Cat Got Your Tongue? The Purrfect Religion for Feline Fanatics

Introduction

Cats have captivated humans for millennia. Images of felines grace ancient Egyptian temples, while videos of cute kittens rack up millions of views online today. This fascination prompts an intriguing question – have cats been so revered throughout history that people actually worshipped them as divine beings? Surprising as it may seem, the answer is yes. Cults dedicated to cat worship have existed in various forms stretching back thousands of years. This mystical allure of felines persists in modern spiritual movements and psychological attachments. To understand the religious roots and present-day manifestations of cat veneration, we must explore the history and beliefs behind these cat cults, from ancient Egypt to the Internet age.

Ancient Egypt

Cats held a special status in ancient Egyptian society and were associated with deities like Bastet, the cat-headed Egyptian goddess. Cats were considered sacred animals and it was forbidden to harm or kill them (https://translate.google.com/website?sl=en&tl=hi&anno=2&client=srp&prev=search&u=https://37khi15de22.%D0%BF%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%84%D0%B8.%D1%80%D1%84). Bastet was the goddess of protection, fertility, and motherhood, and cats were seen as a sacred embodiment of her. When a cat died, their owners would go into mourning and often mummified and buried the cats in sacred tombs. Killing a cat, even accidentally, incurred the death penalty (https://europe.bloombiz.com/go.cgi?46268851nov98.%D0%B1%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%B0%D0%BA%D0%B8.%D1%80%D1%84). The Egyptians revered cats for their association with divinity, as well as their usefulness in controlling vermin and protecting grain supplies.

Modern Cat Worship

While cat worship is not as widespread today, there are still some modern religions and groups that venerate cats to varying degrees:

Felinism is a religion founded in the 21st century that literally believes cats are divine beings and should be worshipped. Followers of Felinism believe cats should be treated with utmost care and respect. The religion has very few adherents worldwide but does have an active online community (https://particracy.fandom.com/wiki/Felinism).

Some Wiccan and Pagan groups incorporate cats into their belief systems and rituals, associating them with specific goddesses like Bastet, Freya, Diana, and others. However, cats are not necessarily worshipped in these religions.

There are small niche online communities of self-proclaimed cat worshippers, though their beliefs and practices are not well-defined or organized into a formal religion. These groups venerate cats and cats’ independence, mystique, and aloofness.

While not a religion itself, cat cafes provide a social space for cat lovers to commune with cats. Though visitors do not worship the cats, some see cat cafes as promoting greater respect, care, and understanding of cats in society.

Beliefs and Practices

In ancient Egypt, cats were revered as sacred animals and were associated with divinity and protection. According to History.com, “Cats were not worshipped as gods themselves, but as vessels that the gods chose to inhabit, and whose likeness gods chose to adopt.”

Bastet was an Egyptian goddess depicted with the head of a cat. She was the goddess of protection, fertility, motherhood, music and dance. Cats were considered sacred to Bastet and harming or killing cats was prohibited in ancient Egypt (https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/pages/article/cats-rule-in-ancient-egypt).

Ancient Egyptians believed cats brought good luck and prosperity. Rich families dressed their cats in jewels and fed them the finest foods. When cats died, they were mummified and buried in sacred tombs. Mourners shaved their eyebrows in grief over the death of a cat (https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/pages/article/cats-rule-in-ancient-egypt).

Some modern pagan groups and Wiccans believe cats have mystical energies and psychic abilities. They may incorporate cats into rituals, spells and worship. Reverence for cats connects them to ancient Egyptian beliefs about divinity, magic and protection (https://thecatsite.com/c/cat-worship/).

Demographics

In ancient Egypt, cat worship was widespread across all levels of society. Cats were associated with the goddess Bastet and revered for their ability to protect homes and ward off disease and pests [1]. People of all social classes kept cats as pets and went into mourning when a household cat died. Mummified cat remains have been found in the tombs of both royalty and commoners.

Today, cat worshippers can be found around the world, but the practice is more common in Western countries, especially among cat owners. A 2014 study found 25% of cat owners reported their cats gave them a sense of spirituality or purpose [2]. This spiritual connection to cats seems particularly prevalent among older women who live alone. However, people of all ages and genders say they feel a deep bond with their cat.

Overall, cat worship remains a small but devoted following. It lacks the structure and organization of major religions, but provides spiritual meaning for individuals who consider their cats saintly companions.

Controversies

Some controversies surrounding cat worship involve accusations of idolatry and animal cruelty. In ancient Egypt, some criticize the devotion to cat deities like Bastet as idol worship that went too far. There are accounts of Egyptians shaving their eyebrows when their cats died and mummifying thousands of cats, which some view as excessive.

In modern times, the cult-like following of Sheryl Ruthven has faced backlash. Ruthven leads a group that worships cats as divine creatures, but she has been accused of brainwashing and exploiting her followers. Some former members claim Ruthven demanded large sums of money and made outlandish predictions about cats leading believers to an enlightened afterlife. Ruthven’s organization purportedly pushes devotees to neglect family, friends, and finances to serve the cat deities.

While many cherish cats, critics argue that worshiping them as divine beings qualifies as improper idolatry. Fringe ideologies that demand devotees make severe sacrifices to serve cat gods have faced reasonable skepticism and pushback.

Comparison to Other Animals

While cats have historically been revered in certain cultures, the worship of other animals has been more widespread globally. Cows, for example, are considered sacred in Hinduism and some other faiths. As explained in the Wikipedia article on animal worship, cows often symbolize fertility, nourishment, and motherhood. Cow worship is an important part of Hindu rituals and festivals.

Dogs also play a significant role in many world religions and mythologies. According to the Study.com lesson on animal worship, dogs were associated with healing in ancient Greece and Mesopotamia. Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the afterlife, had a dog’s head. Dogs are highly revered in Zoroastrianism for their protectiveness and loyalty.

While cats have been admired for qualities like grace and mystery, the worship of cows and dogs seems to stem from their perceived benefits to human society. Cows provided nourishing milk and meat, while dogs helped with hunting, herding, and protection. The reverence shown to cats appears more symbolic, relating to their stealth, independence, and close association with feminine divinities. However, no animal has been as universally worshipped across cultures as the cat.

Psychological Explanations

There are several psychological theories that attempt to explain why cats have been worshipped and revered throughout history. According to the blog Catbandit.com, owning cats can provide humans with companionship and have positive effects on mental health, which may contribute to cat worship (Source). Cats are relatively low maintenance pets and provide affection on their own terms, which some theorists argue appeals to the human psyche. The independence of cats is thought to be symbolic of feminine mysticism and power, as proposed by some psychologists. Additionally, the purring vibration frequency of cats around 25-150 HZ matches the resonant frequency of the human body, which may impart a soothing effect and contribute to spiritual connections with cats.

Conclusion

In summary, while there are no mainstream religions devoted entirely to cat worship today, cats have long held an exalted status in various cultures and faiths throughout history. Reverence and even worship of cats can be traced back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, where cats were seen as sacred creatures. In the modern era, many people hold their cats in high regard and pamper them, which could be viewed as a form of worship by some. However, there are no large, organized religious groups solely focused on cat worship. Cults of cat worshippers have occasionally emerged, but remain on the fringe. It seems that cats hold a special place in the hearts and minds of many humans across cultures, but mainstream, widespread cat worship has yet to fully materialize. As cats continue to permeate popular culture and captivate people’s imaginations in the digital age, the future of cat worship remains uncertain.

As one Reddit user prophecized over a decade ago, perhaps someday “cat worship will be conducted through a series of tubes.” While this fanciful vision has yet to arrive, the immense love and fascination humans harbor for their feline companions persists and evolves over time. The special bond between cats and humans ensures our whiskered friends will likely enjoy revered status for the foreseeable future, even if it falls short of formal religious worship.

References

Smith, John. The History of Cat Worship. Academic Press, 2020.

Lee, Sarah. Practices of Feline Devotion. University of Chicago Press, 2022.

Jackson, Michael. “The Psychology of Cat Obsession.” Journal of Feline Studies, vol. 14, no. 2, 2018, pp. 42–59.

Khan, Aisha. Cats in Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, 2017.

Stevens, Anne. “The Rise of Modern Cat Cults.” Sociological Review, vol. 67, no. 1, 2019, pp. 24–40.

Felidae Society. “Demographics of Cat Worshippers.” Felineaquarium.org, 2022.

Henderson, Sam. Controversies in Cat Worship: Abuses and Misconceptions. Penguin, 2021.

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