Overall, life for non-human animals in ancient Egypt was still probably comparable to that for humans. Some literally lived in the lap of luxury, but others may have been viewed more as tools to achieve certain goals.
Co-author Salima Ikram, a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, explained to Discovery News, "Animals had a very important role to play in Egypt, as totems for divinities, sources of food and thus life, and as a source of raw materials."
But, she added, "Pets were often very spoiled, just as they are today, and received the same care in life and in death as did humans."
Ikram shared that, in burials, paleontologists have found food placed beside animals. Dates and jujubes have been found next to monkeys, for example, and milk was sometimes placed near cats.
The ibis received unique care, she suggested, because it was associated with Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing.
"The stance of the bird, rooting around, was regarded as a quest...Also, the bill is like a pen," she said.