The Worship of Cats in Ancient Egypt: It’s an Egyptian Thing

Jungle cat (Felis chaus)

Cats were called gods in ancient Egypt and that was because they were considered to be deities among men and that they had the characteristics of man. There was no animal however that was held in as high of esteem as the cat. Cats were also in the form of many of the gods of Egypt and for that reason they were held in the highest possible esteem of any animal. In addition to this there is also evidence from the hieroglyphics which have been found all over the sites in Egypt that the cats were in fact considered to be demigods.

Egypt was a primarily agrarian society and for that reason there was a very large problem with mice, as well as other vermin that were always trying to contaminate the food supply. For that reason, when the Egyptians had learned that since cats were scavengers and they preyed on the vermin they began to leave out food for the cats to bring them close. The cats loved this arrangement because they had access to a ready food supply and were able to move indoors with family and friends. They also then were offered the ability to have their kittens in the home of their owners which meant that they had an additional level of security which they had not had before.

The diets of the cats did change some based on the fact that they were brought inside and were fed the food that their human hosts wanted to give them. In addition to that there were also many other kinds of cooperation that existed with the cats, the cats actually hunted with their owners in ancient Egypt and they were able to see that there was also a great value in the independence and the individualism of the cat. They were able to love the cats as well as also recognize them for their intelligence. Cats are also thought to have been very important to the intellectual life of ancient Egypt in the fact that they represented a great harvest and a blessing for the Egyptians.

The Egyptians did not make a distinction between the wild and the house cats, all cats were called miu which is the name in Egyptian of he or she who mews. In addition to the noise that they made, it is often thought that this was also representative of the ability to see and to have foresight into the future. The same word for a little girl was used as well to represent a cat. For this reason there is little doubt that the cats as well as the little girls were recognized with a supreme level of fondness in Egyptian society.

As far as native cats in Egypt there are two main breeds, one is the jungle cat which is called the Felis Chaus, and the other is the African wildcat. These two are known to have interbred to create the domestic housecat that we see today as they were known to have been some of the most docile as well as communicative of all of the animals. With the interbreeding of these species they eventually became the Egyptian Mau and for that reason there were many other changes that were made to the appearance of the animal. The cats became more colorful as well as they also became smaller, this was because of the fact that they were no longer hunting and searching for their food. In addition to this they became more docile and loving of their owners.

The cat did first show up in Egypt and most of the world’s cats can be traced to this particular cat. Cats were introduced in Persia about 2,000 BC and they were imports from Egypt, they were also introduced around the same time into Nubia. Cats are first seen as long ago as 6,000 BC in Egypt, although these cats were wild and had not been trained in the same ways that dogs had. Dogs had already been a part of the house of the Egyptians for over 1,000 years when cats were first being introduced. For this reason, it was that cats became the faithful and constant companions of the Egyptians and were always considered to be members of their family from the moment that the domestication was complete. Egypt became the first culture to love and worship cats, however, it was not long after that the rest of the world understood why.



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