Q&A: Pet Cats

Pet Cats

Question

My daughter desires a cat. However, I read that Egypt had a religion centering around the worship numerous animals, of which the cat was one. Therefore, would it be biblical to have a cat as a pet?

Answer

It is true that in early Egyptian culture the cat played a role in some forms of religious worship as did several other animals. The cat goddess Bast (a desert sand-cat) became a deity representing protection, fertility, and motherhood in early Egyptian culture. However, the cult of Bast was also banned by imperial decree in 390AD. (Bast and Sekhmet: Eyes of Ra by Storm Constantine and Eloise Coquio). Bast has also been popularized in several T.V. shows of late: West Wing; Stargate, Dark Angel; and the movie Tomb Raider.

While the above has historical value in understanding the culture of ancient Egypt, just owning a cat as a household pet is completely fine. We own two of them. Just because a cult may use a particular animal or other item, it doesn't make that animal or item necessarily evil. Some forms of Satanism and witchcraft use the elements of fire, water, earth, and air in their worship. If all these were declared evil because of their use by a particular cult, Christians would have a very short existence on this earth. Therefore, we need to recognize there are good and evil uses of things.

One of man's purposes is to rule over the animal kingdom responsibly. In Genesis 2:19-20, when man named the animals, he expressed his authority over them. He was to take what God has made and use it for his glory. Of course, this includes cats, and the Christian should not worship cats or treasure them more than they do human relationships and/or their relationship with God. Moreover, the Christian must be careful to not cause his brother or sister to stumble, for instance, by giving a cat as a gift to a person who might be inclined to cult or other "spiritual problems" (Rom. 14:13-18).

I thank God for our two cats. They give us hours of pleasure and conversation as they are both unique, to say the least. So, I think anyone may own a cat, a dog, a hamster or whatever as long as the purpose for ownership is "for good."

As an aside, according to the Law, cats and dogs and other animals were considered unclean (Lev. 11:27). But that's another issue. See Rom. 6:14; New Testament Applications of Mosaic Law).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).