The History of Cats
The fond relationship that humans have with cats began over 4000 years ago and as any relationship it has its ups and downs. During times the cats were revered and adored, denoted like an instrument of Satan and loved as a guardian. Al this to say is that as we enter into the twenty first century the humans and cats are “learning to live in harmony”.
The domestic cat, as we know it, is a direct descendant from the African wildcat (Felis Lybica) a habitant from North Africa. It is estimated that this small and elegant feline was tamed by the Egyptians over 2.000 years B.C. These wild cats used to approach the banks of the Nile River since they were attracted by the rodents that infested the Egyptian’s enormous fields of grain. They killed mice, rats, and poisonous snakes. This is how they came to be loved and appreciated by the Egyptians and where accepted into their homes. The Egyptians admired cats, not only for their heroic deeds as hunters but also for their beauty, grace and independent spirit. With time it gained the hierarchal state of sacred feline being. When a cat died it would be mummified and was placed inside a special sepulchral chamber. The penalty for killing a cat, even if by accident, was death. The cat was the only one, out of all domestic creatures, to be able to deserve the love and respect of the people for doing, well needless to say, not much...
Even though it was forbidden to export cats from Egypt some of them were smuggled into Italy by Phoenician tradesmen. Later they were introduced to the rest of Europe by the Romans. And eventually cats were taken by tradesmen and colonizers to all the different countries of the world and were known as “ship cats”. Even today sailors believe that cats bring good luck to their ships, and of course they are always useful for getting rid of rodents as well.
Egyptian families used to keep cats in their homes as a sign of respect towards the gods. And when a domestic cat would die the whole family would mourn and would show their grieving by shaving off their eyebrows.
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