Think about it, from gods to devils, the domestic cat has been both. There could hardly be a bigger spectrum of superstitions projected onto the innocent cat by the mighty but eternally silly human.
Until the Middle Ages the cat was generally respected although it is a myth that the Ancient Egyptians treated the cat well because thousands were slaughtered for sacrifice and for no other reason.
The cat was worth four pence in 945 in Wales, UK. This is about £10 in modern money. The cat was valued more highly than a small pig for it is worth. In 12th century Germany if a person was convicted of killing a cat he was fined sixty bushels of corn. One bushel is the equivalent of 8 gallons. That is a pretty hefty fine.
The Middle Ages marked the beginning of 300 years of misery and persecution for the domestic cat for no reason other than stupid human was superstitious and still is. We all know about this period of European history. Cats were considered to be familiars of witches and the disciples of Satan. Looking back it seems quite insane.
In Europe, the cat returned to public favour in the seventeenth century (1600s) when the French Cardinal Richelieu liked to keep cats (see painting above). In fact, he was the caretaker to dozens. The populace followed suit and so the humble domestic cat started to become popular again.
There is still mass superstition concerning the cat in Africa and other parts of the world. Even though the domestic cat is the world’s most popular pet, seven times more people hate cats than dogs. The cat polarises attitudes. People are often scared of cats. This is probably one reason why cats are not uncommonly abused on the streets of many counties. When people fear something they tend to what to kill it.
The relationship between humans and domestic cats in the 21st century is probably similar to that of the 4th century in terms of attitude although in those far flung days the cat lived more in the community as a semi-feral cat.
Through greater enlightenment (but still with centuries more learning to be done) I don’t foresee the human falling again into such a terrible relationship with the cat as shown in the later Middle Ages.
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