In Finland it was believed that cats led the souls of the dead on the dangerous journey through the underworld to heaven (or hell).
“The Kalevala” is an epic Finnish poem arranged by Finn Elias Lonnrot and compiled from Finnish and Karelian folklore. In one story, a witch decided to invite herself into a house that happened to be filled with people. Upon entering this house, the witch began to dance around while muttering bizarre incantations, much to the chagrin of all who were present. All at once, the people found themselves transported onto a sleigh drawn by a giant magical cat. This mysterious cat pulled the sleigh at fantastic speeds until it finally came to “Pohjola”, a place where evil resides in everlasting night, located deep within the hinterlands of Finland.
The Kalevala also recounts the origins of the cat:
I know of the cats origin – the incubation of Greybeard,
The cat was gotten on a stove as a girls nose,
A hare’s head, a tail of “Hiisis Plait of Hair,”
Claws of a viper, a tail of snake’s venom,
Feet of cloudberries, the rest of its body is of the wolf’s race.