National Geographic : 1938 Nov
THE PANTHER OF THE HEARTH In general, our modern breeds of cats are doubtless the descendants of wild kittens brought home by prehistoric hunters as pets for their troglodyte children. In Egypt the cat was domesticated from the earliest times of which we have record. It was venerated as sacred to the cat god dess Bast or Pasht (Pakht), and countless mummies of sacred cats have been found. In their tombs have been discovered mum mified mice, doubtless provided as food for the cats in their other life. Phoenician sailors and Roman soldiers, adopting puss as a mascot in Egypt, prob ably helped in its distribution to the Euro pean mainland, to Britain, and to other parts of the ancient world, where it mingled with the descendants of local varieties of cats that once were wild. As seagoing rat eradicators, Old World cats undoubtedly were carried to America in the early exploring and trading ships. Incidentally, many a nautical term owes its origin to that four-footed sailor, the ship's cat. They range all the way from "cat head," to which the anchor is hoisted, and "catted" while at sea, to the dread "cat-o' nine-tails" with which the sailors of other days were flogged before the mast. Even the huge modern dirigible is equipped with a "catwalk" within. "CARESSING THE TIGER" "God made the cat," wrote Mery, "so that man could have the pleasure of caress ing the tiger." There seems little of the tiger in the silken-haired aristocrats that grace our cat shows, which are portrayed in the accom panying color plates. Yet even in a cat whose ancestors have been domesticated for many generations there remains something of the elusive mys tery of the wild. And, if occasion demands, the cat can revert to its natural state and find a living far more successfully than most other domestic creatures. In the meantime it suffers itself to be fed and cared for by man, apparently consider ing that any debt on its part is more than repaid by the boon of its society! Madame Jules Michelet once boasted that she had owned a hundred cats. "Say rather," her husband retorted, "that a hundred cats have owned you!" In making the remarkable series of full color photographs which accompanies this article, the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA- Photograph by New York Daily News A "POLE-CAT" IS "PIPED" DOWN Having climbed for refuge to the top of a pole in New York City, this sitter could not be per suaded to descend. At last a police patrolman clambered part way up and snared the trembling fugitive with a metal pipe rigged with a loop.