The Feline Mystique – Why the Pharoahs Loved Cats

  • Obsequies of an Egyptian Cat - the Feline Mystique

The Feline Mystique – Why the Pharoahs Loved Cats

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Feline Mystique - Bastet family at Neues Museum, Berlin. Photo: Carole Raddato.

Feline Mystique – Ancient Greek bronze Bastet figurines are on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin. Photo: Carole Raddato.

Is there anything in this world quite like the bond between people and cats? Not to diminish the bond between dogs and their humans, but the feline mystique is just different from a canine’s.

As Pet Parents, we love, honor and cherish all our furry family members equally. From their kittenhood into their noble elder years, cats invite our affection, respect and honor.

But our feline furballs remain especially mysterious and fascinating, even after they’re gone and all we have are cherished memories.

It’s no surprise the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats. Ordinary Egyptians were forbidden to own domesticated cats until sometime in the first millennium B.C., though; before that, Pharoahs kept them to themselves.

From a practical point of view, the Pharoahs needed cats to chase mice away from the palace food supply.

More significantly, ancient Egyptians saw felines as a personal connection with the divine.

Egyptians worshipped the cat-goddess Bastet (or Bast) as a protector of the home and the nation. They held a cat’s life to be sacred on Earth and in the next world. The family cats were mourned and mummified when they passed on, just like the human relatives.

 Feline Mystique Obsequies of an Egyptian Cat - John Reinhard Weguelin

“The Obsequies of an Egyptian Cat” by English painter John Reinhard Weguelin, 1886. A priestess offers gifts of food and milk to the spirit of a cat. On an altar stands the mummy of the deceased, and the tomb is decorated with frescoes, urns of fresh flowers, lotus blossoms, and statuettes. The priestess kneels as she wafts incense smoke toward the altar. In the background, a statue of Sekhmet or Bastet guards the entrance to the tomb. (WikiMedia Commons)

In more recent, less enlightened times, cats – especially black cats – were associated with witches and sorcerers and voodoo curses.

While we doubt that, there is an air of the supernatural about felines!

Cats sometimes do seem like creatures from another planet – which makes their friendship all the more meaningful to us.

And all the more mysterious.

Feline Mystique - Bastet at Neues Museum in Berlin. Photo: Carole Raddato.

Feline Mystique – An ancient Egyptian bronze Bastet sits at the Neues Museum in Berlin. Photo: Carole Raddato.

Maybe it’s because of their intelligence and independence that so many stories are woven about their ways.

We do know that cats instinctively know which humans like them and will give them a good home and lots of affection.

They also have a telepathy that lets them communicate with us without words (when they want to).

And they seem to know when we’re sick or stressed out or sad, and their comfort helps us get through the rough spots.

Stories of cats disappearing before a family moves or finding their lost homes after days or even years of separation are common. It’s like radar.

And as did the Egyptians, Pet Parents of cats today know the deep and profound – some would say spiritual – rewards of sharing a home with a cat. Cats become part of our lives in thousands of intimate ways.

We join in their wild playtimes when they are kittens. We learn their quirky habits and try to please them as they grow up.

We share the happy moments of quiet companionship as they curl up and purr contentedly beside us as we work or relax or sleep.

When our cat is with us, we’re never alone. And vice versa. It’s a love thing as fulfilling as most human-to-human relationships.

So it’s only natural that we want to remember these magical members of our family after they have passed on.

Lately, more Pet Parents are choosing to keep their departed cat’s ashes in a specially designed urn to display in their home. Honoring a feline member of our family in this way keeps their memory alive for us. Our homes feel more complete with their presence, and incomplete without.

A memorial cat urn designed with a feline’s special spiritual nature in mind is more than an art piece to display in your home (although they can be very beautiful). It reminds us every day how much joy the four-legged members of our family have brought us, and the unconditional love they gave us in return.

Those memories are a gift we will always cherish – just as we cherish the Feline Mystique.

Barry Alfonso has written songs recorded by Johnny Cash, Pam Tillis and Olivia Newton-John, contributed articles to Rolling Stone and the Los Angeles Times and earned a Grammy Award for music journalism. He is currently active as a personal historian, freelance author and faithful servant to his cat Clarence.

Stephen K. Peeples is CEO of Pet Me Happy Treats, which he co-founded in summer 2015 to pursue his lifelong passion for pets. In his previous life, he was a veteran music industry executive, an award-winning radio producer and newspaper website editor, a Grammy-nominated record producer, and a WAVE-nominated TV producer-host. He and wife Nadine (Pet Me Happy co-founder) raised two wonderful children, now grown and gone. Now, their cat, Batman, rules the empty nest.

Article: The Feline Mystique – Why the Pharoahs Loved Cats
Category: Pet Tales
Author: Barry Alfonso & Stephen K. Peeples

The Feline Mystique – Why the Pharoahs Loved Cats

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