How cats conquered the world

It is difficult to imagine today that mankind could do without cats in ancient past. A new genetic study reveals how an African wild cat turned into a domestic “tiger.”

Domestic cats live and thrive in all part of the world, except Antarctica. The evolutionary success of cats is undeniable, but there is a number of serious differences between the furry creatures and their wild predecessors.

As evidenced by archaeological excavations in Cyprus, cats lived next to humans about 9,500 years ago. The domestication of four-legged pets in China began about 5,000 years ago. Prior to the Middle Kingdom era (between 2040 and 1783 or 1640 BC), in ancient Egypt, cats would hide in bushes and ruin nests, like other predators. In the end, cats settled in people’s homes without losing their independent nature. In ancient Egypt, cats could get along very well with other Egyptian pets – monkeys and dogs. On one of the monuments, a cat is depicted opposite the goose as the personification of the all-powerful god Amun and his wife Mut.

People know a lot about their pets, but not many people know how cats became tamed and how they could surpass other animals in this quality. In the Roman society, the most popular hunter for rodents was the weasel. Nevertheless, the cat surpassed all its rivals due to its more sophisticated tactics in hunting for pests, better adaptation to urban conditions and, of course, its tremendous homeownership and benevolence towards humans.

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