Updated: Jan 17
I was talking to one of my aunts a few days ago and she mentioned that she's concerned about how her daughter's dog will react to the new baby when they bring it home.
I replied something like, "As far as I know, dogs are inclined to protect the baby... I'd be more worried about cats, they suck the souls from children."
Luckily, I wasn't the only one who had heard of this myth before, otherwise that comment may have seemed a bit odd.
Anyway, that thought just popped into my mind again for some reason, so I decided to look up where that dirty lie started (I assumed it had something to do with witches) and here's what I found from an article posted on Livescience.com
"One case from 300 years ago may have given this tale all the oomph it needed to reach its current scare level. In the Annual Register, a publication that records the year’s interesting events, there is an entry for Jan. 25, 1791: "A child of eighteen months old was found dead near Plymouth; and it appeared, on the coroner's inquest, that the child died in consequence of a cat sucking its breath, thereby occasioning a strangulation."
The 1700's, am I right? I guess crib death and SIDS weren't diagnosed yet, so they had to blame it on something.
There was only a small mention of witches in the article - pretty much just the fact that cats were associated with witches, so if a cat was around when a baby died, it was assumed that the witch cat murdered it. Also mentioned were some reasons that a cat might be caught trying to "steal your baby's breath," such as; they love the smell and taste of milk, so baby's mouth might have an appealing scent to it; they're jealous attention hogs and want to know what this new creature is doing in it's home; they like to be warm and snuggly, and a tiny little sleeping body might be a decent space heater for the kitty.
I'll end this post with a superstition that is the complete opposite of this myth:
"Put a cat in the cradle of newlyweds, and a baby will arrive soon." (India)
Thanks so much for reading - I'll be going down a rabbit hole of more cat related myths and superstitions tonight, I'm sure, so I figure I'll share some of my favorites in another post soon.