In India, cows are holy—and you’ll certainly never find beef on a menu there as a result. There, they also bow down to the cobra, and even celebrate the slithery reptile in an annual festival. Over in Greece and Egypt, goats are worshipped. In the Chinese Zodiac, pigs are amongst the twelve most lucky animals. The Thai believe that the souls of the dead reside within elephants, and the Lord Ganesha god has the head of an elephant. Animal worship—also known as zoolatry—is common the world over.
(Photo from Flickr, credit: Curtis Palmer)
So what about cat worship? Is anyone meowing down to the kitties in the 365 Cats Page-A-Day® calendar? The answer is a resounding yes!
In Ancient Egypt, many of the gods and goddesses worshiped by Egyptians took the form or characteristics of cats. They deified other animals, too, but the cat towered above all other animals in divine status. In the Valley of the Kings, an inscription conveys just how important cats were to the Egyptians: “You are the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; you are indeed the Great Cat.”
(Photo from Flickr, credit: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World)
Perhaps some of this cat worship stemmed from the fact that cats actually played an important role in Egyptian agriculture. Cats helped to rid their stored grain of mice, rat and snakes that would compromise their grain. The Egyptians referred to all cats as “miu,” a likely allusion to the sound cats make.
There are more examples of cat worship in various cultures. For example, Peruvians that lived even before the Incas worshiped Ai-Apaec, a god that had the face of an old man with long fangs and a cat’s whiskers who could take the form of a tomcat. While in Poland, agricultural families worshiped black cats because they believed they chased away ghosts and other evil creatures.