Cat monument in Kuching, the “Cat City”, Sarawak

While it is always a pleasure to see Joanna Lumley, her documentary  Catwoman which she presented on ITV was flawed in the sense of significant omissions.

Joanna played with the ubiquitous cats in Cairo’s Khan el-Kalili Bazaar, but little real emphasis was placed on their status in Pharoanic society when they were afforded the same mummification as humans. In 1888, an Egyptian farmer, near the town of Bani Hasan in Upper Egypt, uncovered a tomb containing around 80,000 cat mummies, from 1000-2000 BC

But the most surprising place left out of her tour of the feline world, was Kuching, capital of the east Malaysian state of Sarawak, home to the world’s only museum entirely devoted to Felis catus among whose 2000 exhibits is a mummified cat from Bani Hassan, on loan from the British Museum.

Cat in Cairo’s Khan el-Kalili bazaar

Cat-lovers have presented most of the 2000 museum artifacts out of pure love. There are cat clocks, umbrellas, mugs, brooches, plates, cups, key-rings, teapots, door knockers, aprons earrings and t-shirts. All are either shaped like a cat, or depict a picture of one. from a common moggie to a Maine Coon.

A gallery of cat-people includes Charles Dickens, whose cat Wilhemia used to sit on his desk and paw at his snuff; Florence Nightingale who owned some 60 cats, and is said to have never travelled without one, and Queen Victoria, who kept a cat named White Heather at Buckingham Palace.

Anne Frank`s attic ordeal is claimed to have been made more endurable by the presence of her two beloved cats who evidently survived on mice. While Colette, the bi-sexual French novelist, maintained ‘our perfect companion’ would never have fewer than four feet.` ie. her dainty little golden-eyed Chartreux named Saha, immortalized in her novella The Cat.

The “frankincense cat” in Muttrah souq, Oman


About Travels with My Hat

Australian photojournalist and author. Used London as a base for nearly forty years while freelancing in the Middle East, Arabian peninsular, Africa and South Asia. Have written and illustrated more than a dozen books and travel guides. Operates a well regarded religious images stock photo library: Live in Leura in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    what a feast of information about the ancient cat world .!Mostinteresting.

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