The domestic cat then spread throughout Asia where they continued to protect food stores and even silkworm cocoons from rodents. During the Middle Ages when superstitions flourished the cat was associated with witchcraft, evil and the devil and hundreds of thousands of cats were killed, some roasted alive or burnt at the stake.
However this destruction enabled rodents to thrive and the bubonic plague occurred being spread by fleas carried by rodents. During this time the persecution of cats was put to one side which in turn allowed them to multiply and then attack the plentiful supply of rodents. However, it was not until some time later that its association with evil and the persecution of the cat ceased.
Traders, explorers and colonists brought the domestic cat into America during the s and s and by the eighteenth century the cat was a popular pet throughout the world. The first cat association, the National Cat Club of Great Britain, was formed in with the first cat show being held in London in Selecting A Cat Or Kitten.
Feline Influenza Cat Flu. Some clues first came from the island of Cyprus in , when archaeologists found a cat's jawbone dating back 8, years. Since it seemed highly unlikely that humans would have brought wild cats over to the island a "spitting, scratching, panic-stricken wild feline would have been the last kind of boat companion they would have wanted," writes Desmond Morris in Catworld: A Feline Encyclopedia , the finding suggested that domestication occurred before 8, years ago.
In , the unearthing of an even older site at Cyprus, in which a cat had been deliberately buried with a human, made it even more certain that the island's ancient cats were domesticated, and pushed the domestication date back at least another 1, years. Just last month, a study published in the research journal Science secured more pieces in the cat-domestication puzzle based on genetic analyses.
All domestic cats, the authors declared, descended from a Middle Eastern wildcat, Felis sylvestris , which literally means "cat of the woods. While 12, years ago might seem a bold estimate—nearly 3, before the date of the Cyprus tomb's cat—it actually is a perfectly logical one, since that is precisely when the first agricultural societies began to flourish in the Middle East's Fertile Crescent.
When humans were predominantly hunters, dogs were of great use, and thus were domesticated long before cats. Cats, on the other hand, only became useful to people when we began to settle down, till the earth and—crucially—store surplus crops. The cats invited themselves in, and over time, as people favored cats with more docile traits, certain cats adapted to this new environment, producing the dozens of breeds of house cats known today.
In the United States, cats are the most popular house pet, with 90 million domesticated cats slinking around 34 percent of U. If cats seem ambivalent towards us, as the quotations from cat fan-sites indicate, then it may be a reflection of the wildly mixed feelings humans, too, have shown cats over the millennia.
The ancient Egyptian reverence for cats is well-known—and well-documented in the archaeological record: Bastet, an Egyptian goddess of love, had the head of a cat, and to be convicted of killing a cat in Egypt often meant a death sentence for the offender. Ancient Romans held a similar—albeit tempered and secularized—reverence for cats, which were seen as a symbol of liberty.
The cat has no unique anatomical feature that is clearly responsible for the sound. There are no authentic records of domestication earlier than bce , however. Most mammals can convert linoleic acid to arachidonic acid , as well as the omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid through the activity of enzymes, but this process is very limited in cats. Archived PDF from the original on 22 September There are also dilutions of the other ordinary colours: The average weight of the household cat varies from 2. The Biology of its Behaviour.
In the Far East, cats were valued for the protection they offered treasured manuscripts from rodents. For some reason, however, cats came to be demonized in Europe during the Middle Ages.
They were seen by many as being affiliated with witches and the devil, and many were killed in an effort to ward off evil an action that scholars think ironically helped to spread the plague, which was carried by rats. Not until the s did the public image of cats begin to rally in the West. Nowadays, of course, cats are superstars: By the mids, cat services and products had become a billion-dollar industry.
And yet, even in our popular culture, a bit of the age-old ambivalence remains. The cat doesn't seem to be able to entirely shake its association with evil: After all, how often do you see a movie's maniacal arch-villain, as he lounges in a comfy chair and plots the world's destruction, stroke the head of a Golden Retriever?
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