While the world may be firmly divided between cat and dog lovers, the Middle East kind of chose sides a long time ago. Although dogs may be the trendy pet of choice as of late, cats have a long established history in the region.
Here are 9 very fascinating facts about cats and their long relationship to the region.
1. Cats were domesticated in the Middle East more than 10,000 years ago
Discoveries of ancient bones and genetic testing strongly suggest that cats were first domesticated in ancient Mesopotamia.
2. There are depictions of house cats in Egypt dating back at least some 3,600 years
3. The ancient Egyptians believed cats were sacred
The goddess Bastet was often depicted in the form of a cat.
4. Some cats were even mummified after death in Egypt
5. Cats helped the Persians defeat the Egyptians in 525 B.C.
Cambyses II of Persia knew the high regard the Egyptians held for cats. So, he had his men paint images of cats on their shields and drove a horde of cats in front of the army toward the fortified city of Pelusium. This confused the Egyptians so much that they surrendered, as they did not want to harm any of the felines.
6. A Persian myth claims cats were created by magic
The great Persian hero Rostum saved a magician who created the first kitten as a gift of thanks.
7. Many believe that the Prophet Muhammad had a strong love for cats
Numerous hadiths suggest that he forbade the killing or persecution of cats. He is also said to have had a favorite pet cat named Muezza.
8. Domestic cats are revered in Islam
They are admired for their cleanliness and because of the Prophet Muhammad's love for them.
9. Arabic and Turkish traditions say that cats have six lives
The idea of cats having multiple lives is pervasive throughout the world, with many cultures saying they have nine lives and others saying seven.