Where Do Cats Come From

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Where Do Cats Come From. Cats have always been a source of fascination for mankind throughout history. Today cats have become one of the world’s most popular pets perfectly suited to the lifestyle of our day. They are beautiful, enigmatic and easy-to-care for pets. But where and when did the domestic cat originate? This page will give you some insight into this question. It has been about 4000 years since the first cats were domesticated. The Ancient Egyptians were the first to keep and use cats to control vermin and other pests to protect stores of food. In Ancient Egypt, the cat was revered as a hunter and worshiped as gods and goddesses. The ancient Egyptians imposed the death penalty for killing cats and cats were also mummified before being buried. Other ancient civilisations later began to domesticate the cat and took tame felines to Italy where they slowly spread around Europe. Eventually, they arrived in the New World with the Pilgrims. The shorthaired domestic cat spread across the world from Egypt while longhaired cats came later from Turkey and Iran.

Where Do Cats Come From

Where Do Cats Come From

The domestic cat also spread from India to China and Japan. Except for a short period of persecution in the Middle Ages when cats were associated with the devil, by the eighteenth century cats had become popular household pets world wide. The wild cats of today such as Lions and Tigers descended from early carnivores called miacids. From there the modern wild cat developed into three main types; the European wild cat, the African wild cat and the Asiatic desert cat. The domestic cat is thought to have evolved from the African wild cat because of its tabby markings. Domestic cats today still take many characteristics from their wild ancestors. The arresting eyes, body shape, feeding and grooming habits are the same along with the ability to pounce into action at any given moment. It is this link that makes the domestic cat so fascinating around the world. The non-pedigree domestic cat, the Moggie is the most popular house pet today with the black and white Moggie being the most popular followed by the black cat followed by the Tabby cat. There are also 36 recognised breeds of pedigree cats around the world with the Siamese cat being the most popular. Most homes today that keep pets have at least one cat in residence.
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Cute and cuddly as they may be, domestic cats are still deadly predators, and their introduction into new territories can spell disaster for native populations. In Australia, scientists believe that cats (like the one seen slinking above) have played a large part in the local extinction of many small native mammals, including select species of sugar gliders and mice, since their arrival on the continent. Unraveling how the felines arrived in the country—and when—could give researchers a better understanding of their impact on the ecosystem. In a new study, published today in BMC Evolutionary Biology, researchers analyzed DNA from 269 cats from six different locations in mainland Australia and seven surrounding islands. Despite existing theories, which postulated that cats may have arrived in the area as early as 1650 onboard the ships of sea cucumber fishers, the DNA analysis suggests that cats arrived in Australia from Europe in the early 1800s. This time period coincides with European settlement of the area, and the researchers believe that the felines arrived on boats where they were used to control rodents and other pests during the voyage. The researchers report that they found no evidence of a distinct cat lineage from Asia, but that Asian cats may have begun breeding with the European founders later in time as cats were ferried between the two continents along trade routes. Because of their isolated nature, the island cat populations (including on Dirk Hartog, Flinders, and Tasmania) have had less opportunity to mate with domestic breeds or other local populations that have since been brought to the region. As a result, the researchers conclude that the island populations more closely reflect the original founding cats, whereas the genetics on the mainland have become more muddled with time.
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Discovery Channel reports on a study designed to trace the lineage of the modern house cat. The results:Cats’ ancestry was traced to five types of wild cats managed to interbreed at various times, with the result being Felis silvestris lybica, which appears to be the ancestor of modern house cats.”This was an amazing experiment when animals came out of the wild,”O’Brien said. “Cats are known for their ferocious, deadly nature,”O’Brien said, so this is an extraordinary change for them.Cats may have been domesticated once or many times, he said, addingthat the most likely case is they were domesticated once and other wildcats bred with the domesticated ones.”I wasn’t there, but all the data supports that,” he said.The researchers found wild cats, with DNA identical to domestic cats, in Israel, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.By studying the mitochondrial DNA of 979 domestic and wild cats fromEurope, Asia and Africa the researchers concluded that the origins ofthe species — what O’Brien calls a feline Adam and Eve — developedbetween 130,000 and 160,000 years ago. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mother to child.Photo of Felis sylvestris lybica from Noorderlicht

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“We think what happened is that the cats sort of domesticated themselves,” Carlos Driscoll, one of the study authors, told the Washington Post. 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. In the United States, cats are the most popular house pet, with 90 million domesticated cats slinking around 34 percent of U.S. homes.

Cats, Marshall explained, are very hard to find archaeologically, in part because humans do not tend to eat them. “What we mostly excavate from ancient homes and villages is the garbage. And we’re just not going to find many cats,” she said. Furthermore, it was a surprise to come across cat bones in China, as most of the existing evidence shows early cats in Egypt and around the eastern Mediterranean. Furthermore, modern genetics has shown that today’s house cats are more closely to related to Middle Eastern wildcats than any other. Research is still being done on the DNA of the Shaanxi cat bones to determine whether there is any relationship, perhaps via an early trans-Asian trade route, between these ancient cats and the popular pet.
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Feral cats (cats that are free-living and independent of humans, but are descended from those that did rely on humans) have established invasive populations over large geographic areas of Australia. There has been much debate about how they arrived in Australia. Cats were often transported on sailing vessels as a means of controlling rodents or as pets, initially on board and then in new settlements. One theory suggests that cats arrived in Australia with European explorers in the late 18th century. Another hypothesis is that cats accompanied Malaysian trepangers – fishers of sea cucumbers – to Northern Australia in around 1650.
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Cats traveled from Eurasia to North America and back again multiple times through the course of prehistory, spreading throughout the world by millions of years ago according to 21st century scientific studies. The domestication of the house cat came much more recently. Scientists used to think the Egyptians were the first people to domesticate cats, roughly 3,600 years ago; but new evidence puts domestic cats in the Fertile Crescent perhaps as long as 10,000 years ago. Warren E. Johnson and Stephen J. O’Brien, both of the National Cancer Institute, and other scientists have used DNA evidence to chart lineages of all cats, big and small. They’ve identified 37 species, all of which evolved from pseudaelurus and, by extension, proailurus.
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All Cats, Large and Small All cats — that is, all felids — share common traits. This might seem counter-intuitive if you’re comparing your house cat with a tiger. Remember, though, the term “big cats” carries no biological significance apart from size distinction. It may help to keep in mind that the similarities found in ancient cat remains have made tracing their genealogy quite difficult. In any case, all cats are obligate carnivores (they have to eat meat), many are social, and they’re often nocturnal. No members of the Felidae family have taste receptors for sweetness.
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Domestic Relations Cats traveled from Eurasia to North America and back again multiple times through the course of prehistory, spreading throughout the world by millions of years ago according to 21st century scientific studies. The domestication of the house cat came much more recently. Scientists used to think the Egyptians were the first people to domesticate cats, roughly 3,600 years ago; but new evidence puts domestic cats in the Fertile Crescent perhaps as long as 10,000 years ago. Warren E. Johnson and Stephen J. O’Brien, both of the National Cancer Institute, and other scientists have used DNA evidence to chart lineages of all cats, big and small. They’ve identified 37 species, all of which evolved from pseudaelurus and, by extension, proailurus.

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