The export of cats was forbidden in ancient Egypt, partly because these cats were so useful to this agricultural society and partly due to the respect accorded to the cat in Egyptian society.
As semi-divine beings, cats could not be the property of anyone other than the pharaoh and exporting these sacred felines was highly illegal. So naturally, a thriving trade in smuggling cats across borders arose.
To prevent this prohibited smuggling, a branch of the government was formed solely to deal with this issue. And even more remarkably, court records confirm that armies were occasionally dispatched to rescue smuggled or kidnapped felines and bring them home to Egypt.
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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