In Egyptian mythology and the ancient Egyptian religion, Bastet (or Bast) is a feline goddess of cats, protection, warfare, and joy, worshipped as early as the Second Dynasty (c. 2890 – c. 2686 BC).
She is generally thought to be the daughter of Ra, and the mother of the lion-headed god Mahes (also spelled Maahes or Mihos) and Nefertem.
Bastet originally had the head of a lion, but by the end of the second millenium BCE, her (domesticated) cat and cat-headed forms became more prominent.
She was worshipped all over Lower Egypt, but her main cult was at Bubastis in the eastern Delta.
The goddess Sekhmet and Bastet are closely connected since both goddesses take the form of a lioness, and are both considered to be the spouse of Ptah and the mother of Nefertem.
Cats are sacred to Bastet, which is why, in ancient Egypt, it was considered a crime to harm one. Bastet is a goddess of protection (including but not limited to protection against contagious diseases and evil spirits), because cats protected the crops, and killed vermin. Bastet’s priests kept sacred cats in her temple, which were believed to be incarnations of the goddess. When they died they were mummified and could be presented to the goddess as offerings.