PLEASE NOTE: This entry is a work in progress. It is not complete yet.
Bastet was a feline goddess who began as a ferocious lion headed goddess, that eventually transformed into a milder cat goddess. Indeed, early depictions of the goddess during the 2nd Dynasty feature her with the head of a lioness. During the Middle Kingdom, she became associated with cats and near the end of the New Kingdom, she was mainly portrayed as a cat-headed woman.
The cat goddess was a protector of women in particular, but she had many other roles as well. Fertility was an area where Bastet was believed to have sway, as well as feminine mysteries. She is pictured at times with a litter of kittens emphasizing her fertility aspects. Bastet wasn't just popular with women but enjoyed widespread popularity amongst men as well. She was even seen as a protector of the Pharaoh (who wasn't?). Her importance and popularity continued and grew well into the Greco-Roman period.
Bubastis was the cult center of the goddess with a temple that Herodotus describes as, "...none pleasanter to the eye than this." One of the most popular offerings to the goddess was that of mummified cats. The manufacture of cat mummies exploded, particularly during the Greco-Roman period as the Greeks and Romans spread her cult outside of Egypt.
Bastet's cult spread far and wide beyond the boarders of Egypt. Her status as protector and fertility goddess, along with the importance of cats in the protection of agriculture ensure that her cult endured and flourished.