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Cat Worship in Ancient Egypt

Bastet, ancient Egyptian cat goddess

Bastet, ancient Egyptian cat goddess

To Be Worshipped

As far as a cat is concerned, being worshipped is an absolute birthright. In ancient Egypt, the cat was revered as no other beast; they were mummified, sat upon the thrones of kings, and often found themselves in the company of the great names throughout history. The single exception is the Christian bible, where cats were not mentioned at all. But don't tell the cats!

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London

Mummified Egyptian Cats

Most cat lovers know that cats were worshipped in ancient Egypt, where they were considered to have ultimate importance. The Egyptians actually mummified cats to protect them for the afterlife, as evidenced by the thousands of cat mummies uncovered there. Something a little less known is that Egyptians would shave off their eyebrows during the mourning period should a family cat pass away. But the feline adulation doesn't stop there:

If you visit the Egyptian room at the British Museum, you will see just how perfectly the cat worshipping Egyptians have preserved their little gods. Many are almost pristine in appearance. Cats were so worshipped during Egyptian times that if you were the unlucky person who accidentally killed a family cat, the punishment was sure to be fatal. What may be worse for the surviving family members was knowing that your human remains would not have been nearly as carefully attended to as the remains of the cat.

A Brief Tour of the British Museum


Cat Worship Worldwide

In Siam (currently Thailand), where family cats enjoy complete reverence, it was mandated that during the royal celebration of a new king, a cat be presented at the front of the lead chariot.

In Norse mythology (a cat would tell you there is no myth about it), Freya, the most celebrated and desirable of the goddesses, would be transported in a chariot that was pulled only by cats.

The goddess Freya in a chariot pulled by cats.

The goddess Freya in a chariot pulled by cats.

Cats Would Say the Devil Made Them Do It

For as many cultures that found cats worth worshipping, there were those who found the feline a villain to be scorned. The most notable display of hate would have to be during the Dark Ages, where cats were considered to be connected with the devil. Due to this ridiculous theory, many cats were put to death, as well as those humans who appeared to be demons or connected to witchcraft.

Whether scorned or worshipped, cats were considered powerful beings.

Whether scorned or worshipped, cats were considered powerful beings.

Feline Devil or Cat Deity

No matter if cats have been considered devil or deity, they have through the years surely shown their worth many times over. They have maintained sentry on ships and farms, protecting humans from disease-ridden vermin that would attack food supplies like grains and rice. A halo may not be waiting in a cat's afterlife, but to a cat, knowing we worship them in this life makes a human worth all the work.

Egyptian art tells of worshiping felines

Egyptian art tells of worshiping felines

Cats Love Goes Further Back Than We Thought

Until 1994, cats were thought to have been first domesticated in ancient Egypt. During excavation at a New Stone Age site located in Cyprus, a young cat was found buried alongside a human.

We are now finding that the darling felines have been around far longer than we ever thought. It has been discovered that semi-feral cats have been hunting chubby grain-storage-rats for about 10,000 years, geographically located by what is now modern-day Iraq. These feline grain guardians were a welcome addition because they were such fantastic hunters. The Near East wildcat is considered to be the ancestor of the world's now nearly 700 million domestic cats.

A cat doesn't much care about its history or how it got to where it is in modern society. The only thing a cat truly cares about is that we love them and share our lives with them - as long as we humans remain obedient to the deity we call "the family cat."

My cat Chance was royalty in many ways!

My cat Chance was royalty in many ways!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments for Cats - Why Ancient Egypt Worshipped Cats...

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on June 14, 2020:

Excellent. If you count big cats, the Bible mentions cats several times. But the family cat is truly awesome. Great for companionship and keeping life interesting. Fabulous.

Suzie ONeill from Lost in La La Land on March 12, 2012:

I enjoyed reading this hub!

I'm a cerifiable cat-worshipper myself. ;) I even went so far as to name the two latest additions to my household after Egyptian gods-- Apophis and Amonet.

soupie on January 09, 2012:

That's nice, you might like to read the story of the famous Mike and the other cats-in-residence, of the British Museum:

Gustave Kilthau from USA on April 11, 2011:

Howdy K9keystrokes - Ahh me! I had never caught the cat worship fever to any palpable degree, but when my bride's mean-natured feline pest wee-wee'd in my radio's costly speaker, I gave up that practice altogether and for certain. :)

Gus :-)))

DaNoblest from California on April 11, 2011:

Awesome hub! You are right cats definitely feel it is their birthright to be royalty. My cats run the house and require that I go out of my way to make sure they are happy.

thehemu from New Delhi, India on April 11, 2011:

that's pretty cool. never know cats also worshipped so much.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 11, 2011:

Very cool!! And I love the crowned cat photo XD

Elena from London, UK on April 11, 2011:

OMG... very interesting to read.

Ps. Well done on your 100 Hubscore.

Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on April 10, 2011:

I loved this in a big way. I love anything that invloves Egypt! I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. Up one and Useful. Hey! I'm now your fan! RJ