Cats have been companions to humans for a long time (and we mean a long time) but have you ever wondered how long they have been wearing collars? We're here to give you all the facts that offer an insight into the role cats played and how they were regarded in different time periods and cultures. Let's go back to 1950 BCE. Someone painted a strange creature on the back wall of a limestone tomb around 250 kilometres south of Cairo. It had long front legs, an upright tail, a triangular head and was depicted hunting a field rat. Undoubtedly, this painting depicts a domestic cat. This was the first appearance of a domestic cat in the art of ancient Egypt. In the centuries that followed, cats became a huge fixture in Egyptian paintings, sculptures and were even immortalised as mummies. Historians took this adoration for the felines as evidence that the ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate cats. That is, until the year 2004, when researchers discovered a cat buried with a human that was 9500 years old. Discovered on the island of Cyprus, this new information revealed that cats had been living with humans for thousands of years before Egypt even existed.
An ancient Egyptian cat depicted wearing a necklace.
Cats were so highly regarded, in fact, that over 3.000 cat mummies were found buried in Beni-Hassan, the worlds first known pet cemetery, which is 2000 years old. Here, cat mummies were discovered wearing intricate iron and beaded collars, similar to the style of jewellery that the humans would wear during this era. This is thought to be the first example of a collar worn by a cat. The ancient Egyptians would even bury their cat's collars alongside their servants to prevent the servants from coming back and haunting them. It was believed that cats had mystical powers that would transcend the afterlife, and cats were renowned for their fierce loyalty to their owners.
Earlier representations of cats portray them as a working animal, responsible for hunting rats. But over the centuries, our feline friends began to appear in more domestic contexts, hunting birds with people, wearing collars, and even sitting under chairs at the dinner table. After the downfall of Egypt, Roman cat smugglers took the cats from Egypt to the Roman Empire, where the felines served as mouse haunters for the Roman legionnaires. Cats were then introduced to Britain where the British people fell in love with them. One of the main reasons for this was that cats controlled mice and disease. The British even made cat-killing a hanging offence. It is unclear how the cat collar changed during this period, but it was likely influenced by the culture of each country. Working cats were far less likely to wear collars, whereas cats belonging to the upper echelons were far more likely to be adorned with jewels and trinkets. Much later in 1895, a Maine Coon cat named Cosey won a solid silver collar and medal at the National Cat Show. This unique collar was awarded to Cosey who was deemed Best in Show. This unique award, whilst it doesn't represent the typical collars worn by cats at the time, does prove the high regard that cats were held in.
Today, there are many different types of cat collars on the market, though their basic design remains fairly similar. From breakaway collars to classic collars to kitty-sized harnesses, there's something to suit every cat. Though there are many reasons for a cat to wear a collar, nowadays, cats usually wear a collar as a safety measure and to signify that they have a loving home to return to. For paw-ticularly fashionable felines, cat bandanas and cat bow ties are even available for them to adorn their collars with!