Cat

CAT. Found in the Letter of Jeremiah 22 only: “upon (the idols’) bodies and heads sit bats...and the cats also.” The cat finds no mention in OT or NT, which is perhaps surprising, for the Israelites must have known about them in Egypt. It is not known just when the process started, but it is certain that by the eighteenth dynasty (from 1570 b.c.), i.e. immediately after Joseph, it was popular and widely kept. An ivory statuette of a cat (c. 1700 b.c.) has been found at Lachish, suggesting the cat, though perhaps only the statuette had been imported from Egypt. The latter is perhaps more likely, for it seems that cats were not generally dispersed until later, and the earliest Gr. record is before 1100 b.c. It is generally agreed that cats were deliberately domesticated for catching rodents in a land where large-scale grain storage was necessary. Cats also were regarded as sacred and their mummies preserved by tens of thousands. The cat goddess Bast was the patroness of the eastern half of the Nile delta, where the Israelites lived in the land of Goshen, and perhaps the cat was taboo in Israel because of this association. The center of the cult was at Bubastis, referred to as Pibeseth (Ezek 30:17) and the subject of grim warnings.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The only mention of this animal is in Baruch 6:22. It is not mentioned in the canonical Scriptures, though Bochart (Hieroz., 862) gives "wild cats" as the equivalent of tsyim in Isa 13:21; 34:14; Jer 50:39; Ps 74:19, where English Versions of the Bible gives "wild beasts of the desert." Mention is, however, made of cats, cathod, in the Welsh Bible (Isa 34:14). The only mention of the catta in classical Latin writers is in Martial xiii.69. How the cat was regarded in Egypt is described in Herod. ii.66 and Rawlinson’s notes. In Baruch 6:22 cats are mentioned with "bats, swallows and birds" as sitting with impunity on the images of the heathen gods which are unable to drive them off.

See also ZOOLOGY.