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Koh Phangan Hotel

Traveller's Myth:
Cat's Tail

Another favorite traveller's tales is about cat's tails. Look at a cat in Thailand and you will fine that generally the tail is either broken or malformed. You may have heard the Buddhist explanation about this phenomenon. One tourist related that he had heard the Thais believe Buddha said there can be nothing perfect in this world. Since the cat is believed to be perfect, so the story goes, the Thais cut off or mutilate the tail so the cat will no longer be perfect, This tourist believed this to be the truth, after all, a Thai person had told him. He could not believe that the man was pulling his leg ( or perhaps, tail?).

The truth lies in the genes. Domesticated cats originated in the Near East and travelled around the world with people. Upon arrival in an area they would not migrate but rather slowly spread out, interbreeding as they opened new territories. It is this slow rate of movement together with interbreeding that made the genetic trait for a malformed tail dominate among cats to this area carried this gene and passed it on. This is a bit more plausible than imagining Thai people searching out cats and chopping off their tails. If they did, what would they do with all those extra tails anyway?...

written by Shana Kongman



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