Egyptians of the ancient world held cats in high esteem, and in fact worshiped some of them, like the lion-headed goddess Sakhmet. But did their admiration stem from our objective cuteness? Well, surely in part, but not entirely.
According to the Smithsonian, the people of Egypt loved our multi-faceted natures. The aforementioned Sakhmet, for example, could be both savage and sweet. In our various behaviors, they saw reflections of other gods, as curatorial fellow Antonietta Catanzariti explains. “A cat protecting the house from mice. Or it might just protect kittens. These were attitudes that were attributed to a specific goddess.” Specifically, the goddess of motherhood Bastet.
Meanwhile, the Ancient History Encyclopedia illustrates just how far that respect went. Did you know the punishment for killing a cat was death? I think modern humans stand to learn a lot from their ancestors. My feline fellows were so sought after that cat-smuggling was a booming business. There were government agents whose job it was to travel abroad and retrieve those of us that had been taken out of the country.
And of course, if you have any familiarity with the culture of Ancient Egypt, you have surely seen cat mummies. I personally find the practice rather creepy. Our dead would be mummified and given as offerings to temples. Considering the British imported them by the thousands to use as fertilizer, I assume the Egyptians quickly ran out of closets in which to stuff these things.
What is interesting about the study of history is just how much we can learn that may prove useful in this day and age. Let’s just leave outdated funeral practices to the past, shall we?