Many spring times ago a kindle of kittens was chasing butterflies by the riverbank. So enchanted were they by the game that when the butterflies flew out across the river they failed to heed their mother's warnings. One after the other they fell into the churning waters.Frantic, the mother cat ran along the bank calling to her drowning kittens. The willows at the river's edge heard her plaintive cries and longing to help her swept their long graceful branches into the waters to rescue the tiny kittens. One by one the kittens found a branch and gripping tightly they were brought safely to shore. From that day to this, and for each springtime to come, the branches of the willow tree sprout tiny fur-like buds at their tips where the tiny kittens once clung.
A witch's cat came to be called a ?grimalkin?. The Scottish goddess of witches was called ?Mither o' the Mawkins?, a mawkin or malkin being either a cat or a hare. Originally a gremalkin was a gray cat. Later the term came to refer to the "pussies" or "catkins" on a pussy willow, as well as to the witch's cat.