How The Cat Came To Live With Man

: Folk-tales Of The Khasis

In olden times Ka Miaw, the cat, lived in the jungle with her brother

the tiger, who was king of the jungle. She was very proud of her

high pedigree and anxious to display the family greatness, and to

live luxuriously according to the manner of families of high degree;

but the tiger, although he was very famous abroad, was not at all

mindful of the well-being and condition of his family, and allowed

them to be often in
want. He himself, by his skill and great prowess,

obtained the most delicate morsels for his own consumption, but as it

involved trouble to bring booty home for his household, he preferred

to leave what he did not want himself to rot on the roadside, or to

be eaten by any chance scavenger. Therefore, the royal larder was

often very bare and empty.

Thus the cat was reduced to great privations, but so jealous was she

for the honour and good name of her house that, to hide her poverty

from her friends and neighbours, she used to sneak out at night-time,

when nobody could see her, in order to catch mice and frogs and other

common vermin for food.

Once she ventured to speak to her brother on the matter, asking him

what glory there was in being king if his family were obliged to

work and to fare like common folks. The tiger was so angered that she

never dared to approach the subject again, and she continued to live

her hard life and to shield the family honour.

One day the tiger was unwell, and a number of his neighbours came to

enquire after his health. Desiring to entertain them with tobacco,

according to custom, he shouted to his sister to light the hookah

and to serve it round to the company. Now, even in the most ordinary

household, it is very contrary to good breeding to order the daughter

of the house to serve the hookah, and Ka Miaw felt the disgrace keenly,

and, hoping to excuse herself, she answered that there was no fire

left by which to light the hookah. This answer displeased the tiger

greatly, for he felt that his authority was being flouted before

his friends. He ordered his sister angrily to go to the dwelling of

mankind to fetch a firebrand with which to light the hookah, and,

fearing to be punished if she disobeyed, the cat ran off as she was

bidden and came to the dwelling of mankind.

Some little children were playing in the village, and when they saw

Ka Miaw they began to speak gently to her and to stroke her fur. This

was so pleasant to her feelings after the harsh treatment from her

brother that she forgot all about the firebrand and stayed to play

with the children, purring to show her pleasure.

Meanwhile the tiger and his friends sat waiting impatiently for

the hookah that never came. It was considered a great privilege to

draw a whiff from the royal hookah; but seeing that the cat delayed

her return, the visitors took their departure, and showed a little

sullenness at not receiving any mark of hospitality in their king's


The tiger's anger against his sister was very violent, and, regardless

of his ill-health, he went out in search of her. Ka Miaw heard him

coming, and knew from his growl that he was angry; she suddenly

remembered her forgotten errand, and, hastily snatching a firebrand

from the hearth, she started for home.

Her brother met her on the way and began to abuse her, threatening to

beat her, upon which she threw down the firebrand at his feet in her

fright and ran back to the abode of mankind, where she has remained

ever since, supporting herself as of old by catching frogs and mice,

and purring to the touch of little children.