Attitudes and values towards the kodkod cat
A total of 56 stories related to the kodkod cat were analyzed: n=49 local anecdotes and n=7 stories invented by the children themselves. Nine values of the 12 values proposed in our typology used for this analysis were found in the stories: humanistic, utilitarian, aesthetic, negativistic, dominionistic, symbolic, spiritual, moralistic, and existence. In the invented stories we found five associated values: humanistic, utilitarian, aesthetic, moralistic, and symbolic.
In some of the invented stories the kodkod appears as a companion of humans:
“[…] 3 years later the poor kodkod cat got sick because it had eaten a long-tailed colilargo rat and it finally died. But the owner [of the house] always will remember it as a hero because the cat gave his life to save the life of his owner. ‘Thank you for having taken care of me’ were her last words. The owner was crying a lot. A lesson learnt from this story is that kodkod cats prevent diseases.” (Local story G38, invented by a child)
In other invented stories, the kodkod stands as symbol for friendship:
“[…] and hundreds of mice began to appear. A big battle started between the urban cats and the mice. But the cats did not succeed in controlling the mice, when suddenly the kodkod cat appeared and started to kill the mice. Hundreds of mice died. The people in the city asked Belen where she got this magnificent cat from and she answered it [the kodkod cat] is my best friend.” (Local story G40, invented by a child)
Utilitarian values associated with the kodkod cat found in the stories related either to a material use, but more often to a service the kodkod cat provided to humans, namely the killing of mice.
Some stories even expressed a feeling of respect for this service provided by the kodkod cat to humans. In some local anecdotes this emotional feeling of respect is further emphasized into admiration and proudness (i.e. the kodkod cat is perceived as a hero and friend). Thus, in some stories, one value (utilitarian) generates another value (humanistic, see local story G40, cited above):
“[…] Yet it is an animal that fights field mice, therefore killing them is not good because it helps us to control pests.” (Local story G17)
“Because the kodkod eats mice, snakes, […] all those things […] that are no longer in their places of habitat and they walk around. But you should seek a balance because, if we are sharing this earth with animals, then they stand for something. If the mice invade us it is because we lack a kodkod cat nearby. Similarly, if the reptiles, the snakes, whatever it might be, invade us, it is because we lack the kodkod cat. It is the kodkod cat who consumes them.” (Interview 5)
Several stories depict the kodkod cat as a beautiful animal. Especially in the invented stories:
“[…] the father approached slowly the kodkod cat and was surprised to see a very nice animal with beautiful fur and with its extended tail and its wakeful eyes and its very hairy ears, and the father decided to take the animal home […].” (Local story G36, invented by a child)
“If you look at the kodkod cat you will see how cute it is […] because it has tiny little round ears.” (Interview 14)
“Well, the kodkod was wakeful; its fur is more beautiful than that of domestic cats. And it has small ears. The kodkod cat is really cute!” (Interview 6)
Over the half of the collected stories expressed negative feelings evoking displeasure and anger towards the kodkod since it kills poultry. Farmers reacted by chasing off or killing the kodkod in order to protect their livestock. We did not find feelings of fear associated with the kodkod, only repulsion towards this felid as it may endanger the farmer’s livelihood/domestic sustainability.
“[…] it [the kodkod cat] has a bad reputation because everyone knows it to be harmful, every time it enters a henhouse it kills a lot of birds by eating only their heads, leaving the birds dead and the worst thing is that it goes away and comes back again and again until it kills all the birds.” (Local story G17)
Why you were hunting the kodkod? Interviewee 1: “Well, because the kodkod was doing much damage to us. They [the kodkod cats] did not allow us to raise chicken. They came every night to enter our henhouse.” (Interview 1)
“Well, one kills it [the kodkod cat], because it is doing damage […] Once killed one takes the leather and then sells the leather. But one kills them because they are causing damage.” (Interview 4)
In none of the stories the kodkod cat appeared as an animal that people aimed to master, but as an animal to keep away from humans. Domestication of the kodkod as another type of control is seen as impossible in the local stories:
“[He saw] a cat with four cubs; he followed this cat to catch one of her kittens. That was when his sister screamed to him: Don’t you ever grab this cat! Those are not cats, they are kodkods! This was how he discovered the kodkod cat. It is quite similar to a domestic cat. The only differences are that you can’t domesticate this animal, and it feeds on the blood of birds […].” (Local story G7)
“The cats were very aggressive, they would not let us touch them […] But they were always acting like this when they ate [the Interviewee mimics a cat looking rapidly from side to side]. They do not eat like those cats who relax and eat […] they are very active, very active. You gave them food and “PUM” - they disappeared out of our sight.” (Interview 6, talking about kittens that were supposedly half kodkods)
In some narratives, ethical conscience was reflected. The stories mention the kodkod as being an endangered species, yet this perception is not always associated with a concern about the decline of the species. In some narratives, the vulnerability of the species is merely a fact/characteristic of this animal, but not something that has to be changed. In other stories, however, an explicit motivation for moral acting existed:
“[…] days later my aunt saw a dead kodkod and she regretted and promised to herself that she would never again beat an endangered animal.” (Local story G18)
Interview data indicated that rarity can positively influence a moralistic attitude:
“I really liked those things [hunting kodkods]! I liked it but now I do not anymore. […] I would not hunt it anymore because nowadays there are so few of them.” (Interview 6)
Very interestingly, in some local anecdotes the kodkod is an indicator of bad luck. The kodkod is seen as a sign of famine, poverty, disease, or death to the landlord:
“[…] My neighbour said: when the kodkod enters the henhouse to eat the farm birds, this is very bad luck for the family as either poverty, famine or any kind of disease will appear that can lead to death to the owner. These are ancient beliefs […].” (Local story G41)
Mapuche people interviewed during our fieldwork told us that the Mapudungun word weñefe is commonly used to describe a person who lies – referring thereby to the behavioural characteristic of the kodkod cat:
“For us, the guiña - or wiñefe as we say - is called like that because we derived it from an animal that steals … to survive. It`s an animal that goes into the henhouse and makes a hash of things, steals, kills.” (Interview 5)
In the majority of the stories, the kodkod cat is represented as a being that kills by sucking the blood or by cutting the head off its prey. It seems that kodkods only eat the crop, neck, and head of a chicken, but the sucking of blood is probably more an action that we can classify as supernatural allocated to magical beasts. Further evidence to the supernatural perception of the kodkod cat is also given in a story that highlights the fact that bullets of people do not hurt them:
“[…] my grandfather pulled a revolver and fired twice, after shooting, a kodkod cat fell from the tree. My grandfather tied its legs and paws and mounted the animal on his horse … my grandfather put the kodkod in a bag and I checked it at home to see where the animal had been shot, but I could not find any mark.” (Local story G33)
The kodkod can be an indicator of bad luck:
“When it [the kodkod cat] comes to a house and kills a chicken, it is a bad sign.” (Local story G46)
Every creature has a right to live, as according to one interviewee:
“I do not agree [with kodkods being hunted], because every creature wants to live, right? Every creature wants to live and walk around the countryside, they do no damage in the house […] They want to live as anyone of us, too […].” (Interview 14)
Others perceived the kodkod as a being of God’s creation, which also justifies its existence:
“God brought [the kodkod] for something. If God had willed that this animal does not exist, then there would be no kodkod today." (Interview 5)
In none of the local stories the kodkod cat was related to naturalistic or cultural values. The ecologistic-scientific value was also absent. Yet, some stories contained a short correct biological description of this animal, thus showing the knowledge people have of the animal. The interview participants expressed their wish to understand kodkod behaviour, but the behaviour remained a mystery to the interviewee:
“I do not know why the kodkod is hunting; if it [the kodkod] would have the opportunity to kill all chicken in a henhouse it would do so. When the puma for instance is killing a sheep or a goat it would always take its prey to a certain place […] but the kodkod does not do so, this animal would kill as much chicken as it could, but I never heard that it takes its prey to some place […] I really do not know what might be the reason for the kodkod cat to hunt?” (Interview 27)
Attitudes and values towards the puma
A total of 52 local anecdotes on pumas were collected (n=43 local anecdotes and n=9 invented stories). We identified nine values of the typology of 12 values (Table 1) relating to the puma: naturalistic, ecologistic-scientific, utilitarian, aesthetic, negativistic, dominionistic, moralistic, symbolic, and spiritual.
A naturalistic value was allocated when local anecdotes related to direct experiences with pumas:
“[…] it was the first time that he [my dad] saw a puma, he was frightened, but now my dad sees it [the puma] as a special and beautiful animal because it [the encounter with the animal] was such a great experience.” (Local story P30)
The ecologistic-scientific value was found in narratives that underlined that this felid had to kill in order to survive; that this ability was instinctive. Such a perception reflects a type of conscience of the puma ecology:
“The two animals [pumas and pudus] are good because they act by instinct.” (Local story P33)
Similarly, some people in the interviews talked about their wildlife observation. Others expressed their fascination and interest towards understanding the behaviour of the puma:
“I was eager to experience; I wanted to know how the mountain lion hunts a sheep. I asked myself: "How would he do that? Would he grab the sheep by its legs? How he would grab it?" One day when I will see that the mountain lion is hunting a sheep, I'll have a look.” (Interview 14)
Some interviewees referred to the utilitarian value associated to the puma, especially to a service the puma provides to humans, namely the killing of harmful animals.
“Based on their food they [the puma and kodkod] will have to control some animal [populations]. So I guess for example […] thanks to the puma there are not so many wild boars,[…], or that there are not so many harmful bird because those are eventually eaten by kodkod cats.” (Interview 27)
The local anecdotes frequently revealed the puma to be an agile animal but also as a brave, wild, fast, beautiful, and special animal:
“[…] Mom said that the puma was beautiful and that he had a beautiful pair of claws […].” (Local story P38)
The puma is associated to a negativistic value, i.e. a predator that not only chases and kills farm animals but could also attack and even kill humans. There is a clear expression of emotional feeling related to fear:
“[…] During winter, on days of heavy rain when the water flooded the marshes, this family owned a house near a creek and about 5 pm, a terrible mountain lion jumped onto the roof of the house; the family cried for help, but nobody could help them. Then they started screaming, beating on pots, beating on the walls until the puma jumped from where he was and disappeared through the trees surrounding the house there. The father went to the nearest neighbours to tell them what had happened.” (Local story P19)
“One afternoon in April, when the woman as usual went to the river with two jugs of 5 liters to fetch water, at night when the husband returned from his work he did not find the woman at home. He waited a few minutes since he knew she was fetching for water because the jugs were not in the house. Then he went to the river and saw the two jars without water and scattered on the ground, and traces of blood. He followed the traces and found the body of his wife destroyed. He returned home and […] prepared a large knife, a machete … and with it he returned to the body of his wife. There he stayed […], waited until 4 am, when the puma came. Full of rage, he pierced the knife into the heart of the wild animal.” (Local story P47)
“Oh yes, they [the elders] would teach you, tell you which animal is dangerous. As children, we said for example one must be careful with the mountain lion… with the wild boar, because these animals can attack humans … so we have to fear them.” (Interview 26)
In a number of stories people fought with a puma and triumphed over it (see also story P47, above):
“In Licanray many people still remember him [Carmelo H.] as the only man who had the courage to kill a puma.” (Local story P49)
In some stories, people expressed the wish that pumas should not be hunted:
“I think that they should not have hunted this puma because it [the female puma] was only teaching her cubs how to hunt for surviving, as any mother would do.” (Local story P23)
In several local anecdotes, the puma is represented as a symbol for long life and immortality. Humans can reach these traits when eating the meat of a puma:
“They killed this animal [the puma] and decided to eat it. Afterwards each person went home. The next day at dawn when they looked in the mirror they saw that they had claws, sharp teeth, much more hair as usual but a gentle skin and after some days they started walking on all fours. At the end they became the animal that they killed - this animal is called a puma. That is why the local people say that pumas can be human beings, but only at night, and they [pumas] never die.” (Local story P34)
“The elders tell that the one, who eats puma meat, never dies and lives many years.” (Local story P49)
“It [the puma] is a very lonely animal, very powerful. They live in hidden places.” (Interview 31)
Often the puma stands for the king of the mountains:
“There is a legend about a mysterious puma who liked to eat fresh meat; he was the king of all the mountains and more powerful than most of all carnivorous and wild animals.” (Local story P17)
Some stories portray the belief that pumas could walk like humans, and that they are invincible knights:
“Many years ago in the Middle Age, it is said that pumas were able to walk like humans, they were gentlemen. At that time they were invincible, they were the companions of the King in the war […].” (Local story P50, invented by a child)
The spiritual value is strongly related to feelings of respect and admiration for the abilities of this animal:
“They name it [the puma] pangi, trapial or ñelmapu[Mapudungun words] … well he has several names. In fact people never call him by his real name because he is a much feared animal. When you named it by its name, the puma would come to you. So people used nicknames, such as trapial or ñelmapu, never … they called this animal by his real name, which is pangi.” (Interview 31)
Just as for the kodkod, we found that the puma can be an indicator of bad luck or a sign that someone shall die:
“My grandfather said that it is very bad when a puma is close to a house; a family member would die.” (Local story P42)
Several people referred to the special powers the puma holds:
“Well, when one goes up into the mountains, one has to […] ask it [ask the puma for permission]; he protects us also because he is like the owner of the mountains.” (Interview 31)
“The fat of the mountain lion [the puma] played an important role […] if one were a cyclist, and had a ball of fat from the lion, one always would win … before you run, you cut a career (way) out there and no one will run faster than you, you would win the race … and they did the same with the horses, no other horse would be faster. […] Who has ever won a fight with the lion? No one, one pays the fight with a puma only with death.” (Interview 14)
In none of the local stories the puma was related to cultural, humanistic, or existence values.
Kodkod and puma symbolism in traditional Mapuche stories
Story-telling forms an integral part of the Mapuche culture. Yet, the kodkod cat does never appear as a main character in recorded traditional Mapuche stories. In two of the 22 stories collected by Pino  it only appeared as a side character, and it is absent in the 13 animal stories collected by Kuramochi .
However, in popular Chilean culture the second name also attributed to the cat - guiña - refers to a person who is a fast and effective thief, possibly relating to the word wiñen “to steal” or weñefe “thief”. Thus, the kodkod cat seems to be connected to their occasional attacks on chicken and thus becomes a symbol of a thief. Interestingly enough, most people who use this word to refer to a thief rarely know that the kodkod cat exists. According to Villagrán et al. , the word guiña is derived from the Mapudungun word wiñamn "to carry", "transfer" or "change of place". One could advance the hypothesis that this may reflect one of the animal's behavioural characteristics, alluding to the act of carrying preys, like poultry. There is however no evidence on this matter.
According to Mora Penroz , the Mapudungun word Kona “warrior” is composed of two particles ko “enter something” and naln “fighting aggressively”. Mora Penroz  suggests that ko might come from kod-kod the Mapudungun name for Leopardus guigna. According to this author, the reduplicated syllable probably emphasizes an outstanding quality of this animal (e.g. starting an attack with the head up like a battering ram). The linguist Havestadt, in the nineteenth century, collected the word konalu meaning “offenses against the reverence due”/“acting wild” which according to Mora Penroz  might refer to the way the wild kodkod cat is behaving. Accordingly, the family name Kona evokes a distant and vague feline-like behaviour. Further research is necessary to better understand the etymology of the word.
The puma or pangui in Mapudungun plays a significant role in Mapuche traditional narratives. He is the main or a central character in 5 of the 22 stories collected by Pino , and in two of 13 animal stories collected by Kuramochi . The puma represents an animal of prestige in Mapuche culture; warrior initiations included the introduction of particles of a puma bone . A reference to the puma is part of many Mapuche names, patronymes and toponymes (e.g. Painepan, Panguipulli, “the spirit of the puma”, Panguilef, Lefpan, “the running puma”, ). The Mapuche also called the Mountain lion Futamaye “Great Uncle” which shows its relationship to humans (: 280). The qualities attributed to this felid, such as being a strong, vigilant warrior, performing agile attacks, are underlined in many historical Mapuche stories [58, 60, 61]. Foerster  in his structural analysis of Mapuche stories argues that in those where puma and foxes are confronted, the puma represent the paternal uncle whereas the fox stands for his nephew.
Very possibly, the name pangui is related to the Mapudungun word pane “semen”, thus linking the male sperm liquid to the high (holy) virtues of the feline movement .