The first reference to the domestic cat appears in the eleventh dynasty. Because it was hostile to snakes, it became a sacred animal of the Sun God. In the New Kingdom, the male cat was regarded as an incarnation of the Sun God and the female cat was equated with the solar eye. Feline figures may display a scarab, the symbol of the rising sun, engraved on the head or breast thus showing their solar significance. The domestic cat attained special significance as the sacred animal of the Goddess Bastet. Hundreds of figures were set up as votive offerings in the temple at Bubastis in order that the donor might share in the Goddess's grace. Actual mummies of cats were buried by the thousands in special cemeteries in the area.
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