This object was purchased by Sir Henry Wellcome at auction in 1928. It is the upper part of a cartonnage body covering of a cat mummy. Cartonnage is a mixture of plaster and linen.
In the Late Dynastic to Graeco-Roman Period, from around 900 BC, cats were often bred to be killed and presented to deities, rather like presentations of candles at churches today. Many were offered to the goddess Bastet, who could take the form of a cat. Huge numbers of cats were killed in the Roman Period.
Large cat cemeteries are known at Bubastis, Saqqara and Dra Abe el-Nagga, Thebes. Smaller ones are known from Abydos and elsewhere.
We also have a separate Information Sheet discussing cats in ancient Egypt more generally.