Feline Evolution | PAWS Chicago

Feline Evolution—The Path to Domestication


It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly cats became domesticated

Until recently, it was believed that domesticated cats originated in Egypt a little over 5,000 years ago. However, newer archeological evidence now shows domesticated cats on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus around 7500 BC. And even newer information suggests domestication may have begun 12,000 years ago.

That’s about the time agricultural societies began to flourish in the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent. Wild cats may have been attracted to human settlements by small rodents who came to feed on agricultural stores. Humans may have tolerated or actively encouraged the cats to guard those stores by hunting the rodents. They were pest control.

That hunting instinct is still present in cats today. Hunting, catching, killing, eating, grooming and sleeping make up a cat’s natural routine. Even though they are domesticated, they need ways to satisfy each of these instincts in order to remain happy, healthy and confident. Read more about understanding cat behavior.

Sources: About.com and Smithsonian Magazine.

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