Thursday 24 September 2015

Cats in Mythology and Ledgend

Cats in Mythology and Legend

Cats have been a large part of society since all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians. They have been considered mysterious and graceful, and at some points in time this got them associate with witchcraft and the devil, but by others they were worshipped. Not only are they held in high regard in the real world, but poets and writers from all over the globe have written about them and countless stories, myths and legends exist about them that go as far back as far as 4000 years ago.
Ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate and consider cats sacred. They believed that cats were the manifestation of the goddess Bast, who was the goddess of protection, fertility, the moon and of course to protector of all cats. There were many other goddesses’ that were depicted as cats but Bast was the only who was a domestic cat. It was the Egyptians that began the belief that is still around today: that cats have nine lives. This was probably because of their nimbleness and graceful nature.
In Celtic mythology Cat Síth were what was believed, by some to be a fairies that haunted the Scottish moors, and by others to be witches that could transform into a cat only nine times. They resembled large black wildcats with white markings in the centre of their chests and said to be as large as a dog. The appearance of these cats is thought to have been derived from the features of the Kellas cat; a hybrid between a Scottish wild can and domestic cat that is only found in Scotland.
Stories of these cats are more common in Scottish folklore, but also seen in Irish and occasionally Welsh. The people of Scotland didn’t trust the cat Síth and believed that they could steal the souls of the dead. They had many beliefs as to how to keep the cats away from the corpse such as distracting them with catnip, riddles and music and not lighting any fires near the body as it was told that they were attracted to the warmth. On Samhain (Celtic festival marking the end of harvest season) people would leave saucers of milk out for the Cat Síth as it was said that they would curse any house that didn’t and the cow’s milk would go dry.

Freya the goddess of love, beauty and fertility in Norse mythology was associated with cats. Farmers would leave out milk for the cats to ensure that Freya blessed their harvest. Also at a wedding ceremony if there was good weather, it would be said ‘she has fed the cat well’ and if a cat was to make an appearance at your wedding it was the sign of a very happy marriage.

Thursday 17 September 2015

History of the Domestic Cat: From Middle Ages to Now

History of the domestic cat

From middle ages to now

As the Middle Ages began, cats began to be associated with witch craft and the devil. People related the way they caught rats and mice with the way the devil catches souls. Their nocturnal nature also fed this belief. It was thought that the devil took the form of a black cat and black cats became labelled as bringers of evil. With the coming of the Black Death in 1348 suspicion of cats only grew and rulers ordered the mass killing of cats as they were blamed for the disease. Ironically if the cats had not all been killed the Black Death may have not been anywhere near as bad as rats were the real perpetrators of the disease.

Not all was bad for cats in the middle ages: Muslims continued to hold cats in high regard as it was believed that Muhamad was a fan. In fact many believed that the typical m shape that sometimes can be seen on a tabby cats forehead stood for Muhamad.

During the plague people stopped having time for hunting cats between disposing of bodies and protecting themselves from disease. This allowed cats some time to replenish their numbers and they began to kill the rats that carried the disease. People realised that cat weren’t evil and they returned to their valued position as vermin exterminators.

Cats were brought to America around the 15th/16th century on explorer ships where they were used to control vermin. Breeds such as the hugely popular American shorthair is thought to have developed from a mix of the British sort hair form the ships and the wild cats that lived in America.

They again became popular pets in Britain during Queen Victoria’s reign and have remained one of the most popular household pets since. In the 1990’s the surpassed dogs as the most popular pet and now there are over half a billion domestic cats in the world.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

History of Domestic Cats: Origins

History of the Domestic Cat 

Anicient History

First cats: Egypt

History of the domestic cat began around 4000 years ago in the ancient Egyptian times. The first domestic cats were believed to have evolved from African wild cats and so were very skilled at hunting. The farmers of the time noticed how the wild cats would hunt and kill the vermin that plagued their crops and so began to leave scraps of food out for them so that they would remain around their farm and continue to protect their crops. This is how the first domestic cats began to appear.
  The rats and mice would spread disease and eats crops so cats were greatly valued for their skills at killing. As more and more of the vermin were exterminated the amount of food greatly increased along with disease and death rate reducing. Cats greatly improved the living standards if the time and became sacred creatures that represented life. They were worshipped as gods by the everyone, even the pharaoh. They were revered as master hunters and the penalty for killing a cat was execution. They were associated with Egyptian goddesses such as Bast, Isis and Pasht. Pharohs were buried with statues of cats to serve as safe companionship to aid the journey to the afterlife.

Cats move to europe
Cats were traded and introduced to europe bringing with them their 'good luck'. They improved the standrads of living everywhere as they had in Egypt. They became highly valued assets to society. They were worth alot of money and the rich began to keep them as pets

Cats introduced to Asia

A domesticated cat was given to the emperor of China in 500BC and soon cats became the most popular pets of the rich in the Song Dynasty. They were bred with the Asian wild cats to create some of the breeds we know today like Siamese and Burmese. Cats represented good luck and even now small statues known as Maneki-neko represent good luck and are displayed in shop fronts to try and bring in money.