On 17 February we celebrate cats

Europe today celebrates World Cat Day, established in Italy 25 years ago in honour of the most fascinating and unpredictable pet.

If you have got cats, you’ve surely caught them staring into space or staring at a wall as if there was something in it. “It always gives me a shiver when I see a cat seeing what I can’t see,” wrote the British poetess Eleanor Farjeon.

In Italy there are 7.5 million cats, i.e. 12% of pets

We could learn a lot from them, including variable concepts such as time and the importance of things. On 17 February, Europe dedicates a day to these extraordinary felines, World Cat Day, established in Italy 25 years ago, thanks to journalist Claudia Angeletti of Tuttogatto magazine.

The choice of the day was linked to February, the month of Aquarius, the sign of the Zodiac that characterises free and independent spirits. Numerous initiatives are organised to celebrate cats, including photo exhibitions, conferences, debates, and, most of all, the collection of food and fundraising to help stray cats. Italy is home to more than 2.5 million stray cats, with the main colonies in Rome, Turin, Naples, and Milan.

Cats started to be domesticated in China more than 5,000 years ago

In the past, cats – mysterious animals par excellence – were considered a sort of bridge between the human world and the extrasensory universe, as well as they were believed to have magical powers. This vision isn’t completely wrong: cats can feel ultrasounds and are able to anticipate events that only will be perceived by our senses later. Cats examine the surrounding environment through their feelers (whiskers), which alert them of air movements, of the presence of obstacles and even of the variations of magnetic fields and atmospheric pressure.

In Ancient Egypt, Bastet was a goddess portrayed as a cat

The greatest civilisations in history, from Ancient Greece to Romans, venerated cats and used to cremate dead cats and disperse their remains on fields as propitiation for good harvest. In Ancient Egypt, cat was a real goddess, Bastet, daughter of the Sun-God Re, and all those who hurt a feline could be sentenced to death.

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