Ancient Egyptian worshiped many animals in the era of Pharaoh. Animals were treated as Goddess for different reasons. Such as dogs were valued for their ability to protect. But among all animals, cats are special.
Cats were named as “Maus” in ancient Egypt. They worshiped a cat Goddess called Bastet, which often represented as half feline and half woman. They believed that cats had the capability of bringing good luck for them and so they housed them.
According to various research works the earliest feline Egyptian goddess is Mafdet, which was a lion-headed goddess. The Mafdet was treated as the goddess of justice and execution. Mafdet is killing a serpent with her claws in the description of Pyramid texts. The goddess Mafdet was replaced over time by the goddess Bastet as the researcher was found a representation of the goddess Mafdet on a stone in a tomb of Abydos which shows a big cat may be a cheetah or leopard. Over time the goddess Bastet became the deification of protection, fertility, and motherhood.
In ancient Egypt, people believed that the cats are one of a magical creature of God. The wealthy families decorated them with jewels and fed them treats fit for royalty. Even some cats were going with the same mummification as humans after their death as a symbol of peoples worship. An Egyptian farmer discovered a large tomb of with 8000 mummified cats on the outside of the town “Beni Hasan”. This discovery proves that how ancient Egyptians treated their goddess Bastet. After the death of cats, the owners shaved off their eyebrows as a sign of mourning and continued to mourn until their eyebrows grew again.
The main temple of the goddess Bastet was located in the northern Egypt at the city of Bubastis and peoples came there to show their worship from every corner of Egypt. Ancient Egyptian was honoring their feline goddess Bastet by arranging a religious festival every year. The Roman writer Herodotus has described the festival as one of the largest and most importantly celebrated festivals in ancient Egypt. A vast graveyard of mummified cats has been discovered on the outside of the temple of Bubastis. Thousands of small cat sculptures were also recovered by the researcher at Bubastis.
As ancient Egyptian was treated cat as their most important goddess, cats were one of the most common and recognizable animals of that time. There were two types of cats found in ancient Egypt. One was the jungle cat and other was the African wild cat. The African wild cats were domesticated from the Predynastic period. But the wild cats took their place in towns and also in homes by mice, snakes and other pests. They were the common pet of ancient Egypt. In every house of ancient Egypt, cats are the common pet because of peoples worship.
The penalties for injuring or killing a cat were terrible. If anyone killed a cat, even accidentally was sentenced to death in ancient Egypt.