Cats played different roles to human civilization over time. Along with their early domestication, cats were treated and associated with beings both good and bad. Either way, it looks like our feline friends have always been living closely with us humans through thousands of years. Now let’s take a look back to who cats were associated with over time.
Cats were associated with gods
Before cats’ became our pets, fur babies, family and friend, they used to have a higher status over us people. They were revered as divine beings in the ancient civilizations. Over 4000 years ago, ancient Egyptians were known to have domesticated cats but treated them as god. Another great civilization that worshipped cats was China. A cat goddess named Li Shou was believed to look over the human world to ensure everything was run properly. Li Shou was given offerings when people sought blessings of fertility as well as pest control.
It seems that while cats’ contributing role was very much like the same throughout the ages: they helped people in protecting their food by keeping vermin away and this seemed to earn them a god-like status in ancient times.
Cats were associated with witches
Time changes so do people and their regard for cats. In the Middle Ages, cats’ divine reputation shifted drastically. Instead of the “good gods,” the feline population was associated with witches and the devil.
During the Black Death epidemic or the Great Plague, cats were regarded the culprits of the sickness. Black cats were especially pitiful in this age. Accused of being linked to witches and the devil, thousands of cats were killed. Of course, it was later found out that cats weren’t causing the disease and their owners were noticed to be more likely safe from the infection not because they were witches or caused the plague too; it was because they were away from the infected fleas living on rats with their cats’ help. (Though a recent research suggests it wasn’t due to rats too but by humans.)
Cats were associated with pirates
Cats weren’t just popular on land before, they have also taken over the seas. Another set of interesting people cats were associated with are pirates. They were taken on board to help rid ships of pests and protect food supply, a rather cliché role. But with pirates being a superstitious lot too, cats were subjected to yet another kind of treatment.
Thankfully, cats belonged to good superstitions on seas unlike on land. Pirates and sailors are happy to have cats with them as they were considered lucky. This time, black cats, along with polydactyl cats, were considered the luckiest kinds to have on board; this made cat life happier on seas.
Cats were associated with women
Going forward to the 20th century, cats’ popularity as household pets had risen. Organizations were formed for cat protection from animal cruelty. The human civilization has already formed an unbreakable bond with cats over time. And finally, in the 21st century, cats were associated with women.
While the link between women and cats have since been there from years ago; goddesses taking the form of cats, witches and their cats or the myth of women as werecats, this stereotype linking cats and women together has subliminally been sewn into people’s minds. While it’s easy to disregard or deny this association between felinity and femininity these days, this association still maintains a good interest among people.