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loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Sunday, November 27, 2011

a tale from old japan: the story of the faithful cat

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About sixty years ago, in the summer-time, a man went to pay a visit at a certain house at Osaka, and, in the course of conversation, said— "I have eaten some very extraordinary cakes to-day," and on being asked what he meant, he told the following story:

. . .I received the cakes from the relatives of a family who were celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the death of a cat that had belonged to their ancestors. When I asked the history of the affair, I was told that, in former days, a young girl of the family, when she was about sixteen years old, used always to be followed about by a tom-cat, who was reared in the house, so much so that the two were never separated for an instant. When her father perceived this, he was very angry, thinking that the tom-cat, forgetting the kindness with which he had been treated for years in the house, had fallen in love with his daughter, and intended to cast a spell upon her; so he determined that he must kill the beast.
As he was planning this in secret, the cat overheard him, and that night went to his pillow, and, assuming a human voice, said to him "You suspect me of being in love with your daughter; and although you might well be justified in so thinking, your suspicions are groundless. The fact is this: There is a very large old rat who has been living for many years in your granary.
Now it is this old rat who is in love with my young mistress, and this is why I dare not leave her side for a moment, for fear the old rat should carry her off. Therefore I pray you to dispel your suspicions. But as I, by myself, am no match for the rat, there is a famous cat, named Buchi, at the house of Mr. So-and-so, at Ajikawa: if you will borrow that cat, we will soon make an end of the old rat."
. . .The following day (the father) got up very early and went off to Ajikawa, to inquire for the house which the cat had indicated, and had no difficulty in finding it; so he called upon the master of the house, and told him what his own cat had said, and how he wished to borrow the cat Buchi for a little while.
. . .That night he put the two cats into the granary; and after a little while, a frightful clatter was heard, and then all was still again; so the people of the house opened the door, and crowded out to see what had happened; and there they beheld the two cats and the rat all locked together, and panting for breath; so they cut the throat of the rat, which was as big as either of the cats: then they attended to the two cats; but, although they gave them ginseng and other restoratives, they both got weaker and weaker, until at last they died. So the rat was thrown into the river; but the two cats were buried with all honours in a neighbouring temple.
* * *
From Tales of Old Japan, vol. 1, by Baron Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford Redesdale (whew - on the title page it's shortened to "A.B. Mitford")(London: Macmillan and Co., 1871), pp. 253-4.
Compare the valor of this cat to the following Japanese proverb: "Feed a dog for three days and he will remember your kindness for three years; feed a cat for three years and she will forget your kindness in three days."


Katnip Lounge said...

I tend to side with the proverb; fickle beasts!

parlance said...

Hmm... the Japanese seem to have mixed feelings about cats.

cate said...

Gosh, that's quite the tale...I'm going back to read it again :)

Anita said...

Mom loves the japanese stories. She is reading this book now: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_a_Cat

curator said...

It's so nice to hear from everyone! And yes, Anita, I do know "I Am a Cat." I hope your Mom enjoys it. I need to go read it too.