Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cat mummies

In addition to mummifying humans, the ancient Egyptians mummified animals, including crocodiles and bulls, and entombed them at sites sacred to the gods they represented. As incarnations of Bast, cats from all over Egypt were brought to Bubastis, and an accidental discovery in 1888 uncovered tens of thousands of them. But this post is about a more recent tradition...

Earlier this week, contractors working on a house in Devon, England, found a mummified cat that had been secreted in the wall centuries ago. "Cats were often put into walls as some kind of good luck charm....They seem to be designed to keep away witches, the evil eye, bad luck, vermin, anything that can be seen as a threat to the house....It does seem to have been quite a widespread practice across the European continent," explains Dr. Marion Gibson, professor of folklore at Exeter University. A similar specimen dating from the 1860s (depicted above) was found in the wall of an Australian house. And a stop on an English ghost tour is the Mill Hotel in Sudbury and a peek at the cat that had been placed in the wall of the original mill and discovered in 1971. When the innkeepers attempted to dispose of it in 1999, the road outside the hotel exploded, the office flooded several times, and the person who removed the cat had an accident - all within a few weeks - so its mummified remains are under glass in the lobby. Accidentally mummified cats are not all that uncommon, either, and a famous example is on display in the crypt of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, along with the rat it was presumably chasing when the two got stuck in the pipe organ in the 19th century. Canadian blogger Peter Bond photographed a mummified stray cat sticking out of a stone wall and says in the caption that it was the strangest sight during his 2007 trip to Greece.
When I was composing this post, my friend Cris called to let me know she is having her 18-year-old polydactyl cat "Minky" put to sleep this afternoon. Minky will be missed, but won't be walled up...


  1. ACIENT EGYPT LOVER12/08/2011 7:33 PM

    This is sooo intresting! ni love ancient egypt!! and mummies! there so cool! im doing asn independent project on acient egypt. i dont have to ut i am. im the only one doing it. and this site is a great resource on acient egypt and mummys! so thank you for putting this on!!!!:)


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