Categories: mummified cats

Cat mummies were sometimes part of a scam organised by unscrupulous priests

In ancient Egypt cat mummies were offered to the gods for a favour or a sign of the person’s gratitude to the gods or God. A recent CT scan of a cat mummy indicates to some researchers that priests were sometimes involved in ‘cat mummy scams’. This is because the larger mummies sold for a higher price and therefore many of them were made to appear bigger than the animals inside. In fact some didn’t even contain the remains of an animal. They were filled with substances such as leather and gravel.

In this instance, the scan revealed that this mummy, which should have been a single cat, was in fact made up of the bones of three different cats. The skull was missing as were the vertebrae and ribs. Instead there were five hind leg bones and the head was substituted by a ball of fabric.


3-D printed version of a CT scan of a cat mummy containing the bones of 3 cats but missing many bones and a head. Photo: MBAR

The scan was turned into a 3-D printed model of the mummy which is intriguing (see above). It will be on view to the public at the Museum of Fine Arts in France.

The scientists carried out the scan with a type of x-ray called a computerised tomography scan (CT scan).

Comment: it appears that the appeasement of the gods through the sacrifice of cats as presented in mummies was hijacked by commercialism. In an article many years ago, I wrote about kittens being perhaps bred and certainly deliberately killed, judging by the evidence, to then be turned into mummies as part of a large-scale commercial enterprise to make money out of this ancient culture of worshipping gods.

There is always somebody, somewhere and at some time, who is able to commercialise something which is essentially pure and innocent. This latest information about the possibility of unscrupulous priests getting in on the act adds to my previous thought that ancient Egyptians did not worship cats but they abused them.

Online you will read countless articles about Ancient Egypt being the heyday of wonderful cat welfare when cats were worshipped and if you hurt them you were imprisoned. I think that paints is an entirely incorrect picture. I’m sure that there were people who were involved in improving cat and animal welfare but in general I’m sure that the average random bred cat, who would have been a community cat, had a rather short and miserable life in Ancient Egypt. They were lucky to avoid being rounded up, killed and stuffed into a shroud to be sold as a mummy.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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