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With regards to cats, most people either love them or hate them. People have been divided into “cat people” or “dog people,” and often, they will hold a strong opinion on the side they have taken.
In some countries, this has been taken to extremes, where most of a country will either like cats OR dogs. The region known as the Middle East is known as “a cat people” region, so let us look at if this is true. Are cats popular in the middle east?
Cats are popular in the middle east. For thousands of years, cats have been popular as pets in the middle east. This is largely due to different religions in which cats were loved by or viewed as gods, and to this day, that love remains a part of the culture in many middle eastern countries.
To understand why cats are such popular animals in the middle east nowadays, we would need to look at where this love came from, why cats were so loved and regarded back then, and how that love has carried over through many generations to get to where we are today.
Why Are Cats Popular in The Middle East?
Cats are extremely popular in the middle east today. Has it always been that way?
They have been popular in the middle east for thousands of years. Back in ancient Egypt, for example, cats were regarded with such high esteem that there were even severe punishments put in place for anyone who might have killed or injured a cat in any way.
Cats were even believed to be gods and/or have magical abilities. They were thought to have brought good luck to their owners’ homes, and they were even dressed in jewelry by the wealthier families.
This love and regard for cats have stayed in the Egyptian culture all these years later, and even though most Egyptian people no longer believe that cats have any form of magical abilities, it has now become a part of their culture to own a family cat.
Another very big reason that cats are so very popular in the middle east is actually due to the religion of Islam.
In the Islamic culture, many animals are viewed as unclean and unfit to keep in your home, so many Islamic believers do not keep dogs as pets, and if they do, they are kept outside or even used purely as a security dog.
Cats, however, are dearly loved in the Islamic culture for two reasons.
They believe that their prophet Muhammad had a deep love of cats, making them desired amongst their believers.
Cats are also seen as being very clean and hygienic animals, which is extremely important as hygiene and cleanliness are incredibly important in Islamic culture.
This means that cats are very popular pets in the Islamic community. Since most people in the middle east follow the religion of Islam, this means that cats are therefore found to be a very popular pet in most middle eastern countries.
Most Popular Cats of The Middle East
Since cats are so popular in the middle east, it may be interesting to take a closer look at specifically which cat breeds are the most popular in these countries. I took a specific look at four countries: Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.
• Pakistan – One of the most popular breeds of cat in Pakistan are Persian cats. These cats are a high maintenance breed and require a lot of special treatment. For example, they need to be groomed thoroughly and regularly, and they may not willingly exercise very much, which means that their weight needs to be paid attention to.
If these cats are well taken care of, they can live for up to 11 years. Persian cats have a long, thick coat that comes in multiple colors, although the most common color for a Persian cat is “calico.” They generally have green or hazel eyes, but their eyes can be blue or copper too.
If you are interested in learning more about Persian cats, you can find out if they sneeze a lot in our article: Click Here.
• Egypt – One of the most popular cat breeds in Egypt is the Egyptian Mau. The Egyptian Mau is a relatively low maintenance breed of cat. There is little regular grooming required; they are fairly active and energetic, so weight gain is generally not a problem, and they love being social and getting attention from their owners.
These cats have a short and silky coat that is most commonly silver with a long black line down the head and spine. Their eyes are usually green in color.
• Turkey – One of the most popular breeds of cat in Turkey is the Turkish Angora cats. Turkish Angora cats are known for their playfulness. They can live anywhere between 9 to 14 years and require an average amount of grooming as they do tend to shed.
These cats have a medium to long silky coat that is most commonly white but does come in multiple other colors. Their eyes are usually blue but do also come in different colors.
Another popular cat in Turkey is the Turkish Van. To learn more about the Turkish Van and how it stacks up in a head-to-head matchup with the Maine Coon read our article: Click Here.
• Saudi Arabia – One of the most popular breeds of cat in Saudi Arabia is the Arabian Mau. The Arabian Mau cat is an affectionate cat, who love their owners and enjoy the attention. They are even known to “talk” to their humans by being very vocal animals.
These cats have a short-haired coat that is most commonly tabby; however, they do come in other colors as well. Their eyes are usually bright green.
These are only a few of the cat breeds that are popular in only a hand full of middle eastern countries. There are far more countries in the middle east, all with their own unique and loved cat breeds. As you can see by these examples, cats certainly are loved by middle eastern people.
Big Cats in The Middle East
As we have covered, keeping a cat as a pet in middle eastern countries has been popular for centuries and is a part of many people’s traditions or background.
However, some people in the middle east have taken this love of cats too far and have progressed to big cats. These cats can be seen as a status symbol.
Many countries in the middle east have been forced to set out new and extreme laws against what animals you may and may not keep as a pet, as more middle eastern families started purchasing cheetahs, lions, and other “big cats” as their household pets.
Not only was this incredibly dangerous for everyone who may have been around the wild cats, but it was also an extremely cruel thing to do to these animals, as many of them would be declawed and have their teeth removed to ensure the safety of their new owners.
The sad news is that only some middle eastern countries have set these laws to prevent dangerous wild cats from being kept as pets. Some countries in the middle east still allow the purchasing of exotic and wild cats, as it is a symbol of status and great wealth to own one since cats are such a huge part of their culture.
So, as much as many middle eastern people do have a great love for cats, some of them may love cats a bit too much.
Where Are Cats Originally From? The Middle East
Why is it that cats are so popular in the middle east and play such a large role in the history of middle eastern countries but do not come up much in other countries’ history until many years later?
In fact, most cats originally come from the middle east, which explains their extreme popularity in the middle eastern countries, but not in many other countries until years later.
With cats being so popular in the middle east and the fact that they always have been, it is a wonder that they have not been as big of a role in other countries for just as long.
Cats have been around long before we have records of them, and domesticated cats have been around for thousands of years, being traced all the way back to ancient Egyptian art from centuries ago.
However, when did domesticated cats begin to pop up all over the world? There were no traces of them in other countries until years later. Does this mean that domesticated cats are originally from the middle east and were later introduced to other countries over the years?
A recent study conducted by Claudio Ottoni states that all common household cats can be traced back to one ancestor, the Felis Silvestris Lybica, a wild cat originally from Southwest Asia / North Africa.
This suggests that most cats were found in the middle east originally and slowly, over the years, made their way into new countries.
Essentially, middle eastern countries can be thanked for the modern domesticated cats we have today.
As we can see, cats are not only extremely popular in the middle east and always have been, but they are also originally from the middle east, which contributes to why they are such a major factor in the history of many middle eastern countries.
After so many years of them playing such a large role in everyday life in almost every household throughout their history, it makes perfect sense that they would still be a large aspect of everyday culture and lifestyle for many homes and religions.