The Egyptians learned to adore the cat, the Persians took it as far as India, but it was with the Romans that the cat really colonized the homes of the greatest part of the European continent and the British Isles. Roman soldiers brought cats with them wherever they went, and they went a long way. In the capital the furry little animals soon replaced the ferret, used till the cat was introduced in human settlements to keep the number or rodents under control. As opposed to ferrets, cats did not stink so they had another advantage.
Although the Romans did not adore cats to the extreme Egyptians did, the goddess Libertas is depicted with a cat at her feet as a symbol of independence. Also in the northern mythology the cat is considered a magical animal. The love goddess Freya flies in the sky on a carriage pulled by wild cats.
Cats are also beloved pets in the Islam and the prophet Muhammad was known to be very fond of them. As for Buddhists, they believe that when a cat of the house dies, it speaks a few good words about its owner to Buddha so he is favourable to the human.
Israelis, who were in Egypt for such a long time, did not worship cats at all since they only needed a God to venerate.
And in fact cats’ good reputation and fame came to a bitter end when the leaders of the Christian Catholic Church considered them the embodiment of the devil. Inquisition pursued witches and cats and it sentenced a great deal of both to burn to death in bonfires and so cats were about to vanish completely from Europe.
And the extermination of our beloved furry friends had disastrous consequences for public health in the old continent. The pestilence, the plague that devastated Europe leading to the death of between a thirty to a sixty percent of the population depending on the area and the period, was caused by bacteria transmitted by fleas and also by the bites of rats. In humid areas with poor hygienic conditions such as most European cities at the time, the epidemy spread without any hope. Cats could not chase rats because there were hardly any felines in the streets any longer and it took humans quite a long time to understand cats could be very helpful allies against the plague and the epidemic. In spite of the fact that the Church had ruined the image of the cat, it returned to the cities to help fight the pestilence by controlling the proliferation of rats.
But the stigma lasted for ages and well into the XVIII century it was claimed that if there was a cat in a carriage the horses did not gallop as well as usual. Also, the superstition that asserts that if a black cat crosses our way it will bring us bad lack dates back from those times.
Thanks God not all countries were influenced by silly superstition. The inhabitants of Rome have a huge cat colony located in the remains of Torre Argentina in the capital of the Italic peninsula.
The inhabitants of the Coliseum city feed and adore the cats that wander in the remains because they consider they once saved the city from a pestilence episode.
And fortunately, nowadays hostility towards cats is over and they are the favourite pet in a vast number of countries.
A lot of celebrities and well-known people in the past and nowadays have had a special bond with our furry friends. Churchill for example always lived with at least one cat. Einstein had a stripped one that got depressed when the weather was bad. The scientist used to tell him “I know what the matter is, but I don’t know how to change it”. Dalí was photographed with his cats many times and the designer Karl Lagerfeld has what is probably the most spoilt cat in the world. It has two nannies of its own. Goethe once wrote a poem from the point of view of a cat happy about the caresses and cuddles. I apologise beforehand for my poor translation of the last lines of the poem.
“ sie stammeln und lallen und
Liebkosen mir glücklich Bauch, Ohrchen und Tatz.
Ich wählte es wieder. Das Leben der Katz“
„They stammer and babble and
They caress happy my belly, ears and paws.
I would chose it again, the life of a cat”
I am not a cat expert yet. I know that my first serious contact with these felines was in Berlin where a female cat adopted me. During the lockdown I fell in love with my boyfriend’s cat Pablo so much that I decided to adopt mine. I spent moths in a raw browsing the webpage of Gats de Gràcia to find the ideal candidate for me. One day I saw Safràs picture and I went to Farigats to see him. From that moment he did not have to wait for a long time there because I adopted him a few days after.
I don’t have a scientific explanation about why Safrà has helped me balance my life. I only know that even when I have a lot of stress, as soon as I get home and see him a lot of the tension goes away. There was only one thing that worried me about having Safrà: I spend a long time outside home when I was at work he was alone. So I spoke again with Gats the Gràcia and they offered me the possibility to adopt a kitty so that Safrà would see it grow and accept it as a member of the family. The result of this has been happiness multiplied two times because now when I leave, I know none of them is on its own and when I get back home I have two adorable cats that want to keep me company.
I have no idea if cats are magical, and I have no scientific evidence for or against it but I know that my daily routine has been by far less tedious since I adopted them.
In case you are becoming fond of cats I have uploaded pictures of Safrà, who you might already know if you follow my blog, and the small one in the family: Sugus.
To finish this post I want to recommend you to have a cat in your lives and if you decide to do so, chose one from a shelter. They are very grateful animals that need and deserve a chance and wait for families willing to love them and provide for them.
Have a nice week!