Today, August 8, is International Cat Day.
Ancient Egypt is famous for its veneration of its cats. Millions of cats were bred to become votive mummies — offered to the goddess Bastet in the same way that people light up candles in churches today, to carry a prayer to the heavens.
However cats weren't only associated with Bastet. This limestone stela was uncovered at Deir el-Medina, the exclusive village of the workers who dug and decorated the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, c 1200 BC.
Here an unidentified couple are shown adoring the divine cats of Atum and Ra, who combine to become Atum-Ra, the god of the setting sun.
Every night, the sun-disc travelled through the dangerous underworld towards its rebirth at dawn. One of the challenges it faced was the evil Apep, who took the form of a snake to swallow the sun.
Because cats were known to kill snakes, the cat-god Atum-Ra entered the underworld to destroy Apep and clear the path for the sun.
This wonderful stela is now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
If you are lucky enough to own a cat, or rather, like us, have a cat that is worshiped, pampered and adored like royalty, give it an extra pat today.