Sacred Cats of the Orient

The Orient means the east (Asia or parts of Asia) but appears to be a rather vague term.

Hindu Religion

The occupants of a household that practice orthodox Hinduism are expected to house and feed a cat. I don’t know how often this takes place. It would seem to be a goal but perhaps overall there would appear to be no more domestic cats in countries where Hinduism is a major religion than in other countries. Countries where Hinduism is a major religion are Nepal (86%) and India (80%). Hindus advocate non-violence and respect for all life including of course the domestic cat. Fantastic. I wonder if my friend, Rudolph, in Mumbai can add something to this. How does the Hindu beliefs translate to cat caretaking and the treatment of domestic and semi-domestic cats?

Parsee Religion

This is a religious sect in India. It is a religion based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster. Parsees are descended from immigrants of the 7th century from Persia (Iran) to India. They are located in and around Bombay (Mumbai), India. That is a highly simplified summary and may be slightly inaccurate.

The Parsees consider killing a cat a serious crime. Dogs are sacred in Zoroastrianism.

Buddhism

Practiced in the Indian subcontinent: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. Buddhist respect animals as sentient beings capable of feelings and suffering etc. They believe that humans can be reborn as animals and vice versa. Animals and humans are part of a single family. They are interconnected. Therefore it is forbidden to kill animals and that includes non-mammals.

However, there are certain protected animals listed in the original canons of Buddhism and the cat is apparently excluded from this list. This is due to an incident that occurred at the time of Buddha’s death. Both the cat and snake did not cry while all the other animals did. This would seem to indicate that Buddhist at the time of writing the canons saw the cat as having similar characteristics to the snake.

Buddhist temples are well known for their temple cats where they are employed as mousers. The Siamese is said to be a descendant of these cats. Theravada Buddhism is practiced by 89% of Burmese. The legend of the Birman cat originates in the temples of Burma (Myanmar these days).

Islam

Islamic states are in the Middle East but it seems that the religion is practiced in what is termed the Orient, accordingly I include the religion on this page. I won’t say much because I have a page on the Islam faith and cats that I wrote ages ago. In general things should be good for the cat in countries where Islam is the religion as Muhammad (c. 570 – June 8, 632) – regarded as the last messenger of God by Muslims – kept and liked cats or perhaps it was a single cat, I forget. Either way, his association with the cat is at least potentially beneficial to the domestic cat in the Far East.

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Sacred Cats of the Orient — 2 Comments

  1. Hello Michael.India is a huge Country having various religions, languages and individual communal cultures.I am a Indian Christian(Catholic) who comprise just 2% of the entire Indian population and hence not entirely an authority to comment on cats in Hindu religious culture and tradition.A cat owner from the Hindu religion would be able to give a true account of the status of cats in Orthodox Hinduism.

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