for someone to protect me from all the big animals out there. I thought Man was the strongest, but …”

An amused smile played at the corners of Woman’s mouth. “But what?”

“Well … you seem tougher than him.”

“Oh, yes I am.” Bursting into a grin, Woman turned back to her house, beckoning for Cat to follow. “You can stay with me. There’s nobody tougher than me.”

Initially, Cat had her doubts, but to her relief and delight she found that the Woman was correct; no one ever came to challenge the Woman at any time.

And that’s why cats like women.