Have you ever looked at your cat as it looks back at you or while it’s sound asleep and just ask yourself, where did cats come from? How come my cat is so comfortable sleeping on my lap when it has so much similarities with wild cats? Well today we hope to answer all of the questions you might have about where your furry friends come from and how did we get to where we are right now.
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Around 10,000 or 12,000 years ago, humans had just started to settle down from their nomadic style of life. They realized how to benefit from farming animals and growing their own food and so the beginning of the agriculture started to take place. Humans that started this new trend were living in the Fertile Crescent at the time, and that is where we meet our lovable adorable little friends for the first time.
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It didn’t take long before humans and cats started to work together since people started having serious rodent problems with their new life style. Cats, still completely wild at the time, saw the benefit in helping humans with their rodent problem and started to hang around people and their communities, chasing off rodents full time. Something that hasn’t changed in the human race for 12,000 years is definitely our affection to these furry little friends.
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Anyone who has ever had a cat will confirm to you that you do not own your cat, cats own themselves. This somewhat funny expression might actually have some scientific accuracy. Some scientists have reasons to believe that cats weren’t domesticated by humans back in the day, rather that they are so smart that they domesticated themselves realizing how their lives would benefit by sneaking in our hearts and homes.
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Middle eastern wild cats were putting their heads together to figure out the best way to stick around humans, since they were eating human garbage and rodents, over time they evolved from felix silvestris lybica to a domestic cat or felis catus, in case you want to sound smart retelling this story to a friend. These domestic cats still had all of their wild instincts and urges, but were familiar with humans since birth and had no problem living by their side.
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Once people started to travel around the world with ships in order to trade, the rodents followed their goods on ships. So people figured out that if cats can solve the rodent problem back home why wouldn’t they do the same thing on ships. It didn’t take long before everyone had cats on their ships before sailing off. We believe that rodents weren’t the only reason why someone would take a cat on a months to years long trips overseas, is there anything more comforting than petting your cat and hearing that calming purring sound on a lonely day. This way cats got spread to different parts of the world stealing people’s hearts wherever they went.
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In Egypt and Roman Empire cats were a huge part of the everyday life. Egyptian families had to own a cat and sometimes they would dress them in different ways and wealthier Egyptian families would even put golden jewelry on their cats as a symbol of wealth. Since cats already believe that they are gods, we suppose they didn’t mind this kind of treatment.
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In Egypt, cats had a status of a holy animal, and their goddess of protection and cats, Bastet, had a cats head. The Egyptian people even incorporated cats in their formal law, harming a cat would mean the offender gets the maximal punishment. If a family cat passed away, the entire Egyptian family would shave their eyebrows to represent their grief. After that they would mummify the cat just as they would do with a human.
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Romans saw cats as the sign of liberty and Japanese people embraced cats and made them a very valuable part of their culture, they even have a cat island, which is an entire island populated only with cats and tourists that are looking to get their hearts melted.
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Adorable as they are, there were people who weren’t so fond of cats throughout history and as much as they were glorified in the east, in most parts of Europe cats were associated with the dark arts. Of course cats are seen in a very different light today, but they still can’t quite shake off that stereotype, since we all know who sits and purrs on the lap of the mastermind villain in TV shows.
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As we already mentioned, cats started the relationship with humans because of a mutual benefit, but as the time went by people started having cats as pets because of their adorableness and not necessarily because of their appetite for rodents. Until 1950s cats were already popular pets, but the problem was nobody could have a cat indoors, so the only people that had cats for pets were the ones with yards where they could litter wherever they pleased and chase whatever they saw as prey. All of this changed with a few new inventions in the 20th century.
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These inventions were specifically the refrigerator, kitty litter and spaying and neutering. Without refrigeration, people had a hard time feeding their cats if they weren’t feeding themselves outside, but with refrigerator and canned cat food everywhere, keeping our furry little friends bellies full was never easier. With the spaying a neutering cats became accessible to even more families, but it is the invention of kitty litter that really made cats maybe the most popular pets in the world.
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This concludes the story of how we got to where we are today. It didn’t happen overnight but as you can see cats have been with us for a very long time, earning our respect and love. Next time you pet the soft fur of your lovely cat remember what a rich history you share.
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