Why Egyptians Worshipped Cats
Cats are the second most popular pets in the world – dogs currently lead the field – mostly because they are smart, loyal and just so cute. But imagine living in a time period when people actually worshipped the cute little devils. You favorite pets were considered to be life savers in ancient Egypt and many of them worshiped them and prayed to them, so they will keep them safe.
We thought it would be interesting to look at the history of cats and talk about how they were treated as deities in the ancient world. A fair warning though, after reading the information below, you will be inclined to pamper your cat even more. You may want to check out our Cat Shop, just in case.
One of the most revered and oldest goddesses in Egyptian culture was Mafdet. People used to pray to her to provide protection against venomous creatures like scorpions and snakes. She was portrayed as a fierce feline humanoid that had a head of lion, cheetah and sometimes a domestic cat. Mafdet was considered to a protector of homes and the whole Egyptian realm.
Bastet or Bast
Another cat goddess of the Egyptian world was Bast or Bastet. Bast replaced the old goddess Mafdet in later years of the ancient Egypt and took on a bigger role in the culture. Bast was the ‘Eye of Ra’, the sun god, and protected the kingdom from foreign invaders.
Because of the importance that cats held in their culture and religion, Egyptians kept cats popularly as pets. They valued them so much that they treated them as members of the family, much like modern cat owners do. As cats became more popular as pets, the role of Bast changed again and she became the premiere goddess of family and love. Her image became softer as well; she went from a fierce protector to a loving softer goddess.
Worshippers of Bast were so enamored with cats that they mourned the death of their cats, just like they would any family member’s. They mummified their cats and performed all the rituals that they did when a member of their family passed.
Cat owners today often joke about the fact that their cats want to be worshipped; they should remember that there once a time when they actually were worshipped. And maybe cats have not forgotten that time and are still in the habit of being worshipped by humans. Though you don’t have to worship them, you still have to care for them and take care of your cat’s health. If they annoy you, you can always remember that your cat is related to Bast and Mafdet.