The African wildcat, also known as the Desert Cat, is a subspecies of the Wildcat. Some individuals were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, and are the ancestors of the Domestic Cat.
Cats, known in Ancient Egypt as the mau, played a role in ancient Egyptian society. Praised for controlling vermin and its ability to kill snakes such as cobras, the domesticated cat became a symbol of grace and poise. The cat goddess Bast (also known as Bastet) represented protection, fertility, and motherhood. As a revered animal and one important to Egyptian society and religion, some cats got the same mummification after death as humans. Mummified cats were given in offering to Bast. The respect that cats received after death mirrored the respect they were treated with in everyday life.