Cats have had a unique relationship with the Egyptian history having an almost godlike status. Now research finds that cats were actually raised to be turned into mummies and then, given as offerings to Egypt’s Goddess from about 332 BC to 30 BC
This was one of the highlights when over 300 veterinary speakers converged for the WSAVA/FECAVA/BSAVA* World Congress 2012 in Birmingham UK, one of the largest veterinary events in the United Kingdom.The current issue of Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (JFMS) coinciding with this major veterinary event, included research that suggests cats in Ancient Egypt were raised specifically to be mummified, and then offered as sacrifices to the goddess Bastet.
That mummy cited at the conference was of a young cat, purchased by the National Museum of Parma, Italy, in the 18th century. It is believed to be a high quality archaeological artifact because the body inside the mummy was complete, intricately wrapped and decorated with geometrical patterns and depicted eyes. The tightly packed cat was treated with the same chemicals used to create human mummies: natron, a naturally occurring mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate, sodium bicarbonate, and small amounts of salt, sodium sulphate and herbs used to dehydrate the body.
According to a press release from SAGE, “Embalmers put the cat in a sitting position before mummification, with flexed hind limbs and its forelimbs extended against the thorax, a position similar to the seated cats depicted in hieroglyphics from the same era. They also fractured a vertebra at the base of the spine to position the tail as close to the body as possible. A hole in the cat’s skull may have been the cause of death, and also for draining the skull’s contents.” The cat’s young age suggests that it was one of those bred specifically for mummification
At the height of their popularity many Egyptians would buy ‘budget’ mummies containing just a handful of bones, which suggests they were indeed old cats, one perhaps that may have died of old age. It would appear this one did not die from natural causes, but was put to death to be used as a mummy.
According tot the Egyptian myth website, www.egyptianmyths.net, the goddess Bastet was represented as a woman with the head of a domesticated cat. Before 1000 BC she was portrayed as a lioness. Bastet was the daughter of Re, the sun-god. It is believed she aquired her fine characteristics through Re because when he destroyed his enemy Apep, he was depicted as a cat. When portrayed as a cat, Bastet was connected with the moon (her son Khonsu was the god of the moon). When shown as a lioness, she was associated with sunlight.