Cat Facts #11. The Death Penalty for Killing a Cat

As a sacred, oft worshipped animal in Ancient Egypt, cats received many of the ancient culture’s highest respects.

In the event of fire, men guarded the scene to make sure no cats ran into and perished in the fire.

When a cat died, the entire household went into mourning as if for a human relative and would often go so far as to shave their eyebrows to express their loss.

Even the practice of mummification was extended to these sacred felines to guarantee they’d live as well in the afterlife as they’d lived on earth.

Given the social status felines held in ancient Egyptian culture, it comes as no surprise that the penalty for killing a cat was often death. And the general population’s strength of feeling toward cats was such that this applied even for accidental deaths.

The Greek historian Diodous Siculus writes of one such incident that occurred around 60 BC. He witnessed a Roman accidentally kill an Egyptian cat and despite pleas from pharaoh Ptolemy XII, an outraged mob quickly gathered and killed the Roman.

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1 Comment
  1. […] Let’s hope these revered felines were found safe and sound, ’cause we all know what the penalty for killing a cat was in ancient Egypt! […]

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