They’re fierce hunters, yet gentle household pets. They pick their own homes and walk all over our hearts. We associate them with witches and ancient Egypt. Today’s topic is all about cats.
They were domesticated a long time ago.
Cats were domesticated in the Fertile Crescent around 10,000-12,000 years ago. Humans discovered agriculture and started stockpiling grain, which attracted various rodents to civilized areas. The wild cats came in to hunt the rodents and decided that things were pretty good around humans, so they stayed and became revered pets.
They were treated quite well in ancient Egypt.
Cats were said to be good luck back then. They were treated like royalty by the ancient Egyptians and were even mummified when they died. To mistreat a cat was a terrible crime that some sources say was punishable by death.
They are adored in Islam.
Islamic tradition considers cats to be holy animals. They are said to be ritually clean, meaning they are allowed in houses and mosques. People may wash for prayer from water that a cat has drunk from and it is permissible to eat the same food that a cat has eaten. Some Muslims also believe that cats bring angels into the home.
They have their own goddess.
She is known as Bast or Bastet, and she is the goddess of protection, pleasure, and good health. Possessing the head of a cat, Bast was worshiped in Lower Egypt. Today she is considered the cat goddess and has appeared in several fantasy stories involving cats.
They are associated with witches.
Cats often appear in fiction concerning witches and in images depicting witches. This has not always been a positive association. In the Middle Ages, cats were often killed, especially black cats, because of their supposed relationship to witches. Some historians believe this mass execution allowed rats to thrive and spread the Black Death, though others argue against this hypothesis.
They are related to the forest cat.
Forest cats (Felis sylvestris) are the closest relatives of house cats and are probably where house cats evolved from in the first place. Sometimes house cats are considered a subspecies of the forest cat. They are capable of producing offspring together.
The purr has mysterious qualities.
A purr is produced when air moves across rapidly pulsating muscles in the cat’s larynx and diaphragm, creating a vibration. A cat’s purr is usually associated with a happy feline, but there are other times when cats purr. For example, an injured cat may also purr. Cat purrs are said to possess healing qualities, capable of building bone and tissue within the cat, though no one knows exactly why.
Calico genes are interesting.
A calico is a cat with orange, black, and white fur. A tortoiseshell has black and orange alone. Both these color combinations are almost always female. The orange and the black genes are on the X chromosome, so in order to get this combination you need two X chromosomes, making a female. Male calicos and tortoiseshells do exist, but they are usually XXY, often possessing traits of both sexes.
No, John Ashcroft is not afraid of calico cats.
No one really knows exactly where this myth started. It’s said that a U.S. Senator’s aides reported that John Ashcroft thought that calicos were a sign of the Devil. Wherever it originated from, the rumor first circulated in 2001. When Ashcroft himself heard the rumor, he actually laughed. At least he had a good sense of humor about it.
They have extremely good senses of hearing.
Cat hearing is actually more sensitive than dog hearing. Dogs can hear up to 40,000 Hertz on the high-frequency range. Cats, however, can hear as high as 60,000 Hertz. This is why cats respond just as acutely as dogs to a dog whistle.
It was about two o’clock in the morning when I heard the screaming meow through my bedroom window. At first I ignored it, thinking it was some feral cat posturing to another. However, when it continued for over an hour, I had to go out and see what was going on. Boy, was I surprised when I found out these ear-splitting noises were coming from a tiny gray and white kitten sitting on the front porch. After almost an hour of trying to calm him down, the kitten finally let me pick him up and take him into the house. He was loyal to me for the next seventeen years and helped me through some rough times, a huge reward for rescuing one tiny kitten. Today’s article is dedicated to Blue Mew, one of the most awesome cats ever.
Alley Cat Allies- www.alleycat.org
National Geographic- www.nationalgeographic.com
The Guardian- www.theguardian.com
Bayt Al Fann- www.baytalfann.com
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum- www.egyptianmuseum.org