Dogs and cats tend to be the most popular pets, worldwide. Many generations of humans and these amazing animals have interacted with each other and it almost seems that we’ve been together forever. But, the thing is, we weren’t And actually, in terms of human history, both – dogs and cats have became domesticated rather not-so-long-ago. We’ve already covered the Brief history of Dogs And Humans, it is now the time to do so for cats. So, here’s Brief Cat And Human History.
Ancient Cats To Modern Cats
Based on latest DNA research, it is widely believed that modern cats descended from at least 1 of 5 different subspecies of ancient cats. these include: the Sardinian wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), the European wildcat (F. s. silvestris), the Central Asian wildcat (F.s. ornata), the sub-Saharan African wildcat (F.s. cafra), and (perhaps) the Chinese desert cat (F.s. bieti).
Genetic analysis shows that the ancestors of all modern cats, those 5 seperate subspecies, came from and spread from the Fertile Crescent, a region in the Middle East. Today, this area includes parts of modern-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.
But the Brief Cat And Human History only begins here.
Earliest Friendly Cat-Human Interractions
Cats in Cyprus
The oldest known archaeological evidence of humans and cats living together was found in Cyprus and dates back to about 7500 B.C. This earliest known deliberate cat burial is at the Neolithic site of Shillourokambos. A cat was buried along with a human, likely cat’s owner, around 9500 to 9200 years ago. There were also a sculpted head found in the area of a human-cat combination being.
Cats in Egypt
Most people know that cat’s were big cultural symbols of the ancient Egypt. I mean they even built a huge statue of a cat which stands to this day – the spynx. However, not many people know the history of how ancient Egyptians and cats came to live together.
There is evidence, siggesting that cats we domesticated in ancient Egypt about 6000 years ago – in the predynastic period.
A cat’s skeleton was found in a tomb which dates back to about 3700 BC, in an area called Hierakonpolis. The cat was a young male who had broken left humerus and right femur, both of these bones we healed by the time the cat died and was buried. This cat was identified to be species of the jungle or reed cat (Felis chaus).
In the same graveyard of Hierakonpolis, six other cats’ remains were found. An adult male and a female, plus four kittens who belonged to two different litters. The adults are F. silvestris who were about the size of modern house cats. They were all buried about 5800 to 5600 years ago.
An Egyptian tomb in Saqqara has an illustration of a cat with a collar which dates back to about 5th dynasty Old Kingdom, about 2500 to 2350 BC. By the 12th dynasty, Middle Kingdom, about 1976 to 1793 BC, cats were definitely domesticated and animals, in general, were portrayed in Egyptian art. Animals were also sometimes mummified and most often they were cats.
By the Early Dynastic period, feline goddesses Mafdet, Mehit, and Bastet appear in the Egyptian pantheon. So, cats were not only domesticated, but also worshipped, in ancient Egypt.
Cats in China
China is one of the oldest countries in the wolrd with a very rich history. That many people know, what many people don’t know, is how cats were involved in Chinese history.
Research conducted in 2014 shows that in the Middle-Late Yangshao, early Neolithic period – 5000 to 3000 BC, at the site of Quanhucun, in Shaanxi province, humans and cats had friendly interractions. Remains of 8 cats were found in three ashy pits containing animal bones, pottery sherds, bone and stone tools. Two of the cat jaw bones were radiocarbon dated and seem to be about 5560 to 5280 years old. The sizes of cats also seem to be about the size of an average modern house cat.
The archaeological site of Wuzhuangguoliang contained a nearly complete cat’s skeleton laid on it’s left side. The skeleton seems to date back to about 5267 to 4871 years ago.
A third site, Xiawanggang, contained cat bones, also.
All of these cats were from Shaanxi province and were indentified as F. silvestris.
Based on the evidence for the fast spread of these cats and the evidence of trading, it seems fair to say that 5000 years ago china traded quite a bit with surrounding regions, reaching various parts of western Asia and this helped to spread different domesticated cat populations throughout Asia.
Humans have been domesticating cats for thousands of years, and this seems to go back to about 12,000 years. Much like dogs, domesticated cats have evolved alongside humans and, because of artificial selection, became very adapted to us – humans and continue to develop this symbiotic relationship to help both of our species. And this concludes the Brief Cat And Human History article. Hopefully you’ve learned something new.