You’ve always heard that cats have 9 lives, but what does this mean – and could it be true?
This is an age old cliché with deep historical roots. Felines have accumulated quite the mystical reputation since the days of Egypt. Revered as gods with entire cultures embracing their unique attributes. But do cats actually live multiple lifetimes?
Thousands of years after cats were worshiped, it seems they were still making quite the impression on humans – and documented in literature.The exact phrase “cats have 9 lives” is first found in an old English proverb.
It reads: “Cats have nine lives. For three they play, for three they stray, and for three they stay.“
It’s thought this saying refers the the life-cycle of many cats. They are super playful as kittens – as adult cats, they want to roam – and as older kitties, they calm and stay near their safe space. While this saying is known nearly world-wide, the actual manuscript remains unknown.
However, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet also makes reference to a cat having 9 lives – when Mercutio says: “Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives.“
There is also a lesser known fable translated from Sanskrit that says “It has been the providence of Nature to give this creature [the cat] nine lives instead of one.”
Why We Think Cats Have 9 Lives
Cats are well know for their savvy survival skills. They internet is full of hair-raising videos of cats falling from incredible heights, only to run off (seemingly) uninjured. You can find tales of cats escaping certain death from a vicious predator with their agility and speed. We often react to these ‘miracles’ by saying – “That cat just used one of their 9 lives.” And no doubt these impressive skills have been witnessed throughout history – but literature and myth only go so far.
As much as we wish they had 9 lives to share with us, the fact is our cats only get one life. And it’s up to us to make sure it’s their best life.