You’re an ancient Egyptian soldier during a battle in the 5th century BC. There is a Persian army advancing towards you with their spears in one hand and....a cat in the other.

That’s right. The Macedonian author, Polyaeunus, wrote that during a battle between Egyptian and Persian forces, the cunning Persians took Cats into battle because they knew the Egyptians would hesitate to attack for fear of harming their feline friends.

It worked. The ancient Egyptians’ morale wavered and the Persians won decisively.

So what happened if a Cat was harmed in ancient Egypt? What was the punishment?

Cats were revered for over 3,000 years. Their close association with the goddesses Bastet, Mafdet and Sekhmet meant that harming a Cat could have severe consequences.

Anyone who harmed a cat deliberately could be sentenced to death. There were penalties for people who harmed cats under certain circumstances. If by a terrible accident a Cat was injured or killed, that person could face the punishment of some kind.

Cats were engrained into the very fabric of ancient Egyptians’ lives. Killing one was considered blasphemous and meant the chances of the cat-killer entering the afterlife was effectively zero.

One story that has come down to us speaks of a Roman soldier killing a cat out of spite. The Egyptians gathered around and lynched him. They took justice into their own hands.

Don’t F*ck With Cats.