Cats Throughout History

It has been widely accepted for many years now by historians and the general public that cats were domesticated in Ancient Egypt around the year 3000 BCE, and although cats were indeed really significant animals to Egyptians not only as pets but also as sacred creatures that had a symbolic, powerful meaning, it is inaccurate to say that they were first domesticated in Egypt.

There are records and findings persian-cat-3that would suggest that wild cats already cohabited with humans in the region of Mesopotamia well over 100 thousand years ago and were already domesticated by people along with sheep, goats and dogs. It is believed that one of the main reasons why ancient civilisations resorted to pet keeping such as cats was to keep mice and rats at bay. This was especially true for Mesopotamian farmers.

According to research conducted by geneticists in which the DNA samples of 1000 domestic cats were employed, (more specifically mitochondrial DNA), the origin of domestic cats did definitely not take place in Ancient Egypt, as it has traditionally been believed. The reason for this common misconception is, as mentioned, that cats were holy animals in ancient Egyptian culture.

The Egyptian government even had a special branch and agents that traveled to regions outside Egyptian territory to find and retrieve cats that had been smuggled out of Egypt. There is proof that in Ancient Egypt, killing a cat was punishable by death. One of the most important deities in Egypt was Bastet, the goddess of cats, depicted in several sculptures and paintings (a cat or as a woman with a cat’s head). Baster was the guardian of secrets of women and protected people from diseases and evil spirits. It has also been reported that Egyptians cared so much about their feline companions that their safety was more important than human life or property.