In this article, we will continue our study of animals and look at cats in the Bible. We will explore what the Bible says and more. So, let’s start learning…
There are over 120 different distinct species of animals mentioned throughout the Bible, and they all have specific interpretations and prophetic meanings attached to them. You can find verses referring to camels, dogs, horses, and various sea creatures, to name a few.
One animal that is interestingly absent from this list is the humble cat. There is no mention of a cat or the term cat anywhere in the modern Bible. Isn’t that odd? Why would that be? Let’s find out.
What Does The Bible Say About Cats?
Hmmm…what does the Bible say about cats you say?? Well, nothing!
So, why are cats never mentioned in the Bible?
It’s extraordinary that the Bible never mentions a cat. There is no verse in the Bible, at least not the Protestant bible, that mentions a typical cat like a house cat.
It’s incredibly confusing because the Egyptians worshiped a few false deities like the feline goddess called Bastet and Sekhmet.
They also adored cats, and the nation is known to be one of the first to domesticate these animals successfully. Cats appeared in much of Egypt’s art, hieroglyphs, and sculptures.
But Eygpt wasn’t the only nation to worship cat dieties. In Babylon they worshipped Nergal a diety that had the head of a lion.
Another interesting fact, the cats were mummified more often than humans; archeologists found so many mummified cats that they were exported to England to be ground up as fertilizer.
You would think that Moses would at least mention them somewhere in his five books because the Israelites would have been familiar with the cat and its symbolism. And yet, nowhere in the Bible is a cat ever mentioned.
There’s no apparent reason why the Bible doesn’t mention cats. Some scholars believe that they weren’t common in the Middle East at the time, but we know that Egypt (and a few other countries) had cats when the Bible was written.
From all indications, though, cats were still relatively wild at that time, and they weren’t as tame and common as they are these days since cats weren’t native to the Middle East.
That might be part of why the Bible doesn’t refer to them; they weren’t as relevant to Israel as we think they should have been.
However, we can understand that God attached no prophetic relevance to normal housecats. If He had, He would have mentioned them in His Word.
But even though there’s no reference to a cat in the Bible, there are numerous references to other cat species and even in the apocrypha. Let’s dive into them and see what they refer to.
Cats In The Apocrypha
The closest we get to cats being mentioned in the Bible is not in the Protestant Bible but in one of the apocryphal books, which is accepted as part of the Bible by Catholics and some Orthodox churches.
It occurs in the book of Baruch, also called the Letter of Jeremiah. In chapter 6:22, we see the words,
“Bats, swallows, and birds alight on their heads; and so do cats.”
These words refer to idols, and the writer tells us how many different animals sit on the idols’ heads, telling us that they are not gods because gods would not let the animals alight there.
Even though this verse is not part of the Biblical canon, it states the truth – idols are not gods, and God is the only living God.
Other Types Of Cats
There are mentions of other felines in the Bible, and they have strong prophetic meanings attached to them.
When we look at Isaiah 34:14, we see the following:
“And wild animals shall meet with hyenas; the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; indeed, there the night bird settles and finds for herself a resting place.”
The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translates “wild animals” as “wildcats,” though the Hebrew word only refers to “desert dwellers.”
However, this portion of scripture refers to God’s judgment on the nations around Israel and how many of them will be left desolate, to the point where the wild animals will gather and nest in the ruins of once great cities.
Within this context, whether it refers to cats or not, we can see that it speaks of desolation and destruction and how nature takes over when God brings haughty and prideful nations to a fall.
As little as the Bible has to say about other types of cats, one kind of cat is mentioned repeatedly: the lion.
Lions are used throughout the Bible in a variety of contexts. I’ll touch base a little below but if you really want to dig deep check out these bullet.
Genesis 49:9 – Judah: A Lion’s Cub
The very first mention of a lion in the Bible is in Genesis 49:9. This is where Jacob (Israel) blesses his sons before his death. The blessing he speaks over his son Judah says,
“Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?”
Jacob’s blessing speaks of strength and becoming a mighty warrior. This becomes even more relevant as time passes, as we see that David eventually comes from the house of Judah and, later, Jesus Himself is referred to in Revelation as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
Judges 14 – Samson and the Lion
Judges 14 tells of Samson’s journey to Timnah, where a young lion attacked him. He killed the animal and, when he passed that way again later, he found that bees had made a nest inside the lion’s carcass.
This portion also speaks of the strength of a lion, but how God’s power in the hands of His servant is even greater. It also shows how God can make something good and sweet come from something meant for your destruction.
Daniel 6 – Daniel In The Lion’s Den
Daniel 6 tells us how the king threw Daniel into a den of lions when he was caught praying to God instead of the king. Despite how much it troubled the king, he had established an ordinance (under false pretenses) that forced him to follow through on the action.
But we can see how God protected Daniel by sending an angel to shut the lions’ mouths (verse 22), and that which was intended for Daniel’s destruction turned around into a blessing because he was righteous.
As with Samson, this is an even more prominent indication that a lion means strength, but God is even stronger. It shows that no matter how powerful our enemies are, God will not hesitate to show His far greater strength to protect and defend the righteous.
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah
Revelation 5:5 says the following:
“And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.’”
This passage refers to Jesus. We know this because He came from the line of David (the “Root of David”). But what is the significance of Jesus being referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah?
As we saw earlier, the very first mention of a lion was when Jacob blessed his son Judah and referred to him as a lion’s cub and later as a strong lion. The law of first mention (a common approach in Bible interpretation and study) says that the first time something is mentioned, it sets a standard for how it should generally be interpreted.
Jesus came from the tribe of Judah, as did David. By calling Jesus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, God is essentially telling us that Jesus is the Lion among lions. The ultimate lion. The King of kings and the Lord of lords. There can be no one greater or more powerful than Him.
Every other reference to a lion, or any other type of cat, in the book of Revelations always says, “like a lion” or “like a leopard” (Revelation 13:2). Yet Jesus is not “like” a lion – He is the Lion among lions. The enemy may appear as strong as a lion, but only Jesus is truly powerful.
Symbolism Of Cats In The Bible
If you have been around my site long enough you know I love finding symbolism in God’s Word. But when God’s Word makes no mention of certain thing then we are left with no symbolic meaning.
I’m not going to make something up or try to some how connect invisible dots together to give you a symbolic meaning. The closest thing to symbolism for cats in the Bible you can get is that of a lion. I go over that in my article Lions In The Bible: Symbolism, References, & Meaning.
Even though cats aren’t really mentioned in the Bible (at least, not in the accepted canonical books), they are highly relevant to Christian culture and beliefs. The Bible sometimes refers to different cat species to indicate their wild nature, but more often to show strength.
But we can see that God’s power is greater than any other being, proven by the Lion of Judah, Who conquered the world.
Animals In the Bible Series
Ready to check out other critters mentioned in the Bible? Check them out below:
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…