Do cats really have nine lives?
How many lives do cats have? If you ask any sane person, he will tell you that “Dude, of course, they have one life, just like any other living creature!”
But each of us at least once in our lives heard the phrase that cats have nine lives. And this is not for nothing, because of our ancestors and representatives of ancient civilizations attributed to these animals’ magical abilities and compared them to the deity.
We got interested in this question – do cats have 9 lives and what does cats have 9 lives mean?
Is it true that cats have 9 lives?
We are sure that cats and the number 9 have some sacred significance and are related to the beliefs of ancient civilizations.
Today, it is difficult to find reliable information about why do cats have 9 lives. Because many myths, legends and even official sources have been rewritten and the truth is far from the truth. To begin with, let’s deal with the number 9.
Why do people say cats have 9 lives and why not 10?
Cats and their ancestors were special animals and had different meanings to different peoples. So, we should look at the meaning of cats in each civilization separately.
1. Ancient Egypt
Cats were always sacred animals to the Egyptians. They were so fanatical (in a good way) about these sacred animals that they could throw to death a man who killed a cat. If there was a fire in the dwelling, the cat would be the first to be carried out of the flames.
Archaeologists have found many different statuettes, drawings on the walls, interior items, jewelry, utensils, vases, dishes, which had images of cats.
Cats were the guests of honor at the palaces and they had a special staff that took care of their appearance. Such a profession was considered honorable and was passed down by inheritance.
Separate cemeteries were created for cats, where they were mummified and buried with all honors. And the owner of the sacred and deceased animal shaved his eyebrows as a sign of mourning.
You may ask, why did cats deserve such honors from the Egyptians? And it’s simple. Egypt was an agrarian country where agriculture was prevalent and prosperous. Furry predators guarded crops and crop stores against rodents. They destroyed snakes and deadly rats that were carriers of plague and other diseases.
So, there are more than enough arguments to include cats in the list of divine creatures. Also, the Egyptians had a goddess named Bastet. She identified beauty, joy, love, joy, feminine beauty, hearth and fertility. The people depicted the goddess Bastet with a cat’s head and a woman’s body. Even earlier, when cats were not domestic animals, Bastet had the appearance of a lioness.
Do cats really have nine lives?
There are some interesting facts:
- According to some versions goddess Bastet had nine lives. She died and was reborn nine times on earth guise. Therefore, every cat also has nine lives;
- Once the sun god Ra (he was also often depicted as a cat) gave cats nine lives for their good service to the Egyptian pharaohs;
- Egyptian people believed that cats are messengers of the gods on Earth who gave them power. There were 27 gods in Egyptian mythology. They were all divided into 9 gods for each of the 3 elements: earth, water and sky.
2. Middle Ages
People were very pious and superstitious during this time. Therefore, everything associated with the devil, unclean and dark forces and witches’ charms terrified them. Especially, we know the sad details of what people did to women witches. So, witches could transform (take the form of) a cat and penetrate into the homes of believers people.
If the cat died for any reason, it would take on its true form. A witch could do this trick (die and be reborn in a cat’s body only 9 times).
The people of that time were convinced that cats were accomplices of evil sorcerers and witches and as a result they caught them and burned them at the stake. As we remember, such extermination of innocent animals led to the uncontrolled reproduction of rats, which were the vectors of the plague.
As a consequence of such cruelty and stupidity, not only many cats died but also many people. But there were also those who blamed cats for the emergence and spread of the plague.
The magic number 9 was considered lucky in ancient China. And cats were always mythical creatures for celestial people. It is quite possible that these two concepts were intertwined in the myths and legends of that time.
It is also possible to speculate a lot about the mystical number 9. There are many different events, concepts, combinations and beliefs associated with it.
The number 9 closes the cycle: 1-9, 99-100, 999-1000. The number of Greek Muses is also 9, angels in Orthodoxy have 9 ranks.
Another of the most trivial explanations for the number 9 and cat lives is the incredible survivability of these animals! They can slip, climb and survive in the most unpredictable conditions.
What about their ability to flip in the air and always land on their feet? That sounds like a kind of superpower, too.