On International Cat Day, it is only right to talk about the history and popularity of cats in different countries around the world, to remind you to give your cats the love they deserve (and often demand).
Cats in Egypt
Ancient Egyptians are well-known for their building skills, pyramids, and their love of cats. Cats are closely connected to many gods and goddesses, and there’s evidence to suggest they were even considered demi-gods in their own right. They were considered protectors of the homestead, since they would catch vermin that plagued grain and food stores, and many Ancient Egyptians would entice wild cats to their stores for this reason. Wild cats welcomed the invitation as it meant not only a steady stream of food, but also protection from larger predators.
Cats in Norse Mythology
In Norse mythology, Thor gifted the goddess Freyja with two kittens, Bygul and Trjegul, which she used to pull her chariot. Farmers would leave out milk to tempt her cats, and this would bring them luck and a wealthy harvest. Bygul and Trjegul were considered to be Norwegian Forest Cats, so that was the breed that popped up on Viking ships to keep away vermin, and had a reputation for warding off evil spirits on ship.
Cats in Arabia
A very important part of kitty history involves Islam belief. Muhammad was often seen as a cat person; he outlawed the harming of cats, and even granted cats the power of always landing on their feet when his own cat Muezza saved him from a snake attack. Muhammad was so keen on Muezza that when she fell asleep on the sleeve of his prayer robe, he simply cut it off instead of waking her.
Cats in Japan
In Japan cats are revered as protectors of important Buddhist scriptures, as they came into the country on ships from China entrusted with keeping pests away from these scriptures. Cats became popular with this job, and soon became a well-loved animal. Many Japanese folktales involve cats, and similarly to the story of Muezza, there is an ancient Japanese portrait of a woman cutting her clothing so as not to wake a cat snoozing on it.
Cats in India
Indian folklore is full of cats! Popularity started as with others, as cats being great pest catchers but in a famous Indian epic poem, Mahābhārata, there is a tale of a cat called Lomasa who teams up with a mouse named Palita to both escape from death, while philosophising about the nature of power. It is thought that the story of Puss in Boots came from Indian folklore.
So, how did cats end up in the UK?
Britain’s love for cats hasn’t been like this furever. Cats were brought to the island by the Romans. When the Roman Empire fell, the Romans left but some of the cats remained. When the Vikings invaded Britain, it is thought that they took some of the domesticated cats (that the Romans left behind) back to Norway with them.
The history of our feline friends is very interesting, and from history we have learned they were mainly loved for their hunting and pest control capabilities. Whereas in todays world they’re more appreciated for their sassy attitude, funny cardboard box obsession and love for cuddles!