Cats as Gods in Ancient Cultures

Cats have enjoyed enormous popularity in many cultures. Not only were they adored for their beauty and charisma, but they were also considered sacred by many ancient peoples.

Throughout history, cats have been associated with many gods and goddesses in different cultures. Next, we will tell you all about the value and importance of cats in different ancient cultures.

Cats in Egyptian Mythology

Since cats were domesticated in Egypt around 3000 B.C., they have been a key part of pest control, such as mice, and extermination of dangerous animals such as snakes.

This prompted the Egyptians to understand the behavior of cats and have great affection for these felines and therefore cats were worshiped and respected by society as Gods.

In Egyptian mythology, cats were associated with 2 of their main Gods:

  • The goddess of motherhood, Bastet: This goddess had the form of a cat and her representation was used to protect babies and the family.
  • The sun god Ra: as it was precisely Bastet who defended him against the goddess Apophis.
  • Sekhmet: Although not a cat, Sekhmet is a goddess represented with another great feline, which is a lioness, Bastet’s alter-ego, as she represented the violent and vengeful side but gave healing and strength to those who could enter her grace.
  • Mafdet: considered the first feline goddess of Egyptian culture, represented as a lynx that protected venomous animals such as snakes and scorpions.

The cat breed associated with Egyptian culture is the sphinx cat and here we have the curiosities and characteristics of the sphinx or no hair cat.

Cats in Greek Mythology

In ancient Greece, cats were venerated and considered as divine beings. Some Olympian gods had cats as companions.

  • The Greek god of war Ares: had a cat as a companion.
  • The Greek goddess Artemis: cats were associated with her because they were considered hunting animals and guardians of nature.

These felines actually came to Greece and Rome illegally from Egypt. It is said that they wanted to acquire them through a purchase, but the Egyptians refused, which triggered the theft of 6 pairs of cats to have them as their own.

Cats in Indian, Chinese, and Japanese Mythology

The story of cats also appears written in Indian, Chinese, and Japanese cultures, where we can find gods who were represented as felines.

  • Shiva: In the Vedic culture of India, the cat was revered as the god Shiva. Shiva is the god of destruction and regeneration, and cats were considered sacred because Shiva used them to destroy evil monsters.
  • Li Shou: Ancient Chinese cat god associated with protection, fertility, and abundant crops.
  • Maneki Neko: Was the Japanese goddess of good luck and prosperity. It was believed that cats brought good luck to their owners and that the sound of their bell attracted good fortune.
  • Bakeneko: In Japan, they were not considered as gods in every sense of the word, but they did have supernatural powers. They could fly, mutate, throw fireballs, or walk on two legs like humans.

Cats were associated with the power of magic, it was believed that cats were able to see the future and spirits, which allowed them to guide their owners to wisdom. That is why here we leave you the myths and superstitions of black cats, which were more linked to these occult powers.

Cats in Ancient Norse and Celtic Cultures

Two of Europe’s oldest cultures, the Celtic and the Norse, have seen cats as faithful representatives of divinity.

  • In ancient Celtic culture: cats were also revered as symbols of power and magic. In this culture, cats were considered divine beings and were believed to be able to see the spiritual world.
  • The cat in Norse mythology: was commonly associated with the goddess Freyja, who was the goddess of fertility, love, and war. It was said that she had two giant cats that pulled her chariot.

These cats were named Bygul and Trjegul, which mean “golden bee” and “striped bee” respectively. Freyja’s cats were considered magical animals and were believed to possess great strength and skill.

These animals were associated with many gods and goddesses and were revered as symbols of power, magic, and wisdom. These beliefs are still reflected in our modern culture through the custom of giving porcelain cats for good luck and protection.

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