Throughout human history, various cultures have admired and worshiped different animals for various reasons. Perhaps no animal was as revered as the cat in ancient Egypt.

It was a far cry from how cats were viewed later in Europe. Pope Gregory IX, who ran the Vatican from 1227-1241, believed cats carried the spirit of Satan. For centuries, black cats symbolized bad luck.

But in cultures like Egypt, cats were respected partly due to their helpfulness and the fact that they were thought to bring good luck to those who owned them.

Egyptians’ respect for cats wasn’t just metaphysical, however. Egyptians respected cats for practical reasons, as well.

Cats were viewed as protectors in Egyptian mythology. According to an article on Petfinder.com titled, “Why Did Egyptians Worship Cats?” cats were revered for protecting communities from starvation and disease.

“Imagine living in a time and place where every home was teeming with tiny, dangerous beasts. Some new threat lurked at every corner: asps hiding in clay jars, rats spoiling massive amounts of stored grain, venomous scorpions creeping under cradles. In this time and place — Ancient Egypt — one creature existed that could make the world safe from these little monsters: the cat,” the website read.

So basically, cats were credited with the survival of civilization itself.

These efficient predators formed their relationships with humans thousands of years ago on farms, where cats could find a constant source of vermin prey while helping farmers deal with their rodent problems. This was in a time before global trade on the scale we know today — a time in which famines were a constant threat.

The people of ancient Egypt kept their cats as pets, much like we do today. They mourned their deaths and even mummified them in the same way they did their nobles and pharaohs.

One of ancient Egypt’s earliest deities was Mafdet, a deity often depicted as a woman with the head of a lion. Mafdet was revered as the protector of the home, keeping dangerous animals like venomous snakes at bay.

Bastet, perhaps one of Egyptian mythology’s most well-known deities, eventually replaced Mafdet as the feline protector credited with protecting Egypt from foreign invasion.

Most of us today don't view cats as the essential protectors they once were, but our relationship endures to this day.

And there's just something about the way cats carry themselves — almost as if they know they once held godlike status among us.

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