Are cats ancient animals? Probably yes!
The history of domesticated cats can be traced back to 4000 years in ancient Egypt!
Well, this is what most people know about cat history.
In this post, we will try to shed light on certain findings that will tell you about the origin of cats and their evolution to modern-day house cats.
The origin and domestication of cats.
There are a number of theories that explains the origin of domesticated cats! Though the findings are rather equivocal, we will go through all the theories to keep your curious mind interested.
Theory-1: Origin from the middle eastern wildcat.
A scientific study published in an American science journal reveals that the DNA structure of modern cats is quite similar to certain cats who lived 12000 years ago.
It was found that the Middle Eastern wildcat Felis Sylvestris is the cat from which all domestic cats evolved.
Theory-2: Egyptians domesticated cats.
Before the analysis of DNA and other significant excavations, it was thought that Egyptians were the first to domesticate cats. According to this theory, cat domestication started 4000 years ago. But we do know that cats were present long before this 4000-year mark.
Theory-3: Cats were self-domesticated in the middle east.
Scientists are now of the opinion that agriculture first started around 10,000-12,000 years ago! This boom in civilization mainly took place in the Middle East, Indus Valley and Yellow River Valley.
This is the time when crops were cultivated and as a result, rodents and other pests became surplus. After then, wildcats were attracted towards human villages as the rodents could meet their daily hunger.
It soon became a mutually beneficial relationship between cats and human. Cats protected crops and humans provided food and shelter for cats.
And slowly, cats adopted the lifestyle and behavior of humans. It’s almost like they self-domesticated themselves.
This is also evident from the fact that street cats are attracted to places where there is plenty of food. You will find cats around restaurants looking for food.
This is a human and animal relationship that is one of the oldest in our history of civilization.
Theory-4: Cat domestication in 7500 B.C.
One of the most significant discoveries made in cat origin and history was the unearthing of a cat buried with its owners in Cyprus. The man behind the astonishing discovery is Jean-Denis Verge who found the remains in 2004.
The place where the cat skeleton was found used to be a grave where people buried their loved ones. So, this is clear evidence that humans and cats had relationships since 7500 B.C.
History of cats in early Egypt.
As agriculture and business developed in early Egypt, cats were purposely brought into the business by vendors. As cats protected food supplies from rodent infestations, their popularity increased.
Over the years, cats bonded with children and soon found their way into ordinary Egyptian households.
The image of cats as protector and helper made them be regarded as sacred creatures. As such, people conflated them with Egyptian gods. The Egyptian goddess of love, Bastet, had the head of a cat. This proves how much the Egyptians adored cats.
Here’s a video on the mythological god, Bastet that might interest you!
Archaeologists also found 300,000 mummies of cats in Beni-Hassan, which is thought to be a cat cemetery. Possibly the mummification started around 600 B.C.
The reason behind such mass mummification was possibly to offer cats as gifts to the gods. At some point, this became a business in the then Egyptian era.
The arrival of cats in the Roman empire.
The mass expansion of cats into Europe can be credited to the Roman empire.
It all started when Phoenicians first introduced cats to the Roman empire. This clean and protective animal quickly replaced ferrets, which the Romans had earlier.
Cats were cleaner and required very less care for breeding. So, ordinary people took them to their homes.
The popularity became so high that the Romans carried their pet cats to every part of Europe that they gradually conquered.
Modern-day cat evolution.
The cat we have now is known as Felis Catus. Through years of interbreeding and adaptations, we have cats that look quite different from what the Phoenicians brought from Egypt.
Though today’s cats are not specialized rat hunters, they still have the natural instinct to hunt.
Cats have managed to find their way into people’s homes in all ages since civilization grew.
Today there are more than 95.6 million household cats in the U.S alone. The Cat industry has become a great source of business for many big corporations and small vendors.