What do I know aboute cats - cat domestication history.


or what do I know aboute cats

(...so-so trivia since the dawn of history)



author: Bogusława Czarnecka
All rights reserved.


CATS - wild and mysterious animals, having an excellent builded body, fascinating people from thousands of years, serving people as companions in their life.

Actually, this is the man who canvass for cats' consideration, for their love and friendship. And when a man finally get it, he/she becomes to be a really happy man, having a friend as well as silent trustee of his/her problems for many, many years.


 British Shorthair kitten blue and my granddaughter Liliane Maria Many times, I heard the enthusiastic opinion: "I definitely prefer dogs than cats, because cats are two-faced!" Or: "I hate cats, I love dogs!" When I asked such people about their contacts with cats, they usually told me that they only had contact with "wild" cats. So, is it right thing to havesuch opinions about cats, opinions that harm these wonderful animals, if people saying such things had never direct, long-standing contact with cats?

These are cats, as the only animals in our homes, give us that strange feeling of peace, and smother emotions, sooth an ill spirit...This is this wonderful fur our hands wanting to touch, and nobody is able to get around the wish to caress a cat. It's observed on the Cat shows - people want to touch cats.

And an unusual purring of a cat, nestled into a man, lying just near the head of a beloved man falling asleep... isn't it a lullaby? One doesn't need to count sheeps! There's something unusual in this animal, because cats are used in curing autistic men. In this case a cat is the bridge joining two worlds.

People connected with cats are divided into two categories: cat lovers and people damaged by fortune...
People's fascination about cats started in ancient time. There's no other species in the nature, which over the centuries was the object of cult as well as enormous fear. This was treated as divinity and murdered cruelly as the devil's messenger as well as witches' tool.

The priests, fighting with pagans during the Middle Ages, made cats' executions, hanging them or burning. No other species did experience such cruelty!
Even today, in the XXI century, people often think that black cats bring gad luck.
And what abort a cat, running cross the road? People often prefer to go another way...

Group: mammals
Order: predators
Family: felines
Species: domestic cat

Cats were domesticated rather lately, because of their independence and wilderness.
Probably, first domesticated cats were in Egypt, about 3000 BC.
Dogs, goats, cattle, pigs or sheeps were domesticated about 10-12 thousand years ago!
In the beginning, cats were used only as rodents' hunters that gave people the possibility to protect their stocks. Through the years, cats became men's and gods' favorite animals. There're many notices and pictures on the pyramids' walls, from about 2000 BC. It proves that Egyptians had cats in their homes (similar to the modern Abyssinian).

They called these cats "mau" (this word is phonetically near cat's meowing). A cat-divine, called "miw", leaved its owners in a deep sorrow after its death. After a dead cat was embalmed and putted in a wooden or bronze sarcophagus. The cat was buried in the Great Temple of goddess Bastet in Bubastis. Ancient Egyptians believed that the Goddess Bastet assumed the form of the cat. The cat was also consecrated the moon goddess Isis.
Because of that, cats were kept in temples, near other animals consecrated to deities. Cats soon transferred from temples to the villages, where they became tame quickly.

North African Nubian catMost probably, the very first tame cat was a North African Nubian cat which was very favorably to the peopleand it became tame soon. The Abyssinian steppe cat was similar, considered to be one of the domestic cat's ancestors, deriving directly from Nubian cat.
The ancestor of little modern cat was probably wild Martelli cat, living in the whole Europe and in the Middle East. It became extinct more than million years ago, giving the very beginning to three species: wild forest cat (wildcat), North African Nubian cat and Asian cat.

On the merchants' ships, about 400 BC, cat came to Greek colonies situated around the Mediterranean Sea. The main goal of a cat, living on a ship, was to kill rodents.
At the turn of the era cat came to the Roman Empire.
More or less since that time, a cat obtained its modern name. "Kakadiska" - this is Nubian name of the cat. In the beginning, Romans and Greeks named a cat with the word "gatta", later they used a word "cattus". From this word, an English cat's name descends - "cat", German "Katze", French "chat" and polish - "kot".

Thanks to accompanying the merchants and Roman legions, a cat came also to the north Europe, reaching England and Scotland. Cat was considered there as the very rare as well as expensive animal, very protected. This protection was assured by the decree of the Prince of Wales, Hawel Ddy, dated 936. Cat had a great popularity also in Germanium. Very quickly, a cat squeezed out a weasel, which was rodents' hunter before cat's appearance, protecting peoples' stock.Then, first colonization let the cat reach America.

The accidental cross between domestic European cat and a wildcat had an influence on the species' developing. Crosses made a European cat more massive, also tabby pattern became more intensive in comparison to cats from Africa or Asia.
In X century, Spanish cats appeared. These cats were colorful, black or with white patches. Also cats with circle pattern on both sides were numbered among Spanish cats.

In this period, also Chartreux cats appeared ("chat de Chartreux"). They were especially protected by the monks of Chartreux. As supposed, the Asian cat had also an important role in the process of cats' domestication. This species lives actually in India, Pakistan and the Asian part of Russia. Similarly to Nubian cat, also Asian cat was friendly to the people and it was easy to tame.

Probably, cats reached Persia, India and China with merchants. There's no evidence, when it happened, but in "Oda Book", dated about 600 BC (the oldest work of Chinese literature), mention a cat as mouse' hunter. Cat was strongly appreciated, putted on a par with a tiger. The name "miao" linked to a domestic cat and "li" - to a wild cat. Hundreds of years ago, Chinese painters' favorite model was a cat full of colored spots with a great amount of white. However, Japanese painters took a liking to a domestic cat with short, curly tail (similar to the modern Japanese bobtail cat).

Manul - wild ancestor of long-haired catsIt's supposed that the longhair cats' ancestor was manul, now living in central Asia. Manul appeared on Earth about 10 millions years ago. Its coat is longer on the tail and on the belly. It's considered to be the ancestor of longhair cats living actually in Afghanistan and Persia. Another hypothesis says that a long coat, typical for Persian and angora cats, appeared as the individual mutation in cats living in Russia. Later, it was transferred to cats' population living in Iran and Turkey.Longhaired cats appeared in Europe only abort XII-XIII century, along with Crusades, coming back home. (See video: kittens manul and adult manul)

Actually, domestic cats are everywhere. They reached even Antarctica with polar expeditions. In Australia, cats became a danger to endemic fauna (in Australia, there're no large predators).

The process of cats' domestication isn't finished yet. It caused some changes in cats' character as well as behavior. Cats became gentle, trustful, contact, which were fixed by selection and an artificial process of creating new breeds, dated from a half of XIX century.These changes aren't enough durable so that cats becoming wild started to be distrustful and careful in relation to a man, as it was before.
It's certain that the cat found its place near a man. Now, cats, except their usefulness as hunters, above all cats fulfill men's wish of love and company.

So, let's love cats, canvass for their considerations. When a cat start to love us, we'll be happy people, with warm smile on our face... and the cat purring on our lap.

Liliane (my granddaughter) in the company of my kittens British

Liliane Maria (my granddaughter)
in the company of my kittens British



English version for my website Muezzi EN