Is it really a question as to who�s the boss in the seventy-four million American homes where a cat dwells? Not in my house! We�ve had quite a long relationship with cats � over eight thousand years of living together. So what led to the domestication of cats even though many would argue they never were.
A recent study reveals the domestication of cats is a far different story than the one with dogs. Far earlier than cats, dogs were bred to provide specific services such as hunting whereas cats essentially backed their way into human life.
Recent genetic studies involving more than two hundred cat remains, some as far back as more than eight thousand years ago, reveal cats interacted with humans in the Tigris Valley in modern day Iraq. A second wave of people and cats living together occurred in Egypt around forty-four hundred B.C.E Both these periods involved farming and with that a need to store food.
And this is how cats and farmers developed a symbiotic relationship where cats could keep the rodent numbers low and farmers welcomed them. To understand whether this was an intentional domestication by humans, scientists looked for genetic changes in cats from that time but found no major differences between the wild and farm residents. This means the relationship was merely mutual at the time.
But by the Middle Ages, cats were being domesticated, selected for use on ships to protect food supplies and on inland trade routes. Genetic evidence shows people bred cats for certain traits and fancy breeding also began. Even so, while cats enjoy our companionship, we know even after all this time it�s the fuzzy tails that are in charge.
For more information…
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