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National Cat Day: A Love That Goes Back 12,000 Years

Cats are playful, good companions and hard to resist. Credit: Thumbtack.

Cats are furry divinities.

Today is National Cat Day, and it is the one on which we offer up homage and praise to these four-legged critters that rule our lives.

As English humorist, satirist, and author of fantasy novels Terry Pratchett once noted, “In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”

Every cat owner knows this to be true.


National Cat Day

Cats found a spokeswoman in Colleen Paige, an animal welfare advocate, who in 2005 started National Cat Day as a way to help people recognize just how many cats need to be rescued every year, and to remind us of the unconditional love and companionship cats provide.

Or as author Ernest Hemingway once noted, “A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”

Then again, cat owners are also well aware of this.


Some Feline History

A June 2007 article in the Smithsonian reported that researchers have determined that cats were first domesticated in the Near East some 12,000 years ago.

According to the author, David Zax, this date in time is logical because it “is precisely when the first agricultural societies began to flourish in the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent.”

As production grew, so too did the stores of surplus grain and the mice who came to dinner.

When the first cats wandered into a town, they took note of the abundance of prey in the storehouses and decided to stick around.  Not surprisingly, the farmers were delighted with the pest control and were more than happy to befriend the felines.

This is an early example of cats inviting themselves into their homes … and their hearts.  Nothing’s changed!

After all, in the United States cats are the most popular house pet, with well over 92 million of them calling 35 percent of American houses “home.”

“The smallest feline is a masterpiece,” noted Leonardo da Vinci.


Cats and The Divinity Complex

Whereas dogs are humans best friend, they have never been worshipped.  On the other hand, cats have – and they seem to know it.

The ancient Egyptians’ reverence for cats is well documented.  In 2018 archaeologists discovered dozens of mummified cats, nearly 100 wooden cat statues and a bronze bust of Bastet, the ancient Egyptian goddess of cats, in a 6,000 year old tomb outside of Cairo, Egypt.

The Egyptians knew that cats were expert hunters, quick and precise; furthermore, they were protective of their kittens and only aggressive when necessary.

These traits were viewed as signs of divinity, and to the Egyptians cats reigned supreme.

Cat owners know what John R.F.Breen, author of Who’s Who of Cats, meant when he wrote, “As we all know, cats now rule the world.”

Egyptian cats were associated with the goddess Bastet and were revered and immortalized. Credit: Wikipedia.

Reasons to Love National Cat Day

1. Cats are Adaptable and Easy to Maintain

They clean themselves, use their litter box, don’t need exercise, don’t have to go outside and (most of the time) are quiet.  They adapt to any home environment, from a small one-room apartment to a spacious home.

2. Cats Can Converse with Us

They do talk back – if you talk to them first and if they are willing to even look your way!  The more you talk to your cat, the more he or she will respond to you. The cat may be talking about his or her divinity; you  may be talking about the latest foolishness in Washington DC. 

3. A Cat’s Nose Print Is as Unique as a Human Fingerprint

If you’ve ever taken a moment to closely examine a cat’s nose, you will find that there are bumps and ridges.  They are unique to each cat and can be used as an identifier.


How to Celebrate National Cat Day

1. Hug and Pet  

There can never be too many of these and doing so is a great way to start today.  As an added sense of appreciation, you could take your little overlord to the veterinarian for a check-up and then on to a grooming session.

2. Check Out a Shelter  

If you are thinking of owning a cat, then adopt one. Whether you bring home a kitten or an older cat, they will be adoring and loving friends.

3. Donate to a Local Shelter

If you can’t adopt a cat, then why not consider donating food, blankets or toys to the shelter or other animal welfare organizations. 

4. Volunteer at Your Local Shelter

Shelter cats need love and attention. Stop by your local shelter and volunteer to play with the kittens, clean cages, scoop their litter boxes, and help with other chores. 

5. Organize a Trap-Neuter-Release Program

Help to reduce the number of homeless cats in your area by spaying and neutering stray cats. Contact a shelter or veterinarian office for more details.


One Final Note about National Cat Day

James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small wrote, “If your cat falls out of a tree, go indoors to laugh.”

I know something about a cat and a tree.

About three years ago, I heard a small “meow” from a tree.  Looking up, I saw a small ball of black fur punctuated with two yellow eyes staring back. 

The little critter didn’t exactly fall out of the tree; rather, I climbed up into the tree and brought him down.

Cats have long been associated with divinity, and the content creator’s cat is no exception. Credit: John Simpson.

My family named him Atilla.  He is usually quiet and clean, but at times he can be a high-jumping, running-around-the-house-at-warp-speed, curious- about-everything-creature who will, at times, walk across the keys I am now using to type this sentence.

When I ask His Nibs what he thinks he is doing, I get a look that reminds me of something author Desmond Morris once wrote:  “Cats do not have to be shown how to have a good time, for they are unfailing ingenious in that respect.”

But then again, every cat owner knows this.

Read about the highest-ranking military dog in history.


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