Pet cats have been associated with humans since prehistoric times. According to the scientific report, wildcat race especially known as Felis Catus has been tamed by early human settlement around 12,000 years ago or more.First agricultural civilizations were established in Middle Eastern areas where dogs were already domesticated for the reasons of hunting and goats were for meat and skin.That area was called Middle East’s Fertile Crescent where the first agricultural civilizations were started.
When people started farming crops and storing the grains, they had faced rodent problem severely. At the same time, wild cats had been attracted by the mice that were coming out to destroy the grains in storage.It was very effective in cultivation by wiping out mice crisis.Humans were very pleased with getting pest control so they decided to keep the wondered little felines as their own companions.From this starting stage, the cat became slowly took part in human original human society.
Other domesticated animals like dogs and goats, cats were converted into a valuable house pet.The origin of the cat won’t be perfect without some knowledge about feline race.As the cat parents, you should know what your little furry friend is.Actually, house cats are from one of the three genera of Felidae family. They are the natural born hunter and are gifted with sharp senses, flexible body, sharp claws and teeth for the defensive system and killing small animals.They also can smell better than humans.Generally, a house cat can have about 4 to 5kg but some cat breed like Maine coon can reach 11kg. Cats are digitigrade means they walk on their toe.
Cats are well known for the ability to see in the dark and it is excellence. They can hear a high pitch or low ultrasonic frequencies that aren’t possible for the human ear. They use different vocalization systems and specific body language to communicate with us or one another.A normal female cat can breed 3 to 5 kittens at a time per pregnancy period and there is 2 to 3 litter period per year.AS they are highly developed hunter among mammals, they are solitary and can survive alone except lions.Cats do not like to follow command though they are entirely domesticated because of they are independence and can survive in the wild. The typical lifespan of a cat is about 12 to 15 years by the latest report.
Historical cats: gods, demons, and witches
Once there was a time when meow cats were worshiped as a god and they still not forget that by their majestic appearance and attitude.In ancient Egypt, people domesticated cats and treated with respect as a godly image. People from Egypt believed that cat stores the light of the sun in their eyes and keeps until sunrise. The cat was called “Mau” in ancient Egyptian language and very sacred because of the goddess Bastet. Goddess Bastet has a head of a cat and she is the protector of women, fertility, joy, happiness, and motherhood. She was known to be the protector goddess of Lower Egypt. Her rituals were performed mainly in Bubastis where a large temple of the goddess Bastet was in the middle of the city. Rich Egyptian cat owners sometimes decorated their cats with gold and jewels to praise them as the symbol of grace, poise, and protector from vermin and snakes for their hunting ability. If someone killed a cat, there was no escape but the death sentence in ancient Egypt.
According to historical records, A Roman was killed by an angry mob for killing a cat accidentally about 60BC when pharaoh Ptolemy XII ruled. When Persian emperor invaded some regions of Egypt, soldiers from Persian army tied cats on their armors and shields by knowing that Egyptian would not dare to harm or kill cats.Even cats were mummified like royalty bloodline humans, and they are believed to be sent to Bastet as offering in the afterlife. Dead cats were taken to temple of Bastet for mummification and for complete embalming burial ceremony.Eighty thousands of mummified cats those were around 1000BC are found outside Beni Hasan. Egyptian women used to put little kittens nearby for fertility, sexuality, and happiness.Two types of house cats were most popular in Egyptian history.They were the jungle cat and African wildcat, the ancestor of modern Egyptian Mau.
Wildcat taming was started from Predynastic time.Another famous feline deity worshipped alongside with Bastet was the goddess Sekhmet, the patron goddess of Upper Egypt. She is a lioness-headed goddess of war, destruction, healing and also for the powerful symbol of sexuality. Her main cult center was Memphis.She is well known for protection in war and also for closely related with the sun and the supreme god Ra.Lions and Lioness were often domesticated for the honor of the goddess Sekhmet.By ancient Norse mythology, goddess Freyja is connected with small feline and farmers left milk in the fields as offering for Freyja’s two furry companions.
Does the cat evil?
You are definitely going to answer “Absolutely Not” but in the middle age period when the time people were afraid of folklores, yes, they did believe so.Fear of cats as devilish things became to spread entire Europe about 11th to 17th century.In the Medieval time known as dark age aka middle age, cats were assured of associated with devil and witchcraft.
People thought cats have magical powers and witches keep cats as familiar.Let’s see the fate of cats born in Medieval time, unfortunately, they were tortured, killed or drove away from human society and towns by fear.Cat owners were wrongly noted as witches and killed together with their cats.Therefore, the population of cats in Europe was almost disappeared. Among them, black cats were most poorly unfortunate creatures.Just owning a black cat could make a person burned alive or hang to death.
As the final result, up to 50% of whole Europe was wiped out by the severe black plague called black death. Terminating of the cat population led to the excessive breeding of vermins especially black rats.Fleas from rats carried bacteria, fleas bit the rats and from that infected rats, this terrible disease transferred to humans and other animals. However middle ages people still considered Plague is caused by witchcraft and continued killing innocent animals and humans. The cost of wrong belief wasted millions of lives. Later some doctors found out the main origin of disease, then spread what they knew to the public. For that reason, people avoided to terminate cats and finally, humans won the cruel plague by the help of cats.
Though kittens were quite unlucky in dark ages, they still got their value in a small part. For their capability of killing vermin, some were treated well by humans especially in castles and fortresses.In 1265, Countess of Leicester kept a cat for mice problem in her fortress.Some churches even adopted cats, not black ones for pest control.For example, Exeter Cathedral in the 15th century, assigned a kitten with salary to hunt and get rid of rats. Hywel Dda, the King of Wale announced that killing or harming cat is illegal. Our fur babies weren’t 100% unfortunate at all even in the Medieval period. Sailors used to take kitty on their ships to prevent destructive rodent problems in food supplies cellar. In Celtic pagan myth, small felines are associated with goddess and divination.They were used in rituals, divination and believed to be connected with goddess Hecate, the patron guardian of witches.
Not only Europe and Egypt but also in Asia, there is some legend about feline. The first domestication in China wasn’t too much far from the Egyptian period. Archaeological research demonstrates the evidence about the first arrival of wild cats in human villages around 5000 years ago.The proofs of carnivorous pets started to eat human food by finding grain components in pieces of cats’ bones found in Quanhucun village.They played even some important role in Chinese culture and traditions.There is a cat goddess named Li Shou mentioned in the book of rites.
According to Chinese’s world creation myth, Li Shou was the first one who took the responsibility to take care of the earth before humans.She took are of peace and harmony on land by patrolling the earth. Later, her napping and playful nature failed her duty for bringing disorders in the world while her absence. For that reason, Li Shou transferred her obligation and capability of speaking to mankind to rule on earth. In honor of feline goddess, ancient Chinese put cat as one of the important sign of luck and she was worshipped by farmers as the protector of family, grains, and crops.
However, kitty wasn’t put as one of zodiac sign coz of a rat.Yes, in a fairytale, before the zodiac signs had not been created, cat and rat had to race for entering sign.Though the napping kitty trusted rat to wake him up instead the little tricky vermin left him and entered the zodiac by itself.In Japan, kittens are a symbol of luck, cuteness. No surprise why Japanese people love them by creating lots of specific images in manga, anime and more.
People in Japan believe the cat has a power of protection, ward of the evils and bring good fortune.In the old time, a lord was passing by the temple GotokuJi, he saw a cat raising its paw in front of the temple and then he was saved from lighting strike by entering the shrine to go near the cat and stray one fed by shopkeeper brought customers and financial success.So people built shrine called Neko-jinja for they worshipped as gods over hundreds of years to protect fishermen and have good catches.You can see every type of adorable creations about cat around Japan.There are famous tourist attraction sites also, for example, Aoshima Island is well known for hundreds of feline residents and even more population than human residents, where those adorable fur balls dominated there for decades.South East Asia countries like Thailand and Myanmar have specific historical facts of domestication through monasteries feed strays or abandoned ones as monks are supposed to have mercy on living things.
There was no record of early domestication in North America before Europen settlers arrived.Seem like European brought cats in ships and also tamed wild small felines while staying there. However, there is evidence from ancient ruins and native traditions show that native from the north and south America once worshipped feline or cat liked gods. Native tribe Cahokia’s earth god was a giant snake with the head of a cat.
Jaguar was a sacred symbol for Aztec and Mayan as their rain god who symbolized the power, strength, and bloodlust. Sacrificing and rite were performed annually. Sharmans used Jaguar totem as an animal spirit guide and also believe the legend of were feline like werewolf legend. When shamans cross the spirit realm to fight evil force, they need the protection of jaguar spirit. Amazonian people honored and respected Jaguar as the god of darkness, they even believed the roar is sound like thunder and the solar eclipse happens by swallowing the sun.The Quechua tribes from native America has cat spirit that controls lightning and often gave an offering. While colonial period, hundreds of house cats were killed in Salem witch trials.Started in the 19th century, kitties have been popular as a pet along with dogs.
Cats in superstitions and traditions
The entire earth is rich with myths, fairy tales and folklore’s no matter which race or country.There are thousands of traditions transfer from generation to generation.Little felines act the main role in some superstitions around the world.Let’s start with twitchy witchy black furry ones.Does the black cat really bring bad luck?Kitty lovers will never agree with this. Sadly, there are extremely superstitious people still bringing on these beliefs until 21st centuries. You don’t need to believe but should know as interesting fairy tales from different countries and races.
In Europe, black cats are commonly considered as the main source of bad luck and related with devil or witches. However, some places have opposite tales of it.Irish people believe that arrival of a strange black one bring wealth in the home and also bring more suitors if a woman owns it. In a story, cat sith is kind of fairy who takes the form of a black cat. In England, brides are given as wedding gift as the symbol of good fortune. Even in Theaters, they are put as a symbol of fortunate plays, actors or plans.Whoever mistreat or drown them will bring severe misfortune but good things will who treat them kindly.If it crossed the path in front of the human, English people believe to be lucky while other Europen countries think it is going to be bad.The family of sailors in the United Kingdom has a black kitten for the safe homecoming.
In Norse lore, cats are guardians of another world and also the sacred symbol associated with goddess Freya. In Iceland, there is a legend about Yule cat, monstrous, vicious creature who eat humans who don’t have new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve. Also In France, young madams should try not to step on the tail. If she steps anyhow, then she would have to wait 1 years before to get married as superstitions. Cat’s sneezing is a good omen for Italy. Owning or letting one into the house is lucky in Russia. But White ones aren’t said to be unlucky in UK and Australia for the white is the color of ghost they bear so if children saw it in a road by accident, they spit on the ground to make the bad things away. However, they are also a symbol of long life and endurance for having nine lives.These are good sides of superstition for Blackie but there were very heartbroken periods too.
In Middle Ages, mostly all types of kitties especially black were wiped out as soon as being caught. As they are nocturnal hunters, their ability to see in dark and glowing eyes made the superstitious people fear.Some even said that witches can shapeshift into one as the result the owners and their feline pets were killed without guilt.Humans considered that kitty can take the soul out of infants while sleeping. These purring fluffy ones can see things we cant like ghosts, spirits etc by knowing when they are starring in dark and growling, hissing then sure they are seeing something that can’t be or shouldn’t be seen in human eyes.Apart from Europe, people from Japan and China thinks cats bring prosperity, good luck to mankind.
Maneki Neko, the sitting beckoning bobtail that raises its paw and bend is the symbol of business success and good omens.There are lots of shops that sell the statue of Maneki Neko. Tashirojima island has a shrine to it.The fishermen used to predict the weather by seeing kitties body language patterns.There are some supernatural feline entities in Japanese folklore. First is Neko Mata, kind of youkai that live in mountain and another type is a transformation of the domestic cat when cat when it is aged enough to be changed.It has two tails and can talk or walk like a human.
Another one is bake Neko, the vengeful spirits of kitties that were cruelly tortured and killed or sometimes believed to transformed from old felines. Unlike Nekomata, Bakeneko is believed to has only one tail and can also be changed into human form to lure victims. Vietnamese put the cat in 12 zodiacs instead of the rat. In Myanmar, rural area people keep the body 3 days in the home before cremation when someone dies. Then be sure not the cat jump or walk over the body. If that happened, the evil spirit will inhibit the lifeless vessel and harm people nearby even can destroy the entire village.
There will be more superstitions and myths that I do not acknowledge but I wrote by researching from different sources as much as I can.My dear viewers, if you want to enlighten me by adding more information from your own culture or any sources, feel free to write to me. I will be so honored to listen to your discussions and experiences. bless you and your adorable purr family.