Throughout history cats have taken
on mythic proportions in different cultures. Cats first were domesticated
in Egypt around 3000 BC. Egypt had problems
with mice and rats infesting their food. The African Wild cat a small yellow
cat with black stripes started coming into the cities to hunt these rodents.
Without mouse traps or other forms of pest control it quickly became apparent
that these cats were extremely helpful. People started leaving out treats
to encourage cats to hunt in their home. The cats stayed in the cities as
there was plenty of food and no predators as other animals kept their distance
from humans. This situation was mutually beneficial to human and feline alike.
Cats gained such popularity in Egypt that they attained a god like status,
as people believed cats embodied the characteristics of the gods. Unique
feline characteristics likely assisted this view point. It is believed
that purring had something to do with the development of these beliefs.
also possible that its distinctive eyes, keen instincts, and agility also
the Egyptians that cats were god like. Cats reached such a high status
that some were mummified when they died along with mice and food. Also,
killing a cat in Egypt was punishable by death.
With such favorable conditions the cat population grew dramatically. While
initially there were strict laws forbidding the export of cats, these laws
were eventually relaxed as their numbers grew. Consequently, cats started
to be sold around the world. Popularity grew to such a level that different
breeds formed on all habitable continents of the world.
While cats peaked in popularity and status in ancient Egypt, unfortunately,
their status and popularity waned in Medieval Europe. People thought they
were connected with the devil and suffered the same fate as many suspected
witches. Likely all the traits the Egyptians saw as god like, the Europeans
saw as signs of the devil. Cats were nearly wiped out in Europe during
this time, and it wasn’t until witch hunts stopped that cats were
tolerated and allowed to make a come back.
Now cats enjoy immense popularity around the world. Over 5000 years cats
have developed from a wild animal to a trusted human companion. While labels
of god or devil affected their history they have finally settled on simply
being a pet.