Where are cats in Jewish tradition?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2013: (Actually published on November 20, 2013.
The ancient Hebrews mentioned neither the name of God in the Torah, nor that of cats, who were revered in neighboring Egypt as incarnations of the goddess Bastet.
Cats appear in the Bible only in the book of Baruch, not considered part of the Torah but included in many versions of the Bible. In Baruch, the prophet Jeremiah denounces the idols worshipped by corrupt priests by alleging “Bats and swallows alight on their bodies and heads––any bird, and cats as well.”
“If I asked you to tell me, off the top of your head, where cats appear in Jewish tradition, you would probably giggle and say, ‘Nowhere!’” acknowledged Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan of Or Shalom Synagogue in Vancouver, British Columbia, on World Cat Day 2013.
But “The Talmud honors cats as teachers of virtue,” Kaplan continued. “Rabbi Yochanan observed, ‘If the Torah had not been given, we could have learned modesty from the cat.’ In Perek Shira, the ‘Song of Nature,’ cats teach the world humility.”
Says the cat in Perek Shira, “If you rise up like a vulture, and place your nest among the stars, from there I shall bring you down.”
Explained Kaplan, “Often the vulture is a metaphor for imperial power. Through the cat, God teaches that even the most militarized empire is vulnerable to rebellion and decay.”