Pictures of mummified cats as found in situ

This is an interesting photograph as it shows a group of mummified cats as found and in situ in a tomb. The tomb is in the King Userkaf pyramid complex at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, south of Cairo.

Cat mummies

Cat mummies


My first feelings are of sadness. All these cats, I presume, were killed for a purpose but what was the purpose? Were they all pets belonging to the deceased owner who is buried in the tomb? That seems very unlikely because of their large number.

And they can’t be for food in the afterlife because cats were supposedly revered by the Ancient Egyptians. They must have been killed as a sacrifice to appease the gods and bring the deceased luck in the afterlife.

Grave robbing

My second thought is that this is grave robbing. The Egyptians justify it as a boost to their tourist industry but this does not avoid the conclusion that this is grave robbing.

All the artefacts from tombs were not meant to be dug up thousands of years later. They are doing it for commercial reasons. I wonder how the mummified deceased person would have reacted if he had been told when alive that he’d be dug up thousands of years later together with all his pets and artefacts.

Removing the cat mummies from the tomb

Removing the cat mummies from the tomb

The archaeologists found dozens of cat mummies as well as mummified scarab beetles. The burial chamber also contained wooden statues of animals and birds. Three of the tombs at the complex were used for cats, so there must have been a huge number of them.

The tombs date from the Firth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. This era is about 2,500 BC to 2,350 BC which is 4,518 years ago.


There is a deep contradiction in the stories about ancient Egyptians revering cats. When your revere something you feel deep respect or admiration for it, which should not lead to a desire to kill it in the prime of life. The cats should have been cared for proficiently not offered up as a sacrifice for the benefit of humans.

The Ancient Egyptians abused cats in my view. All this worship of cats was simply gross human self-indulgence. It was exploiting cats for human benefit. It was animal cruelty. We should forget the idea that Ancient Egyptians loved cats and cared for them to a high standard. If it happened today there would be uproar on social media. Yes, I realise different standards applied then but killing an animal is a very basic activity and it should have been recognised as immoral, at least, in those days,

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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