How Cats Keep Evil Spirits Away

I’ve always found the legends and mythologies surrounding cats to be quite interesting. Some cultures believe that they rule the underworld. Some believe they steal your breath while you sleep. Still others believe it is a bad omen for a black cat to cross your path.

The most interesting to me is the rumour that they help to keep your home free from ghosts or evil spirits. I have a simple and satisfying theory based on my own experience as to how cats may have acquired this useful ability. I shall introduce this theory to you via two anecdotes:

1) Between moving out of my parent’s basement and moving in with my girlfriend I had an apartment completely to myself. At night, when I turned the lights off and climbed into bed, I took any noise very seriously. Creaking boards, taps on the wall, moaning, all these noises stirred me to nervous wakefulness.

In order to convince myself that the noise was not anything to worry about, my mind would immediately begin to search for things could have caused it. Was it the building settling? Was it the wind? Was I still dreaming when I heard it?

For the lifeless taps and creaks, these answers were sufficient to calm me. With the noise identified as a simple, inanimate physical event, I could go immediately back to sleep.

Once, I was plagued by a soft but persistent noise that was quite obviously very alive. To me, it sounded like a person standing in the room with me scratching themselves or quietly leafing through a book.

I rose on several occasions, jumping out of bed at the sound to claw at the wall in search of the light-switch. Over several exhaustive searches of the room, I became increasingly agitated as I failed to find signs of anything that could be making this noise.

I’ll cut this story short and tell you that the culprit ended up being a moth that had been trapped between my window and the screen. Once identified, calm relaxation resumed.

2) After moving in with my girlfriend and her cat, it took me a little time to adjust to the presence of a small animal in my home. At night, on hearing the cat walk past my door, I would be startled out of light sleep only to say to myself: “Oh. It’s only the cat.”

As time went on, I became used to bumps in the night, creaking floor boards, taps at the door and even soft whining. On hearing any of these potentially frightening noises, I wouldn’t even flinch.

These days, I’m so used to cat noises in the night that even if I hear a sound that seems unlikely to be a cat, I conveniently explain it away as feline tinkering.

The point I am trying to make with these two anecdotes, if you haven’t guessed already, is that a cat is an easy scapegoat for the noises of the night. I don’t mean to crap on anyone’s beliefs or take any sort of stand on whether or not ghosts exist. I am merely pointing out that there could be a ghost moving up and down my hall each night, causing the floor to creak and even occasionally knocking things off of shelves and I wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep because I have an explanation.

However else you might claim that a cat banishes evil spirits, I’m going to take a stand here and say that this is the most common and effective way in which they do so: Not as vigilant guardians of their owners or a threatening deterrent for ghosts, but as a convenient explanation for things that go bump in the night.

David Warkentin is a Toronto-based writer whose work can be found on his Amazon author page. If you do twitter,

15 Responses to “How Cats Keep Evil Spirits Away”
  1. Kylie S. says:

    I just recently adopted a cat on New Years to complete my little “family”. (I already have a rescued 45lb German/Border Collie dog) I’m like you were, I live in my first two bedroom apt alone and I’m… well I wouldn’t say “superstitious” but I heed caution where it need’s be. I put a line of salt by my front door and patio door and keep a cross close by in rooms should I get scared at night. Recently I have started having really horrid nightmares that feel demonic related and whenever I wake up from them I look to my dog to see if she is startled or can feel anything. If she’s calm, I can fall back asleep. I had always heard cat’s, for some cultures, can keep away evil spirits/see them and that ghost don’t like the sounds of bells either so that actually played a factor when I adopted Sake and why she has a little bell on her collar. It’s not so I can find her, it’s too keep away evil haha! Anyway, this article definitely runs parallel to what’s going on right now because should I hear anything or wake from a nightmare I know the cat’s around and roaming the house so I feel at least a bit safer, even if it’s only for peace of mind.

  2. nox lumen says:

    While I understand totally the concept of the scape cat, I have had 2 experiences where that just didn’t work.

    In the first, I didn’t own a cat, but one would get in bed and curl up with me anyway, I just couldn’t see it. Though that sounds creepy, I always felt safe and slept well when the invisible cat that I shouldn’t have had came to bed. While i understand skepticism on flesh and blood cats fending off evil, it makes perfect sense to me that a spirit kitty may be just the thing to do exactly that, though that may not always make it to the myths.

    The next was the bat. Me and mom were doing house remodeling, and it was getting late so I was relaxing at this very computer after a hard day of insulating old walls that had once been a log cabin farm house turned 3 bedroom country home. The 3 cats were removed to mom’s trailer up north so our mouser wouldn’t get stuck in a wall or roll in fiberglass when we weren’t looking. After the spirit cat and growing up with cats then living with them with roommates, the crinkle crinkle noise was dismissed automatically as a cat playing in plastic. Unfortunately, it was a bat that got stuck in the house, and a large one at that with a wing span over a foot, witch proceeded to dive bomb us, thinking we were hostile. I like bats, but not when they panic in a small space.

  3. YvetteButterfly says:

    I have a 5 year old little girl and a menagerie of domestic, farm and exotic animals. I grew up with cats, dogs, birds, and farm animals. We bought a farm a year ago and have been acquiring farm animals I have had cats all my life and got tired of the stinky cat box, the walking on counters and tables, tearing up toilet paper and paper towels, and hadn’t had one in over 7 years. My youngest daughter kept saying she wanted a cat and so 6 months ago her dad came home with a cat. I have lived with the tp and paper towel destruction and stinky cat box along with the counters and table incidences, a little grumpily but hey she loves the cat and the cat loves her. He tolerates her sometimes aggressive loviness and reciprocates the love sometimes gentle or sometimes just as aggressive. He follows her everywhere, and when bedtime comes around she hauls him upstairs if he gets outside she goes and brings him back in because she doesn’t want a coyote or wolf to eat him. I would have preferred he went outside since he came from a farm and lived in the barn there. He will now follow us upstairs and go to bed now, and sometimes like lastnight he will meow at me to tell me it is bedtime. I took his cue lastnight and we all went to sleep he immediatley crawled up by my daughters head and went to sleep, not his normal sleeping arrangement but I thought oh how sweet. I was awoke with a start when he was growling and hissing at somethin, my dogs sleep in a crate as they are still being potty trained. so it was not the dogs that set him off. I turned the light on and checked the room, He was laying right next to my daughter now with his ears back and in a defensive stance. I texted my fiance at work to let him know what happened and told him that I wanted to smudge and clear the house upon his arrival home in the morning, he told me to get the sweet grass or sage and smudge us and the room immediately, so I did and said a prayer. I was able to go back to sleep only to be awoke again by the cat growling and so I put the braid of sweet grass above our bed and went back to sleep. I was able to sleep uninterrupted and the cat has not left my daughters presence all morning and he does this patrol like behavior. I have to say I am so glad we got the cat and will treat him like the treasure he is even more so. It is not that I don’t like them I do I just don’t like the stink and mess that comes with them. It kind of grosses me out that he wiill go from his poopy cat box and walk all over my counters and tables. But I wouldnot have been able to sleep had it not been for him alerting me to the presence lastnight so that I could take the measures to ensure our safety. I have felt the presence before and took precautions but have only had bad dreams when I exiled the cat to the downstairs when I found he had used my banana plants for his bathroom. Recently I have let him back upstairs because my daughter cried and missed him so much, bad dreams stopped and now I know why. I will always have a cat from now on, I had told my children that as long as we had animals in the house they would keep the monsters away. I am glad I told them that. I have not had a cat like him though none of my other cats have showed this kind of ability. I know that he can’t protect us physically but he can let me know when I need to protect myself sprititually.

    • Dave W says:

      That’s a creepy story! Glad the cat makes you feel safe.

    • Meg P says:

      While I am glad you appreciate the cat for his spiritual abilities, it sounds like he is a part of the family that you are not treating as an equal. If he’s using your plant as a cat box then you need more bathrooms available for him to stop this behavior. The poor thing can probably sense that your daughter seems to be the only one attached to him.

  4. Samatha L. says:

    For the past week my cat has been sleeping at me feet and 2 nights ago she began crawling up next to my chest into my arms last night i woke up to her growling i shrugged it off and went to bed when i woke u this thismourning i walked out to the living room and she stood at the entrance of my door hissing and growling yet again it wasn’t the first time there have been multiple times before hand where she has done this my only wonder is why is this only going on in my room if theres a ghost or some type of entity wouldn’t it be happening all over the house and not only in my room?

  5. shelna says:

    i firmly believed cats do scare away bad spirits!! ever since i bought a cat not for those reason , i didnt even know till i realised all the noises in the house finally dissapeared and a sense of fresh surroundings in my home ever since i acquired a cat at home…

  6. Jacob says:

    I do, and have always thought, that Cats have certain “abilities”…. But I also believe that spirits feed off of our “Fear”, and so, if you have a cat or two, and you hear noises at night, and put it down to “Cat Noise”…. then you are not giving off any Fear for the spirit to feed on. So, the cats presence works in two ways…. It keeps your fear level down, and has a natural ability to ward off spirits. [I don’t know why…. but that seems to have been a common story for a VERY long time now.]

    • courtney says:

      Spirits are just like me and you they are people and sometimes you have good people and sometimes you have bad people .demons are not people and never were . I have two cats and i believe they see things but are also protect against threats. As that is what my point of view is of cats as well as spirits is that there dead people.

  7. anjie says:

    Unfortunately I have never had a cat or dog (I would like onye but my mum always says no ;she says that cats and dogs harbor evil spirits but I dont think that is true)

  8. Zephon Rae says:

    Hi there! Interesting story! I have a different perspective, which brought me to this page. I have always had strange experiences that could not be logically explained, in every house I’ve lived in, many downright terrifying like when I was seven, both lights I turned on busted, and instead of crying out, I could only scream a whisper, some so beautiful, like when I awoke to noone sitting on the bed, holding my hand. Always. Always! lol
    Always, that is, until I got cats. Since acquiring two cats, one good and one evil (not kidding xD) I have had absolutely zero unexplainable occurrences! The sudden peace, the complete absence of what I had come to accept as truth, brought me to this article today! For me, at least, even these cats couldn’t be a scapegoat for the occurrences I have witnessed… And many of my stories include other people witnessing the events simultaneously! There could be some other reason for the peace, it’s just that, I have never before kept indoor cats! Thank you! ^__^

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