Scarewolf Craydar: Cat’s in the Cradle, A Cautionary Tale
By Nate Balding
Art By Jason White
Published Issue 094, October 2021
Brisk autumn air swirls over the northern hemisphere carrying the sweet funeral dirge that calls all Earth’s good people to goth Christmas. Yes, the time has once more come for Samhain, that perfect moment wherein the veil between worlds is thinnest and Glenn Danzig is gifted yet another band. Anoint your altars and gather up your sacred silver ye children of the Lord Below and settle in for stories about the Halloween mascots carousing around your home, mewling for a bowl of pre-recall Blue Buffalo because this month we’re chattin’ cats.
It’s widely known that cats exist in the service of Satan conveying damned souls from this plane to hell, where they’ll live out either their wildest dreams or be tortured for eternity. But did you know they can also steal a baby’s face? According to various unfounded legends — true story! — it’s said that if a pregnant woman keeps a cat in her lap, the child will arrive bearing the feline visage of the accursed pet. Even those who’ve taken precautions against this outcome — mainly through profane catnip recipes and Appalachian yarn charming — may still labor with a fleshy womb stone warped into a cat shape as if some wretched deity has slipped a frightened-kitty cookie cutter around the amniotic sac. While all of that sounds bad there are upsides. Feral hybrids are pre-made for the apocalypse and raising them costs only a fraction of the norm-born on whom they will feast with terrible delight.
Which brings up El Broosha, enemy of Sephardic parents. This possible mistranslation of Lilith, first wife of Adam (as in and Eve) gets small but nonetheless horrifying mention in a handful of texts as a giant black cat-demon stalking through the night, seeking the blood of Hebrew babies. As Seder plates go, not the best.
Maybe start passing on Christmas get-togethers as well. Iceland has its own grimalkin man-eater with the very pronounceable moniker, Jólakötturinn. It spends its late December days invoking the spiteful ghost of Joan Rivers and leaving its own version of a red carpet bleeding through the snow whenever it meets a person not dressed well enough for Christmas Eve dinner. Dare to depart without a fancy new hat or a baller-ass boutonniere, and get ready to face down the deadly shade of fashion’s fiercest pussy.
There has to be at least one more legend of cats’ love for the deaths of newborn babies, asked the cycloptic drug dealer I met on the bus while researching this article. As luck would have it, yes! Kitty’s body count is as high as it is young.
Over the years numerous physicians have attributed infant deaths to cats stealing their breath while they sleep. In 1791, a jury rendered a coroner’s belief correct in that a smothered child was, in fact, the victim of a lung sucking tabby. In 1929, a Nebraskan doctor told a newspaper — a thing wherein facts used to be printed — that he’d witnessed, “… the family pet in the very act of sucking a child’s breath, lying on the baby’s breast, a paw on either side of the babe’s mouth, the cat’s lips pressing those of the child and the infant’s face pale as that of a corpse, its lips with the blueness of death.”
And everybody just swung with that.
So where exactly do cats line up with the mythologies surrounding All Saints’ Day? Where else but the Celtic countryside. Cat-sìth is a witch with the ability to turn into a monstrous mouser nine times before becoming trapped in a cat body forever. It spends its nights searching for souls to steal but can be tricked away from the recently dead by throwing a wild party with music loud enough to sour the witch on their hunt.
Much like its domestic counterparts Cat-sìth does have an ankle-rubbing, human-loving, eating-out-of-your-hand-while-purring side, however. On Samhain night any house leaving a saucer of milk will receive a blessing of good fortune. A sort of treat, if you will. ‘Course if you leave nothing you become forever cursed and the teats rot off of your cows, which I gotta say: Pretty fucked up trick, cat.
If you should run afoul of one of Halloween’s inspirations for sexiest costume and aren’t immediately devoured, deformed or dragged to a lake of fire, it might be a good idea to gift it a little something something, just to be on the safe side.
Have questions about the paranormal?
Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @WerewolfRadar.
It’s a big, weird world. Don’t be scared. Be Prepared.
Nate Balding is a freelance humanoid who occasionally manifests in print and can most likely be seen at Werewolf Radar. Should you wish to hear him manifest audibly you can do so at the aforementioned Werewolf Radar’s associated podcast on Spotify and Apple, and if anything ever becomes humorous again, on a variety of stand up stages around the nation. If you’re truly craving further content there’s always @Exploder on Twitter — even if it is only a form of digital self flagellation at this point. His one thing that he considers actually accomplished was this time he was published in the journal Nature and then later collected into a volume called Futures from Nature, still available in places that have things.
In case you missed it, check out Nate’s September Werewolf Radar You Height Up My Life with art by Moon Patrol.
Jason White is an artist living in the suburbs of Chicago. His favorite mediums are oil on canvas and pencil & ink drawings. When he was a kid he cried on the Bozo Show. His work varies from silly to serious and sometimes both. Check out more of his work on Instagram.
Jason White is also featured in October’s issue Index. Check out his September art piece, Alien and Cat In Boat, the inspiration for Joel Tagert’s short story, Her Lonely Work.