Cats are cherished as our companions and worshiped as idols. Used for pest control and good luck, cats are more than 9,500 years old. Today in the U.S. it has been estimated that there are more than 90 million domestic cats.
In an April 8, 2004 article in National Geographic magazine, archaeologists from France found the remains of a human and a cat buried in a 9,500-year-old grave site on Cyprus, a Mediterranean island.
Cat domestication appears to be ancient. Many experts believe that the Egyptians tamed and bred felines to produce a distinct species by around the 20th century B.C.
Ancient Egyptians Cats were revered by ancient Egyptians more than in any culture in history. Because they were so respected, cats were often mummified and buried in tombs along with their human owners.Back then it was also considered a high crime to kill a cat, and it was punishable by death. Families that owned cats made sure their felines were respected long after their death. The family would go through a period of grief after a pet cat died, and they even shaved their eyebrows to express grief. Cats were often mummified after they died and then entombed with fine jewelry and treasures; a custom that was often reserved for the most wealthy. Evidence also shows tombs with mummified rats and mice. All of this signals that the Egyptians believed in life after death.
Bast, the Egyptian Goddess with the body of a young woman and the head of a cat. (The Book of the Dead, 3000 B.C.)
In ancient times, the cat, or miw, which means "to see," was a sacred companion. Domesticated Egyptian cats were used for warding off rodents and even snakes. As time went by cats became more important to the Egyptians, and almost like a God. Cats were also represented in Egyptian mythology as the feline goddesses named Bastet, Sekhmet. In early times Bast, also written as 'Bastet' by the scribes, was a goddess that was shown as a woman with the head of a cat or lion.
In an April 8, 2004 article in National Geographic magazine, archaeologists from France found the remains of a human and a cat buried in a 9,500-year-old grave site on Cyprus, a Mediterranean island. Unearthed in 2001 in the Neolithic village of Shillourokambos, the mummified remains were found along with seashells, polished stones and offerings such as ochre and flint tools, axes, and other decorative artifacts. This predates the known early Egyptian art that depicted cats by more than 4,000 years.
An archaeologist named Jean-Denis Vigne at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France noted that when humans and cats are buried together it indicates a strong bond between the human and pet.
Other researchers have found hints that cats were domesticated even earlier than this, with experts who have found 10,000-year-old engravings and pottery depicting cats that actually date back as far as Neolithic period, or the late Stone Age, which also provides evidence that cats had a spiritual significance.
The world today is still fascinated with cats, and why pet memorials are growing in significance. Mihelich is always on the lookout for unique, handcrafted pieces of art to help her customers express their love, joy and memories.
A professional writer based in Los Angeles, California, Kristin Gabriel works with Peternity.com, where people honor their pets for eternity. Peternity provides custom products including pet memorial stones and grave markers, pet urns, garden statue pet memorials, pet memorial headstones, pet keepsake memorials, pet portraits, burial boxes, or custom engraved glasswork. Call 877-PET-PEACE or go to http://www.peternity.com