IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS THE PURR ...
On the seventh day, the Creator-spirit took his rest, turning his mind to other projects such as the creation of a race of grey people with huge dark eyes in a distant star system. He had, however, created a group of caretaker-managers, the Angels, to oversee the Earth while he was otherwise engaged, and during an annual audit one of these Angels - Bast - looked down at the Earth and felt that something was missing.
The dolphins were frolicking happily in the ocean and the various finned, feathered and furred life-forms were busy begetting offspring. The insects and humbler creations were buzzing and chirping and squelching in their ecological niches. Plants were growing and seeding and the humans were busy inventing fire and the wheel. However, there seemed to be something indefinably amiss in paradise.
Then Bast noticed. The mice and rats, of course, blessed with outstanding reproductive capacities, they were outstripping the predators' abilities to maintain balance in paradise.
'Brother Mongoose,' called Bast, 'I see that the rats and mice are going forth and multiplying and you and your begotten ones are having a hard time keeping up with them.'
Brother Mongoose paused in his toils, dropping a dead mouse, 'Tis true,' he admitted, 'the wife is busy nursing our latest brood and it seems that Lucifer has touched the rats and mice so that they multiply quicker than we can count. They gnaw away at the humans' grain stores and carry with them disease and famine.'
'I will see if I can arrange some help for you,' replied Bast.
The Angel Bast put a draft proposal on the Creator-spirit's desk, outlining plans for a new predator to help in the control of the rats and mice and of the rabbits who were beginning to display unnerving fecundity and were rapidly decimating the greenery. Two weeks later, her proposal was still in the Creator-spirit's 'Pending' tray, along with Black Death, and Bast decided to take it upon herself to address the situation before it deteriorated further.
'Firstly,' she mused, 'The new predator must be equipped for its role: it must have sharp ears and eyes and a keen sense of smell for locating rats and mice and rabbits, it needs sharp teeth and claws for catching and despatching them efficiently.
But,' she thought after a moment's consideration, 'it is to be a friend to the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve so it must be pleasing to the eye. Fur, I think and a plumy tail. Tickly whiskers and a pleasing voice to win over mankind, since in return for protecting their granaries and gardens, it needs a place in their hearts and homes. It will be neither too small since it must control rabbits nor too large since it must fit onto mankind's laps. And since mankind needs some lightness and joy in life, its young will have paws too big for their short legs, round bellies with bury-your-nose-in-it fur, little flagpole tails, eyes the colour of cornflowers and voices that chirp endearingly.'
Bast set about creating the perfect creature to fulfil these criteria. Soon her efforts were rewarded and cats graced the Garden, chasing butterflies and crickets, gambolling in the grass and keeping the rats and mice and rabbits under control to ensure the continuing harmony of the new world. The sons and daughters of Adam and Eve took cats to their hearts and hearths, soothed by the purring, amused by their antics, delighting in caressing the miniature tiger in their midst and worshipping its enchanting habits and the fumble-footed exploits of tumbling kittens.
Some while later, the Creator-spirit returned having created other worlds in the cosmos. He saw the cats and noted that they were not on his original inventory or blueprint.
'Bast! What have you done? Who gave you leave to create a new creature?'
Contritely, Bast indicated the over-breeding creatures which Lucifer had touched and had caused to carry diseases injurious to the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. She explained that mankind was in danger of being eaten out of Garden and home and extolled the various virtues of cat-kind - its cleanliness, its hunting prowess, its pleasing appearance and its soothing voice.
Now the Creator-spirit would not uncreate a creature, but he saw that mankind had raised cat above all others, even to the point of worshipping it.
'Bast, I will indulge you, for you have created a creature which is both pleasing and useful. Henceforth cat-kind will be pleasing in aspect and voice and be useful in hunting ... but ... it will have an annoying habit of kneading mankind with its sharp claws and it will have another voice - the hiss of a snake. Cats will attract superstition so that mankind will not be OVERLY fond of them and they will have a supercilious expression and be aloof and disdainful, though they may sometimes deign to keep company with the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.'
Thus the Creator-spirit ensured that cats were no more and no less than his own creations, although to this day there are many who hold the cat above all others, for exactly the qualities Bast endowed it with.
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