The Cat in Europe
Due to the pagan reputation gained by Egypt during the years of darkness in the Middle Ages, the cat became an animal object of superstition and was associated with the devil. It was said that the cat had evil powers and was associated to black magic; people that owned cats were accused of practicing witchcraft, and many times these people were condemned to death. There are tales that narrate how cats were hunted, skinned, burned or crucified.; how they were thrown from the huge towers and how most of the times all these acts of cruelty were approved by the church. Along with cats population decrease, rodents heavily increased. Epidemics and plagues started to appear all over the continent. In Europe, in the mid-eighteenth century, 3 or 4 people would die due to some kind of disease, but those who took the risk of owning a cat usually survived.
After these events, authorities were enlightened by such evidence and cat chase and pursue of its owners ceased. The paradox is that cats were the ones who saved Europe from dying out. Near the renaissance era, again cats positioned themselves as domestic animals and therefore became part of society. During this period, owning a cat was seen as a sign of status and of elegance. Many famous personalities, specially in France and in England started breeding them.
By the end of the nineteenth century, a tradition that has been carried on up to present days, started to become popular. Cat exhibitions were first presented in 1871. During that same period the first breeding associations were being founded. These associations played a very important role in the selection and development of the multiple breeds of cats that are currently known.
Finally, it is confusing to observe how every superstition having to do with cats has been carried on throughout time.
The Cat in America: Domestic cats probably arrived to America along with Christopher Columbus or soon after with the first conquerors.
It is thought that only wild cats lived in the new world before the arrival of the first European settlers. A version that has not been proved correct, yet, is that this same community point out the Aztecs as people who raised cats as pets. Unfortunately, breeding associations are still skeptic about this theory.
Cats were imported and brought in as weapons against rodents infesting barns and storage rooms.
Cats were brought in to Mexico by soldiers who were followed by Spanish priests. The same experience was shared by most Central and South American countries, as well as, North America and Brazil did. Similar situations were experienced by the French, English and Portuguese.