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Cat History: The Story Behind Our Furry Feline Friends

Updated: Sep 11

Anyone who's had or currently has a cat in their life knows how magical they truly are and that you don't really own a cat but that they share space with you and allow you to care for them.  I laugh at this, because it's kind of true... But they do love their people and are all so different with unique personalities all of their own! So how did cats come to live with us anyhow, being that they're so very independent and seem perfectly capable of taking care of themselves? Let's look into a little Cat history to find out how, shall we...


According to SmithsonianMag, cats are said to be the most popular house pets in the United States, with some 90 million domesticated cats living among 34% of U.S. homes, and to me, that's not terribly surprising at all.  After all, these lovely creatures are mystical, magical little beings. They're independent and quite adept at taking care of themselves to a certain extent, yet many cats truly enjoy the company of their humans and their feline friends alike; they are inquisitive, exploratory, and are so curious when it comes to everything around them!  If you're one who has had the pleasure of serving a cat, you know what I'm talking about!

Now to take a look back to when it started... It is believed that Cats have lived with people for around 10,000 to 12,000 years, and according to recent research published in the journal, Science (www.smithsonianmag.com), it is thought that cats, more or less, self domesticated, inviting themselves right in to the life and way of humans.  It is thought that when people settled the land in the fertile crescent area and began an agricultural lifestyle, abandoning their nomadic one, that the unique and special relationship between cats and humans began (www.alleycat.org).  The middle eastern wildcats (felix silvestris lybica) decided to stick around human settlements after discovering they could take advantage of the new and abundant food source (rodents) created by the storage of grains and such. The people within the communities were more than happy to have them stay and help control problems that would otherwise have caused them loss and frustration, hence the cat moved into the human life.

In fact in ancient Egypt, cats were revered, worshiped and loved.  When a cat died, the family would shave their eyebrows in grief and mourning.  Cats were mummified and buried, sometimes even dressed in golden jewelry to indicate their owners status, and even the Egyptian goddess, Bastet (also called Bast), who was first worshipped as a fierce lioness warrior goddess, was later changed to a cat and her ferocious nature was softened after the domestication of the cat around 1500 bce (www.Britannica.com).  In ancient Egypt, the killing of a cat, whether intentional or not, very often carried with it a death sentence for the offender.  --------

Other civilizations also held a reverence for cats throughout history as well, including Rome, Japan and others in the Far East.  Cats were even considered good luck for sailors, as cats were believed to bring good fortune and prevent bad weather. It is said that the link between cats and sailors goes back as far as their domestication in Ancient Egypt all the way through to the Viking Golden Age, not only for their mousing skills and keeping vermin in check on boats, but also because of their natural reaction to barometric pressure changes (www.wearethemighty.com). It is believed that it was through the sailors recruiting of cats for the various jobs on board as well as good luck in sailing, that the domesticated cat of the fertile crescent area and Egypt found its way to other parts of the world.

Unfortunately, during the middle ages in Europe cats sadly came to be demonized due to religious beliefs, especially the black cat. Because people in the middle ages began to associate cats with Witches and the Devil, many were killed along with Witches to try and ward off evil, which ironically is an action that is believed by scholars to have facilitated the spread of the plague which is carried by rats (www.smithsonianmag.com).  So in trying to kill all the cats that they thought to be evil with the Witches, the rat population exploded, in turn spreading the plague faster than it may otherwise have spread with cats to keep things in check. 

Thankfully, we people have come a long way and things are much different for cats now than they were back in the middle ages.  While some parts of the world still need some education as to what these beautiful feline creatures have to offer us in the way of protection, healing and companionship, the cat has become much more of family member in so many homes throughout the world, and we, at The Kurious Kat, are Extremely Happy about this! 😻


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