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The Ancient Time History of Domesticated Cats

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Words: 923 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Words: 923|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

One of the most common pets is Felis catus, also known as a cat. Cats, by most, are known as snuggly creatures with four legs and a tail. But what makes a cat, a cat? Cats go by many names and come in all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes. These adorable animals have an exceptionally long history dating back to somewhere around 7500 BCE. This leads to the question of how have we come to what we now know as the domesticated cat?

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Cats are domesticated carnivores that weigh anywhere from five pounds to twenty pounds. The average length of a cat is around twenty-eight inches and no matter the breed of cat, they all belong to the same species. Cats are known for their hunting abilities, “Domestic cats are natural hunters able to stalk prey and pounce with sharp claws and teeth”(National Geographic). Another well-known ability of theirs’ is how they communicate with other cats by marking different objects such as trees or couches. Marking is when a cat claims a territory by scratching it or by urinating on it.

The history of domesticated cats began in the Fertile Cresent, which is now known as mostly being Western Asia. People living on farms in these areas would store some of their harvest in sheds and this would attract rodents. Due to the dense amount of rodents on these farms, cats would live near the farm and prey on the rodents and the garbage that was produced by the humans. Over time cats evolved to live closer to humans and over time became increasingly domesticated.

Due to cats’ hunting abilities, they were brought aboard ships to feed on the rats and were able to be spread around the world. One of the first, and most well known, places where evidence of cats and people living together was found in Ancient Egypt. Cats were seen as Godly animals. If someone were to kill a cat the punishment would be death. In addition, it was incredibly illegal to remove cats from Egypt, “The export of cats from Egypt was so strictly prohibited that a branch of the government was formed solely to deal with this issue. Government agents were dispatched to other lands to find and return cats which had been smuggled out” (Ancient History Encyclopedia).

The goddess Bastet was the keeper of women’s secrets, home, fertility, childbirth, cats, and protected people from evil and diseases. She was commonly depicted as a cat or a human with a cat head. Thus, cats were seen as being diverted from the goddess and were worshiped. The safety of cats was held above the safety of humans. One would put their life on the line to protect a cat.

Once a cat would pass away, the cat’s owners would go into mourning often shaving their eyebrows as a sign of respect. The corpses would then be taken to the city of Bubastis, or another Egyptian city, where there were embalmed. Typically, the cats would be mummified and stored with their owners in sacred locations ie. pyramids, or tombs.

Once Egypt became a providence of the Roman Empire, cats were intergraded into the Roman culture as well. After cats were introduced to the Romans, they were spread all throughout Europe. Thousands of years later, cats boarded ships coming to the Americas. Reports stated that Christopher Columbus, as well as the Mayflower, had cats aboard.

Very different from the treatment from the Egyptians, Cats in the middle ages were paired with witchcraft and the devil. The medieval church had pushed the notion that cats were born from the devil in order to disparage the Pagans. The Pagans, on the other hand, saw cats as holy creatures that are to be protected. If a cat was found they were often tortured and brutally killed and villages would hold mass slaughters.

It was not until the Age of Enlightenment when cats were given back their former status. During the Enlightenment, it became fashionable to paint pictures of cats and have them hung in one’s home. Up through the nineteen-century cats remained mostly outside and killed rodents at farms and in cities. During the twentieth century is when a change occurred with the way cats existed.

One way that the lives of cats changed was that they were being kept increasingly more as indoor-outdoor pets, especially by the end of World War One. Cats were being kept for human company and for their abilities. In addition, cats held jobs as postal workers. Cats were used to keep mice out of the postal building and the three cats were each paid one shilling each week. After some debate, the allowed payment was moved to one shilling per cat per week.

It was not until the inventions of the refrigerator, cat litter, and spay/neuter when cats were kept strictly indoors. Since cats are omnivores most families would not be able to afford to kept fresh meat to feed their cats. This is why cats remained at least somewhat outdoors for thousands of years. Keeping cats as indoor pets has only been a common practice for the last seventy years.

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While the treatment and lifestyles that cats endured changed the DNA stayed roughly the same. Whether or not the cat was alive three thousand years ago or today, cats still have the same behaviors and biological needs.  

Work Cited

  1. “Cat: National Geographic.” Cat | National Geographic, National Geographic, 21 Sept. 2018, www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/d/domestic-cat/.
  2. “The History of the Domestic Cat.” Alley Cat Allies, www.alleycat.org/resources/the-natural-history-of-the-cat/.
  3. Mark, Joshua J. “Cats in the Ancient World.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 23 Oct. 2020, www.ancient.eu/article/466/cats-in-the-ancient-world/.  
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The Ancient Time History of Domesticated Cats. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-ancient-time-history-of-domesticated-cats/
“The Ancient Time History of Domesticated Cats.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-ancient-time-history-of-domesticated-cats/
The Ancient Time History of Domesticated Cats. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-ancient-time-history-of-domesticated-cats/> [Accessed 21 Feb. 2024].
The Ancient Time History of Domesticated Cats [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Feb 10 [cited 2024 Feb 21]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-ancient-time-history-of-domesticated-cats/
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