|Once humans became farmers and started storing grain, they had a problem with rats and mice. Humans probably domesticated cats because of their rodent-hunting skills. So, the first tamed cats were used for pest control in ancient Egypt, probably around 3,000 BC, and come to be loved as household companions and worshipped as god. The Egyptians were impressed by these supremely successful hunters - with their strength, agility, cunning and purpose - and began to treat them as sacred. The name for these household gods was "miw" . Owners went into mourning when "miw" died, the cat was embalmed, placed in a wooden coffin, and taken to the Great Temple of Bastet (the cat god) at Bubastis. The ancient Egyptians mummified their dead pets in vast numbers, and studies of these mummies have helped scientists to prove that Felis libyca was the original domestic species. While the mother goddess, Bastet, had the body of a woman and the head of a cat. She was associated with fertility, motherhood, grace, and beauty. The cat's tail is always placed neatly against the right side of the animal. This reflects the Egyptian tradition of depicting all animals in hieroglyphics as facing right.|
Cats were domesticated in the Far East in ancient times too, but at a later date than that in Egypt. Some authorities put domestication at 2,000 BC in China, others place it as late as AD 400. From Egypy, domestic cats spread to Italy and then slowly throughout Europe, gaining "worshippers" in many lands.
In yet in another era, when sunk to their lowest standing in human history, they still commanded the full attention of the multitudes. During the European Middle Ages, cats were feared, hated, and often sacrificed in religious rituals. Cats were hanged, tortured, burned, and drowned. They were scorned as Satan's tools, and thousands of the innocent creatures were persecuted and executed by Christian fanatics.
Cats were identified with witches, and occult covens of devil worshippers performed rituals centering around black cats. Just to see a black cat on the street was a sure sign that bad luck would follow. During that time of feline persecution in Europe as the cat population dwindled, the rodent population grew enormously. Plague devastated the human population and ran rampant among rich and poor alike. Bacteria that were transmitted by rodent fleas caused this terrible disease, and, as the rodent population thrived, cats received their vindication. The unpopularity of cats faded as their usefulness was realized again, and by the eighteenth century they were once more a familiar sight in many households. During the nineteenth century they became very popular, and by the end of the century, the early pedigree breed were exhibited at the first cat shows.