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History of cats

 General history of cats.

   In ancient Egypt the cat was already very popular. IGoddess Bastet (bronz)f you killed a cat you received hard punishment. The African wild cat was the starting breed from which the house cat was created. During the time when people started farming, cat had to be a very interesting animal. In southern Egypt it was a useful hunter of mice. Without them, the craps and harvest silos would be unprotected from vermin. This so called working cat, which was protecting harvest from vermin, was doing a very admirable job, and it was not then and it’s not now any doubt about her usefulness. Archeologist discovered remnants of cats about 9,000 years old.  

   This was practically the beginning of cat domestication. The other reason was special love of animals from people in old Egypt. They worshiped a large amount of wild and domesticated animals.  It’s hard to find why this strong connection between cats and humans started around the river Nile, since the silos of craps where also in different places. This domestication was going on around 5,000 up to 3,000 years BC.

Sculpture incarnation goddess of Bastet    In the Egyptian society cats had an important role. First of all the cat was the incarnation of goddess Bastet, who was representing fertility, motherhood and Moon’s phase.  The Egyptians are presenting her as a woman with a cat’s head. Control over lunar cycles come from the fact that the cat is active mostly at night, her responsibility for fertility and childbirth and exemplary care as the cat’s mothers are giving her young.  With all this we have to give cats her typical elegance and cleanliness, mysterious look of her eyes glittering at night and seemingly supernatural ability to leave silently on her quiet paws and then the same silent way to come back. At this moment, we have in front of us this adorable and independent  creature.  Cat is well disposed to humans and she appreciates living in human society, but on the same hand, she likes to be independent and go her own way. The center of worship of goddess Bastet was the city of Bubastis, located east of the Nile Delta.  Around the year 950 B.C. pharaoh Shoshenq made this city his capital city. From there the Bastet cult spread to the rest of the land. After about 500 years later, Greek historian Herodotus visited the city and wrote a report about the magnificent 300 meters long shrine built in honor of goddess Bastet. Here lived thousands of cats under special care and protection of the temple priests. In the courtyard of this temple was a massive statue of goddess Bastet, surrounded with about 30 meters wide water channel. Also other cities had beautiful temples for Bastet and almost every Egyptian was wearing a cat amulet made from wood clay or bronze. Bubastis was a place where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims celebrated every spring with dancing, singing, good food and sacrifices.

Sculpture goddess of BastetMummy Egyptian Cats   The cult of the cat was so big, that she was being taken care of like a gem. If there was a fire in the house, the cat was saved before the children. When the cat died, her body was mummified, wrapped in fancy linen strips and put in a small coffin made out of wood, bronze or alabaster.  To make sure there was nothing missing in the world of the dead, the owner of the cat often provided for her, toys or mummified mice. On the archeological sites abound Bubastis was found thousands of cat mummies.  

   More than 2000 years blossomed around Nile worship of goddess Bastet. In other Mediterranean countries cat domestication was very slow, because taking cats out of Egypt was forbidden with the threat of heavy punishment. Later in Greece and the Roman Empire the cat was considered a precious exotic animal. During archeological excavation in the roman city in Pompeii, what was destroyed after the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in the year 79 A.C., they did not discovered any trace of the house cat. However, about 300 years later cats spread in the Roman Empire. So much about cat origin.

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