The earliest known domestication of the common house cat was in Cyprus 11,000 years ago. The ancient Egyptians took this further and actually domesticated the house cat so that it lived with people in their own homes. The Romans popularized the practice all over Europe, and so our love of the cat was born.
Cats and Egyptians
It’s well known that the cat was revered by the ancient Egyptians. Indeed, cats were often mummified along with royal families because they were so loved. As with the ancient Egyptians, the cat was understood to have a dual nature. On the one hand, the cat was the affectionate house cat, and on the other it was a fierce lioness.
The ancient Egyptians believed that the cat was the earthly incarnation of Bastet, the Goddess of the sun and the moon. Perhaps it is this ancient perception of the dual nature of the humble cat from where we draw our own perceptions: the idea that every cat has within them the spirit of the fierce hunter and warrior.
More Than Just a Simple Cat
Cats share a big feline family. The common house cat is related to big cats such as the lion, tiger, and so on. In a way, our very own cats at home are a direct representation of their larger feline cousins, and many people enjoy this idea.
Our common house cats share more than just a passing resemblance and evolutionary link though. They share some common characteristics with them too. Female felines of all persuasions are known to viciously protect their young. They are not to be messed with!
Cats, as well as their larger cousins, are also known as sensual beings too. The vivacious vixen is cat-like in her soft and deliberate movements and her predatory instincts for lovers. How often do women in our own culture relate themselves to big cats when they are feeling strong, capable, and in-charge of it all? Women like this are lionesses. They are tigers. They are leopards waiting to strike.
So, what other common meanings and associations do felines have? Consider the following:
- Power and strength: The idea of the big cat as a primal hunter has always appealed to us and informs our perception of all cats as hunters, no matter how domesticated they may be.
- Motherhood: All cats are protectors of their young and will do anything to ensure their survival.
- Curiosity: The old saying – “curiosity killed the cat” – is indicative of our perception of them as intelligent and curious creatures.
- Royalty: We can thank the ancient Egyptians for this, as they were sacred animals and were seen regularly wandering the palaces of the Pharaohs.
- Freedom: Cats are seen to be independent and even distant, and we think of them as freedom loving.
- Spirit connections: Throughout human history, the feline has been seen as having a direct connection to the spirit world.
The Wildness of the Cat
Perhaps it is the wildness of the cat that attracts us. Even our own small domesticated house cats seem closer to their big cat cousins than our dog friends. In this sense, our love of big cats like lions and tigers stems from our respect for them as predators.
Getting a Big Cat Tattoo
What if you want to get a big cat tattoo done? Here are some of the most popular big cat tattoos and their meanings:
Many would say that the wild Tiger is the ultimate in untamed power and aggression. In fact, many cultures still view the Tiger as a highly sensual creature that is full of erotic power. Sadly, this means that they are targeted in the wild for certain body parts that are supposed to make one sensually and sexually powerful.
The tiger is uninhibited. It is wild and primal. Nothing holds it back from doing what it needs to do in the wild, and emblems of tigers are used to denote something wildly destructive and passionate. Just think of the tiger emblem used by martial arts schools to express their strength and power.
There is something about this diminutive big cat that speaks of nobility and presence. The cheetah may not be the biggest cat in the wild, but it more than makes up for this by being the fastest anomaly on the planet. The cheetah can reach a speed of 75 miles per hour and look graceful doing so!
In parts of Africa, the cheetah was associated with royalty and nobility. Tribal chieftains often wore cheetah skins, and Haile Selassie – the last emperor of Ethiopia – was always photographed with a cheetah.
In South America, the jaguar has always been a popular symbol of strength and power. Like all felines, jaguars are sleek and graceful. They live in the first and are powerful hunters. In fact, the ancient Aztec culture had an elite group of skilled warriors called Jaguar Knights.
Otherwise known as a mountain lion or puma, the cougar has long held a special place within Native American cosmology. It is a skilled hunter, a powerful leader, and a symbol of resolute determination. They are also incredibly athletic and agile, and they are associated with the characteristics of intuition, observation, patience, and perception.
The lion is the so-called King of the jungle. His roar is loud and powerful, and his mane speaks of power, strength, nobility, and dominance. The lion is also strongly associated with the sun and masculinity. In this context, the lion makes a great tattoo for a man who aspires to leadership and positions of authority where important decisions must be made.
Let us not forget the lioness though. She may be smaller and lack the great mane, but she is the hunter and the protector of her young. In the pride, a single lioness will rule over an entire cohort of other lionesses and young lions. Only the lion is higher in authority than the lioness. For many women, the lioness makes for a great symbol and expression of their inner strength and their complete dedication to family.
Should You Have a Big Cat Tattoo?
Often, those who love their domestic house cats also love the big cats around the world. If you have an affinity for the beauty of the big cat, and their raw primal power, strength, hunting skill, and sensuality, then a big cat tattoo might just be for you.
One of the great things about big cats is that you don’t need to hail from any specific culture to see their strength and power. You can admire their historical and spiritual associations and identify on a deep level with what this means for you. In this context, big cat tattoos are for anyone from anywhere. They are not specifically tied to men or women, apart from the lion and lioness.
Whether you relate to the protective nature of the cougar and the lioness, or the sensuality of the tiger, the big cats make for truly eye-catching tattoos in many different styles. From the ancient Egyptians to the Jaguar Knights and beyond, the big cat has captured our collective imagination like few other animals.