Our pets give us so much. They keep us company, make us happy, and studies have even shown that they provide multiple health benefits, some of which include reducing stress, anxiety and depression! Cats and dogs are the most popular pets owned by Canadians, and we found out that both of these animals have a special day dedicated to them each year. So this month, we’re celebrating our furry friends, and first up are the cats on August 8!
According to Canadian Veterinarians stats, Canada is home to the highest percentage of pet owners in the developed world, with the most common pet in Canadian households being a cat. There are approximately 7.9 million cats in the country, so we sure do love our feline friends here! As of 2021, there were an estimated 220 million cats owned as pets, and 480 million stray cats across the world. That’s a lot of cat-lovers! International cat day is celebrated worldwide on August 8 annually and was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. It’s ultimately a day to raise awareness for cats and learn about ways to help and protect them.
Cats have been around for a long time, and it is thought that cat domestication began in ancient Egypt around 3100 BC. Worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, and with the goddess Bastet often depicted in cat form, cats were mummified after they died in the same way as humans. Several other cultures also believe cats are exalted souls, companions or guides for humans. In Japan, the maneki-neko, or ‘beckoning cat’ is a common symbol of good fortune, and according to Norse mythology, Freyja, the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, rides a chariot pulled by two cats.
Some cultures do have negative superstitions about cats though. You’ve heard of the belief that a black cat crossing your path brings bad luck, right? Or that cats amplify a witch’s powers and skills? And one of the most popular costumes for Halloween is still a black cat costume. There’s also the myth that cats have multiple lives. In many countries, they are believed to have nine lives, but in Italy, Germany, Greece, Brazil and some Spanish-speaking regions, they are said to have seven lives, while in Arabic traditions, the number of lives is six. Lucky cats!