Cat Weddings in China

In China, bringing home a cat was a mix of tradition, poetry, & a touch of purr-suasion!

‘Cat Garden’ in the Song Dynasty records such an interesting ceremony: ‘Buying fish, threading through willows, escorting a cicada’.

《寫生圖冊·貓》沈周, 明
《寫生圖冊·貓》Shen Zhou, Ming

During the Xianfeng period of the Qing Dynasty, Huang Han(黃漢) wrote the book ‘Cat Garden(《貓苑》),’ collecting stories about cats.

Among the common practices of raising cats, the easiest method was to wait for a neighbor’s or relative’s female cat to become pregnant and obtain permission from the owner.

When receiving the kitten, it was customary to present a ‘betrothal gift,’ treating it as a marriage proposal.

‘Cat Garden’ records a poem by the Song Dynasty poet Huang Tingjian: ‘Buying fish, threading through willows, escorting a cicada(買魚穿柳聘銜蟬),’.

Similarly, the poetry of the Southern Song Dynasty poet Lu You(陸游) also describes how to obtain a kitten: ‘Wrapping salt to welcome the little servant cat(裹鹽迎得小貍奴),’ indicating the use of ‘salt’. Because in the Suzhou dialect, ‘salt’ is pronounced as ‘yuan(緣),’ it symbolizes ‘destiny’ when given during marriage.

See my translations for all 12 cat poems composed by Lu You.

It is also known that when receiving a cat, one must select an auspicious day for ‘receiving the cat.’ 納貓日,宜甲子、乙醜、丙午、丙辰、壬午、壬子、庚子,天月德、生炁,日忌飛廉、受死、驚走、歸忌等日.

A contract should be signed to receive the cat.

A reference table to select an auspicious day for 'receiving the cat.'
A calendar to choose the date for receiving a cat
in order to get a cat properly, a cat contract should be signed in ancient China
A cat contract

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