Scientists found that the love story between cats and humans dates back millennia ago when the furry animals were domesticated twice: first in the Near East and then in ancient Egypt.
Researchers believe farmers in Near East were the first people on the planet to be able to tame wild cats 5,000 years B.C. Then, millennia later, cats arrived in ancient Egypt via trade ships. Today, cats can be found in nearly every corner of the world except Antarctica.
A group of researchers believe wild cats started getting closer to humans when they noticed the many rodents in farmers’ grain stores. That was the starting point of the millennia-old relationship between cats and men.
There were two taming events – one in the Near East at the beginning and one in Egypt much later,”
lead author Eva-Maria Geigl told reporters.
The researcher noted that her team identified both lineages in modern day cats.
Cats Used to Be Hard-Working Rodent Catchers
The study also revealed that the felines haven’t been the lazy creatures that we are all accustomed with today. For thousands of years, they’re primary job was to catch mice on farms and commercial ships. This happened before they were fully domesticated.
Geigl thinks it was the cats that chose human company, but the relationship led to benefits for both sides.
For their experiment, researchers analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of hundreds of cat remains found in Egyptian tombs, Viking funeral sites, and Stone Age graves. The DNA revealed that the cat domestication started 9,000 years ago in the sites where men first started farming.
Researchers believe farmers were the world’s first cat domesticators. They likely took their semi-domesticated pets on ships too to help them get rid of rodents.
Thousands of years later, cats were fully domesticated in ancient Egypt, by farmers again. From there, the felines reached Europe during the Roman conquest and moved even further north during the Viking period.