How The Tabby Cat Got Her M
Why Tabby Wears An M
One of the most touching legends tells the story of a simple Tabby cat, and
her gift on the very first Christmas day to a special mother and child.
There was no snow that night in Bethlehem. Instead, the small cat watched a
star-spangled sky from her perch in the window of a stable. She liked the
stable, for it was a warm safe place to raise her furry babies, and the
innkeeper sometimes left scraps out for her to nibble. Tabby wasn't
particularly distinctive, and most humans didn't look at her twice. After
all, her short gray/black fur was quite common. But Tabby's striped coat hid
a heart bigger than cats twice her size.
This night, though, Tabby was out of sorts, for she'd not been able to hunt
and catch dinner. Travelers had poured into town for days, so noisy they
disturbed decent cat-folks' rest. Why, they'd even invaded Tabby?s quiet
stable, a place she had before shared only with other furry creatures. Tabby
hadn't minded the human couple-they were calmer than most. She'd left that
morning for her usual rounds, but when she returned, the stable was packed
From her perch on the window, Tabby watched the last of the strangers leave.
She slipped from the window, and padded silently inside-and froze!
"Meewwww, meewww, meewww," cried a tiny voice.
A kitten? Tabby's ears turn this way and that to find the sound of the
kitten's voice. It came from the manger, the very place Tabby often made her
own bed. A woman knelt beside the manger, intent on the small mewling that
arose from within. Tabby was drawn by the kittenish sound, though she knew
her own furry babies were grown to cat-hood. She tiptoed forward very
slowly, and passed by a wooly burro, a warm cow, and all the other animals.
The woman looked up, and saw the striped cat. "Oh, little cat," she
murmured, "my baby cannot sleep, and nothing calms him this night." She
sighed, and turned back to the manger. "How grateful would I be to anyone
able to bring him sweet dreams."
And, as Tabby watched, each stable animal stepped forward in turn and tried
to soothe the woman's baby. But the kittenish sounds continued, and finally
Tabby could contain herself no longer.
Quickly, she washed herself-paws, face, behind the ears, to the very tip of
her tail (so as not to offend the child's mother)-and then shyly stepped
forward. She leaped gracefully to the manger, and stared into the face of
the most beautiful baby (human or kitten!) she'd ever seen. He cooed and
smiled, waving his tiny hands at Tabby, and she very carefully drew in her
claws and settled beside him. Forgotten was her empty tummy; she could only
hear her heart calling out to this sweet human-kitten.
And Tabby began to purr.
The wondrous cat-song filled the stable with overwhelming emotion. The
animals listened with awe, and the child's mother smiled as her baby quietly
went to sleep.
The child's mother placed her hand gently on the purring Tabby's forehead.
"Blessings upon you, Tabby-cat, for this sweet gift given to me and my
child," she said. And where she'd touched Tabby's brow, there appeared an
M-the sign of the Madonna's benediction.
From that day forward, all proper tabby cats are honored with an M on their
brow for the great service they performed that first Christmas night. And
Christmas nights often find Tabby cats staring into the night, purring as
they recall a very special child their ancestor once sang to sleep.