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HISTORY

Ancient Egyptians believed cats were a reincarnation of gods and that’s why they were so important

Felines played an important role for thousands of years in Ancient Egypt. They were respected for being fierce hunters and protectors of their homes.

The love that Ancient Egyptians had for cats isn’t a secret. They admired this felines to the point of achieving divine status. Cats are almost everywhere in ancient artifacts, lavish tomb paintings, statues, and jewelry that show that the Ancient Egypt was a land where cats used to be pampered, respected and protected.

Egyptians used to believe that cats had the ability to see inside the human soul, so they were highly cherished, so much that if a family cat passed away, the other members of the family shaved their brows as a sign of mourning and even women tried to emulate their looks with the now-famous cat eyeliner.

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Cats as Divine Creatures and Royals Cats

It’s a mistake to believe that Egyptians worshiped cats. Yes, cats played an important role in Egyptian religion, but they were considered vessels the gods chose to adopt. They were also seen as possessing another type of power, the fertility. For example, Bastet, the daughter of the gods Ra and Isis was first depicted as a fierce lioness, but later as a domestic cat.

Cats were a favorite of the pharaohs; members of the Egyptian royal class dressed their cats in gold and even let them eat from their plates. Members of the lower classes couldn’t afford to dress their cats, however they created and wore their own jewelry with some feline designs.

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Their Domestication

Egyptians saw cats as a beneficial companion, they may come inside your house when it was hot and in return they would chase away some animals that represented a harm by being venomous, such as snakes, and scorpions and others like mice and rats.

It was at this point that humans began to recognize their worth and treat them well; leaving some food that eventually encouraged them to stay, this way, the cat slowly started to become accustomed to humans. However, humans didn’t domesticate the cats, unlike the dog, the cat decided whether to jump or not into the human’s lap.

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Companionship Afterlife

The relationship between “owner” and pet continued into the afterlife. Egyptians used to believe that the tomb was the posthumous house for eternity, it was like a house where you would depict your family, your titles, awards, and all the things you enjoyed during your life on Earth.

There is a painting in the Tomb of Nebamun, who was a middle-ranking official scribe and grain accountant, this painting features a cat accompanying Nebamun, the cat has a bird in its mouth and another two in its claws.

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Their presence in tombs wasn’t limited. Sometimes cats would even be mummified and placed inside their human tomb, because they could be used as funerary goods.

Cats mummification

Egyptians believed that some gods could assume different forms, such as animals, including cats. They would not only appear with the head of a cat, but also inhabit their bodies of them, reason why cats used to be mummified.

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