April 16, 2024

When excited about the place cats come from the obvious reply would possibly appear to be “one other planet” however they’re, the truth is, of this world. One may think feline historical past to be as sophisticated as they’re however actually, it’s a fairly simple story–and one, that like every little thing else with cats, has additionally been nearly fully inside their management.

Did Cats Evolve From Lions?

No, that’s a fable. All domesticated cats originated from the identical historical kitty, Felis silvestris lybica (or, African Wildcat) which continues to be discovered all through Africa, southwest and central Asia, India, China, and Mongolia. Though the African Wildcat might sound fierce, it really appears to be like like a mean home cat – although maybe a tad bit bigger.


In 2017, researcher Claudio Ottoni dove into the genetics of domesticated cats and located that each one home cats are descended from this widespread ancestor. Their domestication befell in two durations: one within the Neolithic period within the Fertile Crescent after which later, within the Classical interval, the domestication of cats accelerated in Egypt.

This first lineage started within the Fertile Crescent and unfold southwest from Asia into Europe round 4400 B.C.E. The second interval, in Egypt, unfold from the Mediterranean and into the Old World round 1500 B.C.E.

Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0, through Wikimedia Commons

How Did Cats Become Domesticated?

The reply right here is deceivingly easy…and so very typical of cats: cats selected domestication. Researchers consider that the farming practices of the Fertile Crescent and in Egypt supplied cats with quick access to prey, as rodents have been interested in crops. Cats merely started hanging round for the straightforward meal and folks accepted them as a result of they have been doing farmers an ideal service. As the commerce in agricultural merchandise expanded, so did the ranges of those domesticated cats. Basically, they adopted the meals.

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How Did Cats Get To The United Kingdom And North America?

Though they doubtless weren’t transported in such consolation as these fortunate kitties it’s believed that cats unfold to the farther reaches of the globe by the use of ships. As superior rodent management brokers, ship’s kitties protected meals shops. Researchers have discovered proof that cats first set paw in port cities and unfold from these into areas of upper agriculture.

How Did Specific Cat Breeds Develop?

Not surprisingly, it took a really very long time for cats to determine to be domesticated sufficient that folks might really undertake selective breeding. It was solely within the nineteenth century that “fancy breeds” got here into being. Before that point the genes of home cats had barely modified in any respect from these of their African Wildcat kin with one exception–the coat patterns of the tabby cat. The distinctive spots and stripes of tabbys started displaying up in genes throughout the Ottoman Empire however it took till the 18th century for tabby markings to change into distinguished sufficient to encourage breeding for coat patterns.

Because the selective breeding of cats is such a latest factor within the feline genetic timeline, few genetically vigorous variations existed till fashionable occasions when cat fanciers created breeds corresponding to Persian and Abyssinian. Currently the flamboyant cat folks acknowledge simply over 40 official “breeds” of cats, 80 p.c of those being lower than 100 years previous (genetics-wise). All the opposite cats? Nearly equivalent genetics, nonetheless, to that widespread ancestor.

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As a 2008 research within the journal Genomics, particulars, “The small subset of home cats which have undergone intensive synthetic choice is the pedigreed (purebred) cats, which have been bred to keep up or alter purely aesthetic traits. Of the 41 breeds acknowledged by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), 16 “pure breeds” are regarded as regional variants that predate the cat fancy. The remaining breeds have been developed over the previous 50 years and are normally outlined as easy, single-gene variants derived from the pure breeds. This is in stark distinction to most different domesticated species which have undergone millennia of intense choice for advanced behavioral, efficiency, or manufacturing traits involving advanced gene interactions.”

Cat sunning on roof with water in the background

Anna Pismenskova through iStock

Can a DNA Test Tell Me Where My Kitty Came From?

As you could have caught on from the above clarification, you’re doubtless not going to seek out out a lot about your cat from a DNA take a look at. We’ve regarded into feline DNA checks a bit and along with the truth that there’s little they will inform you, this science can be fairly new. If you actually wish to know the tiniest element about your cat’s DNA, it may be price ready till the science is a bit more sturdy.

Overall, the variations between home and wild cats merely turned behavioral versus bodily–the first distinction is that one selected a non-solitary life round people, the opposite selected a solitary life within the wild.

Ottoni’s 2017 cat research co-author, evolutionary geneticist Eva-Maria Geigl, factors out the very completely different historic course of that canines and cats underwent when it comes to domestication; canines have been domesticated to be able to carry out particular duties and that is what led to the variety of canines breeds now we have in fashionable occasions.  “I feel that there was no have to topic cats to such a range course of because it was not mandatory to vary them,” Geigl tells National Geographic. “They have been good as they have been.”

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