It is said “Many people prefer cats to other people and many cats prefer people to other cats”. This clearly reveals the euphonious relationship between human and cats which is dated back to as early as 3000BC in ancient Egypt.
It is inferred from the archeological studies of the region that African wild cat (Felvis sylvestris lybica) is the primary ancestor of the domestic cat. Hence, they are seen with traditional people living as domestic cats. Genetic studies being done using DNA mapping techniques suggest that there is no such genetic difference between African wild cats and pet cats. Whereas, the European wild cats which are thought to have added up to the development of pet cats are certainly distinct from both.
It took scientists some time to gather the knowledge of how, when and where the cats became first tamed.
Some indications first arrived from the Cyprus Island in 1983, where archeologists found a cat’s jawbone
Backdated 8000 years. It almost seems absurd that human would have brought wild cat to the island as Desmond Morris in Catworld wrote “spitting, scratching, panic-stricken wild feline would have been the last kind of boat companion they would have wanted,” so the studies suggest that domestication occurred 8000 years ago from now.
According to Experts and historiographers, the African Wild cats attracted by the mice and rats, first reached Egyptian grain stores which were located along the banks of the Nile.Cats bind themselves to the people by
Eliminating rodents. The cats got captivated by the affluence of rats and humans were happy for they found a way to control pests. Cats then would have benefited from a lesser population of predators and could breed with much better chance of success by being in the territory of man .They produce a lot of kittens in lesser time which resulted in their quick establishment alongside us, the humans. People took newly borns kitten in their homes, took care of them, feed them so they started to view them as parent type figures. Such kittens did not seem to lose these bondings even when they became sexually mature and entered their adulthood.
Because they helped a lot in protecting food stores from pests, the ancient Egyptians converted them into sacred Feline deities. They named these cats as “miw”. When “miw” died, the owner grieved and the cat was mummified and placed in wooden coffins. Cats and lionesses were associated with the much respected
Goddess of war, the Sekhmet while the tomcats were regarded as angelic to the sun god, Ra. The protection
Of cats in that era became such a sensitive issue that if anyone finds himself near an injured cat, immediately
Escaped from the scene in case they were blamed. It meant a death sentence for the offender if being
Pronounced guilty of killing a cat in Egypt.
Though Egyptians took initiatives to prevent the export of their revered felines, the Greeks stole the cats
To solve their own rodent problem.They were first seen in Europe around 900BC.Gradually Egyptians began to sell cats to other europians such as Roman, the Gaels, the celts and that explains how this species began to spread worldwide. In china, the cats were common by 500BC. At first, they were gifted to emperors by Egyptians then noble people were allowed to own them and after sometime priests and common people could own them as well. Pet cats interbred with the local wild cats and forged some of the breeds which can be seen today.
However after few decades, the fate of cats changed and they became associated with wrongdoings, witches and evils. In 1484, pope innocent VII declared the death penalty for cat-worshippers to be burned as witches for witches worship satans and they took on the form of their animal helpers in which cats were the most common.Roaming of cats at night further linked them to witches and witchcrafts. Any cat in the possession of an old woman was thought of as a witch’s evil partner. It was ordered to hunt down all cat owners, many cats and cat owners were actually burnt to death.
The reputation of cats did not get better in Europe until the 17th century when they became mousers especially on the board ships, however in Victorian times, cats were again accepted as household cats.But of course, nowadays cats are famous among the comic strips and television shows. The quality of their life is better than ever though it couldn’t entirely elude its connection with evil. Their quality of being independent has definitely made them a popular animal and hence their presence cannot be ignored.