Tracing back to feline history
It is believed that small weasel-like creature called Miacis is where the domestic cat can trace their ancestry back more than 13 million years! There’s more about these wonderful felines.
Keeping evil at bay: The Egyptians used cats to guard their homes, temples and warehouses of grain. They believed that cats kept away the ‘evil eye’ and deterred thieves who often changed their minds about breaking into properties. They also worshipped cats and called them MAU and we all know that is similar to the sound they make. Anyone who killed a cat was often punished by death and a man whose cat had died often shaved his eyebrows to signify that he was in mourning.
Goddess cat: Bast was a goddess with a cat’s head – also known as Pasht – and it is possible that the word Puss comes from that. Whether it is true or not there is a story that in 529 BC Cambyses of Persia used cats against the Egyptians. His soldiers were issued with cats and as the Egyptians were greatly concerned if they harmed a cat, they allowed the Persian army to take over without the expected war taking place. In many areas there were populations of more than 100,000 cats but because they were so admired and worshipped, nothing was done to cut down on the numbers. With no neutering or spaying of cats, they just continued to breed and numbers were rarely decreased.
Rest in peace: Some cats were even given elaborate funerals and declared sacred in the 18th Dynasty in Egypt.
Cats as luxury: The old Greek name for cats was Ailuroi or Tail Wavers!
There were so few cats in Greece in the 5th century they were considered to be rare, luxury objects.
Dignified pet: In ancient China the gift of a cat to distinguished ministers and public servants was an indication that they held high office and were treated with great honour.
Farm protectors: Cats were rather expensive in 10th century Britain but it was decreed that every farmer must have a cat and spend at least 3 pence per week on his care so that they would help to cut down the number of mice that were found on farms.
Sensational Siamese: The King of Siam gifted two Siamese cats to the British Consul in England and this breed became extremely popular ever since throughout the world. Longhair cats, especially Blues, also became very popular and one beautiful creature was owned by Queen Victoria and the breed became highly sought by cat lovers.
(Joan E Henderson is based in Australia and she has judged furry felines in many other countries including USA, Bermuda, Malaysia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Philippines and New Zealand).