11 Interesting Facts About Cats in Ancient Egypt
We are all pretty certain our cats know that they used to be worshiped and they are patiently waiting for the right time to rise up again for world domination. But how much of their history do you actually know? Here are 11 facts about their years of fame in ancient Egypt.
Egyptians did not actually worship cats, but they did believe that cats held a bit of divine energy within them. The most widespread belief was that domestic cats carried the divine essence of Bastet.
The goddess Bastet, commonly depicted as a cat or as a woman with a cat’s head, was among the most popular deities. An enormous temple complex was built in her honor in the center of the city and it is believed that priests maintained large “catteries” that supplied a thriving trade in cat mummies to give as a sacrifice or offering.
Even though killing a cat was regarded as a serious crime (even accidentally), radiographic examination showed that these cats from the catteries were killed by either strangulation or beaten to death.
Once a year around October 31, the festival of Bastet would occur with hundreds of thousands of people making pilgrimages.
The cat cult was important for the country’s economy, as it required breeding of cats and a trading network for the supply of food, oils, and resins for embalming them.
The export of cats from Egypt was so strictly prohibited that a branch of the government was formed solely to deal with this issue. Government agents were dispatched to other lands to find and return cats which had been smuggled out.
All the inhabitants of a house shave their eyebrows as a sign of deep mourning. Cats that have died are embalmed and buried in sacred receptacles. The period of mourning was considered completed when the people’s eyebrows had grown back
Cats were often taken on hunting expeditions and trained to fetch birds or catch fish. (I would like to know how they trained these cats)
Cat cemeteries were used for several centuries. One of the largest ones uncovered held 200,000 cats.
Many Egyptian parents named their children after cats, especially their daughters.
In one book of ancient dreams, it was said that if a man sees a cat in a dream, it means he will have a good harvest.
And there you go! Were there any facts here that you didn’t know? Do you have any you can share? Let me know in the comments!