hobo cats, south america.

hobo cats, south america.

My twitter feed alerts me to this finding, from last month, from a zoologist at the National Museums of Scotland.  Mitochondrial DNA says that Egypt did not invent cats; that is, they were not the first civilization to domesticate them.  It all happened about 96,000 years earlier in ancient Mesopotamia.

Egypt did love its cats though.  According to Herodotus, who did make things up from time to time, upon the death of an Egyptian cat, “[a]ll the inhabitants of a house shave their eyebrows . . . .  Cats which have died are taken to Bubastis where they are embalmed and buried in sacred receptacles.”  Bubastis as we all know was the cat city, or city of Bastet, the cat goddess, protector of women’s secrets and guardian against evil spirits and disease.

But Herodotus was fond of telling porkies: “On every occasion of a fire in Egypt the strangest prodigy occurs with the cats. The inhabitants allow the fire to rage as it pleases, while they stand about at intervals and watch these animals, which, slipping by the men or else leaping over them, rush headlong into the flames. When this happens, the Egyptians are in deep affliction.”

One might be a bit skeptical as to the eyebrow shaving, having only Herodotus and a blog in one’s twitter feed to support it. Apparently the ancient Egyptians were fond of shaving their bodies in response to a variety of calamities; “on the death of a dog they shave the head and whole of the body.” ibid.

The point is, everyone always loved cats, at least according to the Scottish zoology report, going all the way back to ancient pre-Babylon and whatever went on there.

Did they all have toxoplasmosis? Perhaps.  The French do, and it keeps them thin and sexy.