When did Cats first appear in Chinese History?

It is difficult to determine exactly when cats first appeared in Chinese history – as the earliest written records of cats in China date back to the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). It is likely that cats first came to China from the Middle East – as this is where the domestication of cats is believed to have originated.

Cats were initially domesticated in ancient Egypt – as early as 4000 BC – for their ability to control pests, such as mice and rats, which were a common problem in ancient agriculture.

As trade routes and cultural exchange expanded throughout the region, cats may have spread into other parts of the world, including China. It is also possible that cats have arrived in China through other routes, such as by sea or through the famous Silk Road.

Cats were initially domesticated for their ability to control pests – such as mice and rats – which were a common problem in ancient agriculture. As cats became more common in human settlements, they may have also been kept as companions and symbols of wealth and status.

Over time, cats became an important part of Chinese culture and mythology; they were revered as symbols of good luck and prosperity. In many ancient Chinese stories, cats are depicted as intelligent and cunning animals that are able to outsmart humans and even gods. Today, cats are still a popular pet in China, and are beloved for their playful and affectionate nature.

Macau, China. Lin Kai Temple - Interior and a cat living in the temple to control Pests
Macau, China. Lin Kai Temple – Interior and a cat living in the temple to control Pests

Cats in Chinese Mythology

Cats have a long and storied history in Chinese mythology – where they are often revered as symbols of good luck and prosperity. In many ancient Chinese stories, cats are depicted as intelligent and cunning animals that are able to outsmart humans and even gods.

In this blog post, I will explore the various roles that cats have played in Chinese mythology; how these roles have shaped the way that cats are perceived and valued in Chinese culture.


The Goddess of Cats:

One of the most well-known stories about cats in Chinese mythology is the legend of the “Goddess of Cats,” Li Shou, also known as the “Goddess of Mercy.” According to legend – there was once a beautiful and kind-hearted goddess who was devoted to protecting and caring for all cats.

These goddess was so beloved by the other cats – that they would often gather around her, purring and rubbing against her legs in gratitude.

The goddess was also known for her ability to communicate with animals, and she was often called upon to help resolve disputes between humans and animals. She was especially skilled at negotiating peace between humans and cats, and was able to prevent many conflicts from escalating into violence.

In many ancient Chinese stories, cats are depicted as wise and resourceful animals that are able to resolve conflicts and bring harmony to human-animal relationships.


Special Powers of Cats:

Next to their role as protectors and mediators, cats were also believed to have special powers in Chinese mythology. It was said that cats had the ability to see into the future, and could predict when good or bad luck was coming. They were also thought to have the power to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune to those who cared for them.

One famous cat known for its special powers in Chinese mythology is the “Golden Cat,” Maneki-Neko -also known as the “Lucky Cat.” The Golden Cat is believed to be able to bring Wealth and Prosperity to those who cared for it; Maneki-Neko is often kept in homes and businesses as a good luck charm.

Maki-Neko is also very well Known in Japanese Mythology and Scriptures.

Chinese Lucky Cat

Cats as Wise and Intelligent Creatures:

Cats are not only bringers of good luck – cats were also associated with wisdom and intelligence in Chinese mythology. In many stories, cats are depicted as clever and resourceful animals that are able to solve puzzles and outsmart humans and other animals.

For example, in the story of the “Three Wise Cats,” three cats named “Mau,” “Mao,” and “Meow” are able to outwit a group of thieves and save a valuable treasure from being stolen. In another story, a cat named “Shu” is able to outsmart a group of monkeys and prevent them from stealing some food from a farmer’s fields.


Cats as Mischievous Tricksters:

Despite their reputation for being intelligent and wise – cats were also sometimes depicted as mischievous and trickster-like in Chinese mythology. In many stories, cats are depicted as causing chaos and confusion – especially when they are around humans who do not understand their ways.

One famous example of a mischievous cat in Chinese mythology is the “Jade Cat,” – also known as the “Trickster Cat.” The Jade Cat was known for its ability to play tricks on humans, and was often depicted as causing mischief and mayhem.

Ceramic figures of Jade Cats
Ceramic figures of Jade Cats

Conclusion:

Overall, the role of the cat in Chinese mythology is one of intelligence, good fortune, and protection. Cats are revered as symbols of prosperity and good luck, and are often depicted as wise and resourceful animals that are able to solve problems and bring happiness!

From the protective and mediating Goddess of Cats, to the special powers of the Golden Cat and the wisdom and intelligence of the Three Wise Cats; All have played a variety of roles in Chinese mythology.

Cats have been an important part of Chinese culture for centuries. They have been kept as pets and good luck charms in homes and businesses – they have been celebrated in art and literature. Today, cats continue to be a beloved part of Chinese culture, and are valued for their playful and affectionate nature.

Read also about “Dogs in Chinese Mythology”


Marco

Marco Heitner

Hello, my Name is Marco. My family has had pets since I can remember. Today we have a large aquarium and, since recently, a four-month old Labrador. I am the owner of this website, and it is my great pleasure to provide helpful knowledge about pets. Our team is constantly working hard to publish well-researched reports here.

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