Renpet is my feline cousin. I regret being unable to write a great deal about my amazing relative.
She has retired from doing something or other with the CIA. However, we have learned never to question her as she does leave from time to time; without informing us of her destination or when she will return.
Renpet has disclosed to us that her lineage and DNA can be traced back to the cats of Ancient Egypt.
And so, and in an oblique way, by writing about those ancient felines, I can pay homage to Renpet.
For more than three thousand years, the ancient Egyptians idolized and exalted cats.
The pharaohs held strong beliefs that cats protected them from evil. Statues were built glorifying the sacredness of cats.
Murals have been found in the tombs of the wealthy and of prominent officials of the Eighteenth Dynasty (fifteenth and fourteenth centuries BCE) showing felines enjoying a buffet along with the nobles in their household. These cats are seen under chairs enjoying a feast of meat and fish; and cat skeletons are found next to small pots which are believed to have contained milk.
Cats were often depicted as bedecked with jewels (However, the cats that I know would have abhorred the discomfort of necklaces with gems hung around their necks). The finest food known to royalty was fed to cats (rightly so!)
In a manner befitting the feline species, they were glorified even in death. The human family members would shave off their eyebrows and continue to mourn until the eyebrows grew back. And cats were accorded the honor of mummification.
Felines were revered as demi-deities. The Egyptian god, Mafdet was the first deity to be depicted as having the head of a cat.
Bastet is a goddess, who had been sanctified as early as the Second Dynasty (2890 BCE). She is revered as the protector of the house.
This beloved deity had the power to transform herself into a cat. Statues and murals of Bastet portray her image with the head of a cat and a slender body.
In addition to her power of protection, Bastet was the bringer of good health.
Temples honoring Bastet were found all over Egypt. Hundreds of cats lived in
These temples and were pampered and protected.
And, as is appropriate, anybody who killed a cat was sentenced to death.
The goddess, Bastet, had been deeply angered when a Roman envoy murdered a cat. It is not known whether the feline was a temple cat or a stray. Of course, this was a shockingly, unspeakable crime. Even the pharaoh was unable to halt the mob of angry Egyptians who descended upon the envoy.
There are those who worship Bastet today and believe that her protective powers extend over all cats.
And in our household, Renpet carries on her lineage and protects us in so many ways.
Dr. Curmudgeon suggests “Bitter Medicine”, Dr. Eugene Eisman’s story of his experiences–from the humorous to the intense—as a young army doctor serving in the Vietnam War.
Bitter Medicine by Eugene H. Eisman, M.D. –on Amazon
Doctor Curmudgeon® is Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D., a physician-satirist. This column originally appeared on SERMO, the leading global social network for doctors.
SERMO www.sermo.com “talk real world medicine”