Cats are very familiar with this kind of animal. From the original rat catcher to the family pet now, cats are also evolving a little bit. Many families regard cats as family members, not as a rat catching animal. Many parents know that cats love to be clean and easy to raise. But, do you know the history of cats?
About 200 million years ago, the world’s first mammals appeared. Around the same time, the first dinosaur appeared; but the real protagonist of mammals was millions of years after the dinosaurs disappeared. About 60 million years ago, the bobcat appeared in the forest. It is the ancestor of all carnivores. Its offspring include bears, weasels, raccoons, beavers, beavers, foxes, wolves, badgers, pandas, dogs and tigers, and the trained tabby cat. About three million years ago, the genetic genes of feline family were established, and all the cats at present were gradually evolved.
It’s a shocking fact – cats are the earliest ancestors of reptiles. It may sound strange to us that the sharp contrast between reptiles is the cat, but it is true. A group of small animals (about 30cm), with sharp teeth, live in the forest, or on trees or on the ground. They are called little ancient cats. They have long bodies and tails, and are mostly carnivorous. These animals eventually adapted to the changing seasons and evolved into the various carnivores we see today (cats, dogs, etc.).
The real domestication of cats was quite late, about 4000 or 5000 years ago. In contrast, dogs were domesticated much earlier, about 20000 to 15000 years ago. The young of African wildcat is easy to domesticate. It is generally believed that it may be the main ancestor of domestic cats.
The ancient Egyptians attached great importance to the African tiger spotted wildcat because it was quite easy to domesticate, and could be used to sacrifice to the moon god and the goddess of best to replace the lion worshipped in the past. When the cat died, Egyptians shaved their eyebrows as a sign of mourning. And there is at least one ancient Egyptian cat, much like today’s Alpine cat species.
In Europe, the cat is no longer used as a sacrifice to gods, but a symbol of “freedom”. One of the reasons why cats are popular with Europeans is that in the 11th century A.D., cats helped people eliminate the black death’s germ carrying mice.
In the middle ages, the number of cats was greatly reduced, because of the rise of elegant religion, people used it to worship the devil. Even today, there are many superstitions about cats. For example, if the black cat crosses the route you are going to go, evil will happen.
After thousands of generations of reproduction, the physiological changes caused by domestication in cats are similar to those in dogs. Including smaller body, shorter claws, smaller brain and cranial cavity volume, extended ears and tail posture, as well as the color and texture of fur. However, unlike dogs, cats maintain a large degree of independence in human society, so they rarely form certain behavioral characteristics needed by human beings due to selective external pressure. Therefore, the appearance of domestic cats is not much different from that of their ancestors, and it is difficult to distinguish them in early archaeological discoveries.
Cat remains have been found near various prehistoric human sites, including the Neolithic site in Israel about 9000 years ago and the Indian Valley site in Pakistan 4000 years ago. However, the remains are probably wild cats killed for fur or meat. Interestingly, eight thousand year old remains of cats and mice have been found on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. They can only be brought to the island by human immigrants. Although the cats may not have been fully domesticated, they were deliberately brought to the island to deal with rodents.
After thousands of years of evolution, cats have been gradually accepted and loved by us. Nowadays, there are many kinds of cats, and each family has different breeds. No matter what kind of breed or purebred or impure, cats bring us more joy than we can imagine.