History of Domestic House Cats
As cat owners and people who care deeply for animals and
wildlife, we wanted our Cat Encyclopedia to be a website that could
empower pet owners to create the most positive, loving
environment for their cats. Cat Encyclopedia realizes that owning a
house cat is like adding a new member to your family.
The domestic house
cat is a direct descendant from the North African Kaffir cat and still
exhibits many of the traits and behaviors of it's ancient relative. As
long as 3,000 years ago cats began colonizing the world. The first
domestic cats were taken by merchants on their oceanic trade routes.
Cats were first brought on the ships for their expert ratting skills and
later merchants also traded them as merchandise at their various ports.
These first domestic cats were traded from North Africa to Europe and
Asia, as well as China, Babylon, and India. Cats were first introduced
into Japan around 1,000 A.D. and it was another 300 years until domestic
cats reached the Americas.
In ancient Egypt domestic cats were worshipped as a god-animal. The
Goddess Bastet, daughter and wife of the sun God Ra, was depicted as a
shapely woman with the head of a cat. Even Ra himself, as Osiris, the
God of the Underworld, was sometimes depicted as a cat. In the fifth
century B.C., A Persian army exploited the Egyptian's high regard for
cats. When the army marched on Peluse, the Persians carried live cats on
the front line. The Egyptians chose to surrender, rather than risk
injuring any of the sacred cats. Domestic cats are featured in large
quantities of Egyptian artwork and it was illegal to harm an Egyptian
cat or to even take it out of Egypt.
Ancient Germans became acquainted with cats through the Roman Empire. In
ancient German Mythology feral cats pulled the chariot of the Goddess
Freya, the Goddess of fertile life and the mother of nature. During the
Early Middle Ages domestic cats became less popular and were even
condemned by the Church, who declared the cat to be a creature of the
devil. Thousands of cats were burned on pyres, often times with woman
accused of being witches. In modern times domestic cats have grown to
become the most popular pet in both the United States and Canada. For
those who adore domestic house cats, life is simply not complete without
a cat in the home.
Cat Superstitions: Many superstitions began to be linked to cats. It was
considered bad luck for a ship to sail without a cat and if the cat ever
fell overboard sailors feared the ship was doomed. To this day people
are still wary of a black cat crossing their path, and in Celtic regions
of Europe it was widely believed that cats born in the month of May
should never reach adulthood.