In ancient Rome the cat was a symbol of liberty. In ancient Egypt
it was held sacred, and the 1st century Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus
tells us that whoever killed a cat was put to death, even if it was by accident.
Later-on things changed for the worse, and thousands of cats were tortured and
killed over the coming centuries.
The linking of cats with witchcraft and black magic was to blame for most of
this. The earliest records state that in the year 962 hundreds of unfortunate
cats were burned alive in the city of Metz, in France. The poor animals were
thought to be "witches in disguise". There was one period following
the Crusades, when felines became popular once more. This only came about
because of the many black rats on the run from the ships of the Crusaders, who
were returning to their European homelands.
In the 13th century Catholicism dictated the terrible atrocities committed
against innocent human beings and cats alike. This reign of terror for so-called
"witches and their cats" continued until the 18th century. according
to the records 100,000 witches were legally executed in Germany, 75,000 in
France and 30,000 in Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries. Their cats, if
caught, were always destroyed with them.
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Cats Used in Research
- The Egyptian Cat Goddess