Wed, June 26

And Then There Were Cats

Pet of the Week is Barney. He is a very gentle Shepherd mix looking for a nice person to go home with.

Pet of the Week is Barney. He is a very gentle Shepherd mix looking for a nice person to go home with.

The Verde Independent/Bugle has so many loyal subscribers and they are getting new ones all of the time.

How do I know that? Because so many of you have met me, stating that you have seen my picture in the Verde Independent and how you love reading the Pet Corner.

So often I find out that someone reading the column for the first time really would like information on something I have already written about.

A kind young lady named Ellie just moved into the Verde Valley and has asked for articles on certain things that are beneficial to newcomers.

Over the next few weeks I will try to cover subjects such as "What to do when your pet escapes, how to cope with the death of a pet, spay/neuter information" and a few other things that have been asked of me.

When I met Ellie last week she was adopting a cat for the first time in her life. We spoke about how cats became house pets; how remarkable it was that it happened as far back as 5000.

That seemed to surprise Ellie, who has had nothing but dogs in the past. Ellie and her Bassett hound are now sharing their home with a beautiful tuxedo cat she named Marley that she adopted from VVHS.

This story is more than appropriate for Ellie and all of the cat lovers in this world. By the way, if you have a dog and consider yourself a dog lover, you just might want to try a cat in your home also.

You just might be surprised what wonderful companions they make. There's nothing wrong with being a dog and cat lover.

E.E. Cummings, the distinguished poet wrote, "A cat is a cat is a cat." As history presents itself, you will find that no better words could have been said.

It has been said that the domestication of cats' dates back from 5000 to 8000 years ago, the stories vary.

The bones of cats, mice and humans were found buried side by side on the Island of Cyprus. Domesticating the cat completely happened approximately 4000 years ago.

The means of survival for Egyptians, the tribes of Africa and the primitives of southwestern Asia was to grow crops.

It is said that these areas are where cats first appeared. (Here goes my brain questioning me again. Where did that first cat come from? I'll just let it go, or I will never finish the history for you.)

The crops that were grown were the staples of life back then. Since crops were only harvested once or twice a year, the big question became how to store the precious grains?

Protecting the grains from rats, mice and other vermin who quickly found a "free buffet" became a huge problem.

Before long people noticed that the cat populations were really workers and ate the rats that were stealing their food sources.

People that were diligent in protecting their crops soon welcomed cats into their communities.

Farmers encouraged the cats to stay at their farms and homes by leaving treats for them outside.

Common items that cats loved and continuously came back for were milk soaked bread, fish-heads and any other food scraps that they had left over.

Cats at that time simply discovered an ecological niche for themselves; which included a constant source of food and eventually affection from humans.

With a diet of mice, scraps and the love of a human, what more could our feline friends want in life?

In Egypt, the Pharaoh naturally had an abundant supply of grain that needed to be protected from unwanted creatures.

He wanted to confiscate all of the cats in Egypt to keep near his palace, but the people rebelled.

Cats had so much popularity that removing all of the cats and giving them to the Pharaoh would have caused a revolt.

Instead the Pharaoh came up with another plan. He very cleverly declared all cats "demigods." Being deemed demigods didn't make the cat equal to the Pharaoh's status, but it made the cat more valuable than a human being.

What did this plan mean? It meant that you could keep a cat on your property and care for it, but it would always remain the property of the Pharaoh.

The cat became a form of royalty. If you killed a cat, you would automatically be sentenced to death. That would make someone think about animal abuse, wouldn't it?

A house catching on fire would bring help for the cats first. The people were second to these demigods, second to be saved in an emergency.

Cats that died due to natural causes were taken to the priest in order to confirm that the death was natural.

After a cat's death, the body was embalmed, wrapped in line and then decorated. At that time they were buried in special cemeteries or entombed in precious temples.

Thousands of cat mummies were preserved in a giant temple in Bubastis. Along with their bodies were mouse food mummies.

This was to assure that the cats had food until they arrived at their final destination in their afterlife.

Believe it or not, the number of human food mummies were much less than that of cat mummies found. They were indeed royal creatures.

When cats died in Egyptian times, people sobbed outwardly in sorrow. Beating on their chest or shaving their eyebrows was considered a normal sign of sadness.

Due to the cat's exalted status, a religious order was created that lasted for more than 2000 years. Goddess Bastet the cat became one of the most revered figures worshipped.

For those of you not familiar with goddess Bastet, she had the body of a woman and the head of a cat.

Bastet was associated with motherhood, grace, beauty and fertility. The largest temple for this religious figure was in the city of Bubastis.

Some say that this religious figure was known as "Freya." She also had the body of a woman and the head of a cat. In history, there are many theories to look at.

Ships traveling to different countries spread cats worldwide. Felines soon found their way to Greece and Italy.

Caravans spread the cat's popularity in every direction. The cats slowly migrated into India, China and Japan. They became royalty in these countries also.

Research says that in China and Japan cats are known to be lucky. In these countries the most famous cat is called the "Beckoning Cat." It brings good luck to the homes and businesses where they are displayed. The figurine is the entire body of a cat with one paw held up.

The story says that a cat was used at the entrance of a Tokyo Temple. The reason for the paw being held up was to encourage people to come in.

People believe that due to the actions of the cat, the temple became very rich. This famous temple stands yet today. Cat lovers visit the Gotokuji Temple to pray for the good health of their beloved pets.

When researching the different materials that I use in my columns, I often still come up with questions: "who says this is correct, where did the information really come from, where did they get the first writings?" and many other things.

That's my nature, I want to know, show me the real proof that this is true. Give me a "sign" of something.

I have to admit that the other evening I was taken back a little in my questioning. When leaving one of our local Chinese restaurants, for the first time I noticed a statue sitting on the counter.

I have visited this establishment many times and it has gone unnoticed by my inquisitive nature. (Normally I can tell you what you were wearing when you came to visit me)

What made me notice the statue that night? I'm sure that this figurine has been sitting there each time I have been in for dinner.

What was the statue of? It was what I now know as the "Beckoning Cat." There he stood with one paw held up, looking at me as if to say, and "You wanted proof lady?"

The next time your cat tosses his/her head up in the air and tilts it so slightly, looks at you with those beautiful eyes, raises its tail and walks the other way, just remember something, it comes naturally.

The cats in this world are just remembering that their ancestors were royalty. We on the other hand are just "human beings."

I'd like to say one last thing that keep lingering in my thoughts. When is the last time that you heard of a human that passed away that was provided with a "snack pack" to keep them getting hungry as they travel to their afterlife?

Please continue to shop, donate and volunteer at the VVHS thrift store, the Good Buy Shoppe. Everything you do at the shop helps the animals at the shelter.

The shop receives many gently used items on a daily basis. Located at the corner of 89A and Sixth Street, you will find something that "you just can't live without."

The Good Buy Shoppe is in need of your gently used furniture and other household items. We will also pick the furniture items up if you call 634-4298 and make arrangements.

Have you stopped in the shelter located at 1502 W. Mingus Ave. to bring your pet's picture for the 2010 Animal Kings and Queens of the Verde Valley calendar yet?

For a $20.00 donation your pet's picture will be posted on the day of your choice. Stop in soon, space is limited.

Our "Pet of the Week" is Barney. He is a very gentle Shepherd mix looking for a nice person to go home with.

Barney's goal in life is to please someone. He's quiet, well behaved and will be able to adapt to most any situation. He'd love romping in a yard or resting quietly by your feet while you drink your coffee in the morning reading of course, the Verde Independent.

His adoption fee has been discounted by $20.00 thanks to our generous group of animal lovers that donate to help animals such as Barney get new homes.