Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cats Throughout the Ages

I have four cats.


Don’t worry about me. I promise not to become one of "those" old ladies. I just love cats. I always have. But after spending much of last week at the veterinary office with all fours of those cats because one caught a cold and gave it to all the others, I started to wonder about cats throughout history.

Ringo and D'Artagnan (my 1-year-old babies)


I knew cats had been companions to the Pharaohs and revered as demi-gods. I didn't know they were not always beloved pets throughout the ages.

Cats were considered the property of the Pharaoh. Exporting cats to other nations was strictly forbidden. Eventually, however, they did trickle out of Egypt due to ship cats getting lost in transit. By the time of Alexander and Caesar most people had cats.

In the German states up until Medieval times, the cat also had an elevated status. Cats were associated with Freya the goddess of love and fertility. As the Church became a central part of Medieval life, it preached that the old ways of worship were evil. The church took a dislike to the old Freya rites and in 1484, Pope Innocent VIII instructed the Inquisition to burn the Freya heretics as witches - along with their cats.

Medieval man soon began to believe that witches and demons walked the earth in the form of cats, doing evil deeds. Cats were believed to possess supernatural powers and any misfortune was blamed on them, anything from sour milk to an outbreak of disease was blamed them.

When the Bubonic Plague swept across Europe in 1351 the superstitions of the day pointed the fingers of blame at cats. Hundreds of thousands of cats were destroyed. The sad truth was that the plague was carried by ticks that were attached to rodents that the cats would have caught thus helping to control the disease. The superstitions of the day actually helped the spread of disease.

During the 16th and 17th centuries over 175,000 supposed witches were executed in Germany and France. Along with them went thousands of cats.

Dobby (5 years old and named during the kids' "Harry Potter" phase)

Finally, by the 18th century, cats were no longer persecuted, and cats as companions began to make a comeback.




Stripes (He's been with us for 14 years! The kids named him long ago)


Today, of course, cats are widely accepted as the loving companions and, while they don't typically enjoy the status they did in ancient Egypt or in the German states, they are adored and cared for as loving pets. I know mine are.



What about you? Do you love cats? Why?

7 comments:

Terri November 22, 2008 at 4:11 AM  

I am not a cat person. I'm more of a dog person.

That being said, we have two cats that think they run my house. The first came while I was away. My son brought it home and my husband told him as long as he didn't see it or have to deal with it, our son could keep it. Silly man. I could have told him that we would get it.

So, Jezabelle had kittens because the two men of the house didn't think she was old enough. Silly men. After a very expensive trip to the vet, only one kitten survived. My husband said after $300+ being spent, he wasn't giving that kitten away. So, we now have cat number two, Blue eyes. No, I did not name either cat.

Both are fixed. I have no desire to have more cats. I kind of like my youngest daughter's poor old dog that she left when she left home. Lexington will be 13 in Jan so I doubt he'll be around much longer and I doubt we'll get another critter any time soon.

The cats are enough!

Terri

Amy C November 22, 2008 at 4:42 AM  

I have one cat now (and a dog, Snoopy. A high strung beagle!) I had two but two months ago we had to send my Socks to a better place. She was sick :(. I've had both of them since they were kittens and now they are 12 years old. My Sneakers is my reading companion. She cuddles up with me everyday when I read. Socks was always a bit of a loner. I miss her, but I was always more attached to Sneakers. It'll be even sadder when her time comes. It was sad with Socks but I knew she was sick and is in a better place now.

Cindy Holby November 22, 2008 at 5:22 AM  

I have always had cats. As a child we moved a lot and a dog was just impossible. (I have two now, another story) Right now we have Abbey, a long haired siamese who is the Queen of the world, if not our neighborhood and Maddie, who I found in a dumpster along with her two sisters.

Maddie was the runt and I wound up with her. She weighed less than a pound and had to be wormed three times in one week. ick. Now, full grown and several $$$ later she's five lbs and likes to chase the 70lb husky, who is terrified of her, around the back yard. She also likes to wait until I turn over on my back when I'm sleeping, climb on my chest, stick her nose against mine and purr while she tickles me with her whiskers.

At the moment she is flicking her tail in my face and purring loudly. People in our neighborhood are amazed because our cats walk with us when we walk the dogs. They're just laughing at the dogs really, as in haha you're on a leash and we're not.

EmilyBryan November 22, 2008 at 7:28 AM  

The old adage goes, "Dogs have masters. Cats have staff." That said, I have had cats in the past. Tommy Whiskers was a gargantuan 25 pound tabby that shedded all over the house and threatened to suffocate me when he curled up on my chest like your little 5 pounder, Cindy. But I loved him dearly.

Now I have two puppy "writing assistants." You can see us "in the position" at http://www.emilybryan.com/Creating%20a%20writing%20space.htm

Gerri Russell November 22, 2008 at 1:56 PM  

Amy, Terri, Cindy and Diana,

Thanks for sharing the joys and struggles of pet ownership today.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

--Gerri

Bonnie Vanak November 23, 2008 at 4:55 AM  

Gerri, we have a stray cat hanging around outside our house who allows us to feed him. People come into our neighborhood and dump their unwanted pets as if they were trash. Fortunately, there's lots of caring people in my neighborhood, so we all end up taking care of the abandoned pets.

I'm an animal lover, but allergic to cats so we can't have any, thus the dogs.

In ancient Egypt, they used to mummify cats, too. It was the preferred form of burial, and the honored one, too.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner November 24, 2008 at 11:08 AM  

Don't get me started on cats. We had one monster that we adored for twenty years and were heartbroken when she passed away. She was long-haired and black, and you bet, we had long black cat hair coating everything.

After she passed on, I said "no more cats for a year, and definitely no more long-haired cats."

Not a month passed before a friend said she was desperate because she had to give up two of her cats and couldn't find a home for them. Sigh. We had an opening, so I said, "they can come on a trial basis."

They're long-haired, white and cream colored cats. Most of my furniture has dark upholstery. Of course.

And they are demonspawn. They look cute and innocent, and they are spawns of Satan (hmm, why couldn't our friend find anyone to take them?)

But you know, they filled an empty space in our lives, and I have laughed more in the past nine months than I have in a long, long time.

I think the trial basis is over, and they're here to stay. And they know it, the little house demons. One of them has knocked down an RWA bag I had hanging from a doorknob and is now sleeping soundly on it.

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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