I have some cousins (female) who are nuts about cats. One of them thinks she’s a cat (not really), but she’ll meow just for the heck of it.
I must confess, I don’t get this thing about cats. Dogs and people who love them – I understand that perfectly well. But cats?????
The ancient Egyptians had a thing about cats. Cats were regarded as manifestations of the goddess Bast. This Egyptian goddess had many roles, including the goddess of fertility, the moon, and also as the protector of all cats. She was referred to as Bastet when in full cat form, as opposed to the representation of Bast as a beautiful girl with the body of a human and the head of a cat. In Egyptian mythology, she had many conflicting relationships with fellow gods and goddesses. She was said to be the daughter of Mwt and Amun, the daughter of Ra, sister of Djehuti, Seshat, Het Heret, Ma’at, and twin sister of Sekhmet. She was also the sexual partner of all gods and goddesses, and the wife of Ra.
Cats were treated extremely well during the time of the pharaohs. Cats were treated as gods, and were protected by law, as well. The punishment for harming or killing a cat was harsh (Wolf, 1997). Diodorus Siculus said:
Whoever kills a cat in Egypt is condemned to death, whether he committed this crime deliberately or not. The people gather and kill him. An unfortunate Roman, who accidentally killed a cat, could not be saved, either by King Ptolemy of Egypt or by the fear which Rome inspired.
There were also laws forbidding the exportation of cats. However, Phoenician traders often smuggled them out and sold them to the Mediterranean countries. Armies were even sent out to recapture cats from foreign lands. The Egyptians were so devoted to their cats that they even surrendered to the Persians, due to their beloved cats. When the Egyptians were at war with the Persians and the Egyptians were wearing down the Persian army, a Persian general came up with a plan. Because he knew of the great love and reverence with which the Egyptians treated their cats, he ordered his soldiers to capture as many cats as possible from the city. When they had enough, they returned to the city of Pelusium and lined up for battle. When the dust cleared, the Egyptians were horrified at the number of their terrified cats that were running over the battlefield. Rather than harm the cats, they surrendered the city to the Persians without a fight. It was a devastating loss for the Egyptians.
All that for a stinky cat? I don’t get it…after all, how did they ever benefit the ancient Egyptians? You sure don’t see any of the ancient Egyptians around today…
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in the northeastern part of the United States, it is estimated that 90% of the feral bee population has died off.