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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Fig. 119—Egyptian drawings of cats

It might be assumed that the cat was an useful, if not a necessary, domestic animal to the Hebrew people in Palestine, where corn was grown for exportation, as well as for consumption of the resident population, twenty or thirty-fold more than at present, and where, moreover, the conditions of the climate required the precaution of a plentiful store being kept in reserve to meet the chances of scarcity. The animal could not be unknown to the people, for their ancestors had witnessed the Egyptians treating it as a divinity. Yet we find the cat nowhere mentioned in the canonical books as a domestic animal. And in Baruch it is noticed only as a tenant of Pagan temples, where no doubt the fragments of sacrificed animals and vegetables attracted vermin, and rendered the presence of cats necessary. This singular circumstance, perhaps, resulted from the animal being deemed unclean, and being thereby excluded domestic familiarity, though the Hebrews may still have encouraged it, in common with other vermin-hunters, about the outhouses and farms, and corn-stores, at the risk of some loss among the broods of pigeons which, in Palestine, were a substitute for poultry.

With regard to the neighboring nations just named, they all had domestic cats, it is presumed, derived from a wild species found in Nubia, and first described by Ruppel under the name of Felis Maniculata. The typical animal is smaller, more slender, and more delicately limbed than the European. The fur is pale yellowish grey, with some dark streaks across the paws, and at the tip of the tail. In the domesticated state it varies in colors and markings, for the ancient monuments of Egypt contain many painted figures, which show them cross-barred like our wild species in Europe. Two specimens are here given from these paintings; one clearly a cat; the other, which is not apparently a cat but a species of gennet or paradoxurus, is, in the original, figured as catching birds, acting like a retriever for his master, who is fowling in a boat.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Cat'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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