Cats tend to be calmer, gentler, and friendlier—all of which are traits that strengthen our bond with them. If cats seem ambivalent towards us, as the quotations from cat fan-sites indicate, then it may be a reflection of the wildly mixed feelings humans, too, have shown cats over the millennia. In the Far East, cats were valued for the protection they offered treasured manuscripts from rodents. Cats were first domesticated in the Near East, and some of the study authors speculate that the process began up to 12,000 years ago. They also worshipped a feline deity named Bastet who was the goddess of family, love, and fertility. The Ancient Egyptians were the first to keep and use cats to control vermin and other pests to protect stores of food. Quite often these wildcats are later abandoned when their owners realize they can't control them. “They only recently split off from wild cats, and some even still breed with their wild relatives. Answer. Fortunately for cat lovers, these myths have gone by the wayside. Her resistance to being fully domesticated didn't help a cat's case, either. Cats and wildcats have quite a few similar behaviors. That cats are mysterious, elusive and surely never completely tameable animals is now well known: but would you have ever imagined […] This study also showed gene mutations related to the ability to form memories and learn from negative or positive reinforcement. The location of the bones shows that these cats lived with the humans, within the village. This same research also revealed that cats were likely domesticated in the Near East around 12,000 years ago. Bastet, an Egyptian goddess of love, had the head of a cat, and to be convicted of killing a cat in Egypt often meant a death sentence for the offender. By the mid-90s, cat services and products had become a billion-dollar industry. Cats were indeed getting a bad rap due to this fact, resulting in all the people becoming afraid of them which led to the mass killing of thousands of cats. As of 2017, the domestic cat was the second-most popular pet in the United States, with 95 million cats owned. While this makes for a sweet story, it doesn't synch up with what really happened. Thanks for the A2A. Cats are simply not as domesticated as dogs despite sharing households with humans for at least 9,000 years, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have found. Their less aggressive nature is linked to a gene mutation discovered by a study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. India and China had cat fertility goddesses, and the Vikings worshipped Frey, the cat goddess of love and beauty. Have you ever noticed the open resemblance between dogs and wolves? Humans generally liked cats just the way they were, and we did not breed them to excel at specific tasks or have particular traits like we did dogs. These mice, in turn, drew cats who were pleased to discover an abundant and relatively easy to hunt food source. This same research also revealed that cats were likely domesticated in the Near East around 12,000 years ago. For thousands of years, cats had no real need for humans—and vice versa—so we generally went our own ways. But the quips do illuminate a very real ambivalence in the long relationship between cats and humans, as this history of the house cat shows. Since it seemed highly unlikely that humans would have brought wild cats over to the island (a "spitting, scratching, panic-stricken wild feline would have been the last kind of boat companion they would have wanted," writes Desmond Morris in Catworld: A Feline Encyclopedia), the finding suggested that domestication occurred before 8,000 years ago. Genetic research published in Science found that all domestic cats (Felis catus) can be traced back to a wildcat in the Middle East called Felis sylvestris, which means cat of the forest in Latin. Egyptians were not the only societies that worshipped cats. It was long thought that cat domestication was initiated in ancient Egypt, as since around 3100 BC veneration was given to cats in ancient Egypt. For instance, think about the differences between a wrinkly Shar-Pei, tiny Chihuahua, and large Labrador Retriever. As someone pointed out, a number of other animals were domesticated as well. These cat mummies have provided valuable DNA to researchers studying the history of our feline friends. Perhaps a kind-hearted hunter came across a lonely litter of kitties mewling in the forest and brought them home. National Geographic reports: Mice and rats were attracted to crops and other agricultural byproducts being produced by human civilizations. In any case, you’ll need to provide your cat with a healthy diet, opportunities to exercise, and great veterinary care. They were so enthralled with cats that they took them into their homes and thought of them as part of their families. when were cats domesticated: We are convinced that we have chosen to bring kitty into our homes, in fact the latest studies show that long ago cats have been tamed humans: this is why. Pet insurance can help you out with that last one. Domestic cats have always interbred with feral cats. The common ancestor of today’s house cats is Felis silvetris lybica. Dogs were domesticated thousands of years before than cats. It was also believed that witches could turn into cats and sneak into homes to do harm. Although their stellar hunting skills made cats so appealing, some people were wary of the precise and stealthy ways cats attacked their prey. Products are underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company, produced and administered by C&F Insurance Agency, Inc. (NPN # 3974227), a Crum & Forster company. Products, schedules, and rates may vary and are subject to change. There is some confusion about the origins of the domestic cat, with researchers arguing about where and when in time cats were domesticated. This was the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship between cats and humans. Additionally, Egyptians mummified their cats and entombed them with their families. Smithsonian Institution. *Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Nowadays, of course, cats are superstars: the protagonists of comic strips and television shows. Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. They lived in forests before they moved into villages. They all have their own personalities—some are loving cuddle bugs who stick by your side while others prefer to do their own thing. Terms of Use U.S. answers. Just last month, a study published in the research journal Science secured more pieces in the cat-domestication puzzle based on genetic analyses. Lots of mice. All Rights Reserved, Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The researchers studied DNA from archeological sites in Ireland and Germany. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. This study showed that all domestic cats descended from a Middle Eastern wildcat, felis sylvestris, which literally means “cat of the woods.” Starting in the Middle East, cats were domesticated about 9,500 years ago. Plentiful rodents probably drew wild felines to human communities. The cats likely started hanging around farming communities in … Selective breeding of cats to achieve various looks or temperaments is a relatively new trend, which has become increasingly popular over the last 150 years. Although they’re related to cats, they have not been domesticated over thousands of years to be human companions. For instance, causing a cat to die was punishable by death. While a Maine Coon and a Domestic Shorthair are definitely distinct in size and coloring, they still look a lot like each other. Archaeologists have found evidence that suggests that cats in Cyprus were domesticated around 9500 years ago, long before the love affair with cats began in Ancient Egypt. They also both sleep a lot—around 16 to 20 hours a day, and they like to hunt and stalk their prey. We do know they were revered in antiquity as incarnations of divinities and that they suffered incredible persecution due to their association with witchcraft and heresy. All 600 million housecats in the world can be traced back to five females of this species. That said, there are still some folks who will avoid crossing the path of a black cat at all costs. All domestic cats, the authors declared, descended from a Middle Eastern wildcat, Felis sylvestris, which literally means "cat of the woods." Cat, domesticated member of the family Felidae, order Carnivora, and the smallest member of that family. For instance, although cats don’t roar, they communicate through vocalizations like wildcats (cats even make some pretty weird noises). Preventive and Wellness Care reimbursements are based on a schedule. © 2020 United States Fire Insurance Company. It looks like our feline friends chose us rather than the other way around. In 2007, a detailed molecular study of 979 domestic cats showed the relation of the domestic cat and the African wildcat, judging it to have separated approximately 130,000 years ago. Ancient Romans held a similar—albeit tempered and secularized—reverence for cats, which were seen as a symbol of liberty. Who was 'El Padrino,' godfather to drug cartel? You can tap into this instinct to encourage your cat to get more exercise by hiding toys or treats around the house for your cat to find. It is believed the domestication of cats began around 9,000 years ago, but the actual date is difficult to determine due to the limits of historical and archaeological evidence. This can come from all different sources including beef, chicken, turkey, fish, or shellfish. Our storehouses offered cats plenty of prey, and we got an effective means of controlling the rodents who were destroying our grain. The Bubonic Black Plague. If true, this would indicate that cats were domesticated more than once—in China, and 5000 years earlier in the Middle East. There are many theories about why cats chose to live with people at all. There are certainly some clear differences between cats and wildcats, but they also share some interesting—and amusing—similarities. So yes, it is possible to train your cat. Cats are simply not as domesticated as dogs despite sharing households with humans for at least 9,000 years, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have found. The cats invited themselves in, and over time, as people favored cats with more docile traits, certain cats adapted to this new environment, producing the dozens of breeds of house cats known today. The first domesticated cats were thought to have come from the Wildcat, or Kaffir Cat, originating in the forests and deserts of Africa. It’s extremely difficult to determine when cats were domesticated for two primary reasons. The Crum & Forster group of companies is rated A (Excellent) by AM Best Company 2018. Cats were first domesticated in the Near East about 10,000 years ago. Customizing cat food with gravy toppers is one of the top trends for cat nutrition. So how did cats become our purring feline friends? Well, it turns out that dogs evolved from a wolf species. The same study asserts that cats were domesticated in the Near East , … It's important to feed your cat a healthy meat-based diet and keep the treats to a minimum to help avoid obesity. Privacy Statement The First Domesticated Cats. This may sound like common sense, but wildcats should not be kept as pets. Complete Coverage℠ reimbursements are based on the invoice. Cats were first domesticated at least 5,300 years ago, study shows December 18, 2013 / 7:01 PM / CBS News We log into live streams of cats sitting in front of Christmas-themed fireplaces. So how did cats become our purring feline friends? For all terms and conditions visit www.aspcapetinsurance.com/terms. California Do Not Sell My Info Cats were not domesticated in the same way dogs, cows, pigs, and goats were. These wildcats can still be found in Africa, southern Asia, and Europe. Cats were first domesticated in the Near East around 7500 BC. 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