Where it all began
Scientists and archaeologists have been finding evidence of feline domestication throughout history showing that this process could have started some 12,000 years ago.
In 2004 a burial site was discovered to contain a cat placed alongside its owner from around 9,500 years ago, which guides us to thinking that our bond with these companions have stretched through many generations of our ancestors. This discovery was made in Shillourokambos, a Pre-pottery neolithic site in what is now southern Cyprus.
Cats and Spiritual Culture
It is well known the role cats played in ancient Egyptian life as they have featured dominantly in themed films and series over the years. But these dramatisations and action sequences drew upon many recognised truths.
As far back as 4,000 years ago Egyptian mythology presented gods in the form of cats, most notably the feline goddess Bastet.
The Egyptian’s fondness of cats was not just of a spiritual nature but that of a practical one. Felines were favoured for their ability to hunt vermin, keeping food stocks safe and disease in check. Making our furry friends an early form of passive healthcare and food security.
Ancient Rome and Armies
Cats continued to be recognised as an invaluable companion and were given special treatment and privileges within the ancient Roman Empire.
Roman soldiers and garrisons ensured cats were brought with them as a passive force to combat rodent problems. Rodents tended to chew on the leather of equipment or wooden structures which would threaten to undermine the well-trained armies, so the supportive feline force would have been a welcomed and desired addition to most Roman Armies.
The Romans also valued cats from a mythical perspective, viewing them as the embodiment of freedom, independence and wandering. One of their goddesses (Diana) was depicted as being able to transform into a cat, furthering the connection between the animal and the divine. Furthermore, they were the only animal allowed inside Roman temples and the affection for a single cat once caused a major disagreement between Egyptian and Roman forces.
Its easy to see how our house pets inspired much affection even in our early ancestors.
Cats at War
Like the Egyptian and Roman eras cats were used to keep vermin under control, protecting food sources in the trenches and on Ships . Communication cables within the trenches were vital to the war effort and required protection from rodent interference at all costs.
They were also used as mascots and pets throughout the armed forces, providing companionship and a source of comfort for those going through some of the worst of a world at war.
Our love for our feline pets has always been clear. Pet owners worried about potential gas attacks during the war purchased protective gas shelters for their animals.
Cats in the modern world
Whilst remaining a strong deterrent to rodents our cats have taken on a whole new role within modern society. Many studies such as The Cats Protection Charity indicate that some of the modern benefits experienced by cat owners include.
- The reduction of childhood allergies
- Lessened school absenteeism in children
- Improved mental health
- Diabetes control
- Reduction in the length of hospital stays
The cat has had a journey through history both separated and alongside human companions and have provided our ancestors and us, in the modern era, with countless benefits.
Protecting our pets is something we can all do to show our love for them, should the worst happen, they can rely on insurance to help towards substantial vet fees, leaving us the breathing room to care for them and remain financially stable.
Happy International Cat day to every Cat and Cat lover!