Cat of to-day is the descendant of African wildcat, ancestor of all domestic cats species existing on the several continents. The cats evolved into an important figure for ancient Egypt. They were worshipped as Goddess.

Early Cats were subdued, subjugated, and, by handling, reduced to house-pets. They were useful in stables and granaries for the destruction of small vermin, or to be taken as companions.

Domestication of Cats

The domestication of the cat took place at a very ancient period.

The domestication of the cat, or at least, its subjugation, which renders it a companion of mankind, probably synchronous with the first civilization of man himself.

Cats became associated with humans in ancient times, where they started co- dwelling with the families. Understanding cats became important for human as well.

Cats in Ancient Egypt

In the ancient monuments of Egypt, Babylon, and Nineveh( a city in north iraq), there was first evidence of Cat in connection with man.

The cat is mentioned in inscriptions as early as 1684 B.C. It was domesticated In Egypt thirteen hundred years before Christ.

The earliest known representation of the Cat as a domestic animal and pet is at Leyden, in a tablet of the Eighteenth or Nineteenth Dynasty. It appears seated under a chair.

The cat was an emblem of the sun to the Egyptians. Its eyes were supposed to vary in appearance with the course of that luminary, and likewise to undergo a change each lunar month, on which account the animal was also sacred to the moon.

In Egypt it was an object of religious worship and the venerated inmate of certain temples, where cats was regarded as a woman. she sat on the seats of mighty and was associated with Isis, the moon, and possibly to the sun also.


Ancient Historians stated, the image of a female cat was placed at the top of the sistrum as an emblem of the lunar orb.

They also asserts that the cat was worshipped in the temple of Heliopolis, sacred to the sun.

Cat as Goddess

A cat-headed goddess appears in the temples of Egypt, known as Bast, Sekhmet, Tefnut, believed by some to have been the Diana or hunting goddess of the Egyptians.

This goddess, known to the Greeks as Bubastis, seems to have come before the deification of the cat, and represented more like a lioness goddess.

From the twelfth dynasty onward Cats seems to have become a precious jewel for the Egyptian people — like a charm superstitiously believed to embody magical powers.

Why Cats were regarded as Goddess in Ancient Egypt?

The valley of the Nile was then a great grain-growing region, and Egypt the granary of the ancient world.

The utility of the cat in catching rats and mice appealed to the Egyptians. This instinctive traits of cats became a saviour for Egyptian people to keep the insects, rats and mice’s away from their hard earned crops.

This situation propelled the people to see cats as an object of veneration.

The Egyptian Law forbade the sinful killing of a cat.

Bubastis was built in the time of 1500 B.C. The city of Bubastis, now in ruins, known presently the town of Benha-el-Asl, was dedicated to cats and cat worship.

The temples of Bubastis, Beni Hassan and Heliopolis were sacred retreats for cats. The Bubastis was the “primary place in Egypt.” There the sacred cats were robed, pampered and worshipped during life.

The lives of cats were held so sacred that when a fire took place, the Egyptians occupied themselves with keeping the cats away from the burning building and neglected to stop the fire.

If some cats accidentally caught into the flames, the ancient Egyptians, out of the wild lamentations, all members of any family bereaved by the death of a cat had their eyebrows shaved off. The the sacred animal was embalmed and then buried at Bubastis

Ancient Tales of Cats

There is a tale said by the old historians regarding the Persian king called Cambyses. He attempted to take the town of Pelusium (in extremes of Nile Delta) but was almost beaten back by the Egyptians.

The tale runs that he then gave living cats to the soldiers in the front ranks of his army, which they used as shields. The Egyptians seeing the cats, never dared to strike a blow or raise a sword against the Persians.

Diodorus says that a Roman who killed a cat by accident in Thebes was almost torn to pieces by the infuriated populace.

Exporting cats was prohibited in ancient Egypt.

An Egyptian commission searched the Mediterranean countries to buy and bring back possibly every cat which had been taken out of Egypt.

Mummies of Cat

Mummies of cats found in the temple of the Goddess Pasht at Bubastis were greatly venerated by the people. Their tombs contained great numbers of gold ornaments bearing the same letters as those found in the mausoleums of Egyptian kings.

Cat mummies were wrapped in fine linen like that the of kings.

Cats in Asia

About 400 B.C. the cat is referred to in Chinese records as a wild animal, and does not appear to have been tamed in China until after the beginning of the Christian era. It appeared also in Persia and India, but the exact date of its first appearance is unknown.

Domestication time remains a mystery. It can be said as when  the Egyptian cat spread across Asia, Europe and Africa, along human routes by land and sea. The dispersal was well evident.

Berenike, which was an Egyptian trading port, The sailors would sail to India staying several months. Travelling back and forth from Egypt to India, there are possibilities of hybridisation of the Egyptian cats with the local Indian wildcat.”

All long-haired cats are believed to have come from the East, and seem to have had a common origin in Pallas’ cat {Felis manul).

Buddhist, Burmese and Siamese were of the belief that cats were the hosts for few holy human souls after death.

Cats in Europe

Some authorities assert that the cat came to Europe from Cyprus, others say that it was introduced from Egypt.

Diodorus says that hunters carried it away captive from Numidia to Greece.

When Athens represented civilization in the whole world, during that time the Greeks took cat as a common animal.

In the Greco-Italian civilization of Herculaneum, in Pompeii and in the period of Roman supremacy, cat was a well-known animal and the pet of courts and ladies’ boudoirs.

The first account of its domestication in Great Britain comes at a comparatively late period.

In Greece and Rome it was little honored and less worshipped, but was tolerated and valued because of its ability as a mouser.

Apparently it was disseminated slowly through Europe.

There seems to be no proof of its domestication in Great Britain or France before the ninth century.

Downfall of Cats Stature

Whatever goes into such a hype will come down eventually. This is what the cats faced in later in middle ages.

The greatness of Cats periodically diminished with the changes in society and mixing of people.

Cats soon became a beast of ill repute, — a reputation which followed it for centuries. Its cold temperament, nocturnal habits, flaming eyes and horrible night cries resulted in becoming the victim of superstition.

It was classed with devils, witches, sorcerers, owls, bats and the spirits of sin and darkness. In the dark and middle ages it was the object of terrible persecution and torture.

The cat was a striking figure in trials for witchcraft, was regarded as an associate of Satan. They were accused of casting spells, and was girt about with mystery and superstitious fear.

The folklore of many peoples teems with superstitious cat tales and fables, many of them showing aversion, dispraise or suspicion.

People still keep black cats away from the cradle in Germany.

Cats in Recent Times

Now in the twentieth century she is coming again to her own glory. Her star — eclipsed since the fall of the Goddess Pasht — again has reached its zenith.

Carefully guarded from harm by humane societies, unrestrained by law or public sentiment, pampered, petted, worshipped almost as “queen” of the cat and attended by her most “humble slaves.”

Puss faces the dawn of a new era.

The beloved cat have dozens of books devoted wholly or in part. There are books, articles and stories about cat’s history, books explaining their origin, behavior, disease, and remedies.

There are cat magazines, cat clubs and cat homes. The attitude of present-day “cat worship” is that the “queen” can do no wrong.

 A lady advertises in the “London Standard” for live birds to feed her cat.

Another inserts the following notice in a Berlin paper: ”Wanted a few well-behaved and well dressed children to amuse a cat for 2-3 hours a day, who is in delicate health.

Cat’s, even though wild and unmanageable at its early age, yet is small enough to be easily handled. They are sensible enough to become reasonably sociable when it has good care and plenty of food.

Even in the earliest of times, for companionship and pets of children, the kittens of wildcats was caught and brought home to the caves or tents.

 Its thrifty, habit of mousing and killing vermin made it useful. Cats were protected and cared for from the time mankind first laid storehouse for grains for winter and future use.

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