Misadventures in Feline Astrology

In December of 1984, I had just moved to Seattle with my girlfriend, Terri (later we got married).  Terri was from California.  She was feeling homesick and missing her family as well as California’s sunny weather.  Terri was a big cat lover, so I decided to get her a cat for Christmas.

My brother had a girlfriend, Peggy, who was a veterinarian.  I asked Peggy if she knew of any new cat litters where the owners were selling kittens.  I told her I was looking for a really special kitten.  Peggy checked around and found a litter of half Siamese - half Manx kittens. “They are only six weeks old, which is a little early to take them away from their mother, but it might be alright,” Peggy said.  I called the owner and asked about the kittens.  “Yes, they are extremely cute,” she said. “We have five kittens left.”  

“I hope you don’t think this is a strange question,” I said, “but do you happen to know their birth date?”  “Sure,” the owner said, “it was November 16th.”  “Great,” I said, “How about the time of birth, do you happen to know that?  “Why do you want to know the time?” the owner asked.  “Well, I am an astrologer, and this is a present for my girlfriend,” I said.  “I was thinking I would like to do the cat’s horoscope.”  There was a pause on the other end of the line, “Uh huh. Well, let’s see. It was in the afternoon….  Let me check with my wife.”   He put down the phone for a minute and then came back. “She says that it was around 3:30 in the afternoon.”  “Fantastic”, I said, I’ll come right over.” 

“What a stroke of luck,” I thought. “He knows the birth time.  I can include the kitten’s horoscope as part of the Christmas present!”   Many times, owners forget the time when their pregnant mother cat delivers her litter. Cats also frequently give birth when their owners are not present.  Having a birth time and being able to do the kitten’s chart seemed to add a unique element to the gift, so I was highly motivated to find a kitten for Terri among this litter.  I got out my ephemeris and table of houses (no computer astrology in those days) and calculated the horoscope.  I saw the Aries ascendant, with the lagna lord, Mars, placed in the tenth house.  This indicated a strong constitution, and an outgoing nature. The moon was in Magha.  “Good, he’ll be like a mighty lion”, I thought.  Jupiter and Venus were in the ninth house, nicely placed.  “Good enough,” I thought, quickly passing over the Sun and Mercury conjunction in the eighth house, “It’s a strong chart.”   

I met the owner and he showed me the litter.  Four cute little balls of fur wiggled around their sleeping mother, competing for a place next to her.  Off to the side, however, was a grayish white explorer who seemed to be curious about the entire room.  He was the cutest of the lot, as well as being a bundle of energy and personality. “I’ll take him,” I said.

On Christmas eve, I gave the kitten to Terri.  I first gave her the Christmas card.  I had drawn the horoscope inside the card.  “A horoscope?”  Terry asked with a puzzled look on her face.  “Are you giving me a reading for Christmas?”  “A reading is part of the present,”  I said, “But this chart belongs to someone very special.”  I had tied a bow around the kitten’s neck and put him in a basket.  He was not pleased with this arrangement and made lots of noise, so I hid him in the bedroom closet.  I got the basket and Terri opened it. When she saw the kitten, she was beside herself with excitement.  “A kitten,” she cried, “He’s darling!” “What shall we name him?” I asked  After some deliberation, she settled on Washake, after a famous Native American chief from the Seattle area.  Terri was very happy with her new pet.

Proud of my present-selecting capability, the next day I got the Christmas card with the kitten’s horoscope drawn on it and gave Terri the astrological reading for Washake.  “He will be strong and assertive,” I said, “His Mars is exalted in the tenth house. He will have a good constitution and a long life.  He will see himself as the king of the jungle because of his Magha Moon.”  I was getting into my new role as cat astrologer, and was humorously enjoying telling Terri all the wonderful and amazing qualities possessed by her new little kitty, Washake. “He’s just a kitten,” I thought. “It’s not the same as a person’s chart.”  I wasn’t really sure how much these personality traits would actually manifest in a cat, but it didn’t matter.  I was trying to make my new girlfriend feel good, and was willing to exaggerate the cat’s positive traits a bit in order to do it.  It was cute and funny, and Washake was very cooperative. He exemplified each of the traits I described, even at the tender age of six weeks.  He roamed all over the house, poking his nose into everything, pestering both of us endlessly.

In fact, he just wouldn’t stop.  Like a true Leo Moon, Washake demanded total attention.  He followed both of us around, climbed all over us, and in my non-cat-lover-view, made a total nuisance of himself.  At night, he roamed around the bedroom, meowing loudly to be lifted up onto the bed. Two minutes after lifting him on to the bed, he would jump off the bed and roam around the room again.  Five minutes later, he was meowing to be lifted up again.  This went on for weeks. Although Terri was still excited with her new kitten, I began to have second thoughts.

In addition to his unbounded energy, Washake’s eighth house Sun and Mercury gave him some compulsive behaviors as well. Very soon after came to live with us, we noticed that he had developed the habit of sucking on blankets or anything else he could get in his mouth. He drooled as he did this, which I found disgusting. This sometimes occurs when a cat is separated from his mother too early.   This habit stayed with him for the rest of his life. 

Washake grew into a giant cat, typical of the Manx half of his breeding. His lagna lord, Mars, was placed in Uttara Ashadha, which is signified by the tusk of an elephant.  Like Ganesh, he was big and could overcome any obstacle.  Like Muhammed Ali, his tenth house Mars formed Ruchaka Yoga. The ancient astrological texts say that this yoga makes the person a military general.  When I had originally seen this yoga in the chart,  I had thought it to be “cute” seeing that as a kitten, he was a fearless explorer.  I failed to consider what a military-general-cat might be like as an adolescent or an adult.  Washake terrorized the neighborhood.  Even though he had been neutered, he fought aggressively with other cats.

This aggressive trait extended to people as well.  Washake allowed people to pet him only for a few seconds before he would bite them. Even Terri, who was the only one he allowed to pet him, was not immune to his biting or scratching, and her arms frequently bore the evidence of Washake’s brutality.

Washake lived to the ripe old age of seventeen.  In spite of his sucking, drooling, biting, and scratching, Terri continued to lavish him with love and affection until the end.  In fact, over time, I even became mildly attached to Washake. I have never been a big animal lover, but living with Terri, I have slowly come to appreciate and even love our pets.

Washake taught me some good lessons.  In the future, I will never take a kitten from its mother too early.  I will also never again take the chart of a pet lightly.  I will insist on an accurate birth time and will screen the animal carefully.  Only well-balanced, affectionate, mild-mannered, non-compulsive kitties will be allowed to enter my house.  And I will never again, try to impress a girl with a cat.