Cat (猫 mao): In Chinese culture, the cat symbolizes wishes for a long life because it has the same pronunciation as the word for an 80 year old or "octogenarian" (耄 mao). Cats have been known to be an image of wholeness. They combine beliefs of the psychic and the sensual, the physical and the spiritual aspects of faith. This is precisely the reason why cats are thought to have nine lives, healing powers, and are independent and curious in nature. The cat is the protector of silkworms because it can ward off and kill mice and rats which attack these producers of silk thread. They are also believed to get rid of evil spirits. Chinese believe that because cats have acute eyesight, they can see spirits in the dark. Chinese cat paintings are often presented as a gift to the aged for nobility and longevity meanings.


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