People rarely remember how the cats became the household pets that they are today. From one age to the other people have had a love/hate relationship with cats. The cat as we know it has played different roles in different cultures and this was all before it became the household pet that we know today.
Bones which were found in a grave in Cyprus from around 7500 B.C. have suggested that some form of domestication may have occurred at an earlier period with some wildcat species. A lot of people believe that the domestication of cats started sometime around 4000 B.C in the ancient Egypt and precisely in the Valley of the Nile. The cat was a very useful creature to ancient Egyptians and these cats protected their stored grains from rats. While ancient Egyptians had many animals, the cat was the only animal which was allowed to roam as it wished; they were only kept in when they were needed to perform their duties. Egyptians came to see cats as sacred animals and in turn they become the symbol of the Goddess Bastet. Bastet was portrayed with the head of a cat and the cat became highly regarded in society and it became a crime to kill a cat. If you killed a cat it could result in death or the receipt of a stone beating. The actual death of a cat was a very sad event for a family and involved a full-scale burial.
The domestication of cats later spread and Nile bargemen would keep their cats on ships in order to control the rodent population. Sometimes when goods were being unloaded the cat would wander off the boat and establish a new territory as a home. In ancient Rome, cats were used to keep the rat and mice population in check and they were also kept as pets as well. Cats became a favorite house pet because of their unique features. And Islamic countries held the cat in great esteem, as the Egyptians did.
In the Middle Ages, there was a change in opinion about the cat. Cats were thought to have certain magical powers and were said to be associated with the devil. People who owned cats were seen as witches. Pope Gregory IX even went as far as labeling the cat
a “diabolical creature.” Cats were put to death and sometimes burnt with their owners. This almost wiped out the domestic cat population in Europe, and is believed to have been the reason for the bubonic plague, since the rodent population was able to increase. To this day, superstitions still bestow an ominous power on the cat, as we often think it bad luck to have a black cat cross our paths. It is also associated with Halloween.
In the 1800’s, people started thinking differently and cats became the popular pets they once were. The domestication of cats did not begin until European settlers arrived; these cats were brought over on boats from overseas in order to control the rodent population in settlements.