Friday, October 9, 2015
The Japanese Evil Cat Spirit: Bakeneko (日本化猫)
An old drawing showing a bakeneko transforming itself into a woman.
Yuki likes cats but I hate them. Especially every other few days some wild cat likes to shit on my car bonnet downstairs. Many times I want to trap this mischievous cat but of no avail. Perhaps I would learn from Vietnamese friend on how to catch this cat and prepare a barbecue cat manual. I saw some Vietnamese chasing a dog near my apartment some time ago.
Many Japanese believe that a ‘bakeneko’ (化貓) is an evil spirit transformed by a cat. They are very hard to differentiate from normal cats as all of them just look alike. It is believed that cats have 9 lives. When a cat lives for 9 years, it will grow additional tails. So this cat would continue to grow one tail every 9 years until it has a total of 9 tails. If this 9-tailed cat lives for another 9 more years, it can transform into human shape. Only after it has the ability to transform into human shape that this cat is said to possess 9 lives. At this stage this cat or rather ‘bakeneko’ can tear any demons or living beings into pieces and devour them. This ‘bakeneko’ is believed to possess magical power and that it can control corps and making people hallucinate. The cats that have the tendency to change into evil cat spirit are believed to be the Japanese calico cat and Persian cat.
Since Yuki has a Persian cat, I would just keep a watchful eye on it even though it meows at me as if greeting an old friend every time I visit Yuki. I remembered a story told to me concerning a ‘bakeneko’ transformed lady seek employment in a liquor shop in Japan many years ago. After a while, the lady boss found that the saki stored in her shop went missing with no reason.
One day, this lady boss walked passes the liquor storage area and found that her newly hired assistant was drinking her saki like no one’s business. The lady boss kept quiet and hide beside the window and prepare to catch this saki thief red handed. As she was watching, her lady assistant suddenly transformed into a giant cat! The unfortunate boss was shocked and shouted: “Ah!”
The bakeneko in the saki storage perceived the lady’s presence and it quickly jumped out and devoured the lady boss. It was said that this bakeneko was later killed by some Mantrayana priest hired by the lady’s husband.
Other than the spiritual side, the infamous ninjas of the old did mimic the movement of cats to climb and fall down from height. They would practice to craw like cats to avoid being detected by their enemies. A technique ninjas practice is called ‘the sole of a cat’ where they would prepare a piece of long clothe and when they want to sneak into a house made of woods, they would first throw this cloth onto the floor and then step onto the cloth. This will prevent old wooden floor from squeaking when the ninjas walk on dry planks. If you notice, ninjas fight like a cat too!
Perhaps I should quickly catch hold of the said cat downstairs before it has a chance of transforming itself into a ‘bakeneko’. A nicely barbecued cat cannot play any tricks… One tail or nine tails! Now where is my friend’s phone number?