Ausgewählte Texte aus der Carakasaṃhitā

Anhang B: Tierbeschreibungen

Felis catus

zusammengestellt von Alois Payer

Zitierweise / cite as:

Carakasaṃhitā: Ausgewählte Texte aus der Carakasaṃhitā / übersetzt und erläutert von Alois Payer <1944 - >. -- Anhang B: Tierbeschreibungen. -- Felis catus.  -- Fassung vom 2010-12-09. -- URL:         

Erstmals publiziert:


Anlass: Lehrveranstaltung SS 2007

©opyright: Dieser Text steht der Allgemeinheit zur Verfügung. Eine Verwertung in Publikationen, die über übliche Zitate hinausgeht, bedarf der ausdrücklichen Genehmigung des Verfassers

Dieser Text ist Teil der Abteilung Sanskrit  von Tüpfli's Global Village Library

WARNUNG: dies ist der Versuch einer Übersetzung und Interpretation eines altindischen Textes. Es ist keine medizinische Anleitung. Vor dem Gebrauch aller hier genannten Heilmittel wird darum ausdrücklich gewarnt. Nur ein erfahrener, gut ausgebildeter ayurvedischer Arzt kann Verschreibungen und Behandlungen machen!

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Verwendete und zitierte Werke siehe:

Abb.: Katze, Mahabalipuram (மகாபலிபுரம்), Tamil Nadu (தமிழ்நாடு)
[Bildquelle: jrambow. -- -- Zugriff am 2007-07-15. --  NamensnennungKeine kommerzielle NutzungKeine BearbeitungCreative Commons Lizenz  (Namensnennung, keine kommerzielle Nutzung, keine Bearbeitung)] 

Abb.: Felis catus
[Bildquelle: The naturalist's library. -- Vol. 16. -- 1834ff.]



"IF you want to know what a tiger is like, look at a cat ; if you want to know what a thug is like, look at a butcher," is a common Hindu saying, but only half of it is quite true. The thug is, or let us hope, was, capable of many disguises, and his favourite semblance was that of the Brahman and the religious mendicant. Victor Hugo has expressed the tigerishness of the cat in his own swaggering fashion : " Dieu a fait le chat pour donner a l'homme le plaisir de caresser le tigre." There are not many Indian sayings about cats in men's talk, but probably sensitive women have more than we know of. Cats are not so much petted here as in England, and have a stronger tendency to run wild. Generations of devoted cat-lovers in Europe have not been able to quite overcome this tendency, and many a gamekeeper can tell you of cats which during the day are models of saintly propriety, and at night are "just prowling tigers." No creature is more independent than the cat. Its more complete domestication in the West is in reality merely due to its love of warmth. For the sake of comfort it will tolerate humanity and blink amiably at the fireside, but a serene selfishness is the basis of cat character. The Indian domestic cat is not bound to the family circle by the need of warmth ; there is no fireside to speak of, and it lives its own life. Nor are household breakages attributed so freely to the cat, because there are so few things to break in an Indian household, and the customs of the country do not include pantries and the storing of flesh food. It is sometimes, however, slung in a net, so they say of a windfall, "Cat's in luck, the net broke !" Care does not kill the Eastern cat, nor has she nine lives nor nine tails, but she is used in a frequently-quoted saying about doubtful matters. "If the Punchayet (village council) says it's a cat, why, cat it is." This saying may be built on a story, but it is certain that a little story is built on the saying. A grocer one night heard sounds in his shop, and, venturing into the dark, he laid hold of a thief. The marauder mewed like a cat, hoping the grocer would let go. But the grocer only gripped tighter, saying, "All right, my friend ; if the Punchayet in the morning says you're a cat, you shall be a cat and go ; but meanwhile I'll lock you up."

A proverb about setting a cat to watch uncovered milk pans shows the Indian cat to be as fond of milk as the English. "I wasn't so angry at the cat stealing the butter, as at her wagging her tail," is a saying of obvious application. Of the great Sepoy mutiny they say, "The cat (the English) taught the tiger (the Sepoy), till he came to eat her." Of a hypocrite : "The cat, with mouse tails still hanging out of her mouth, says Now I feel good, I will go on a pilgrimage to Mecca." The Indian cat miyaus, which is better by a syllable than the English mew ; so they say to child or servant : "What ! my own cat, and miyau at me !" "The cat does not catch mice for God " has obvious applications.

An odd bit of observation, acknowledging in a mistaken fashion the exquisite nervous sensibility of the cat, is shown in, "When the cat is ashamed, it scratches the wall." The idea is that when a cat is noticed it becomes afflicted with self-consciousness, and "to make itself a countenance," as the French say, it scratches the wall. But cats scratch the wall to keep their claws in order, just as tigers and leopards do. I venture to see in the saying an evidence of the Oriental dislike of the mood of embarrassment or shyness. A well-brought-up Oriental is remarkable, as a rule, for his want of mauvaise honte. Quite small boys are calm and self-possessed, with full control over eyes, fingers, and limbs, in situations where English children would be writhing in nervous embarrassment. In Capt. R. C. Temple's edition of Fallon's Hindustani Proverbs it is an angry cat that scratches the wall in impotent rage. I have heard it "ashamed" as above.

The scratching, moreover, is a tranquil performance, usually ensuing after a yawn and stretch, and in nowise suggests rage. Probably both versions are current. "Even a cat is a lion in her own lair," is a saying used when mild people flare up in self-defence. The cat seems to have no particular walk in Hindu mythology, nor are there many folk tales like our Whittington, and Puss in Boots. The jungle wild-cat is a poor relation of the domestic pussy, and poor relations are apt to compromise the most respectable people and prevent them taking their proper place in society. The Persian cat is prized as a family pet, and numbers are brought down from Kabul by the Povindahs, a tribe of Afghan dealers who bring camel caravans with various kinds of produce into the Punjab every winter.

Cats are frequently kept in the courts and purlieus of Muhammadan mosques which serve as rest-houses for religious  persons. If you make friends with a mosque cat and talk with the Mutwalli or sacristan, its owner, you will probably hear of Abu Harera (father of cats), one of the friends of Muhammad, who had as great a fondness for cats as Theophile Gautier, and with whom the Prophet conversed on the subject, saying, "I love all who are good to cats for your sake." Though this is a merely popular legend, sanctioned by no authoritative tradition or hadits, it seems to have secured good treatment for the cat at the hands of most Indian Muhammadans. From Cairo, when the annual procession of the Kiswa goes to Mecca, cats are always sent on the camels ; formerly they were accompanied by an old woman known as the Mother of the Cats, and it has been suggested that this may be a survival of the ancient Egyptian reverence for cats which has so often made readers of Herodotus smile. But the legend of Abu Harera shows that we need not look so far back for an explanation of the honour in which Puss is held. The sympathy of the Prophet with his friend's predilection seems to be confirmed by the pretty story of his cutting off the skirt of his coat rather than disturb the sleeping cat, his pet.

I told that story once to a Kashmiri Muhammadan, when urging on him the advantages of treating animals kindly, and was answered as prosy preachers deserve to be. "Yes," said .my friend, the leader of a gang of kahars or porters, "the sahib spoke the words of truth, it is wrong to ill-use creatures whom God has made. Once before it was my fortune to listen to similar talk from a sahib who also knew of the Prophet. That sahib was a model of virtue, he also would not allow mules or ponies to be beaten, and his regard for men was such, that he insisted on paying them double the usual daily rate, while to me, such was the virtue of that sahib, he gave a handsome present." This little speech was beautifully delivered, but it ought to be Englished in the Irish tongue to give it due effect.

A sneering saying is, "In a learned house even the cat is learned." A sly man is said to look like a drowned cat ; a live cat is said to be better than a dead tiger, as a living dog is better than a dead lion ; a stealthy tread is, of course, catlike ; and it is easy to imagine occasions when one might say of a human creature, "The cowed cat allows even a mouse to bite its ears." In nature a cowed cat is as rare as a silent woman, but a proverb has not necessarily much concern with nature. We say, "Even a worm will turn." In India the cat is considered so gentle, they say, "Even a cat, hard pressed, will make a fight for it." To an idle girl a mother will say, "Did the cat sneeze, or what ?" (that you drop your work). To her child, too, the mother will point the cat cleaning her face and fur as an example of cleanliness, saying the cat is a Brahmani, nice and clean.

In Kashmir they say, "If cats had wings, there would be no ducks on the lake." Cats are credited with an occult sympathy with the moon, on account of their contracting eyes and nocturnal habits. You may hear cats spoken of with mistrust for this peculiarity, for natives dislike being abroad at night. They take lanterns, go in companies, and sing to keep their courage up ; but they hate and fear the dark, thickly peopled with ghosts, demons, and imaginary evil folk of flesh and blood. So we need not see in the ascription of the cat to the moon an echo of its ancient Egyptian dedication. A cat's moon is a Kashmiri expression for a sleepless night. Old-fashioned English rustics talk of a man "as lazy as Ludlam's dog that leaned his head against the wall to bark." In Kashmir, says the Rev. J. H. Knowles, they speak of Khokhai Mir's idle cat that scratched the ground on seeing a mouse, as who should say, "You may catch it, master, if you like." The sensitiveness of the cat's eye is noticed, but they do not pretend, like the Chinese, to tell the time by looking at its pupil.

Among a vast number of omens the cat takes a place. A cat crossing the path of a native going out on business would turn him back at once, for it is most unlucky. Orientals are terribly superstitious. Yes, but here is a verse by an English poet, writing from first-hand knowledge of hard-headed Whitby fisher folk,

"I'm no way superstitious as the parson called our Mat, When he'd none sail with the herring fleet, 'cause he met old Susie's cat. There's none can say I heeded, though a hare has crossed my road, Nor burnt the nets as venomed, where a woman's foot had trode."1

1 On the Seaboard and other Poems, by Susan K. Phillips."

[Quelle: : Kipling, John Lockwood <1837-1911>: Beast and man in India : a popular sketch of Indian animals in their relations with the people. -- London ; New York : Macmillan, 1904. -- xii, 401 S. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- S. 282 - 287. -- Online: -- Zugriff am 2007-10-25]