(Photo Courtesy of Gretchen Stern)
People often hear the saying, “a cat has 9 lives.” This refers to the fact they are usually very agile and noted for their longevity. While this is obviously just a myth, cat owners like to jokingly wonder how many lives their cat has already had, and how many they have left.
While there are different ideas about where this saying comes from, one major idea is that it originated with the ancient Egyptians, who valued cats. The legend of the Ancient Egyptian sun god Atum-Ra says that he took the form of a cat. Since he gave birth to 8 other gods, the number 9 became associated with felines.
The idea that cats have multiple lives is well-known across the world, but the exact number of lives varies.
There are old accounts of the expression written out as well — one English proverb states: “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays.” Shakespeare even used it in Romeo and Juliet: “Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives.”
This speculation actually does have some merit to it. Although it is just a theory, when you think about how historically lucky cats are. They are often known to survive dangerous incidents, and everyone knows that when cats fall they can land on their feet.