When Cats Saved Mankind

Cats and mankind have been living in harmony for many years but that has not always been the case. There have been times when cats have been nearly wiped out in the name of God. And what happened the Black Death reigned supreme for a lot longer than it should. So we will go back to the beginnings of recorded history to the time of the pharaohs of Egypt. Here cats were revered as Gods and many were mummified to last for eternity. Because the cats guarded the grain warehouses and killed the rats and mice that fed on the grain. Therefore reducing famines, that were the curse of Egypt. It was illegal to kill cats in those days, like cows in India today.

Then the nine lives of the humble cat who only wanted to help mankind by killing rodents that carried disease took a serious turn for the worse during the middle ages. Where witch hunts and burning at the stake were the norm. Someone who didn’t like cats somehow connected them to witches and they were burnt at the stake with there owners. How they made that connection I’ll never know. It started off with Pope Gregory IX in the 1232 who deemed the common house cat as diabolical. Then to make matters worse in1484 along came the greatest cat killer of all time, Pope Innocent VIII, who decreed something along the lines of all cats came from hell and should returned to the fires of hell by fire. Cats were mercilessly prosecuted and were burnt so they would return to the fires of hell. It is amazing any survived because if you were caught with a cat you were burnt together. I still go to church and sometimes I just wonder why. And of course the Black Death was in the background surviving and thriving because there were no cats to kill the rats that carried the fleas that caused the disease. Then along came the cat’s savior King Louis XIII of France, who in the 1630s repealed the law and cats once again started to live. But they were still hated and killed for many centuries after that. I don’t know if the Black Death subsided but cats once again protected mankind against the diseases carried by rodents. And the famines brought on by mice plagues.

Cats actually carry a few parasites, a few fleas and some diseases and a few can turn serious but not many. If cats were causing too much sickness they would not have invaded our lives as well as they have. But there are still people out there who do not like cats. When I first went to China about 20 years ago there were very few cats living with people and very few wild cats. I was amazed because I’ve had cats all my life and I never thought people didn’t like cats. But then in China the people said cats carried disease and that was it. I think that might have something to do with that cat sick you get in your eye. Not serious just a slight problem for a week And if you were pregnant you had to keep away from cats. I think they were referring to toxoplasmosis, but if you get that when you are a kid it should not affect your baby. They also said cats were dirty but I don’t think so. I think cats are one of the cleanest pets you can have. I think that came from the cats killing the rats and mice. Because rats are very dirty animals then because the cats killed and ate them they will also be dirty. A dirty by connection type of thing. Also there were some big sewer rats running round during the day. Once I saw a rat and a cat face off each other and the cat wasn’t much bigger than the rat. They were about a foot apart staring each other out and the cat ran away. I’m not surprised the rat’s teeth were bigger that the cats.

I think one of the reasons there were not many cats around is because they used to eat them. And every now and then the restaurant cat catches would pick up an cat they could find and take them back to the restaurant. I remember seeing cats in glass displays out the front of the restaurants. But somewhere between then and now they banned eating cats. So cats are now not on the menu and now there are cats everywhere. Most of them started off in someone’s house and got thrown away, as most are very friendly. Also they have this thing about stomach worms. And in those days China was not as modern as now so stomach worms would have been a problem. Fleas are not really a problem because they have tile floors and wooden furniture.

If this attitude towards cats goes back generations then one can understand why historians say the Black Death started in China. Where there are rats and no cats then the rats dominate and that would have been a precursor for the disease to get close to people. Now when I go back to China there are still rats running around but not so many in the housing estates. There are many down by the river. Also they have a very efficient rubbish clean up system that keeps the cities very clean. Where I stay the rubbish is collected everyday. That would also keep the rat population down. And with so many discarded cats running around the rats don’t have much of a chance. I’ve never seen this but I suspect the government picks up a lot of cats. There used to be colonies of stray cats living in some places but now I don’t see them any more.

Now cats have once more retained the spot on the sofa and any mouse or rat that comes inside better beware. Well I hope so except our cat was rubbing noses with a rat once. I thought he was going to get his nose bitten but he didn’t. I think just the smell of the cat keeps most rodent away. There are diseases out there that are carried by rodents and some are very deadly like the hanta virus and the plague or black death. If any of these deadly diseases turn the cat into a host then it will be goodbye cats and possibly goodbye us. But until that happens we should keep on loving our cats. And if there is ever a population explosion of the rodents who carry the hanta virus then humble cat might be our last hope. There is no vaccine and no cure for the hanta virus.