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Natural World

Cats were first domesticated 9,000 years ago

June 19, 2017 | Comment icon 14 comments



Cats and humans have long lived alongside one another. Image Credit: sxc.hu
A major new study has revealed how cats went from wild animals to one of mankind's closest friends.
The study, which involved extracting mitochondrial DNA from 200 ancient cat remains, determined that domestication began 9,000 years ago and that cats were actually tamed not once, but twice.

"There were two taming events - one in the Near East at the beginning and one in Egypt much later," said lead researcher Eva-Maria Geigl. "And then the cat spread very efficiently all over the ancient world as a ship's cat. Both lineages are now present in modern cats."

Scientists believe that humanity's relationship with felines began when wild cats started hanging around farms to prey on mice which were being attracted by grain stores.
"I would say cats chose human company, but it was a commensal relationship - it was profitable to both sides," said Dr Geigl.

A second wave of cat domestication occurred later in Egypt and the animals spread throughout Europe during the Roman era, eventually ending up all across the world.

Intriguingly, tabby cats appeared only in the Middle Ages and there is next to no evidence of selective breeding in domestic cats throughout most of their history.

"There was very little breeding and selection going on in cats up the 19th Century, in contrast with dogs," said Dr Geigl. "The cat was useful from the very beginning - it didn't have to be changed."

Today, there are thought to be between 200 and 600 million cats spread out across the globe.

Source: BBC News | Comments (14)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by Claire. 5 years ago
Figures the little maniacs domesticated themselves, and took their time doing it too.
Comment icon #6 Posted by DanL 5 years ago
Horse dufers!!! Cats are never domesticated. They only act civilized once they get YOU domesticated to their wants and needs and even then they do stuff just to annoy you and mess with your head. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by strunk64 5 years ago
The article says "Scientists believe that humanity's relationship with felines began when wild cats started hanging around farms to prey on mice which were being attracted by grain stores." 9000 years ago? Thats what it sounds like anyway.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Myles 5 years ago
I've had cats around my whole life.    Currently I have 3.   One is 16 years old, One is mostly an outside cat and the other is a month old kitten.   Personally I would have 2 at a maximum, one indoor and one outdoor.   But It's just me against my wife and 2 daughters.  Anyhoo, I've never seen them  protect the home or persons.  
Comment icon #9 Posted by rashore 5 years ago
 
Comment icon #10 Posted by highdesert50 5 years ago
About as domesticated as the seamen who brought them on their journeys.
Comment icon #11 Posted by paperdyer 5 years ago
The cats figured they had a good thing going.  Food when they wanted it. Attention when they wanted.  All that staff and so many things to do. I love cats.  I don't have one now because my Brittany thinks cats are good for chasing only.  She groups them with squirrels, birds, possums......
Comment icon #12 Posted by DanL 5 years ago
I have two little dogs and one big cat that runs things. Whoever said that dogs and cats don't get along is silly. When I brought the little kitten home my Yorkie got excited and started making milk. She raised that cat and I didn't think she was ever going to wean him. He is spoiled rotten and in general acts more like a dog than a cat...as long as he gets his way. My daughter has three big dogs and now two cats. It used to be three but the old Queen died a year ago. That cat had no claws and not many teeth but all dogs feared her. She jumped on top of a big cow dog that messed with one of he... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by Future ghost 5 years ago
Cats took one look at humans and realized we would make perfect servants for them.
Comment icon #14 Posted by DanL 5 years ago
Truthfully my current cat is amazingly affectionate. I think that he sees me more like a favorite pet than just a servant...as long as I get up and do what he wants in a fairly speedy fashion. 


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