|Mummified 4-5 month old kitten.|
X-ray image credit: Giacomo Gnudi et al
A recent research paper into a mummified kitten has reinforced my views. The document states that from about 300 years before Christ to 30 years BC in Egypt, cats were bred for the specific purpose to kill them (euphemistically referred to as "euthanase" meaning euthanize) when they were young kittens of 3-5 months of age so that they could be mummified and sold to a customer who wanted to offer it up to Bastet. I presume as a means to try and improve the person's life. This happened in "huge numbers" according to the authors of the research paper. We know the numbers were large because at one time (late 19th century) the cat mummies were dug up and shipped to Liverpool, England where they were rendered down to make fertiliser!
It was mass slaughter. Plus ça change. We are still mass slaughtering the cat - unwanted cats this time.
The mummified kitten (4–5 months of age) studied by Giacomo Gnudi, a professor at the University of Parma, indicated that some of its bones had been broken so that it occupied a smaller space in a tight wrappings. The mummy had a hole in its head. Was this how the kitten was killed? We don't know. Death may have come in a cruel manner.
There is nothing that is cat loving or cat caring about this process. It is all about the human and his insecurities and superstitions. It is simply cat use and abuse.
We have to conclude that the Ancient Egyptians were like anyone else in their relationship with the domestic cat. Some of them were kind to the cat. I suspect some disagreed strongly with the idea of worshiping a cat-god and offering up mummified kittens. These were the enlightened ones. But a lot cared little for the cat and used the cat in this abusive manner.
Note: the research paper is from the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The authors kindly made the entire document public with free access. Radiological investigation of an over 2000-year-old Egyptian mummy of a cat. Well done.