The history of cats is longer than people think. It is known that they have had an intimate relationship with humans for the past 9500 years. The hypothesis is that they were probably domesticated in Egypt and surrounding Middle Eastern countries such as Persia. The reason for this is most likely to eradicate vermin, as they kept stealing the stores of grains that had been produced using developed farming technology.
Cats, with their natural hunting instincts, excelled at this task and people came to love the animals more and more. They became important to the degree that in ancient Egypt, cats were considered sacred animals and worshipped, even being mummified in some cases.
But entering the Middle Ages, the image of cats deteriorated. Europeans considered cats as signs of bad luck and the pet of witches, and proceeded to massacre all cats. As the population shrank, rats thrived with the loss of their predator and began to multiply at a rapid rate. These rats, often carrying fleas, were key players in spreading the deadly Black Plague. In other words, thanks to the massacre of cats, a third of Europe died from the Pest.
Cats are beloved animals in the modern age (dog lovers may disagree), but superstitions linking cats to bad luck still exist. In the West, black cats are believed to be bad luck and have nine lives (most likely originating from a cat’s ability to break its fall).
But their image has much recovered and as it can be seen from characters such as Hello Kitty, they are becoming a symbol of cuteness. However, considering their close relatives such as lions and tigers represent bravery and the king of beasts, a cat’s dignity has surely fallen.