Nobody Owns a Cat

Cats and humans have enjoyed a mostly symbiotic relationship for up to 12,000 years, to the beginning of domestication. Although cats were domesticated after dogs, evidence of this domestication came from the Island of Cyrus, where a cat had been deliberately buried with a human, dating from over 9,500 years ago. Cats became useful to humans when we began to settle down and live in one place. When settled, humans created stores for food, especially grain, and with the grain came pests like rodents. Cats essentially domesticated themselves, as they invited themselves in. Over time, people favoured cats with more docile traits. The reverence of cats was most prominent in Ancient Egypt. Cats were a popular household pet, and killing a cat in Egypt often meant a death sentence for the offender. Ancient Romans held a similar reverence. By the middle ages, cats became demonized. They became affiliated with witches and the devil, and many were killed in an effort to ward off evil. It is even a common theory that this mass killing of cats contributed to the “Black Death” or the Bubonic plague, as there were no more cats to kill the disease carrying rodents. Not until the 1600’s did the image of the cat begin to change. Now, cats are superstars. They are popular subjects in pop art, and some even have become famous across the internet.

The Ancient Egyptian's reverence for cats is well-known and well documented. The goddess Bastet, commonly depicted as a cat or as a woman with a cat’s head, was among the most popular deities of the Egyptian pantheon.
Mummified cats have been found at Bubastis and elsewhere throughout Egypt, sometimes buried with, or near to, their owners as evidenced by identifying seals on the mummies. At a temple of Bast in Beni Hasan, a discovery was made in 1888 of a tomb filled with over 80,000 mummified cats.
Although cats seem to have enjoyed their ancient high standing in European countries at first, the Christian Church, following their regular course of demonizing important pagan symbols, drew on the pre-existing link between the cat and witchcraft to associate cats with evil as personified in the Devil
By the Middle Ages, cats were demonized to the point where they were regularly killed across Europe. The inhabitants of the European nations, believing the cat to be evil, shunned not only the animal but anyone who seemed overly fond of the cat. Elderly women who cared for cats were especially susceptible to punishment for witchcraft simply on the grounds of being so accused.
During the Victorian Era, Queen Victoria of Great Britain became interested in cats through the many stories of archaeological finds in Egypt being published regularly in England. Queen Victoria was a very popular monarch, more and more people became interested in having cats of their own.
Today, in contemporary times, cats are one of the most popular pets, with an average of three per household in Canada alone. The internet alone has exploded with cats, from videos to comic strips.
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