Dog thoughts: What's so great about cats anyway?
When I am around cats, they act like they are royalty and I wanted to know why they think they are so special. Blame the Egyptians! Ancient Egypt had its favorite animals, but it was cats who were domesticated and placed at the top of the list (even though we dogs were valued for the ability to be loyal and protective – go figure.) In ancient Egypt, one of the primary gods was Mafdet. She had the form of a woman-cat deity, but the cat head could be a lion, house cat or cheetah. She was revered and respected because she was a protector of the home and the kingdom. Her feline characteristics made her capable of fighting back venomous animals such as snakes and scorpions. There was also another feline deity, Bastet, who was a warfare goddess in Lower Egypt and even had her own annual festival. Over time, cats appeared on objects such as statues and jewelry, for religious reasons, they were mummified and buried with milk and mice and cults formed around them. Would you believe cats were trained to retrieve fish and fowl on hunting excursions? Excuse me, why would you choose a cat over a dog to take hunting? I will admit that cats are better at chasing mice and rats which is probably why they were allowed in the house. The penalty in Egypt for killing a cat was death.
In India, the god Indra disguises himself as a cat in the Ramayana. The cat was seen as a method of pest control and so honored in homes and farms. The famous story of Puss in Boots (best known through the French version by Charles Perrault,) is taken from a much older Indian folk tale in the Panchatantra. The Indian cat goddess, Sastht, was greatly revered as a warfare goddess.
A Persian tale claims the cat was created magically as a thank you gift to the great Persian hero Rustum when he saved a magician from a band of thieves. According to legend, the “M” design on the forehead of the tabby cat was made when the prophet Muhammed blessed his favorite cat by placing his hand on its head. In China the goddess Li Shou was depicted in cat form and petitions and sacrifices were made to her for pest control and fertility. The cat was regularly considered a guardian of the home and the special protector of valuable books in Japan.
Well, obviously humans all over the world have been hoodwinked by cats throughout history. In spite of what I have learned, I am still going to chase any cat that crosses my path, goddess or not!
Sources: www.ancientfacts.net, www.ancient.eu