This is going to be bad news for cat lovers.
No other ancient civilisation observed, described and engaged with their fauna like the Egyptians.
The classical philosophers and historians saw the profusion of animal-headed deities being adored in the vast temples and concluded they Egyptians were animal worshippers.
However it isn't quite as clear-cut as that.
Rather than actually worshipping a cat, for example, an Egyptians saw the kitty as the emblematic animal for the goddess Bastet, representing the goddess in ceremonies or even serving as her earthly incarnation.
Throughout Egypt's long history, certain animals, such as bulls, rams and crocodiles, were considered, in life, to be the bodily manifestation of the deity to which they were associated. After death they were given a mummification and burial worth of royalty.
Then, beginning in the Late Period (747-332 B.C.), the Egyptians began mass-rearing animals specifically for sale and subsequent mummification as votive gifts to the deities with which they were associated. This offering was designed to appease the god believed responsible for a recent illness or spot bad luck, or receive the god's blessing or favour.
Massive necropolises sprang up to cater for the millions of ibis, falcons, cats, dogs, fish and crocodiles that were involved in the practice of person devotion. The animal mummification seems to have become a national obsession, creating an industry on an industrial scale. Up to 70 million animals may have been mummified.
So great was the demand that individual animals were divided up amongst several mummies, which were then padded with mud or bits of foliage. In one study, around a third of the mummies examined didn't contain any animal material at all.
However it wasn't the 'scam' that some have believed. Rather than priests profiteering from selling 'fake' mummies, it seems that even when the proportion of actual animal has been relatively small, the mummies were often created with things like eggshells or feathers, which were associated with the animals.
It may even be the case that rather than being tricked into believing they were buying a complete animal, customers might have elected to go for the cheaper 'contains some animal' option.
This mummified cat comes from Egypt Late or Ptolemaic Periods. Unlike many animal mummies, this one actually contains a whole cat.
An exhibition at Madrid's CaixaForum explores the many ways animals were used in Egyptian society as companions, servants, transport, representation of gods, and even in their written language; over 20% of Egyptian hieroglyphs are signs based on animals.
'Animals and Pharaohs. The Animal Kingdom in Ancient Egypt' is on until 23 August 2015.