The wild origin of your domestic cat

Behaviour & Breeds
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In yesterday's article, we explained how domestic dogs arose 40,000 years ago. Now you must be wondering, so what about the cats? Does the majestic savannas king, the lion, is relate to your kitten? The answer to the origin of modern felines is also a result of the process of thousands of years of natural selection.

The natural selection

Before understanding the origin of felines, it is necessary to know exactly what the natural selection of the species is. The term widely spread out by Charles Darwin in his book "The Origin of Species" defines the evolution of living beings as a consequence of a natural pressure of the environment, which selects the animals most adapted to that place. A not adapted animal cannot feed or protect itself and ends up dying before passing its genes on.

Before domestication, natural selection created the common ancestor of the cat we have today. This happened more than 100,000 years ago from the crossing of up to five different species of felines to arrive at the common ancestor.

The common ancestor was not a lion

The cats we know today are the evolution of wild african felines, as we said above, the common ancestor, who was not a modern lion or tiger. They were ancient felines that no longer exists.

Scientists estimate that domestication began between 12 and 10,000 years ago. At this time, humankind was no longer nomad. Hunting and gathering were no longer the only means of feeding because we had discovered agriculture.

Some audacious felines were attracted into villages because of the abundance of food. Farmers took advantage of the basic instincts of felines for protection of their crops because of the ability to prey on and control the rodents. In some places, they were treated as family members for being able to control pests like rats inside houses.

The most docile felines who got used to this situation became more accessible to human contact and transferred these genes on. This is the basic principle of domestication and the origin of today's cats. As happened with the dogs, the cats exchanged their freedom for housing and plenty food.

More than a friend, an ancient god

The sarcophagus of the cat of the Crown Prince Thutmose, the eldest son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.
The sarcophagus of the cat of the Crown Prince Thutmose, the eldest son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.

Another important moment of the origin of the modern cats was in cultures where the animal was worshiped as a god or similar spiritual entity. Having a cat was a symbol of good luck. The beauty of the cats was admired and the Egyptians said they had ‘magical powers’. However, this happened more than 5,000 years ago when they had already been domesticated.

As previously mentioned the more sociable feline increased the chances of contact with people. From this was generated a large number of breeds of cats, which crossed with other felines already domesticated and even with other small wild species. This is how the domestic cat emerged around the world and about fifty breeds came up.

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