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Cats Conquered The Ancient World, According To Science

First Posted: Jun 20, 2017 05:36 AM EDT

In Ancient Egypt, cats were considered as gods and were praised and worshipped. However, over the years, they became quite domesticated. Although the way cat owners praise and love them, anyone would think they still have their godly tendencies.

According to the BBC, today's domestic cats descended from the wild cats that were somehow domesticated. This happened twice: first in the Near East and again in Egypt. In the Near East some 9,000 years ago, farmers are the ones likely to have successfully tamed them. Later on, in ancient Egypt, they spread out along maritime trade routes. Today, these felines are everywhere, except in Antarctica.

While cats were not always as lazy as people think them to be these days, this could be the result of being fully domesticated. In a study, researchers extracted mitochondrial DNA from more than 200 ancient cat remains from Viking graves, Egyptian mummies and Stone Age sites. The DNA evidence showed that around 9,000 years ago, farmers were seem to be the first people to tame wild cats and took them to travels. Whether this was accidental or deliberate, scientists do not know.

ABC News reported that a second genetic signature was seen in Egypt, but reached other far-off places including Europe, between the first and fifth centuries. While cat distribution around the world was probably encouraged due to their usefulness in rodent control, it seems that cats too, chose to be around humans.

Eva-Maria Geigl of Institut Jacques Monod in Paris shared, "I would say cats chose human company, but it was a commensal relationship - it was profitable to both sides."

Tabby cats, which are popular pets nowadays, surprisingly only appeared in the Middle Ages. But over the next few hundred years, they were able to spread around the world as cats won the world over for their beauty and not their utilitarian skills.

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