Cats through the ages

Introduction

big pic of catI researched the theme 'cats throughout history' and discussed it under different headings such as Prehistoric cats, Egypt, Etruscan Greece, Islamic, Europe, Asian, Christian.
I chose this particular subject because of my love of cats and because I wanted to explore the history of cats.
To complete this work I conducted much research from the intrenet one site was about Prehistoric cats www.messybeast.com and an other Cats In Art www.artpromote.com/cats.html.

Prehistoric Cats

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Around 48 million years ago Viverravidae gave rise to Aeluroidea/Feloiea group (cats, hyenas, mongooses). The first true car to arise from Viverravidae was Proailure (first cat) around 30 million years ago. The best known species was Plemanensis, found in France. Proailurus was a small weasel-like cat with relativeely short legs and a long body. It had one more permolar on each side of its bottom jaw than do modern cats. About 20 million years ago, Proailurus gave rise to Pseudaelurus were Miocene ancestors of cats. Pseudaelurus Iorteti was about the size of a large lynx or small puma. Three other species of early cats are discribed as Pratifelis, Vishnufelis and Pseudaelurus went on to split into two major groups: the Machairodontinae (true saber-tooths) and Schizailurus (the ancestor of modern day Felidae group). Saber Tooth cat smilodon. This classic saber tooth cat (or smilodon) roamed North America (California) and South America (Argentins). It had a short tail, much like the bobcats of today. Its huge pair of teeth on the upper jaw were serrated along their back edges, this allowed it to easily pierce the flesh of its prey more easily with its muscular shoulders and neck, it most likely fead on slow moving large prey in which it could sink its teeth into.

Egypt

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The cat has been viewed as a sacred and respected creature since around 4,000 years ago in Egypt. However, they were not fully domesticated until around 2,000 B.C. They were used as pest control. They eventually evolved from domesticated animals to being through of as Gods. Statues of cats were placed outside the house to protect the inhabitants and ward off evil. The first Egyptian deity Mafet who was sometimes depicted as a lynx. However the most famous cat goddesses in Eygpt were Bastet and the lion-headed Skhmet. Bastet held the title of fertility, protector of children and of all cats. She was so popular she became a household goddess. Skmet was known as the goddess of war and pestilence. Together Bastet and Skhmet represent the balance of the forcesof nature in Egypt. In Bubastis the cat lived a lavish life as the embodiment of Bastet in her temples. Here they were served and taken care of until they passed away and it was then that their bodies were mummified and given as offerings to Bastet. Bubastis contains the remains of over 3,000 cat mummies.When creating mummies of cats one method in the process involved faces and designs being painted on wrappings with black ink. The cat held a powerful spot in the history of Egypt and captured the heart of the Egyptians who portrayed them over again in their art.

Greece

The cats association with mother nature can be found across the ancient religious world such as Bastet of Egypt and Narasimha of India. in Greece the goddess of nature and fertility was known as Artemis was often depicted with panthers by her side who symbolised her power and respect. Within Greek art also identify connections with Egyption stylisation. The early Mionian wall painting in 1600bc, depicts a cat among some bushes stalking a bird. This is similar to Egyptian wall painting 200 years previous.

Etruscan

A people whose culture, language, art and society is still being studied today. Perhaps the most mysterious people which the Italian peninsula has ever known. In particular their elaborate burial system, for example The Tomb of The Lionesses and The Tomb of The Leopards. They clearly revered the cat as a protector.

Christian

Artists of the middle ages produced religious paintings. In the iconography of Christian art, the cat symbolized both Laziness and lust. The Middel ages were dark ages for the cat in the Christian world where it was widely believed that the devil took the form of a black cat. Persecution, torture and death became the likely fate of humans who gave attention or affection to any cat.

Islamic

In the Islamic world, the cat was respected and protected bacause cats were loved prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam. As the story goes Mohammes cat Muezza once fell asleep on the sleeve of his master's robe instead of disturbing the cat when he had to get up he cut off the sleeve of his robe.

Europe

In 1348, the Black Death or bubonic plague swept across Europe in successive epidemics with an overwhelming loss of life. In England, more than half the people died and in some parts of France, only one-tenth of the population survived. Some believe that, by bringing the rodent population down, cats heroically saved humans from extinction. Europeans of the time however, didn't make the connection or they would have been nicer to their cats.

Asian

Cats were honoured and protected in Asia because the humans there reconised the value of their services in protecting food crops and the silk worm industry by rodents.

Conclusion

Cats today are kept as pets in our homes, on farms as pest control and pure pedigree cats are displayed in show rooms and painted by many artists such as Rembrant's etching, The Virgin and Child with cat and Gerhard Marcks did a woodcut entitled Cats in 1921.

References

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THE MESSYBEAST CAT RESOURCE ARCHIVES
http://www.messybeast.com/catarchive.htm.
Retrieved on 22/04/2009.
2.By Leah Marie Graham 2004.
Cats in Ancient Egypt.
http://.musu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/egypt/religion/cats.html.
Retreived 22/04/2009
3. Etruscan Art
http://www.etruscanart.com/GilEtruschi.asp?lang=eng.
Retreived on 22/04/2009.
4.1998-2009 cats Art: Pictures of Cats
http://www.artpromote.com/cats.html
Retrieved on 22/04/2009.

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