TATTOO DESIGNS & SYMBOLS - CAT TATTOOS
Tattoo designs - C >> Cats
Cat Tattoo Design Meanings - Independence, quick recovery and freedom of thought, that's the spirit of the domestic feline, of which there are an estimated 600 million worldwide. The cat's famed agility - almost always seeming to land its feet after falling from great heights - has earned it a reputation for having nine lives.
Nowhere was the cat more revered than in Ancient Egypt, where by 3000 BC it was a powerful animal totem. Representing the feminine principle, the cat was a symbol of fertility and motherhood, and was also associated with the Moon. The cat appeared in the Book of the Dead as defeater of the evil Apep. Many Egyptian deities were depicted as cats, sometimes fully animal, sometimes a human/feline half-breed. The lion-headed goddess, Sekmet, ruler over the fate of humanity, had a twin sister, the domestic cat called Mafdet. Statuettes of the small cat - often bedecked with gold jewelry and earrings - were placed inside tombs with their deceased owners. Cat mummies are reported to have been found in the city of Bubastis, home of a temple in honour of the cat diety, Bast.
So precious was the cat in Ancient Egypt, that exporting the animal was forbidden, and killing one punishable by death. While warring with Egypt, the Persians are said to have captured thousands of cats, agreeing to spare them only upon Egyptian surrender. The Egyptians surrendered. However, around 400 BC, cat worship was banned, and subsequently lost its religious significance.
In Thailand, the 'Siamese' cat was the sacred temple cat. In China and Japan it was a beloved pet as well as a valued dispenser of mice for the cultivators of the silkworm. In India, cats guarded the temples of Buddha.
Evidence suggests that the domestic cat evolved from the desert wildcat found in the Near East around 12,000 years ago. It found favour with the ancients due in part to its talent for hunting rodents. Rats and mice - the enemy of grain producing civilizations - were a destructive force to be reckoned with. Ancient peoples struck up a mutually beneficial relationship with the cat -- a good home in exchange for ridding the populace of disease carrying rodents. With its keen senses of sight, smell, hearing and touch, the cat became a hunting animal, used to retrieve birds from marshland in the same way that dogs have been deployed. Around 2000 BC, the cat entered the home as a companion, where it was accepted as a symbol of beauty and grace and even as a protector of the household.
In Europe, the domestic cat has had a mixed reception over the centuries. In its favour, the cat has often been honoured as an exalted soul, perhaps because as a mute companion it's had the good sense to mind its own business. The Norse goddess, Freya, had cats pull her chariot. At other times, its association with witches and the occult rendered it a despised creature. (See 'black cat'.) As a symbol of superstition and bad luck, the cat's reputation faded. In medieval times, the Catholic Church encouraged their extermination. During witch hunts (USA as well as Europe), cats were burnt right along with those accused of witchcraft. As a symbol of evil, no creature was held in such low esteem. With the cat population drastically reduced, the rat population boomed, bringing the Plague to Europe in the 14th century. The pendulum subsequently swung again in favour of cats, with Saint Gertrude becoming their patron saint. Saint Agatha was called Saint Gato.
For the sailor, the cat was a symbol of good luck, and accepted as a valued member of the crew for its ability to keep the rodent population down. For its highly sensitive radar system, the cat was used by the British in both World Wars. It could detect poisonous gas before humans could, hence its value in trench warfare. In WW2, cats are reported to have detected air raids in advance of defense technology. Their hair standing on end, they hissed and screeched and ran for cover.
Because the domestication of the cat is still relatively recent, some cats may also still live effectively in the wild, often forming small feral colonies. Often monitored by animal protection services, the numbers have been kept under control, and inoculated against disease. In regions of Hawaii and Australia (where the cat is not native), the feral cat has become a unwelcome predator for many endangered species of wildlife.
Get inspired by some really great images and photos in our Cat Inspiration Gallery
See also: Abyssinian Cats, American Shorthairs, Birman Cats, Exotic Shorthairs, Maine Coon Cats, Oriental Shorthairs, Persians, Ragdoll, Siamese, Sphynx Cats, Tonkinese Cats, Black Cat, Leopard, Lion, Jaguar, Animal Tattoos Index
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Tattoo designs - C >> Cats
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