Ancient Cats History – Pass Through Ancient World , Medieval Time and Art


No one knows exactly when or how the cats appeared on Terra. Most researchers, however, agree that the oldest cat’s predecessor was probably a similar animal to the weasel, called Miacis, who lived almost 40-50 million years ago so ancient cats history is a long subject.

Miacis is considered to be the common ancestor of several terrestrial carnivores, including the dog and the cat. But apparently, the cat appeared several million years before the first dog. Perhaps the most famous of prehistoric cats is Smilodon, a cat with palm-shaped teeth sometimes called tiger. This formidable animal battles through the world, but has disappeared long ago.

Here is the main list :

  • Cats in the Ancient World
  • Cats In Medieval Times
  • Cat In Art

Cats in the Ancient World

Bastet God

The first association of cats with humans in the ancient time  began, apparently, towards the end of the Stone Age  since then , cat is a common pet loved by entire world. However, it took several centuries for the cat to become a domestic animal. About 5000 years ago, cats were accepted as pets in Egypt. Many of the breeds we know today have evolved from these ancient cats.

The Egyptians used the cat for fishing and bird hunting, but also for destroying rats and mice infesting grain stores along the Nile. The cat was considered to be so valuable that the Egyptians protected it by law, and eventually a cat cult appeared, having a life of more than 2,000 years.

The cat goddess called Bastet, also known as Bast, Pasht, et al., Became one of the most sacred of all the venerated gods from Ancient World. Bastet was represented with a cat’s head. Soon, all cats became sacred to the Egyptians, being very respected and cared for.

After the death of a cat, his body was mummified and buried in a special cemetery. Such a cemetery was found in the 19th century and contained the preserved bodies of over 3000 cats.

The Egyptians had strict laws prohibiting the export of cats; however, due to the fact that highly valued cats in other parts of the world for their ability to capture mice, Greeks and Romans led them to all parts of Europe. Domestic cats have also been found in India, China and Japan, where they were appreciated as pets, but also as rodent hunters.

Cats In Medieval Times

The fate of cats underwent a radical change in Europe in medieval times. Cats have become the object of superstition, being associated with evil. It was believed that cats were invested with evil powers, were associated with witches and were sometimes considered to be an Incarnation of the Devil. People who owned cats were suspected of witchcraft and were sentenced to death, along with their cats.

The cats were hunted, tortured and sacrificed. On religious days, many cats were sometimes burned alive as part of the celebration. Live cats were built inside the walls of houses or other buildings in the belief that this would bring them luck. As the population of cats shrinks, the number of rats carrying various diseases increased, a factor contributing largely to the spread of plague and other epidemic diseases in Europe

By the seventeenth century, cats began to regain their former place of companion to man and controlling the spread of rodents. Cardinal Richelieu was renowned for his love for cats. Many writers, especially from France and England, began to own cats as pets and to write about their good qualities. It has become a fashion to have one or more cats, especially long hair types.

Towards the end of the 19th century, cat exhibitions began to take place in England and the US, and cats’ associations were founded. Many of the superstitions related to cats in the Middle Ages are still preserved, but today, the most well-known of them being the black cat, which brings bad luck.

Cat In Art

Even in art cat have been the favorite subject of artists and writers for centuries. Perhaps the most famous of all artistic representations is that of the ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet. Ancient sculptures and paintings with the image of a cat’s head have been found in many places on the Nile Valley ,  .

Japanese artists excelled in portraying the cats. Some of the drawings were so realistic that in the ancient world,

Go-To-Ku-Ji Temple

they were considered to be magical. People believed that if this drawing is hung in homes and temples, they will keep mice and rats away.

Among the most popular Japanese cats is Maneki-Neko, a small cat, which is believed to bring happiness and luck. Buddhists worshiped cats after death, and Go-To-Ku-Ji temple in Tokyo is dedicated to them.

The famous priests in the temples echoed excitement for the souls of the felines. The temples were littered with sculptures, cats and embossed garlands representing cats.

In every representation, the cat has a big paw to greet, and this is the classic representation of the Japanese cat Maneki-Neko.



Throughout the history of the cat, she showed great abilities to adapt to the new environment even though she was persecuted since Middle Ages then idolized in our times.

The cat is a mysterious creature which still makes us ask questions today about her powers to heal us and to bring us peace of mind.

If you have any questions or comments about anything , be sure to leave them in the comment section below and I will reply.

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  1. Such a great article on Cats, you really know your stuff 🙂 Maybe you can help me? My fiance has been bugging me to get a Ragdoll Cat, the issue we have is that we also have a Great Dane stomping around the house, are there any breeds of Cat that get along with dogs better than others? or is it a trained respect?

    • Hello ,

      Ragdoll Cat is a unique breed of cat,they love their people, greeting them at the door, following them around the house, and leaping into a lap or snuggling in bed whenever given the chance.
      It’s better that the new pet introduced in the family to be young one so they can grow togheter, in your case a young cat , does not matter the breed of the cat !

      I know that Great Dane is not agressive dog breed , so you will not have problems.

      Thank you

  2. Hi,
    What a fantastic website about the history of cats,you are an expert on this subject.I have bookmarked your site.

  3. Stefan, I enjoyed reading this history of cats. I didn’t know most of this, especially all the “hated history”. I knew they were valued in ancient Egypt but not the rest. Very interesting about lack of cats contributing to the Plague. Good article. – Shirley

    • Hello ,

      All animals have a special place in the food chain including cats , my favourite .

  4. Holy cow, that is a lot of cats! I had no idea that cats were put inside temples like that or that cats had changed so much. I don’t think I will ever think about cats the same way again!


  5. Great article, I found this very interesting, I like that you included info on where cats descend from and how they interacted with people. Thanks!

  6. Thank’s for those information, I never knew about the first cat! You are very talented in writing and keep on doing.

  7. Cum spuneai și tu în articol pisica a avut și are cu adevărat un rol foarte bine definit în dezvoltarea civilizației noastre.Merita să le iubim!

    • In unele cazuri a fost si idolatrizata precum in egiptul antic deci putem spune ca a lasat o amprenta in evolutia omenirii.

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