Cult to Cats

The Egyptian cult to cats became famous outside of Egypt, and it was considered ridiculous.

There is this probably apocryphal story of a battle between Egypt and Persia in the year of 525 B.C., in which the Persian commander arranged for cats to be in the front of its battalion.

The Egyptians preferred not to attack for fear of hurting the cats, and so they lost the battle. The story may seem unlikely, but it reflects on how the rest of the world thought about the Egyptians who worshipped cats. On the other hand, the Egyptian art also represented cats with humor, in a similar way to postcards in our days.

In some fragments of papyrus and of limestone found in excavations on the ancient Egypt you can see funny drawings of cats in unusual attitudes. One carries on its shoulders a pole with a jar at one end and a basket at the other. Another is watching flock of ducks. In another drawing you can see a cat sitting at a table, with a fan and a napkin, near to a big rat to which it offers some roast goose.

They think that builders that worked building temples and royal tombs as amusement did the drawings. Whichever the origin, they show that, besides worshipping them, the Egyptians felt real affection for cats.

The Egyptians prohibited the exportation of cats, but the Phoenician merchants (the greatest enterprises of the age) distributed domestic cats as contraband throughout the Mediterranean. The ancient Greeks identified cats with women and, in definite, with Venus, the goddess of agriculture and of fertility.

Maybe the ability of cats as exterminators of rodents was responsible for this association. But Greeks didn’t feel the worship nofottes| to eliminate rodents and, they didn’t adopt them as pets.

The representation of cats in the ancient Greek art is not very usual; they usually appear in coins.

Cat Houses Cat Species Expansion Evolution of the Domestic Cat European Wild Cat Cat in History, Friends and Foes Cat Mystical Qualities Cult to Cats The Roman Cats Cat Lovers in Asia Mythology of the American Indians