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Why Tabby Wears an M--A Christmas C...
Why Tabby Wears an M--A Christmas Cat Story

Why Tabby Wears An M–A Christmas Cats Story

by | Dec 21, 2021 | Cat Behavior & Care | 55 comments

It’s become a tradition on the blog (and in my PETiQuette newspaper column) to share my favorite Christmas cat story this time of the year. This touching legend, included in Complete Kitten Care book, tells the story of a simple Tabby cat, and her gift on the very first Christmas day to a special mother and child. My own special tabby boy honors this page–notice the “M” on Karma’s brow…Enjoy!

Please be safe if you’re traveling. And help keep your cat calm during the holidays with these tips. May your holidays be blessed.


Why Tabby Wears An M: A Christmas Cat Story

There was no snow that night in Bethlehem. Instead, the small cat watched a star-spangled sky from her perch in the window of a stable. She liked the stable, for it was a warm safe place to raise her furry babies, and the innkeeper sometimes left scraps out for her to nibble. Tabby wasn’t particularly distinctive, and most humans didn’t look at her twice. After all, her short gray/black fur was quite common. But Tabby’s striped coat hid a heart bigger than cats twice her size.

This night, though, Tabby was out of sorts, for she’d not been able to hunt and catch dinner. Travelers had poured into town for days, so noisy they disturbed decent cat-folks’ rest. Why, they’d even invaded Tabby‟s quiet stable, a place she had before shared only with other furry creatures. Tabby hadn’t minded the human couple—they were calmer than most. She’d left that morning for her usual rounds, but when she returned, the stable was packed with people.

From her perch on the window, Tabby watched the last of the strangers leave. She slipped from the window, and padded silently inside—and froze!

“Meewwww, meewww, meewww,” cried a tiny voice.

A kitten? Tabby’s ears turn this way and that to find the sound of the kitten’s voice. It came from the manger, the very place Tabby often made her own bed. A woman knelt beside the manger, intent on the small mewling that arose from within. Tabby was drawn by the kittenish sound, though she knew her own furry babies were grown to cat-hood. She tiptoed forward very slowly, and passed by a wooly burro, a warm cow, and all the other animals.

The woman looked up, and saw the striped cat. “Oh, little cat,” she murmured, “my baby cannot sleep, and nothing calms him this night.” She sighed, and turned back to the manger. “How grateful would I be to anyone able to bring him sweet dreams.”

And, as Tabby watched, each stable animal stepped forward in turn and tried to soothe the woman’s baby. But the kittenish sounds continued, and finally Tabby could contain herself no longer.

Quickly, she washed herself—paws, face, behind the ears, to the very tip of her tail (so as not to offend the child’s mother)—and then shyly stepped forward. She leaped gracefully to the manger, and stared into the face of the most beautiful baby (human or kitten!) she’d ever seen. He cooed and smiled, waving his tiny hands at Tabby, and she very carefully drew in her claws and settled beside him. Forgotten was her empty tummy; she could only hear her heart calling out to this sweet human-kitten.

And Tabby began to purr.

The wondrous cat-song filled the stable with overwhelming emotion. The animals listened with awe, and the child’s mother smiled as her baby quietly went to sleep.

The child’s mother placed her hand gently on the purring Tabby’s forehead. “Blessings upon you, Tabby-cat, for this sweet gift given to me and my child,” she said. And where she’d touched Tabby’s brow, there appeared an M—the sign of the Madonna’s benediction.

From that day forward, all proper tabby cats are honored with an M on their brow for the great service they performed that first Christmas night. And Christmas nights often find Tabby cats staring into the night, purring as they recall a very special child their ancestor once sang to sleep.

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  1. KimT

    Such a beautiful, touching story!
    Merry Christmas, Amy – wishing you a beautiful holiday week with your family, friends, and “best friends”.
    Kim and CindyLu

  2. Chris Davis

    This story always touches my heart. I think of my beloved tabby cat, Pippen, and know she’s watching over me from above on this Christmas day.

  3. animalartist

    Thanks, Amy, I love to be able to share this! Do you have any idea of the origin of this story? I’d love to illustrate it someday.

    • amyshojai

      I don’t remember the origins–there are so many legends. *s* You certainly can share this blog post, if you wish, with credit to the book excerpt.

  4. pjb1943

    Great Christmas story Amy. Have lived around cats most of my life – those on the farm and later on, those who chose me as a caretaker. Stopped by from Susie’s party. the comment about juggling cats caught my eye.

    • amyshojai

      Thanks so much for the comment, Paul. You’re right, the kitties tend to choose us–and may let us think it’s the other way around. *s*

  5. Anna Coffin

    Lovely story. Now every time I see a cat with an M on it’s head I will think of this story. Merry Christmas!

    • Amy Shojai

      Thank you–yes, even my Siamese wannabe Seren has a very faint M on her forehead. 🙂

  6. Pat Browning

    Lovely story, Amy! Thank you for sharing it. Wishing you all good things in the New Year.

  7. Andrea

    Of course I always lay claim to this story because it is about my birthday buddy 🙂 (just kidding). I first heard it when a judge was looking at my Baryshnikat (a red mackerel tabby) and commenting on the perfect “m” on his forehead.

    I do hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

  8. Patricia

    Oh Amy this warmed my heart. What a beautiful story. I’m so glad I have three Tabby’s – a black/gray/silver and two yellow ones. Hope you and your family had a glorious Christmas. I know Santa came to see Seren and Magic.

    • Amy Shojai

      Tabbies are very special, indeed! And Happy New Year to you. 🙂

  9. Amy

    What a cute story – I’ve never heard it before 🙂

  10. Emma

    Cute little story! I was imagining something different for the M. My name is Emma, but I am often called M or M’s, thought maybe it would be something like that.

    • Amy Shojai

      Thank you! I love some of the fables and stories that help “explain” such things!

  11. Cathy Armato

    What an absolutely beautiful story, I just love it! Thank you for sharing. I’m listening to Christmas music as I read this (-:

  12. K.B. Owen

    Our new orange tabby girl has an “M” on her forehead! What a wonderful Christmas story. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Mary @ Stale Cheerios

    What a neat story! I hadn’t actually ever hear this one.

    I hope you and all your pets have a wonderful Christmas.

  14. Mary Haight

    Lovely story, Amy! Thanks for the smile and hope you’re enjoying the holidays =)

  15. thebrokedog

    What a sweet story! And what a beautiful “M” it is!

  16. Joely Smith

    Love this! Am I sense a twist on a very well known biblical story here? 🙂 What a beautiful kitty too!

  17. MyDogLikes

    Beautiful story – our late cat Maxwell had a prominent “M” on his brow!

  18. FiveSibesMom

    What a beautiful and touching Christmas tale! Love it!


    Always makes me tear up that story. Of course cats are billiant and would do exctly that!

  20. Cathy Collar

    What a wonderful story. Thank for sharing. <3

  21. Talent Hounds

    What a lovely story- I had never heard that before. I wonder what Pug markings say? Happy Holidays.

  22. Ruth Epstein

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story, Merry Christmas to you and your family

  23. The Daily Pip

    I absolutely love this! I am going to read this to my daughter Christmas eve. We don’t currently have a Tabby in our household, but we had two when my daughter was a baby. They both passed away in 2009 when my daughter was only 3. This will be a nice way to honor their memory and Christmas at the same time.

  24. Mary McCauley

    Thank you for this lovely story.

  25. Dan Rivan

    This story is great thanks for sharing

  26. anniston morrow

    thanks for sharing


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