As the title of this blog suggests, I love cats of all kinds and the feline aspect of my personality is illustrated in the image that accompanies this post: Morven as big cat.

Another love is language and since I moved to Scotland I have enjoyed discovering some of the wonderfully evocative words in Scots. Eldritch is among them. It means weird, sinister and ghostly.

This is an example from Burns: So Maggie runs, the witches follow,  Wi’ monie an eldritch skreich and hollo. 

This one comes from Robert Louis StevensonThe woman, whose voice had risen to a kind of eldritch sing-song, turned with a skip, and was gone.

One August several summers ago, I had direct experience of something I can only describe as eldritch. At the time I was sharing an isolated cottage with three cats. Belle and Lily were sisters and the third was Belle’s son Teddy. Except when the temperature fell below freezing, I put them all out at night.

Around 5am I was woken by loud screams. They weren’t human: they weren’t any of the feline mating calls or fighting hisses familiar to me. They sounded as though someone was in the kitchen torturing one of my cats.

Even though I was alone in the cottage, the urge to protect the poor creature was stronger than fear. I sprang out of bed and rushed down the stairs.

In the half-light before sunrise, I saw little Lily, the runt of her litter, puffed up to twice her size with her bottle-brush tail upright. She was hurling abuse at the tomcat with the scarred nose and bent ear, which cowered in the corner between the cupboard and the sink.

So as well as meaning weird and unearthly, eldritch is also the perfect adjective to describe the racket made by a small cat defending her territory against an invader.

Morven Ash

August 2016