There are several “World Cat Days” throughout the year, and you can expect us to celebrate each and every one!
Across much of Europe, today is World Cat Day!
Some might say it’s odd to celebrate our favourite pets with an image of a long-dead one, probably ritually put to sleep and wrapped for eternity. They are clearly not cat people.
Normally you find cat mummies wrapped in a bundle—usually looking like a long tube with a cat’s head popping out the end.
Some of the mummies in the Louvre are different. Their legs were wrapped separately from the body and, in true feline spirit, look like frolicking kittens.
There isn’t a lot of information on these cats. It is likely they entered the collection from Auguste Mariette’s excavations at Saqqara in the mid-19th century.
Animal mummification reached its peak during the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods (after 332 B.C.) and cats were mummified in their millions.
These cats themselves weren’t worshipped, but were mummified as an act of devotion, and as a means of getting a message to a god. The mummies were votive offerings, designed to carry a pilgrim’s prayer to the heavens. The cat was the sacred form of the goddess Bastet, so a cat mummy could reach the goddess’ ear.
From time to time these furry messengers were rounded up and placed in vast catacombs containing incredible numbers of mummies; the biggest ones being at Saqqara and Bubastis.
To find Mariette’s mummies in the Louvre, head for the Sully Pavillion, Ground Floor, Room 19, Case 8.
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