Felis catus and its long association with humanity

Loki

Loki

Cats are the most popular pets worldwide and despite the negative impacts they can have on local fauna (up to 3.7 billion birds per year in the US alone, in Australia, and blamed for the extinction of 33 species), they are well-beloved by humans (no citation needed…you’re on the internet, google it).

Rawr I am a ferocious killing machine!

Rawr I am a ferocious killing machine!

Although cats are commonly associated with Ancient Egypt, recent work has shown that their domestication likely occurred in the fertile crescent along with the development of agriculture (Driscoll et al 2007).  The earliest fossils showing an association between cats and humans are from Cyprus, dating back approximately 9,500 years (Vigne et al 2004).

What does it mean, to be a cat?

What does it mean, to be a cat?

It is thought that the association between humans and cats started out as commensal…that is, the cats were feeding on the rats and mice in granaries without really affecting humans.

Yum, mice.

Yum, mice.

But despite being solitary while hunting, cats are social animals, and the humans saw the benefits of having hunters around to keep pest populations down.  It was a match made in agricultural heaven.

"Me...?"

“Me…?”  (That’s Idun)

 

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