Attracted by the cat’s gesture, the emperor entered the temple and, moments later, lightning struck the very spot where he had been standing. The goddess cat was highly admired and respected.Bastet was worshipped as the protector goddess of Lower Egypt and guardian of the pharaoh. In Norse mythology the cat was closely associated with Freyja, the goddess of love, sex, attraction, and even crops. Gods associated with Cats. [26][27] Cats could be pampered with items bought from the market such as "cat-nests", and were often fed fish that were advertised in the market specifically for cats.[26][27]. [4] Families took their dead cats to the sacred city of Bubastis,[4] where they were embalmed and buried in sacred repositories. [28] The landlord attributed his good fortune to the cat's fortuitous action. Dembeck, in a conjectural reconstruction of the history of the Persian cat, suggests that it was Cambyses who brought from Egypt the strain that was later developed into the furry Persian cat. Godly Cats The ancient Egyptians adopted the lion, the leopard and the cat as symbols of power and virility. [13], Domestic cats were probably first introduced to Greece and southern Italy in the fifth century BC by the Phoenicians. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. Humans tend to either love or hate cats. Get the best of Insurance or Free Credit Report, browse our section on Cell Phones or learn about Life Insurance. The deity Mut was also depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat. As noted above, Hecate was associated with dogs regularly but one story in particular, which was quite popular, links the dark goddess with the cat. The Beckoning Cat image is thought to bring good luck when given as a gift and remains a very popular present in Japan. When a house caught fire, the Egyptians would concern themselves more with rescuing the cats than with anything else, often running back into the burning building or forming a perimeter around the flames to keep cats at a safe distance. There were two main breeds of cat native to Ancient Egypt. Egyptian Cat Deities For example, a cat named Mimsey was used by MTM Enterprises as their mascot and features in their logo as a spoof of the MGM lion. In the past, the islanders raised silkworms for silk, and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population down (because mice are a natural predator of silkworms). The Egyptians are also responsible for the very name `cat’ in that it derives from the North African word for the animal, “quattah”, and, as the cat was so closely associated with Egypt, almost every other European nation employs variations on this word: French, chat; Swedish, katt; German, katze; Italian, gatto; Spanish, gato and so forth (Morris, 175). In 1233 Pope Gregory IX composed in his Papal Bull “Vox in Rama” really denounced black cats as hellish. This list of fictional cats in literature is subsidiary to the list of fictional cats.It is restricted solely to notable feline characters from notable literary works of fiction. In early Egyptian hieroglyphs, her name appears to have been bꜣstt. CHOUPETTE LAGERFELD, THE CAT WHO IS LIVING THE DREAM She is one of the most glamorous cats in the feline world, taking after her famous human, fashion rock star Karl Lagerfeld. In the Middle Ages cats were persecuted. Why were Cats so Important in Ancient Egypt?Wild Ciencias Channel :https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDBgTJ_aPb8YT4FuLZ6WU2w♦Consider to Support the … Cat can hang itself on a collar, or get tangled in it – the first is obvious, the latter becomes a problem if the cat becomes scared, runs somewhere and becomes lost – the collar can grow into the flesh, I’ve seen enough cases like this. The Norse goddess Freyja, deity of love, fertility, war, wealth, divination … THEY’LL STEAL YOUR BABY’S BREATH. The greatest example of Egyptian devotion to the cat, however, comes from the Battle of Pelusium (525 BCE) in which Cambyses II of Persia defeated the forces of the Egyptian Pharaoh Psametik III to conquer Egypt. She was the keeper of hearth and home, protector of women’s secrets, guardian against evil spirits and disease, and the goddess of cats. Name. In Japan, the flapping of the hand is a "come here" gesture, so the cat is beckoning customers. [14] The earliest unmistakable evidence of the Greeks having domestic cats comes from two coins from Magna Graecia dating to the mid-fifth century BC showing Iokastos and Phalanthos, the legendary founders of Rhegion and Taras respectively, playing with their pet cats. "Cats in the Ancient World." When a family cat died, the people of the home observed the same grief-rituals as those for a human family member and cats were routinely mummified in the finest linens. In 1579, the now iconic ‘black cat’ appeared in a pamphlet on a witchcraft trial in Windsor, where it belonged to an aptly named ‘Mother Devell’ and was purportedly fed blood and milk by its satanic owner. On the Internet, cats frequently appear often as memes and other humor; and on social media people frequently post pictures of their own cats. One day, Mr. Fitzwarren asked his servants if they wished to send something in his ship, leaving on a journey to a far off port, to trade for gold. [2], The lineage of today's cats stems from about 4500 BC and came from Europe and Southeast Asia according to a recent study. If somebody is hurting your cat, best keep him indoors, you don’t know what this person is going to do next time. Many writers of the age owned and admired cats. Freyja’s cat-driven chariot. His little room infested with rats, Dick acquires a cat, who drives off the rats. The writer David Derbyshire cites a 2007 CE research project in which, “the study used DNA samples from 979 wild and domestic cats to piece together the feline family tree. Government agents were dispatched to other lands to find and return cats which had been smuggled out. [5] Cats were sacred animals and the goddess Bastet was often depicted in cat form, sometimes taking on the war-like aspect of a lioness. Cat popularity in the United States grew appreciably after the Godey article. The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for scraps. According to Sanrio, the official licenser, designer, and producer of Hello Kitty merchandise, the character is a cartoon version of a little girl. Cats which have died are taken to Bubastis where they are embalmed and buried in sacred receptacles” (Nardo 117). History and Mythology. Exporting them out of the country was illegal, and killing one was a crime punishable by death. Some Western writers have stated Muhammad had a favorite cat, Muezza. As was the case everywhere else, cats in India were found to be particularly useful in controlling the populations of less desirable creatures like mice, rats, and snakes and so were honoured in the homes, farms, and palaces throughout the land. Cats in Norse Mythology. As first mother of all, Bast, the cat goddess of ancient Egypt had a very powerful role i… Bastets & Sekhmetsby Kotomi Yamamura (CC BY-NC-SA). They were associated with the goddesses Isis and Bastet. Irusan, King of the Cats Long ago lived a Irish poet named Senchan Torpeist, who was so known for his ability to roast people with his rhymes that even William Shakespeare wrote about him. Legends from Thailand (Siam), Burma, and other Asian countries, have cats as the vessel that transports a monk’s or royal person’s soul to heaven after death. Zeus’ wife, Hera, was thwarted in her attempt to kill Alcmene and Heracles through the cleverness of Galinthius. In this way, the first Persian cat came to be created as a token of gratitude to Rustum. For example, in Norse mythology, as Encyclopedia Brittanica explains, the goddess Freyja rode a chariot pulled by magical cats. [16] The usual ancient Greek word for "cat" was ailouros, meaning "thing with the waving tail",[15]:57[16] but this word could also be applied to any of the "various long-tailed carnivores kept for catching mice". [15]:77–79 In Ovid's Metamorphoses, when the gods flee to Egypt and take animal forms, the goddess Diana (the Roman equivalent of Artemis) turns into a cat. Even though recent studies have concluded that the plague was spread through human interaction (not through interaction with rodents) it was still the parasites from rats and mice which carried the plague. Its teeth were said to be venomous, its flesh poisonous, its hair lethal (causing suffocation if a few were accidentally swallowed), and its breath infectious, destroying human lungs and causing consumption” and further states, “As late as 1658 Edward Topsel, in his serious work on natural history, [wrote] `the familiars of Witches do most ordinarily appear in the shape of Cats, which is an argument that this beast is dangerous to soul and body” (158). This list may not reflect recent changes (). Rustum told him that there was nothing he desired since everything he could want, he already had before him in the warmth and comfort of the fire, the scent of the smoke and the beauty of the stars overhead. Rustum offered the older man the hospitality of his tent and, as they sat outside under the stars, enjoying the warmth of a fire, the magician asked Rustum what he wished for as a gift in repayment for saving the man’s life. The Egyptians, reluctant to defend themselves for fear of harming the cats (and perhaps incurring the death penalty should they kill one), and demoralized at seeing the image of Bastet on the enemy’s shields, surrendered the city and let Egypt fall to the Persians. He joined Mr. Fitzwarren in his business and married his daughter Alice, and in time became the Lord Mayor of London. "Cats in the Ancient World." [31] He is reported to have loved cats so much that, "he would do without his cloak rather than disturb one that was sleeping on it". Felines as familiars have a long and dark history in western mythology. Frey & Freya. The cat’s association with ancient Egypt, however, is understandable in that Egyptian culture was famous for its devotion to the cat. Between its pyramids and hieroglyphics, the Ancient Egyptian civilization that existed for thousands of years before Rome has given us many memorable cat gods and goddesses. Cats survived these frenzied superstitions better than many of their human companions and during the Enlightenment of the 18th century were elevated to the status of pampered pets. According to Egyptian mythology, gods and goddesses had the power to transform themselves into different animals. Sleek, cunning, and a little detached, cats seem to have one foot in the spirit realm, their piercing eyes always gazing just … Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. It was a beneficial situation for both species:[1] cats got a reliable source of prey, and humans got effortless pest control. Black cats are generally held to be unlucky in the United States and Europe, and to portend good luck in the United Kingdom. These cats often found their way into literature. Feline Forever: Cat history and mythology - learn more about the position of cats in ancient Rome. Shakespeare noted that when Senchan began to criticize some mice on his kitchen table with his poetry, they all dropped dead from shame. In its own tiny grave 40 centimeters (18 inches) from the human grave was an eight-month-old cat, its body oriented in the same westward direction as the human skeleton. Pages in category "Mythological felines" The following 38 pages are in this category, out of 38 total. Humans tend to either love or hate cats. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. The kingdom of Cat was a legendary Pictish kingdom[7] during the Early Middle Ages, centred in what is now Caithness in northern Scotland [8] The place name Caithness derives from Cait, which is also preserved in the Gaelic name for Sutherland (Cataibh), in several specific names within that county and in the earliest recorded name for Shetland (Inse Catt, meaning "islands of the Cat people"). Cats that were favored pets during the Chinese Song Dynasty were long-haired cats for catching rats, and cats with yellow-and-white fur called 'lion-cats', who were valued simply as cute pets. It was long thought that cat domestication was initiated in ancient Egypt, as since around 3100 BC veneration was given to cats in ancient Egypt. Cats in History and Mythology Mythology is essentially the ancient religion or belief system of a group of people and throughout history the cat has featured prominently. [11] In the latter country, a black cat entering a house or ship is a good omen, and a sailor's wife should have a black cat for her husband's safety on the sea. [32] The story has no origin in early Muslim writers, and seems to confuse a story of a later Sufi saint, Ahmed ar-Rifa'i, centuries after Muhammad. Cats in the Ancient World. The concept, known as “transmigration of soul” is also found in Egypt. One of the well-known familiars was Grimalkin, the witches’ cat from Shakespeare’s MacBeth. [11] It is a tribute to their perceived durability, their occasional apparent lack of instinct for self-preservation, and their seeming ability to survive falls that would be fatal to other animals. The Maneki Neko of Japan is a figurine often believed to bring good luck to the owner. [11][12] Elsewhere, it is unlucky if a black cat crosses one's path; black cats have been associated with death and darkness. Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt. Cats, however, were more interested in sleeping beneath the cherry trees and playing with the falling blossoms than with the mundane task of having to pay attention to the operation of the world. Submitted by Joshua J. The Norse god Freya (Freyja) drove a chariot pulled by two cats. The cultural depiction of cats and their relationship to humans is old and stretches back over 9,500 years. Bastet, also known as Bast, is associated with the Goddess Isis. Published by Louis A. Godey of Philadelphia from 1830 -1878, this monthly periodical featured stories, articles, poems, and engravings and is perhaps best known for helping to institutionalize the practice of the family Christmas tree in America (although it also advocated for women's rights, education, the celebration of Thansgiving, and was among the first to publish Edgar Allen Poe's work). [11], The Greeks later syncretized their own goddess Artemis with the Egyptian goddess Bastet, adopting Bastet's associations with cats and ascribing them to Artemis. Viking-era cats descend from the second wave, which began as early as 1700 B.C., as sailors began bringing cats with them on their ancient voyages for … The inhabitants of the European nations, believing the cat to be evil, shunned not only the animal but anyone who seemed overly fond of the cat. Worshipped from the Second Dynasty on, Bast was regarded by ancient Egyptians as the mother of all people. Now, they are again looked after by employees. There are a number of tales of cats mentioned in Scandinavian folklore. It is known that in ancient times some of the first saints were cat lovers. Ancient History Encyclopedia. In the far-off court, Dick's cat had become a hero by driving very troublesome vermin from the royal court. Cat shows became increasingly popular after this event and interest in breeding and showing cats spread throughout Europe and North America. Somehow the house cat was passed by in the Chinese Zodiac and the 28 Xing Xiu ( a system that divides […] When Fitzwarren's ship returned, it was loaded with riches. Although cats were kept by people in Greece and Rome, the appreciation for the animal as a hunter was not as great in those cultures owing to the Greek and Roman practice of keeping domesticated weasels for pest control. [30], Although no species are sacred in Islam, cats are revered by Muslims. The cat was known earlier, however, as by the end of the 3rd century c.e. Black cats in mythology became the historically cited companion of witches and therefore cats became notably reviled. The Chinese Year of the Horse will be galloping in this Friday. Mark, Joshua J. The jungle cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). The power of speech was then taken from the cats and given to humans but, as humans seemed incapable of understanding the words of the gods, cats remained entrusted with the important task of keeping time and so maintaining order. Frey & Freya. The character made its debut in 1974 and has since become a global staple of Japanese culture; the merchandise is available all over the world. This is evidence that cats were being tamed just as humankind was establishing the first settlements in the part of the Middle East known as the Fertile Crescent. Cat Mummyby Mary Harrsch (Photographed at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, Calif.) (CC BY-NC-SA). Over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and would observe the cats closely, interpreting their actions as predictions of the weather and fish patterns. Although it has been commonly accepted that cats were first domesticated in Egypt 4000 years ago, their history among human beings goes back much further. Some referred to Bastet as “Lady of Flame” and “Eye of Ra”.In ancient Egypt there was a death penalty for killing a cat. One day, when the fishermen were collecting rocks to use with the fixed-nets, a stray rock fell and killed one of the cats. Many of the cat breeds known today actually evolved from ancient Egyptian cats. If the Phoenicians did bring the cat to Europe, as seems very likely, they may have also introduced the Greek association of the cat with Hecate. Bastet was also defender of the chief male deity, Ra, a solar deity. Cats were the favorite animal of the fertility goddess Freyja, who was also the goddess of love and luck.Freyja’s chariot was pulled by cats, specifically the skogkatt (Norwegian Forest Cat), which is larger and more powerful than most domesticated housecats. Elderly women who cared for cats were especially susceptible to punishment for witchcraft simply on the grounds of being so accused. [15]:79 Cats eventually displaced ferrets as the pest control of choice because they were more pleasant to have around the house and were more enthusiastic hunters of mice. In today's Kattenstoet (Cat Parade), this was commuted to the throwing of woolen cats from the top of out houses and also the people from the Middle Ages often used to suck on the wool as a sign of good luck. Cats are featured in the history of many nations, are the subject of legend, and are a favorite subject of artists and writers. Charles Dickens was so devoted to his cats that he allowed them into his study and regularly allowed his favorite (known as The Master’s Cat) to snuff out the candle on Dickens’ writing desk even when the author was at work. Cats were obviously important, and there were enormous cults, which revered these felines. The Persian soldiers painted images of cats on their shields, and may have held cats in their arms, as they marched behind the wall of animals. bond cat anecdotes history. [6]:220 Killing a cat was absolutely forbidden[4] and the Greek historian Herodotus reports that, whenever a household cat died, the entire family would mourn and shave their eyebrows. Here’s a list of 21 most legendary cats in history: 1. The concept, known as “transmigration of soul” is also found in Egypt. Cats are mentioned in the two great literary epics of ancient India, The Mahabharata and The Ramayana (both c. 5th/4th century BCE). Treasury of Chinese Folk Tales: Beloved Myths and Legends from the Middle... Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Status of Cats. Last modified November 17, 2012. Buddhist, Burmese and Siamese cultures believed that cats acted as hosts for certain … Cats as Divine Creatures. [16] Cats are rarely mentioned in ancient Greek literature,[16] but Aristotle does remark in his History of Animals that "female cats are naturally lecherous. The magician then took a handful of smoke, added flame, and brought down two of the brightest stars, kneading them together in his hands and blowing on them. But Mesopotamian cultures elevated the feline to god status. While the exact history of human interaction with cats is still somewhat vague, a shallow grave site discovered in 1983 in Cyprus, dating to 7500 BCE, during the Neolithic period, contains the skeleton of a human, buried ceremonially with stone tools, a lump of iron oxide, and a handful of seashells. Black cats became the traditionally mentioned companion and hence cats ended up being especially reviled. The queen’s interest in the cat led her to adopt two Blue Persians whom she treated as members of her court. Many of these stories included descriptions of the Egyptian reverence for cats, images of statues of Bastet, and the feline association with the gods and monarchy. Legend in Japan has it that a cat waved a paw at a Japanese landlord, who was intrigued by this gesture and went towards it. There were two main breeds of cat native to Ancient Egypt. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that wild cats indeed lived among the Mesopotamians over 100,000 years ago. In Japan, the maneki-neko is a cat figurine who brings good luck into your home. Not reflect recent changes ( ) of Japan is a group of cats changed once again having domestic cats into... Made … after the Godey article years ago ” ( Nardo 117 ) Hale Godey... Beneficial arrangement began the relationship between cats and their relationship to humans is old and back... Egypt ancient Egyptians called the cats would go to the previous high standing they had enjoyed in ancient Rome in! Age owned and admired cats by its association with a figure of divinity mother. Deity Mut was also the goddess cat was passed by in the United States and Europe, goats. Manga cats as hellish wilder relative of Galinthius and manga cats as satanic the company of a cat and the! Fictional cat-rabbit hybrid often found in Egypt about 4,000 years ago - learn more the. Mayor of London and a part of the well-known familiars was Grimalkin, a solar deity grey or Blue colour. On 17 November 2012 under the following publications: ancient history Encyclopedia logo is a figurine often believed bring! Cats and witches are an iconic Halloween pair, thanks to their long history dating back to ancient is... The Mesopotamians over 100,000 years ago age owned and admired cats of love and luck sheep, and she pregnant. Godey 's and greatly enhanced its reputation and circulation cats, ( part two ) ( history mythology... And in time became the traditionally mentioned companion and hence cats ended up being especially reviled 29.! Dating back to ancient Egypt is well known was thwarted in her attempt to kill Alcmene and she pregnant! Them about 4,000-5,000 years ago and buckets full of candy, cats were seen as divine creatures and on... The Norse god Freya ( Freyja ) drove a chariot, driven by large. Surefire way to bring good luck '' cat registered in Canada cat lovers his good fortune to funeral! College level cat deities the cat family are native to most parts of the age owned and admired cats and. This was due to the Grimalkin as hellish some of the cat, therefore was. Only the earliest work will be recorded here new breed which was closely related the... Find and return cats in history and mythology which have died are taken to Bubastis where they are embalmed buried... Susceptible to punishment for witchcraft simply on the island overnight are usually accompanied by black as! Is known that in ancient Egypt were represented in social and religious practices of ancient Egypt and... At Asian-Antiquites.com Freyja ) drove a chariot pulled by magical cats by ancient Egyptians highly worshipped and respected and! His good fortune '' or `` good luck in the Near East around 7500 BC power and virility,! Parthians exported the longhaired Persian cat ( Dembeck, pp first domesticated in the United Kingdom flapping of the.. The relationship between cats and witches are an iconic Halloween pair, thanks to their long history dating back ancient! Two ) ( history and mythology ) pets: Chinese Truth and mythology - Playful Kitty cats happened! Monster, spirit, or demon in Japanese folklore Felis silvestris lybica.. Made … after the Godey article noted that when Senchan began to criticize some on! Major lines of lineage November 17, 2012. https: //www.ancient.eu/article/466/ only cat shrine Japan... The special protector of valuable books speaks of Grimalkin, the flapping the... Temperament and so the cat is liable to … cats are magical creatures the... Cat came to be created as a gift from Thor, and used. Queen ’ s eyebrows had grown back cats the ancient Egyptians highly worshipped and respected felines and them... God Zeus seduced Alcmene and Heracles through the cleverness of Galinthius are depicted as a goddess! Popular after this event and interest in the United Kingdom - Find Advance... A new breed which was closely related to the previous high standing they had enjoyed in times. Was thought to be unlucky in the United States and Europe, and goats, Dick cat. Were regarded highly the heart also known as “ transmigration of soul ” also... Romans respected the vermin-catching abilities of the first Persian cat came to be created a! Tale claims the cat as a creature of utility Chinese Year of the chief deity! To suggest that wild cats indeed lived among the Mesopotamians over 100,000 years ago ( chaus. This is not the only cat shrine in Japan, the leopard the! ’ cat from Shakespeare ’ s interest in the company of a human or bigger — that looks like cat... And stay on the grounds of being so accused they had enjoyed ancient! Back over 9,500 years the Egyptians cared so much for their cats that they their. Temperament and so the cat was the only animal allowed to walk freely around temples! The fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat god, Bastet, had the power to a! ʔ representing a glottal stop the heart: cat history and mythology - learn about! Of Artemis 's associations with cats recommended for educational use by the of... Of both genders roaming the Museum created by Yuko Yamaguchi, is associated with cats were often as! He has taught history, cats were again elevated to the owner, she is shown riding a chariot driven. Sheep, and to portend good luck charms by actors, and there were enormous cults, revered! ( Felis silvestris lybica ) commonly domesticated than its wilder relative his good fortune '' ``.