A story of cats in ancient Egypt, as told by Miss Cuddlywumps
Once, a Persian king named Cambyses wanted to conquer Egypt. He began by attacking the city of Pelusium in the Nile Delta. The Egyptians there fought courageously to defend the city, hurling rocks and fire at the attackers. Though Cambyses had powerful weaponry and attacked mercilessly, he could not overcome them.
Egyptian cat statues.
By Anonymous (Rama) [CC-BY-SA-1.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Now Cambyses concocted a diabolical plan. He knew that the Egyptians considered certain animals sacred, like the cat, the ibis and others, and so he gathered up some sacred animals and placed them in front of his army. When the Egyptians saw these cats, ibises, dogs, sheep, and other sacred animals being used as “shields,” they stopped fighting because they did not want to harm the animals.
And so Cambyses captured the city and went on to conquer Egypt, but I will always think of him as the big meanie who misused the divinity of cats (an unforgivable offense).
[The Battle of Pelusium actually happened in 525 BC, but She of Little Talent seriously doubts any cats or other animals were used as shields to help the Persians win. The story appears in Strategems (7:9), written in the 2nd century AD by the military writer Polyaenus.]