The history of cat worship primarily centers around ancient Egypt, but that's not the only place where reverence for all things feline existed. So who worshipped cats? There are many societies that bowed to our feline friends - Li Shou was a Chinese cat god that protected crops from being eaten by mice, and a black cat called Ovinnik was a god in ancient Poland.Did you know that wealthy cat owners draped their feline companions in jewels in ancient Egypt? Or that an entire battle was surrendered, simply because the Egyptians didn't want any harm to come to cats scattered on the battlefield? Read on to discover all the purrfect facts about cat worship throughout history and vote up the strangest facts.
Egyptians Shaved Their Eyebrows When Their Cats Died
In ancient Egypt, the reverence for cats was extended into their death, with family members showing the same respect as they would for a human funeral. Family members of the cat would even shave their eyebrows to signify their loss. Once their eyebrows grew back, their period of mourning was over.
Persians Once Used Cats to Make the Egyptian Army Surrender
Cats were so highly revered by the Egyptians that the Persians took advantage of this. According to Ancient History Encyclopedia, "The greatest example of Egyptian devotion to the cat, however, comes from the Battle of Pelusium (525 BCE) in which Cambyses II of Persia defeated the forces of the Egyptian Pharaoh Psametik III to conquer Egypt."
Cambyses ordered his men to capture a bunch of cats and release them on the battlefield outside Pelusium; rather than risk harming the sacred cats, the Egyptians quickly surrendered to the Persian army.
Mesopotamians Were the First to Domesticate Cats
Ancient Mesopotamians (like ancient Egyptians) were one of the earliest societies dependent on agriculture. The enemies of an agricultural-based society were creatures who ate their crops - namely mice, snakes, and rats. Historians believe that once Mesopotamians figured out that wild cats preyed on these scavengers, they started encouraging them to patrol their property by leaving food for them. Over time, cats became more accustomed to humans and came to depend on them for a steady food supply. Eventually, Mesopotamians started breeding cats and they slowly became domesticated.
There Was an Annual Cat Festival in Ancient Egypt
This festival centered around the temple of Bast in the city of Bubastis, reportedly one of the most magnificent temples ever erected in ancient Egypt. People traveled from all over Egypt for the festival, which was a joyous celebration of Bast. They gathered to worship, sing, dance, and drink together.