Image: Cosmetic Vessel in the Shape of a Cat. Middle Kingdom, ca. 1990–1900 B.C.E. Cats in the ancient world, article by Joshua J. Mark. #3. The Egyptians are also responsible for the very name `cat’ in that it derives from the North African word for the animal, “quattah”, and, as the cat was so closely associated with Egypt, almost every other European nation employs variations on this word: French, chat; Swedish, katt; German, katze; Italian, gatto; Spanish, gato and so forth.