For all of our cat lovers… your day has arrived. August 8th is International Cat Day and we get to brag a little and enjoy some cat facts.
This commemorative day was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. This quote is from them: “International Cat Day takes place on 8 August every year. As custodians of this important day, we’re encouraging cat owners to take five minutes a day to play with their cats to improve their physical health and mental wellbeing. Just like dogs need walking every day, cats need daily play to keep them active and happy.”
No worries – we’ll play with our cats. And we’ll be happy to celebrate a Cat Day, dedicated to learning about these wonderful animals and finding new ways to help, protect and enjoy them. Cats are really spectacular animals, each one with a personality and attitude. They’re inquisitive, independent, adventurous and communicative. Let’s get a glimpse of cat history and then some pointers on how to help stray or feral cats, and finally, an excellent NOVA video about cats.
What is their history?
Most of us know that the historical record of domesticated house cats goes back to Egypt. They are descended from the wildcat, brought indoors (or they invited themselves indoors) at some point. The following is from the National Today website:
“The first historical human record about cats could be found in Ancient Egyptian Civilization’s culture. We all seem to relate cats with Egyptians, because of their adoration and consideration of cats as gods. 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.”
After the Egyptian Dynasty, cats increased in popularity. The Greeks and Romans used them as pest control, and in the East it was wealthy people who owned cats. But cats were in for a downfall in the Middle Ages where they were associated with superstition and were accused of carrying disease during the Black Death. Many cats were killed. It took around 300 years before their reputation improved.
How did they get here to the US? During colonization in the Americas cats were kept on the ships to kill the vermin. When the ship was in port, the cats would leave the ship, go ashore, find what they wanted and flourish.
Why Dogs and Cats?
This interesting explanation of why dogs and why cats is from the Smithsonian: “When humans were predominantly hunters, dogs were of great use, and thus were domesticated long before cats. Cats, on the other hand, only became useful to people when we began to settle down, till the earth and—crucially—store surplus crops. With grain stores came mice, and when the first wild cats wandered into town, the stage was set for what the Science study authors call ‘one of the more successful biological experiments ever undertaken.’ The cats were delighted by the abundance of prey in the storehouses; people were delighted by the pest control.”
Nowadays, a cool looking, fun-behaving cat is something of an Internet treasure – and we have about half of a billion among us. Thanks to the International Fund for Animal Welfare cats have this August 8th holiday! With an estimated global population of 600 million cats, half of which are thought to be unowned, we do need to talk about feral cats.
How to help Feral Cats
- Should you give them shelter? Absolutely yes. If you live in an area with cold climates, create a space where they can escape the temperatures of winter, and the heat of summer.
- Should you feed them? Yes, put out some water and food too if you think they’re in need.
- There may be a rescue group in your area that practices Trap-Neuter-Return. If you find one, that is a very kind thing to do as a female cat can get pregnant up to five times a year.
- Make sure the cat is actually homeless. Some who do have a home may wander the neighborhood.
- If there is a cat that shows an interest in being ‘adopted’, and you can find a home, please do.
And now as a gift to all readers, here is an excellent NOVA documentary on cats. Click HERE.