Yabast – God of Giving Your Cat a Pill

Yabast © H. Hudson-Lee 2021

As any cat lover knows, the merest suggestion of medication is enough to turn the sweetest pet kitty into a writhing ball of hate with a thousand claws. If the first labour assigned to Heracles had been to give a cat a tablet, his story would have been a lot shorter and would have ended with the Nemean Lion walking around wearing a Heracles-skin coat. Yabast first appears in the ancient pantheons shortly after the first cats decided to move in with humans, and things got a bit itchy and wormy. It is believed that he was spontaneously called into existence by ancient peoples shouting “Yabast!” as their cat attempted to flee its flea treatment, leaving a cat shaped hole in the wall of their mud hut.

The Temple of Yabast is home to a large clowder of sacred temple cats and their human servants. The temple doorway is guarded by a cat laid on its back as though it would like a belly rub. This is thought to be the most vicious booby trap ever installed in a temple. The temple interior always appears to have been the site of a dire catastrophe. Shredded curtains drape the windows, tendrils of gashed wallpaper flap forlornly on the walls and everything has a fine coating fur on it. The carpet is woven with an interesting pattern known as “Blood Splatter”. The space is illuminated with lightbulbs which are shaded by transparent plastic cones. When you visit, do not forget to bring an offering to place upon Yabast’s altar. This offering can be almost anything you would like to give, so long as it makes a satisfying smash when it gets pushed off the edge. Refreshments are served at the temple, but whilst the cats enjoy delicious meals of salmon mousse (whipped up by a specially dedicated team of priests known as the “Whiskers”) the most human diners can expect to receive is a scratch dinner. Do not expect to be able to sit down to dine. Literally every chair in the place will have a smug looking cat dozing on it.

The priesthood of Yabast train for many years, learning the cat wrestling martial art of Ju-Kit-Su. They must also learn first aid techniques for treating cat bites and lacerations (many extend their studies to become fully qualified Purramedics). Their vestments are comprised of whatever protective equipment they have to hand (e.g. welding gloves, cricket pads, hockey masks, leather aprons, or even a full suit of medieval armour). The priests of Yabast tend not to talk much before conducting a ritual. Despite all their diligent preparation, due to the sense of dread, they tend to become catatonic when they must give the cat a tonic. Some have been known to develop nervous disorders after too many years on the Frontline.

Contrary to popular belief, Yabast is rarely appealed to by professional Veterinarians. They have a cunning scheme running to ensure their hardly ever need to. To whit, any cat who requires a course of tablets will be given an injection during the vet’s consultation. This injection will mean that the tablets cannot be taken until the following day. Thereby removing any chance that the cat’s human will ask the vet to administer the first dose. This may sound a bit selfish, but the scheme has reduced workplace injuries amongst vets by a staggering 95%.

The main ritual of Yabast, known as “The Rite of Drontal” is held once every three months. The procedure is laid out in Yabast’s sacred text, “War and Puss”. It begins with a series of preliminary placatory prayers to the god before the priests attempt to administer a worming tablet to each of the temple cats in turn. When the proceedings are about to start, all the temple cats will mysteriously vanish and must be winkled out of their ingenious hiding spaces (such as the next-door neighbours airing cupboard). Once the felines are finally corralled, the priests will initially attempt to administer the tablets in the nicest way possible, ground up into the cats’ favourite foods. This food will be rejected out of hand. So, the priests move onto the next phase, where whole tablets are wrapped in a bit of squishy cheese and given to the cats. The cheese will be eaten, and the tablet spat out. The third stage involves the priests trying to pop the offending tablet directly into the cat’s mouth. Once they have retrieved the tablet from behind the sofa, coaxed the cat from on top of the kitchen cupboards and deployed the first aid kit, they are finally ready to proceed to the last stage of the ritual. In this last phase, all kind feelings towards the patient have evaporated and it is now all out war. The priest bodily grabs the cat, wrapping it in a blanket and ramming the pill as far down the ungrateful spitting maw as fast as they can, before cat knows what’s happening. Should this fail to work, the priest is now permitted to give up and go to hospital. The A&E staff learn to quickly spot priests of Yabast in their waiting room. They are the ones who look like they’ve been run over by a Turkish Van. Following treatment, it is traditional for the patched-up cleric to return to the temple to find that the cat has done a little protest “offering” of their own on the priest’s bed. If anyone is concerned that this ritual involves cruelty to animals, let me reassure you that all these actions are taken solely for the cat’s benefit and any cruelty involved is exacted upon the human race.

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