A Brief History of House Cats - Deepstash
A Brief History of House Cats

A Brief History of House Cats

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A Brief History of House Cats

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Cats and humans have enjoyed a mostly symbiotic relationship for thousands of years. When and where cats first became domesticated has been a riddle for scientists.

  • Some clues first came from the island of Cyprus in 1983, when archaeologists found a cat's jawbone dating back 8,000 years.
  • In 2004, an older site in Cyprus was unearthed where a cat had been deliberately buried with a human. This made it more certain that the island's ancient cats were domesticated.
  • In 2007, authors of a study declared that cats were first domesticated in the Near East about 12,000 years ago and that they descended from a Middle Eastern wildcat, Felis sylvestris, which means "cat of the woods."

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Cats only became useful to humans when people started to till the ground and store surplus crops. With grain stores came mice, cats were delighted by the abundance of prey, and people were delighted by the pest control.

Over time, as people favored cats with more docile traits, certain cats adapted to this environment, producing dozens of breeds of house cats known today.

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Cats over millennia

  • The ancient Egyptian reverence for cats is well-known - scientists found a cat cemetery in Beni-Hassan with 300,000 cat mummies. The Egyptian goddess of love, Bastet, has the head of a cat.
  • Ancient Romans held a similar reverence for the cat, which were seen as a symbol of liberty.
  • Cats became demonized in Europe during the Middle Ages. Many were killed in an effort to ward off evil. Only in the 1600s, the public image of cats began to rally in the West.
  • Nowadays, cats are superstars in comic strips and television shows.

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