On the Origins of the “Domesticated” Cat

I may be funny and handsome, but I am also a scientifically-minded feline. A wealth of topics interest me, including history. As such, it should not surprise you to learn that the history of cats is a particular favorite of mine.

As I researched our ancestors and the ways they interacted with humans, I found an article by National Geographic that confirms what I suspected all along: cats domesticated themselves. The bipedal folk did not grab wild cats from the forest, like they did with dogs, who were bred “to perform specific tasks.”

Stalking the waves of tall grass.

Rather, it appears that cat spread from the continents of Asia and Africa to the Old World. What was their motivation? One with which I can empathize, generations later: food. Indeed, they “likely followed the rodent populations,” which led them to the human settlements, where mice and rats were making out like bandits. Well, they would no longer do so unchecked.

Seeing how smart, gorgeous, and useful we were, humans decided to let us roam around, and we gladly accepted food and warmth while tolerating their companionship. It was a “a mutually beneficial relationship,” says the study on which the article is based. I have no trouble believing any of it, because hanging out with humans was the smart thing to do.

The article also points out that we’re a stubborn bunch. Our DNA remained much the same as that of our wild cousins for “thousands of years” because we were just doing our own thing instead of letting ourselves be domesticated. That sounds very much like us.

Who are you calling domesticated?

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