The History of the House Cat

Published on May 26th, 2009 | by Admin

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Recent genetic and archaeological findings show that wildcats may have become house cats earlier, and in a different place, than previously thought.

It is by turns aloof and affectionate, serene and savage, endearing and exasperating. Despite its mercurial nature, however, the house cat is the most popular pet in the world. A third of American households have feline members, and more than 600 million cats live among humans worldwide. Yet as familiar as these creatures are, a complete understanding of their origins has proved elusive. Whereas other once wild animals were domesticated for their milk, meat, wool or servile labor, cats contribute virtually nothing in the way of sustenance or work to human endeavor. How, then, did they become commonplace fixtures in our homes?

Scholars long believed that the ancient Egyptians were the first to keep cats as pets, starting around 3,600 years ago. But genetic and archaeological discoveries made over the past five years have revised this scenario—and have generated fresh insights into both the ancestry of the house cat and how its relationship with humans evolved.

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2 Responses to The History of the House Cat

  1. Jeanne says:

    If scholars have believed Egypt was first to have cats as pets, but this belief has been reversed, then what is the newest insight into cats, their ancestry and relationship with humans?

    This story left me hanging, like my cat does, sometimes.

  2. Hi Jeanne,

    There is more to the article at Scientific American. If you scroll to the bottom you will see there are 5 pages which explains what the deal is…

    Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5

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