Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Cats in Battle.

My midweek post is about ‘Cats in Battle’ and how cats helped the Eygptians win (and also lose!) a battle.
The first story is recorded by ancient historian, Herodotus. He writes about an attack on Egypt in 701 by the Assyrians. Now this invasion caught the Egyptians on the hop; they had become lazy and neglected to maintain a well-trained and armed fighting force. The pharaoh, Sethos, wept in despair at the very real fear that his country would be invaded and overrun. But one night he had a dream where the gods told him to be of good cheer and meet the enemy with courage.
            So Sethos did his best and raised a rag tag army of labourers, artisans and tradesmen. They marched to meet the Assyrian invaders and on the night before battle set up camp in fields close to the invading force. But during the night mice ate through the Assyarians bow strings and shield straps, such that in the morning and unable to defend themselves they fled. And the reason the Egyptian bow strings remained intact? They had taken cats with them to protect their food stores from vermin!
Modern day 'cat armour.'
            But in another story told by the military writer, Polyaenus, the outcome was very different. He writes of the Persian king, Cambyses, attacking Egypt in 525 BC. Now Cambyses knew that the Egyptians revered certain animals as sacred and so placed rows of cats, dogs and ibis in front of his advancing army. The superstitous Eygptian soldiers, feared to harm the sacred animals and refused to attack. In so doing Cambyses seized the advantage, and was able to take the city and then Egypt!

The Egyptian goddess, Bastet, nursing kittens.


  1. Very interesting blog, Grace.

  2. Wonderful, fascinating post, Grace. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Great post, Grace. I love cats and I love history but I never thought about combining the two.

  4. The moral of the story...when in need, look to your cat! Enjoyed the blog.

  5. Hello Grace,

    Hope sales of the book are going well, an sign of a new offering anytime soon?

    Another fantastic, well reasearched, interesting post.

    As you are obviously so hooked on animals in history, I came across a book I didn't even know I had, but immediately thought of you and your wonderful posts ....

    'Reigning Cats And Dogs' by Katharine Macdonagh ISBN 1857025954 - A history of pets at court since the renaissance.

    They have some pretty reasonable priced copies on Amazon at the moment.

    Take Care


  6. Thank you to everyone that commented!

    Yvonne - how well you know me, what an awesome book recommendation. I ordered a copy tonight.
    Cant wait for it to arrive.
    kind regards,
    Grace x

  7. Hi Grace,

    Followed your trail from HWH blog. Nice to meet you and your feline house-mates! I so love cats and am sadly without any at the moment but the birds are loving that aspect, because one of the cats I had used to stalk birds though rarely met with success in nabbing one. The other cat was the birds friend, for he hunted grey squirrel, and had a penchant for rabbit. Yes, he was quite a big moggy, and once had a scrap with a buzzard over a dead rabbit. I guess he was so tired after dragging the damn rabbit all the way home across the field he decided to have a snooze under a tree (in the garden) his rabbit alongside. Hence the scrap with buzzard who tried to half-inch it from under his nose.

    Great blog you've got. ;)



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