Lady Wilde’s (Oscar Wilde’s mother’s) Irish Legends: The King of the Cats

From Lady Wilde’s fascinating book, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland (Dublin: Ticknor, 1887).

A most important personage in feline history is the King of the Cats. He may be in your house a common looking fellow enough, with no distinguishing mark of exalted rank about him, so that it is very difficult to verify his genuine claims to royalty. Therefore the best way is to cut off a tiny little bit of his ear. If he is really the royal personage, he will immediately speak out and declare who he is ; and perhaps, at the same time, tell you some very disagreeable truths about yourself, not at all pleasant to have discussed by the house cat. A man once, in a fit of passion, cut off the head of the domestic pussy, and threw it on the fire. On which the head exclaimed, in a fierce voice, ” Go tell your wife that you have cut off the head of the King of the Cats; but wait! I shall come back and be avenged for this insult,” and the eyes of the cat glared at him horribly from the fire. And so it happened; for that day year, while the master of the house was playing with a pet kitten, it suddenly flew at his throat and bit him so severely that he died soon after.

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