The Chinese zodiac assigns an animal totem to each lunar year. Each animal has both positive and negative qualities that are supposed to be evident in people born in that year.
2008 will be the Year of the Rat. We westerners might think the rat was a very unappealing totem, but people born in the Year of the Rat are said to be clever, ambitious, and resourceful. George Washington and Winston Churchill were both born in the Year of the Rat.
Chinese zodiac symbols are very popular as tattoo designs. They have a rich symbolism and lend themselves to a wide range of artistic interpretations. And, of course, the animals themselves can be beautifully depicted even if one isn’t using them to represent signs of the zodiac.
We just adopted a new cat, which leads me to think about the popularity of cats (in all sizes and varieties) as tattoo designs as well. From the snarling tiger to the ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet, there are infinite variations on the design of the cat. I’m guessing that many people pick an image of a big cat to represent fierceness and strength. Some of the Japanese classic drawings of tigers are truly magnificent (and I’ve seen photos of Japanese style tiger tattoos that are just as magnificent).
Would I get a cat tat? I don’t know. It’s something I would have to think about very carefully. But on the other hand… I was born in the Year of the Tiger (and so was my maternal grandmother). I might choose that symbol to represent all my strengths, like being affectionate, generous and rebellious. I won’t think about the negative traits, because I don’t have any… right?