THE CAT GODDESS
Cats were held sacred in Ancient Egypt. A long time ago, when the
villages had begun to become cities, the Pharaoh built granaries to try
to feed the increased population. In these large windowless buildings,
the rats and mice flourished and the Pharaoh wanted to use all the cats
to kill the mice and rats. The people would not have been happy if
the Pharaoh took their cats, so the Pharaoh made all cats demigods.
Now, humans could not own a god, so they would take their cats to a granary
at night and provide them with housing during the day. They would
get a tax cut in payment for taking care of a demigod. Therefore,
it is clear that one of the attributes the Egyptians admired most about
cats is their ability as predators. This is why other gods, like
Sekhmet (the goddess who has a head of a lion) became popular. She
would be a war goddess.
Cats themselves are mammals. They are predators and definitely meat
eaters, or highly developed carnivores . Cats live on all continents
except Australia and Antarctica. All cats, both wild and domesticated,
are digitigrade (they walk on their toes with the back part of the foot
raised). Their claws are long and sharp and fully retractile (the
claws can be drawn into the paw so that the paw can be used without scratching),
all except the cheetah. The classification of the domestic cat or Felis
Catus is as follows: Kingdom - Animalia, Phylum - Chordata, and Class
- Mammalia. This animal can be classified as a vertebrate.
Some were wild and the smaller of the species were domesticated and kept
as pets. In Egypt, they lived in the delta region of the north.
The city of the Goddess Bast was Bubastis located in the same area.
This is where Bast's temple is located which is claimed to be the greatest
temple in all of Egypt. When this temple was studied by archeologists
they found thousands of little cat sculptures. They were probably
left with small offerings. There are many other interesting things
about cats in Egypt. For instance, if you owned a cat then your household
would be blessed. On the other hand, if something happened to a cat
while in your care, whether it was an accident or not, there would be a
severe punishment. Bast was considered the goddess of life, family,
and domesticated cats. Any kind of catlike qualities were also revered.
Although first domesticated by the Egyptians and used as pest control,
the cat became great companions to their owners. Even so there is
only evidence of one time when a pet cat had a name. Its name was
"The Pleasant One."