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Domestication:

  • Unlike other domestic animals, the cat is self-domesticated.
  • The development of agriculture around 4000 BC provided ready prey for wildcats.
  • To take advantage of the abundance of rodents, the wildcats had to learn to live near humans.
  • The African wildcat is the ancestor of the domesticated cat; genetic studies have shown the similarity of the cat to the African wildcat.
  • It is unclear when cats made the transition from wild animals to pets; perhaps as early as 4000 BC (around the Nile delta and possibly the Indus valley).
  • By 2000 BC, the cat appears in hieroglyphics.
  • The first known artwork showing the cat in a domestic scene dates from around 1950 BC from Beni Hasan.
  • In order to make the transition, those animals which were least fearful and most placid came to dominate because they could best tolerate living with people.
  • Kittens that have contact with people will not develop a fear of humans when reaching adulthood.
  • But the most pedigree cat that is raised without human contact will revert back to its wild state.
  • After all, today's pets remain close to their wild ancestors; virtually nothing has been added or taken away from the wildcat's nature.

The Encyclopedia of the Cat, Bruce Fogel, DVM, DK Publishing, Inc., New York, 1997, pp. 20-21.