History of Cats in Ancient Egypt

Many believe that cats for the ancient Egyptians served to combat one of their worst enemies – the rats that infested the region, destroying grain and cereal crops, in addition to spreading diseases. When they realized that cats were the solution to controlling the rodent population, the Egyptians began to treat cats as family members and began to see them as true deities. This worship had to count on the help of the authorities, because, before the animal was decreed a sacred being, many pussycats were served as the main dish on the banks of the Nile River. One of the Egyptian goddesses depicted with a cat’s head was Bastet (also known as Bast and Ubasti). She began to be worshiped around 3000 BC. and represented pleasure, fertility, music and love. In addition to Bastet, the two main Egyptian deities – Ra, the sun god, and Isis, the goddess of life – also had feline traits.
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The Egyptians devoted such veneration to cats that they used to shave their eyebrows in mourning when a pet died. Women also saw them as symbols of beauty and painted their eyes trying to imitate the perfect outline of the kittens’ eyes. These animals deserved the same funeral rites as human beings, being embalmed and buried. In the 19th century, archaeologists discovered more than 300,000 mummies of cats in a cemetery in Tall Bastah, a city in the delta of the Nile River where the main temple of the goddess Bastet was located.
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Overkill? And how about knowing that someone could be sentenced to death if they killed one of these animals? But such worship cost at least one historic defeat for the Egyptian Empire, around 600 years before Christ. When a Persian commander named Cambyses II learned that the enemies of the land of the Nile worshiped these cats so much, he had no doubts and ordered his army to attack the country of the pyramids using a tactic that was at least unusual: cats were placed in front of his troops as a shield. ! The Egyptians offered no resistance. It was better to surrender to the Persians than to consider the possibility of harming a holy being.