Cats in Ancient Egypt

Essay by siducktiveHigh School, 10th gradeA+, February 2013

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The Importance of Cats in Ancient Egypt


When one imagines Ancient Egypt, the images of sand, mummies, and pyramids usually come to mind. Modern times portray cats as a lovable, furry household animal. Did the thought of the two intertwining ever occur? By examining the goddess Bast, tombs where cat mummies reside, and the process of mummifying cats, one can better understand the true significance of the gentle creature in the days of the Ancient Egyptian.

Ancient Egyptians worshipped gods and goddesses frequently. They seemed to posses one for any concept or thing imaginable. People think of Bast as one of the most popular goddesses of her time and generally remember her as a cat goddess. She wore the head of a lion or wildcat in the beginning and possessed the predatory personality as of that of a lioness. Over time people began to generally associate her with a domesticated cat because of her characteristics.

They referred to her as Bast when in the form of a beautiful girl with the head of a cat, as opposed to Bastet when she came out in the full form of a cat. Bast incarnated feline traits such as grace, playfulness, cunning, and affection. She held many ties to other gods and goddesses both sexually and by blood, showing people liked her. �

People worshipped Bast as the goddess of pregnant women, fertility, home, the moon, and fire.� Herodotus talked about a peculiarity occurring when a fire started around cats, mentioning the cats bounding over men headfirst into the roaring flames,

which left the men in deep mourning.� The goddess Bast represented a protective goddess because of a cat's ability to kill vermin that spread disease and watch out for their crops.� Herodotus also recounted a story about a just...