Egyptian cat mummy
Egyptian cat mummy Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes

A computerized tomography (CT) scan of a 2500-year-old Egyptian cat mummy which was held in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Rennes, revealed that it held the partial remains of three cats. The scientists performed the scan to illuminate what was inside the mummy without unwrapping. With the help of the technology, they created 3D digital and transparent 3D-printed reconstructions of the mummy.

It should be mentioned that in ancient Egypt, pets were usually buried with their owners. Egyptians held cats in the highest esteem and in those days the punishment for injuring or killing a cat was severe. There was an Egyptian deity who was a Cat Goddess, often represented as half feline, half woman and was called Bastet. So finding a cat mummy is not surprising but the most interesting part of this finding is the partial remains of three different cats.

After analysing the scan results, the researchers found five hind leg bones from three different cats, but it was also missing a skull, vertebrae and ribs. Researches at National Institute of Preventive Archeological Research (Inrap) in France who were involved in this project found instead of the cat's head, a ball of fabric.

Theophane Nicolas, a researcher at Inrap said that the bones were decomposed and riddled with holes which were created by corpse-eating insects. He added that "We expected to see a cat and not several cats, but it is perhaps not so exceptional. There are millions of animal mummies, but few have been imagined. Some are empty, others contain only one bone, sometimes the cat is complete. The mummy of Rennes is a variant."

It is unclear why the Rennes cat mummy held partial remains of different animals. Nicolas said that as per some researchers, it was part of an "ancient scam organized by unscrupulous priests." He also mentioned that the priests could have "resorted to less elaborate preparations, impossible to detect by sight" for ancient rituals which lead to mummies "whose cat shape represents a visible reality beyond the real content."