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The domesticated cat

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 over millennia

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....

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When cats became useful

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 cat...

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