International Cat Day 2022: How long have people had cats as pets? We go way back

International Cat Day 2022: How long have people had cats as pets? We go way back

Published August 8, 2022
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While National Cat Day doesn’t come until October, International Cat Day is today, Aug. 8. 

Today’s holiday was started by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 2002 as a way “to appreciate and honor one of the most popular pets on the planet.”

According to the National Today website, “The first historical human record about cats could be found in Ancient Egyptian civilization’s culture…Mafdet was the first known cat deity and was regarded as the protector against snakes, scorpions, and evil during the first dynasty, so for them, cats were not just deities, but also protectors.

“Later, after the Egyptian Dynasty collapsed, cats became popular everywhere. Greeks and Romans used them as pest control, and in the East, cats were originally owned by rich and wealthy people. But during the Middle Ages, in Europe, cats became associated with superstition and suspected of carrying the disease during the Black Death of 1348, that is the reason why too many cats got killed in that era, and it wasn’t until the 1600s that cats’ reputation started to recover.”

Early colonists used cats to minimize vermin and disease on ships to America as well, according to National Day.

IFAW stated, “An estimated 500 million cats are thought to be frolicking in neighbors’ gardens across the world…owning a cat has been shown to improve mental health and to relieve stress, anxiety and depression.”

Some historic days for cats include: In 3,000 B.C. cats in Egypt were first allowed inside; On Oct. 18, 1963, Félicette the cat became the first to go to space; In 1919, Felix the Cat became a cartoon star; in 1982, “Cats” the musical opened on Broadway; in 2004, French archaeologists found a 9,500-year-old cat grave in Cyprus; in 2014, Grumpy Cat’s Facebook page hit 7 million likes.

National Today found that “More than four-in-10 people surveyed (nationally) own at least one cat, with 57% of these cat owners have just one” and also noted “a quarter of people surveyed stated that their cat is their best friend.”

In a survey conducted by National Today, 45.8% labeled themselves as dog lovers, 14.2% of people called themselves cat lovers,and 34.9% of people said they love both equally. Only 5.10% of people said they don’t like animals. 

In 1919 IFAW was founded by Brian Davies with the goal to stop the commercial hunt for whitecoat seals on the east coast of Canada, according to the group’s website. Since then, it has been one of the premier organizations in helping animals of all species all over the world.