How The Dog and Cat Came To be Enemies – Gleanings From Chinese Folklore

How The Dog and Cat Became enemies is very interesting Chinese folklore. The folklore is said to be one of the favorite stories that grandparents love to tell their grandchildren.

How The Dog and Cat Came To be Enemies – Gleanings From Chinese Folklore by Nellie N Russell. This original book of Gleanings From Chinese Folklore is dated 1915. We have a signed copy of the book that says Chicago, January 1917

I assume that my grandfather Arthur William Hummel got a signed copy of the book at the University of Chicago. The book must have traveled from Chicago on the steamer he took to China and then back again to the United States. The book has now ended up in my possession.

How The Dog and Cat Came To Be Enemies – From Gleanings Of Chinese Folklore

Of the thousands and one stories the old women of China love to tell their children and grandchildren, none is so great a favorite as the one, “how the dog and cat came to be enemies for all time.”

The little black eyes grow bright as diamonds as they listen, and no bedtime story of Mother Goose of Western lands is my treasured. let me tell you the story, and I said listen possibly you can see the dear little children of the great flowery kingdom, many of them looking like little flowers gathered about some old grandma who loves and pets them as doe the grandmas of all lands.

The Old Lady and Her Son

In the long, long ago there lived in the country a poor widow who had only one son; but he was very kind and good to her, working early and late to support her. She was his one thought, but with all his efforts it was but a poor living that he could give her, and it was a great sorrow to him.

One day the gods said, “Such a son must be helped;” so after talking the matter over, one of them dressed as a temple priest, went to their gate and knocked. The widow came and opened the gate, but seeing the guest she said “Too bad, too bad. I am so poor I can not give you any help today.”

To this, the priest replied, “I have not come to get your help but to help you.” When the woman heard this, she said “I never heard of such a thing.”

The priest said, “it is a fact, and I now give you this gold ornament. When you wish to cook a meal you put this on the kettle, put on the cover, light your fire, and then repeat to the kettle several times what you want to eat. When the water boils the food is ready; take off the cover and eat, and you and your son be happy.”

With his joyful and incredible news, he was gone.

The Good Fortune

The old lady looked at the gold ornament in her hand, thought of what had been said to her, and wondered if she was asleep and it was all a dream.

To make sure she said, ” I will try this charm and see if it will work or if the priest has lied to me; I want some meat dumplings for supper.”

She put on her kettle, lighted her fire, and then repeated over and over again until the water boiled, “I want dumplings, meat dumplings. Come dumplings, come.”

When the water boiled she took off the cover, and behold the kettle was full of the most delicious-looking dumplings, “Ah,” she said, “what good fortune is mind, what good fortune is mine!” Never had she tasted such food in all her poor life.

After feeding all she could, she fed the cat and dog, and they too were wild with delight. How their sides filled out, and they jumped upon her to express their thanks.

“Now,” said she, “I will get my son a good supper,” and again she repeated the process.

When he came home looking so tired, she said, “I have a good supper for you tonight my son; all you want and more.”

“A good supper,” thought he,; “how can that be since all we ever have is millet and cornmeal?” But to his mother, he said, “Nothing you make is bad; it all tastes good.”

When she took the cover off and told him to look, he could hardly believe his eyes. He has seen such food, but never tasted it. The mother said, “Son eat, and I will tell you all about our good luck.”

When she concluded her story she showed him the golden ornament. “It is from the gods, my mother, and they have taken pity on you. I am indeed a happy son.”

After this, day by day, the mother and son and the household cat and dog had plenty to eat, and all was happiness to the little family.

The Envy of the Neighbors

One day some relatives came to call, and the old lady urged them to stay and eat with them. They refused at first, as they thought they could not provide anything worth eating, but finally, at the old lady’s most earnest request, they consented.

Such a feast of good things as she prepared for them; how surprised they were! They exclaimed again and again at the delicate flavors of everything and the quick time she had prepared them.

At last one of them asked how she could afford to provide such expensive food, and the old lady in pride of heart brought forth her treasure and told her secret to her guests.

They were filled with envy, and later on, one day when the old lady was away from home, one of them went into her room and stole her precious charm.

The Golden Charm is Stolen

Only the dog was in the room and though he saw, he did not know how great the loss was.

When the mistress came home and went to get her son’s supper she discovered her loss. She was filled with great sorry and distress.

When her son returned she told him and together they looked everywhere. The old lady wept most bitterly and refused to be comforted.

The cat and dog came and begged for their supper. but she paid no attention to them After that they had to eat millet and cornmeal again, and hard indeed it was, as they had become used to good food.

The cat and dog grew thin and refused the poor food.

The Dog and Cat Retrieve The Golden Charm

Finally, the dog concluded that the reason was because of the bright, pretty ornament their mistress always put in the kettle was no longer used and must be lost; and that is why the mistress cried so much. Then he remembered the neighbor who came and went into the closet and came out after a while with the treasure in his hand, and how he saw him put It in his pocket.

The dog then called the cat and told her all, but said “Alas! I am but a dog. I cannot get it, but you can, for you are able to get on the roofs of houses and crawl in windows, and you must get it.”

When the cat heard where it was, she said “But the river, how can I get across the river?” to which he replied, “I can swim, and when you come to the bank you get on my black and I will take you across.” So together they went.

When they reached the river the cat jumped on the dog’s back and he took her over safely. Then he said, “I will wait here for you while you go to the house for our mistress treasure.”

Over the roofs and along the fences the cat went till she came to the right house; then she found a window open and walking in she curled down in a warm place to take note of what was going on and to make her plans. After a time she spied a rat hole, and going over to it she waited patiently till a big mouse came out; then she sprang upon it and held it fast.

How that poor thing pleaded for its life! Cat said mouse I will save your life if you will do a favor. The mouse promise gladly and the cat told of the lost treasure and that it was in the house.

The mouse said I know about that; every day the family eats good food; let me go and I will get it for you. “No” said the cat, “I cannot let you go, for you would not come back. I will hold you closely but you call your companions and tell them where it is and when they bring it I will let you go.

Then the mouse called out and all the mice came running, and when told what to do, away they went in search of the gold ornament. After a time they came back with it and the poor mouse was allowed to go, while the cat made her way back to the riverside with the ornament in her mouth.

She found the dog waiting for her, and when he saw the treasure in her mouth he barked and jumped for joy. Before she got on his back, he said to her, “We are both very hungry; now if in going over the river you see a fish or anything good to eat, don’t try to get it, for if you do you will drop the treasure.” This he repeated once and again and they started for the other side.

Just before reaching the other side, a fish jumped up in the cat’s face; and before she thought, she made a grab for it and so lost the ornament in the river.

How the dog did scold and howl then; he was so hungry and such visions of a good supper had filled his eyes all the way over.

The Cat and The Frog

The cat was so sorry and promised she would think of a way to get it if only he would not bark so loudly. Look around she saw a big frog who looked very friendly and to her, she told all her troubles and said “I know you like to do good deeds of mercy, so please help me.”

The frog agreed and jumped in the river, and after a little returned with the lost charm.

Then after thanking the frog, the cat and dog started home; so happy where they could not get over the ground fast enough.

The cat mewed at the door, and when the old lady opened it and saw her with the lost treasure, she caught her up, made a big fuss over her, took her in the house, and shut the door, thus leaving the dog out in the court; as she did not know how much he had helped the cat, she did not pay any attention to him.

Soon a big supper was ready and once again the mother and son were happy. This time they fed the cat first, all she could eat, but forgot the dog, so absorbed were they in their own supper and in planning a good safe hiding place for the most precious charm.

The Cat And Dog Become Enemies

After a little, the cat went out into the yard, and seeing the poor, hungry dog she told him with great pride of all the good things she had had to eat and the nice things the family had promised her. “There is nothing left for you,” said the cat, “and if you are hungry you had better fly around and find a bone.”

When the dog heard this, he sprung upon her and bit her so she died immediately.

Then he went and told all the other dogs about it. When they heard the story they were most indignant at such ingratitude, and then and there took a solemn vow of internal enmity to the cats for all time to come.

Thus they have kept their vow, and to this day in all the lands the dogs is the enemy to the cat.

About This Chinese Folklore Story

This is a Chinese Folklore Story that is in the book Gleaming From Chinese Folklore by Nellie N Russell. If some of the writing of this folklore seems a bit dated it is because it was written in the early 1900s; I have used the author’s language and punctuation in this copy.

How The Dog and Cat Came To be Enemies – Gleanings From Chinese Folklore by Nellie N Russell is a great story; as with most Chinese stories, there is a moral to it.

The moral is that the dog and cat worked together to retrieve the golden ornament or charm, but then the cat forgot about the dog. and told the dog to go find his own bones. This, of course, upset the dog, and that is why the dog and cat are now mortal enemies.

The moral for us all is to have gratitude and kindness toward those who have helped us or done something good for us. Also to not take full credit for something we did not entirely do ourselves but to also give others credit. The dog and cat could have only retrieved the golden charm by working as a team.

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Anita Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Hummel. I live in Hanoi, Vietnam. I love to share with you about my family history and the many parts of the world our ancestors have lived.

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