Why Did the Egyptians Worship Cats?


Most of us have already heard about the mystery of cats in Ancient Egypt, especially how they were worshipped. However, some have also dismissed it as something of a rumour, a story or just another one of those things found in history, but made popular and embellished by movies.

Let us assure you, though; cats were well and truly worshipped.

In Ancient Egypt, humans would not dare put a cat name tag on their feline. Cats were not to be ‘owned’. In fact, they were to be bowed to and worshipped. Let’s learn more about Egyptian history and their cat gods.

Who Were Their Goddesses?

Ancient Egyptians had a number of gods and goddesses. Perhaps one of the most interesting though, was a cat named Bastet whom they often considered as half feline and half woman. However, she wasn’t the only one.

Various drawings were found in the tombs of Egyptians, depicting a large cat —probably the size of a lion or a tiger — killing a serpent with just her claws. This one was named Mafdet.

There was one other cat goddess, called Safdet, but she was more like a lion than the domestic cat we are used to. Of course, these particular cats were not kept in the house as pets with an ID tag around their necks. They were goddesses to be revered and worshipped.

Rules and Regulations

Cats were widely respected by the Egyptians and killing or wounding one could result in a harsh punishment. It was believed that Bastet put many domesticated cats and their owners under her protection. While there are no such beliefs practised in Egypt these days, you will still find Egyptians keep cats in high regard.

Reasons for Worshipping

You might be wondering what all these cats did that had the Egyptians worshipping them?

It was a time when food was not in abundance, and what little was there was attacked by asps, scorpions and rats. If this had continued, much of the Egyptian nation would have starved to death.

However, at one time, almost every house in Egypt had a cat and it was these cats who drove the threats away and brought the Egyptians food, peace, and subsequently, to their knees.

Those human settlements without cats soon discovered that these felines could help them in keeping the grain-eaters at bay, and began to leave food for them. It was a mutual agreement of sorts; a symbiotic relationship that resulted in the Egyptians becoming closer to and in awe of cats. Soon, these domesticated cats (who grew to become Bastet and Mafdet) were known as the protectors of the people and the nation.

Beliefs and Cats

It was not just their physical presence that was respected and held in the highest esteem. These cats became a spiritual guide for Egyptians as well. According to the beliefs of the time, those who saw a cat in their dreams were people who would soon hear news of good fortune or a great harvest.

To this day, Egyptians never disregard cats as just animals. They still consider them to be their good luck charm, deeply rooted in the country’s culture and history.

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