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What Is the History of Cats in Egypt? The Fascinating Story

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

cat in luxor temple in Egypt

Cats have long been admired by Egyptians. Some say that ancient Egyptians worshipped cats and treated them as magical beings. Others believe that Egyptians saw animals as symbols of the gods that they worshipped but the animals themselves weren’t worshipped. Either way, there is a rich history of cats in Egypt. Understanding this history can help us better understand the pet cats that live in our households nowadays.

Cats Lived in Egypt for More Than 3,000 Years

There is evidence of cats being represented in Egyptian culture for more than 3,000 years. The Egyptians created sculptures of cats that depicted their gods and deities. One example is the Sphynx, which was built to honor Khafre, an Egyptian pharaoh who reigned over Egypt between 2520 and 2494 B.C. Mummified cats have even been found resting next to their owners in tombs throughout Egypt. So, it’s safe to say that cats were an integral part of ancient Egyptian society.

Cats were thought to bring their owners good luck. They also represented strong morals, such as justice. Many Egyptians believed that cats could bring them good fortune, enhanced fertility, and more power in the social scene. Cats were not prized at first, though. Apparently, Egyptians started keeping cats around for nothing more than protection from threats inside and outside the house. Cats were amazing predators that could kill or chase away venomous snakes, scorpions, and rats.

cat hunting rodent
Image Credit: Piqsels

As time went on, ancient Egyptians started noticing cats for their loyal temperaments, friendly personalities, and tendency to be awesome companions. Humans bonded with cats, and as a result, felines became more domesticated as time passed. The more people bonded with cats, the higher cats were regarded in society as a whole.

What’s important and interesting to note is that cats didn’t originate in Egypt. Researchers have discovered a cat buried with a human who is about 9,500 years old in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island nowhere close to Egypt. This tells us that cats have been living with humans much earlier than the existence of Egypt.

However, it is believed that cats did not truly become domesticated until the age of ancient Egypt. Cats went from being working animals that were treated as such to common household pets, prized for being connected to deities in some way. They would still hunt small pests and animals, but they would spend more of their time lounging on custom beds and on the laps of their owners.

cat lying on humans lap
Image Credit: Piqsels

Cats in Egypt Today

To this day, Egyptians adore their feline companions. You can find Egyptian Mau and Sphynx cats roaming around Egypt, which are not commonly seen in any other parts of the world. So, it’s safe to say that Egypt is still a place where cats are revered. Many places around the world have taken to treating cats the way that ancient Egyptians would, making sure they have safe and warm places to sleep, plenty of food, and regular companionship.

Egyptian mau cat in the garden
Image By: VadimZosimov, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

The ancient Egyptians loved their cat companions and for many of the reasons that we love cats today. We may not get buried with our cats or revere them as messengers of deities, but we appreciate their ability to be amazing companions and caretakers of the home. Maybe one day, cats will become so revered again that they are mummified and buried with their owners. It’s not likely, but it’s an interesting thought to consider!


Featured Image Credit: JodieAndCan, Shutterstock

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Authored by

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens. She is an artist at heart and loves...Read more

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