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For all the world's cat lovers, let it be known that the cat in heraldry is a symbol of liberty, watchfulness, vigilance and courage. The charge of the cat can trace its history to the Roman goddess of Liberty who is represented holding a cup in one hand, a broken scepter in the other, and a cat lying at her feet. Not only was the cat idolized by the Romans but by the ancient Egyptians too. Their goddess Bubastis, is seen as having the body of a human and the head of a cat. The Roman historian Diodorus writes that whoever killed a cat even by accident in ancient Egypt was punished with death. It is also claimed that the Egyptians worshipped the cat as a symbol of the moon because of the cat's nocturnal activity and because of the dilation and contraction of a cat's eyes being similar to the waxing and waning of the moon. A cat can "speak" through its eyes and their hunting ability is legendary. The King of Siam used cats to guard his palace treasure. It is no wonder that Charles IV, of Luxemburg, Emperor of Germany, adopted the lynx (a form of a wild cat) for his seal, with the motto, "Nullius pavit occursum" which means, "He fears not meeting with any one."
Cats are sacred to Freya, the Old Norse goddess of fertility, beauty, and love. This symbolic association is possibly due to the cat's natural ability to reproduce quickly with many kittens per litter.
In the West beginning with the rise of Christianity, cats (especially black cats) were omens of bad luck, associated with witchcraft and the devil. In Japan, the popular Maneki-neko ("Beckoning Cat") is a figurine of a cat, usually white with one paw raised, that brings good luck.
In ancient Egypt, the goddess Bast, depicted as a woman with the head of a cat, defended the Pharaoh and the sun god Ra. Ancient Egyptians further revered cats as protectors because of their ability to kill mice and other vermin, thus securing the crops and controlling disease.