National Cat Day

dark grey cat

We have all heard or asked the question, “Are you a cat or dog person?” Dogs have a reputation for being man’s best friend but what about cats? They’ve been human companions for thousands of years, too! Not to worry, there is a special day set aside just for cats. National Cat Day is a day set aside to raise public awareness of cat adoption. The day takes place on October 29 in the United States, August 8 in Canada, March 1 in Russia, and February 22 in Japan.

History of National Cat Day

National Cat Day in the US was first celebrated in 2005. It was founded by Colleen Paige, a pet and family lifestyle writer, who was supported by a nonprofit pet adoption organization by the name of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Paige’s mission statement was, “to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of cats that need to be rescued each year and also to encourage cat lovers to celebrate the cat(s) in their life for the unconditional love and companionship they bestow upon us.”

In order for us to understand just how precious cats are, we need to go back a few thousand years. For more than 10,000 years, cats have been outdoor animals – sharing the environment with other wildlife. Even just 70 years ago, the idea of cats living entirely indoors was almost unheard of. Domestic cats are a new species of cats that was evolved over thousands of years of spending time around humans. About 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, where some of the earliest human civilizations developed, cats began sticking around humans. Why? The biggest reason was most likely to pick off the rodents that accumulated because of the spread of agriculture. Another reason cats likely stuck around was for all of the trash human societies produce. This is something a majority of feral cats still do today.

In Cyprus, a burial site was found that provides the first archaeological evidence of cats and humans living together side-by-side. It is estimated that cats were most likely brought to this island intentionally by other humans.

twin cats
📷: Francesco Ungaro

In 4000 B.C., cats were worshipped by the Egyptians. Numerous pictures and statues of cats have been found and passed down throughout the millennia. Cats were mummified, dressed in gold jewelry to indicate their status, and even given tombs when they died.

In 500 B.C., the emperor of China receives the first pet cat and it quickly becomes a popular, albeit expensive, pet for the rich.

Around 100 A.D. cats finally make their way to Europe. The Egyptians introduced cats to the Romans and Greeks who mainly used them as pest control. A cat skeleton from around the 4th century AD was found to have the same shortened skull as domestic cats today. Geoffrey Chaucer, a famous English poet, mentioned a cat door in The Canterbury Tales in the 1380s.

Cats eventually made their way from Europe to the Americas via ships. They reportedly rode on the Mayflower with Christopher Colombus and the settlers at Jamestown.

Throughout history, cats have served as pest control for humans – even becoming official employees of the United States Postal Service as late as the 19th and early 20th century America. More Americans began keeping cats as pets towards the end of the 19th century. They made for great companions and kept the mice away. The first cat show ever was held at Madison Square Garden in 1895.

striped cat
📷: Danielle Daniel

How to Observe National Cat Day

You might be wondering what you can do to observe this day set aside for cats. Well, if you already own a cat, then make sure you pay extra attention to your cat. Show how much you love and appreciate all of the things cats do for us. Do you not own a cat? Consider adopting one! Just be sure to spend time thinking about this important decision. Your cat will become a part of your family and spend all of its years with you. Here are some things to think about before adopting a cat:

  • Can you afford the time and money that is needed to care for a cat? Cats don’t ask for much. However, if you are going to bring one into your home you need to make sure you can provide for your cat for the rest of his/her life.
  • Choose to adopt a cat instead of “shopping” for a cat. There are so many cats out there that are deserving of a loving home. Choose to adopt a cat from a local shelter instead of buying one from a breeder.
  • Consider your lifestyle. Do you want an active kitten or is an adult cat a better fit for you?
  • Try to make multiple visits to your local animal shelter, too. Adopting a cat is not a decision to be made lightly. By visiting multiple times, you can form bonds with the cats and give one of them a chance to choose you!
  • If you already have pets, think about how an additional furry friend might impact them. Make sure their personalities go well together before you bring your cat home.
  • When you do bring your cat home, give it time and space to get used to the new environment. It is normal for cats to hide during this adjustment period.
sphynx cat
📷: Diana Lazartsev

If you are reading this article it is likely that you are a cat lover – or at least considering becoming one. There are plenty of things you can do for National Cat Day to show how much you appreciate the joy cats bring into our lives. Spoil your cat with a new toy and some delicious food! If you are someone who cannot own cats because of allergies, lifestyle, or location, then try volunteering or donating to your local animal shelter. No matter how you choose to observe National Cat Day, it is important to recognize the role they have played in human history and how they still provide service for humans as our companions.

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