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The Cat, Dog and Horse Lectures, and “The Beyond”


The Felidae, or cat tribe, is a large family of which the domestic cat is only one branch.

Brehm’s Thierleben mentions lions, tigers, pumas, leopards, panthers, snow leopards, jaguars, and yet more as members of the true cat family.

It may be wondered why I use an old-fashioned book like Brehm’s when there are many more up-to-date books on the subject.

No doubt if we were going to study animals purely from the biological or anatomical side, the newer books would be far better, for there would be a lot of new and valuable discoveries, but our purpose is to discover what animals mean to us psychologically, how they affect us, how we are to estimate a dog, cat, or horse when we meet them in dreams or active imagination and for this purpose Brehm remains the textbook par excellence, for he has no modern one-sided attitude but portrays a great deal of what man projects onto animals and that is just what we need to know.

One could say that he describes animals not in modern scientific concepts, but in almost anthropomorphic terms.

He says, for instance, that certain animals are tricky, fierce, ill-tempered, humorous, or the reverse, and so on, which is, of course, an application of human terms onto an animal that is really simply itself.

A tiger is fierce or cruel when we look at it from our point of view, but from its own, it is simply obeying the law of self-preservation.

When it sees a weaker animal, it sees a providential meal and to fail to add this tidbit to its larder would be to betray the law of self-preservation.

It knows nothing of chivalry, protecting the weak and all that, so what meaning could the words fierce or cruel have from its point of view?

But these words convey something of its nature to us, for they describe how we experience a tiger.

We do not even pretend in these lectures to study animals just as they are.

Therefore, the animal’s anatomy and so on are only of secondary importance to us.

These must, of course, be realized correctly; any illusions or delusions would be fatal.

For instance, it matters in a dream whether an animal belongs to a warm- or cold-blooded species, whether it has a cerebrospinal system, what its biological functioning is, and so on; but it is much more important for us to realize the impressions each animal makes on man.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the domestic cat is mainly descended from the Egyptian cat where North African wild cats were domesticated from very ancient days; according to Brehm, already about 2000 b.c.

A late nineteenth-century naturalist, Di:. Nehring of Berlin, came to the conclusion that our domestic cat has a dual origin: Egyptian and Southeast Asian, i.e., from a Chinese, originally wild, cat which was domesticated.

Most authorities, including Brehm, seem to take Egypt as their most likely origin and admit to possible crossing with European wild cats, but mainly on account of the color of the pads of the paws.

It seems to be most unlikely that our cats, with the possible exception of those with short, bushy tails, descend in any marked degree from tamed European wild cats.

Therefore, for the most part, they are not indigenous to our soil.

This Egyptian origin applies to the shorthaired breeds, especially the common tabby.

Long-haired Persian or Angora cats, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, come from the “manul” cat of the deserts of central Asia.

Siamese cats do not seem certainly to originate in Siam.


The female cat is a highly maternal animal.

The cat seeks a hidden place for her kittens, largely because the tomcat, their father, would eat them if he found them.

The cat mother is so maternal that she not only looks after her own family in a most exemplary and tender- but also, as they get older, in a highly educational – manner, but there are well authenticated examples of mother cats who fed and brought up puppies, fox cubs, baby rabbits, hares, squirrels, rats, and even mice (Brehm and his small son made such experiments with their cats and confirmed this).

Brehm, who seems if anything a little prejudiced in favor of the cat, denies that they are false or vengeful, and says that everything depends on how they are treated and, though he emphasizes their attachment to the house, assures us that they can be almost as much attached to people.

Many cat lovers tell us the same, and I have also met cats which seemed almost more attached to people than places.

No doubt exceptional cats are capable of further domestication, but on the whole they remain amazingly independent and also the cruel and crafty hunter who will play with his living prey before eating it.

They are, after all, a small edition of big, fierce beasts of prey, and if one loves a cat, one must love it as is and not try to de-cat it.

In that respect they can teach us a lot in our relations to other human beings.

It is also a fact which Brehm ignores that the cat is almost universally associated with magic and witches.

The hook for this projection onto cats is probably the way that they, like serpents, with whom they have other similarities, can cast a sort of spell on their prey; a bird, for instance, is sometimes totally unable to fly away if it is caught in the spell of a cat’s eyes.

Cats are, of course, immensely useful in ridding us of mice.

Brehm tells us that Lehm made careful experiments and came to the conclusion that when mice were plentiful, every adult cat ate twenty mice a day on an average, i.e. 7,330 mice a year.

The majority of cats also rid us of rats though this requires more courage than every cat has.

Cats go wild, as you know, very much more easily than dogs and really take to the woods and become poachers of every kind of game that is not too large for them. In contradistinction to dogs, a cat can support itself at large for years.

On the other hand, a cat is one of the most cozy and relaxed animals that exist.

They are just cozy when it suits them, however, for they are undoubtedly the most independent of all our domesticated animals.

Kipling’s immortal title of the cat that walked by herself is eternally true of even the most domesticated cat.

We human beings easily regard them as false, for they change mood in what is to us an inexplicable way.

We might now attempt the cross hairs in our telescope as far as the actual cat, or our blind instinct that appears as a cat, is concerned.

I must emphasize once again, however, that the qualities, mainly taken from Brehm, I have attributed to cats in the following schema are already to a great extent human projections.

A cat is just a cat, a just-so story, that follows its nature all of a piece.

Whether it plays, hunts, sleeps, miaows, or purrs, it does so completely with the whole cat.

The qualities which we attribute to it are human impressions, even in this first series referring to actual cats.

The examples in the second series – mainly from mythology – are, of course, still more human projections, just as mythology and astrology always are.

Naturally the cat provides us with hooks – they fit into its nature.

As mentioned before, the fact that they are human projections is very helpful in finding out what they mean to us when we dream of them or have to analyze them in a patient’s dream.

Therefore, when we have established the main qualities of concrete cats – as we see them -we will go on to their mythology and then fit these aspects as well as we can into our scheme and finally try to see the psychological meaning of our

examples and thus get an idea of what the cat may represent in unconscious material.

Clearly we cannot separate all these headings at all sharply.

For instance, the mother cat can be just as, if not more, fierce and cruel than the hunter, and the cat that “walks by itself” and is intensely independent will also hunt when occasion arises. ~Barbara Hannah, The Cat, Dog, Horse Lectures, Page 65-67