A wonderful cartoon I saw recently showed God on his throne interviewing a dog and a cat before admitting either to heaven. The dog pleads that it had been “a good dog”. It “sat, begged and was loyal”. God was pleased. Then, turning to the cat, he asked whether it too had been good. The the cat replied, contemptuously: “YOU are sitting on my chair!”
What is it about cats that gives them such innate, superior confidence, such cool hubris compared to the poor old dog? I am a dog person. At home we were reared with dogs. We always had them. One of the biggest funerals on our street as kids was for our dog Ranger, who died of old age.
Cats? Too cool for me.
I blame the ancient Egyptians. For more than 3,000 years they worshipped cats as gods and goddesses, hence the inflated notions. These gods were depicted with cat-like heads, such as the trinity of goddesses Mafdet (goddess representing justice), Bastet (representing fertility) and Sekhmet (representing power).
And there was the great goddess Mut, one of the leading female Egyptian gods, a mother figure, usually depicted as a cat in the company of cats. (Not to be confused with a mutt, which refers to a mixed-breed dog which never, ever looks for notice but is noted for its loyalty, warmth, and deep desire to please... sooooo uncat-like!).
Cat cemeteries have been found at archaeological sites throughout what was ancient Egypt
Cats were praised in ancient Egypt for, allegedly, killing deadly snakes and protecting the Pharaoh. They were considered sacred. When they died, they were embalmed, coffined and buried in cat cemeteries, with their remains placed alongside their deceased rulers and aristocrats for very many centuries.
Cat cemeteries have been found at archaeological sites throughout what was ancient Egypt with huge numbers of cat mummies and cat statues and even small pots which are thought to have contained milk for the cats as they journeyed through eternity.
So widespread was the mummification of these sacred animals in ancient Eqypt that in the late 1880s, more than 200,000 were found in a cemetery at one archaeological site there. As recently as 1996, the tomb of Tutankhamun’s wet nurse Maia was found to contain cat mummies.
No wonder our feline “friends” have such notions. Give me a dog any day!
Cat, from Latin catta, Greek Greek katta, for domestic cat.