Ancient Egyptians venerated cats for their ability
to keep down the rodent population the
economically important grain fields along the
Nile. They were kept as pets in the home and
assisted hunters by retrieving their small birds
like dogs do today. Because they were
economically useful and believed to ensure many
children for a family, cats were so revered that
they were mummified and buried either with their
owners or in specially designated cemeteries.
The Egyptians even had a cat goddess, called
Bast or Bastet, who was depicted with the body
of a woman and the head of a cat.
Clearly this cat was adored in its own time.
Pierced ears, originally ornamented with earrings
long vanished, attest to the cat’s favored status.
A necklace has also been draped over its head
not unlike a collar. Perhaps this bronze sculpture
served as a memorial reminder of a deceased
pet. Maybe the sculpture was buried along with
the cat’s owner in place of the animal itself.
While the original purpose of this delightful
sculpture is lost to us today, we can still
appreciate its remarkable naturalist beauty. The
cat sits in a typical feline stance, resting on its
hind legs, supporting its torso on two sinuous
legs. The tail wraps around the side, combining
with the two paws in front where the sculptor has
delineated the actual toes of the feet. The artist
has successfully transferred the adoration once
relished upon this animal into bronze.