Egyptians Worshipped Cats

Cats were able to keep ancient Egyptians safe from dangerous beasts like asps that hid in clay jars, rats that thrived in and around grain stores, and venomous scorpions that crept under cradles.  Cats are, first and foremost, natural-born hunters and highly skilled predators born to stalk and hunt.  Cats have a superior ability to see in the dark and I would not want to run into a rat, scorpion or a snake in the light, but it would be all that much more frightening in the dark.  Since cats could keep the Egyptians safe from all of these monsters, its no wonder that the Egyptians started to worship them.

One of the earliest deities of ancient Egypt was the goddess Mafdet, who was regarded as the protector of the home because she took care of venomous animals like snakes and scorpions.  Later the Egyptians began to worship the goddess Bastet who replaced Mafdet as the feline goddess of choice.  Like Mafdet, she was regarded as a fierce protector of the home (and especially of children and royalty), largely because of cats’ renowned ability to kill snakes, scorpions, and other vermin.  Her followers called her the “Eye of Ra,” the sun god, and believed that she fiercely watched the world and guarded Egypt against invasion.

Cats likely started hanging around farming communities in the Fertile Crescent about 8,000 years ago, where they settled into a mutually beneficial relationship working with humans as rodent patrol.  Cats were caught by pandering to their appetites, and feeding them rendered them tame, they remained perfectly gentle never setting upon their benefactors.  In exchange for comfort and safety, the cats were willing to give up some of their freedom, leading to them becoming domesticated.  People began to recognize that households with cats had more food, less sickness, and fewer deaths.  Cats are known for their ability to protect their young, and the Egyptians saw those qualities as signs of divinity.  Cats’ fondness for napping in the sun led to early associations between the cat and the sun god, Ra.  A cat’s pupils could change from crescent to round, which meant that they were sacred to the moon.

The goddess Bastet was the daughter of Ra, the sun god creator of everything and she was usually represented as a woman with the head of a domesticated cat.  Cats were sacred so anyone deliberately harming a cat was in deep trouble.  In the beginning, only the pharaohs were allowed to keep them as pets, so all the cats were protected by law.  The death of a cat was serious business for the Egyptians even if the cat was killed accidentally and if they saw a dead cat in the streets, they would run in the other direction to avoid being accused of the crime and suffering a conviction that could be punishable by death.

The Egyptians do not have an official cat breed, but they do have the Egyptian Mau which has a spotted coat and large green eyes, and looks like a miniature jungle cat.  In ancient Egypt, cats were mummified and buried in cat cemeteries with jewelry.  If the great desert of Sahara is in whole or part merely the yellow shroud which Time has kindly placed over a limitless cat cemetery, there is no reason why the products of Egypt, should not woo the cotyledon from its parent bean, which is defined as the embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants, one or more of which are the first to appear from a germinating seed.

Cats are meat eaters, they need protein from meat in order to maintain a strong heart, good vision, and a healthy reproductive system, so you should feed them cooked beef, chicken, or turkey.  Chocolate can be lethal for cats, but they do like to nosh on a cooked carrot.  Next to birds, cats possess the widest range of vocalizations of any domestic pet.  They are best known for their meows, purrs, hisses, and growls and they can make sounds like a kettle boiling water, or even water glass whistles.

Written for Sheryl’s Daily Word Prompt – Conviction, for Roger Shipp’s Daily Addictions prompt – Bean, for the Daily Spur prompt – Worship, for FOWC with Fandango – Official, for November Writing Prompts – Water glass whistles, for Ragtag Community – Deep, for Di’s Three Things Challenge prompt words – Chocolate Carrot Chicken and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Light.

21 thoughts on “Egyptians Worshipped Cats

    1. The katzenklavier, or cat organ contains a row of eight cats tightly packed in individual cages, wedged along a keyboard. Their tails are pinned down and pulled taut. With the touch of a key, a mechanism slams a nail down into the cat’s tail. So when a keyboardist plays a tune, the cats—which are arranged according to the pitches of their meows—yowl together in pain, crying out in musical harmony.

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  1. Good origin story on cat domestication. They call female cats queens. Now that I have two — three if you count me — queens sharing the domicile, I’ve been hearing their many sounds for close to a month now. I wish they would settle down and rule together.

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      1. Tell me about it! Dotty is a climber and she has gotten to every tall place in this house. She has to though because Mlady is a bully. Have you seen that movie, The Favorite, yet? These two remind me of that movie.

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      2. I have not seen The Favourite but I just read about it and it sounds good. I have one cat that is real strange, she is a bit mentally challenged and she misses the litter box a lot, but she is also the most friendly and loveable one of all. I also have a climber Mia and she likes to get away from Ranger who also is a bully.

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      3. How many cats do you have? I have 2 litter boxes at opposite ends of the house so no fighting there. Whoever invented clumping cat litter is a genius. The last time I had cats before these two there was no such thing as clumping cat litter. If you do see The Favourite, Mlady is the Emma Stone cat and Dotty is the Rachel Weisz cat lol. How long have you had your cats and were they adopted at different times? I just wonder if the bullying will end…

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      4. I live with my cousin and her boyfriend and they have the cats all of them are rescues. There are four cats a mother Mia and her son Max and then two sisters Ranger and Bogie. We use Attract litter which clumps and there are three boxes spread throughout the house.

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      5. Being the only male, Max gets along with everybody. Ranger has something against Mia and she is the most timid of all the cats. Ranger and Bogie were found on the golf course with Ranger being a marshal that keeps the pace moving and Bogie being one over par.

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  2. I do not know much about cats; since I am allergic to them, they are generally not part of my consciousness, but I enjoyed learning about their usefulness in ancient Egypt (they actually earned their keep!)

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