A Cat SVG, or Félis silvéstris cátus, is one of the most popular (along with a dog) “companion animals”.
Scientifically speaking, a pet cat is a mammal of the cat’s predator family. Previously, a domestic cat was often considered as a separate species. From the point of view of modern biological systematics, a domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) is a subspecies of a forest cat (Felis silvestris).
As a single rodent hunter and other small animals, the cat is a social animal that uses a wide range of sounds, pheromones and body movements to communicate.
Currently, there are about 600 million domestic cats in the world, about 200 breeds, from long-haired (Persian cat) to hairless (sphinxes), recognized and registered by various felinological organizations.
For 10,000 years cats have been valued by humans, including for their ability to hunt rodents and other domestic pests.
Cat SVG in history, religion and mythology
The ancient world
The fertile crescent moon and Cyprus.
The settlement of cats from the centre of domestication in the area of the Fertile Crescent is connected with the settlement of ancient agricultural tribes, which in search of new fertile lands, migrating to new places, took with them domesticated species of plants and animals, including a cat. In 1983, in Cyprus, near the village of Shillourokambos, a burial site for human and cat remains was discovered, the wild species of which had never lived on the island. Based on the location of the remains, the eight-month-old animal was killed in order to be buried with its owner. Terracotta statuettes dating back to the 7th millennium B.C. were found in Anatolia depicting women who played or held a leopard or cat of the same colour, judging by their spotted colour.
Cat SVG in Ancient Egypt
The first written mention of domestic cats dates back to the second millennium BC, when cats were widely used in ancient Egypt to protect grain storage facilities from rodents. In ancient Egypt, cats were considered the embodiment of the fertility goddess Bast and were revered as sacred animals; the punishment for killing a cat was the death penalty. There are many statuettes and images of cats from this period. Often cats were mummified in the same way as people – in the XIX century near the temple of the goddess Bast in Bubastisse was found the largest burial place – about 19 tons of cat mummies. Cats were so popular in Ancient Egypt that in mummies their forms were buried and other animals.
X-ray studies of some mummies have shown that the animals had a broken neck. There are theories that cats were sacrificed to the goddess Bast, but this assumption is not proven. The cult of Bast remained in Ancient Egypt up to its prohibition in 390. There is an assumption that originally the cult of the god Besa was associated with the veneration of the cat, which was considered a defender of the house from the mice. The red cat was revered by the ancient Egyptians as a personification of the supreme god Ra. In the 17th chapter of the sacred texts, “The Book of the Dead”, the sun god Ra acts as a “great cat”, who fights every night with the snake Apop, embodying the forces of evil, darkness and chaos, and at dawn defeats him. However, not every red cat or cat was considered sacred. For this role the priests of temples were specially selected by cats on a number of characteristic signs. It was believed that the soul of the god moved into the associated animal, and after his death moved to another animal with the appropriate signs. It was these cats that were given special honors, with priests, priestesses and servants attached to them. After their death, they were buried in large stone or wooden sarcophagi in which jewelry, amulets and other rich gifts were placed.
Polyene has brought a joke that Persians have grasped Pelusium – one of the Egyptian cities-fortresses – because of bowing of ancient Egyptians before sacred cats, sheep, ibises and dogs when in 525 BC the Persian tsar Kambis II has attacked armies of Pharaoh Psammetch III. Persians have placed these animals before the army in the form of a human shield because of what Egyptians, not to cause harm to these sacred animals, did not begin to fire from bows the Persian army. The battle ended with the complete defeat of the Egyptians.
Cat SVG in Ancient Rome
It is believed that the Romans learned about cats from the Egyptians, but the cats remained in ancient Rome quite rare pets and were valued primarily as mice catchers. Subsequently, the Romans spread the cats throughout Europe. But it is possible that even before the Roman Empire, cats were already known in Europe. There is some evidence that cats existed in the British Isles as far back as the end of the Iron Age, perhaps they were brought there by ships of ancient sailors.
Cat SVG in Middle Ages
The Vikings’ cat was a sacred animal and the embodiment of the goddess of love and fertility Freia. In Junior Edda, Snorri Sturluson-Freya travels in a chariot drawn by two cats. The main character of the Scandinavian “Saga of the Finnbogie the Strong” in his childhood was nicknamed Urdarkott (ancient Urðarköttur) – “stone cat”.
In medieval Europe, cats were treated differently. In Catholic countries, for example, the cat was considered a companion of witches and a personification of unclean power. In England, cats were traditionally considered to be the companions of the Queen Mab fairies. Because of this, cats, (especially black cats) were often burned alive on bonfires or thrown from the belfries. The extermination of cats in the Middle Ages was one of the indirect causes of plague epidemics, as there was almost no one to exterminate rats and other rodent-vectors of plague. In contrast, in the Orthodox countries of Europe, which were influenced by the East, the attitude towards cats was almost the opposite. A cat is the only animal that can visit an Orthodox church (except for the altarpiece).
The attitude towards cats changed only slightly during the Renaissance, primarily in Southern Europe, probably under the influence of Muslim culture, which is traditionally tolerant of these animals. Thus, in the collection of edifying novels by the medieval Castilian writer Prince Juan Manuel “Count Lucanor” (1335) the cat is mentioned as a favorite pet.
Cat SVG in Asia
Cats were brought to Japan in the 6th century and served as the highest award that the emperor could give to his companions. There are several versions of the legend of a cat helping its mistress or master. A porcelain or earthenware statuette of a turtle cat with Maneki-Neko raised to the right ear is still considered attractive for money luck. An ancient cult has survived in Japan, according to which the souls of deceased ancestors migrate to pedestrian cats. There is a Maneki-Neko Museum in Seto. Short-tailed cats are especially valued in Japan, whose images can be seen on numerous medieval engravings. In some areas of China, Korea and Vietnam, cat meat is used as food for cooking certain dishes. Cat fur is unsuitable for use as a clothing material, but sometimes cat skins are used for making cheap fur coats and hats.
In India, there was the goddess of motherhood, Sasti (or Sasti), who was depicted as a woman with a child in her arms and was considered the guardian of the hearth. Her vahana was a cat. In Bengal and Western India there is a legend about a black cat which also associates with goddess Sashti.
The Persian historian At-Tabari has written down a legend according to which, the Creator, creating the Universe, has created rats, but has forgotten to create cats. But he had to fix it when during the Flood the rats started to gnaw a hole in the bottom of Noah’s Ark. Noah stroked the lion’s back, the lion sneezed, and a couple of cats jumped out of his nostrils. This legend was widespread in the region. There is a Persian proverb that says, “The lion sneezed and the cat appeared. A similar legend also explains the origins of the van cat and the vanity of cats.
Cat SVG in Hinduism and Buddhism
There is a legend that the cat was the only animal that was absent when the Buddha was on his way to freedom from his human body. All the animals, except the cat and snake, gathered around his body. At the same time, the cat was busy catching mice. This careless attitude towards the Buddha was the reason for the cat’s negative attitude towards the cats. However, this legend has a different interpretation. According to her, the rat next to the Buddha started licking oil from the lamp, and the cat caught her and ate it. This was a good thing, because the cat saved the fragrant oil. Since then, the cat has been regarded as doing both good and evil.
Nothing, not even bad behavior, prevents the cat, as well as any other living thing, from achieving nirvana. At the coronation ceremony of the new King of Thailand, the cat must be present as a guest of honor.
Cats are highly respected by Chinese Buddhists. The monks were engaged in breeding sacred cats. They were often called “little tigers” and “thunderstorms of evil” and were trained to protect the treasures of temples. Buddhists attribute a cat’s tendency to meditate, the ability to see in the dark and the ability to ward off evil spirits. Therefore, cats were kept in Buddhist temples.