It’s been less that 10,000 years since those little kitties came into our lives. A small amount of time when the age of the earth is considered but today they are are a very popular pet for oh so many of us. Why were pet cats so late to join our group? The simple answer is they don’t depend on humans for their survival. Cats have always gotten by just fine by themselves. The first connection between cats and us occurred with the advent of farming. Grain was the major product farmed and it’s storage brought about the normal mix of freeloading rats and mice. Grain attracted the rodents and the rodents attracted the cats, hence man’s relationship began.
Farming began in the Middle East in the range of land from Turkey to Egypt. Many wild members of the cat family live in this area such as African wild cats are slightly bigger than today’s feline pets and are yellow in color with soft stripes. These felines have a laid back nature and still tend to live near human domiciles even today. Residents. still like to catch and rear young wild felines as pets. When mature, wild felines raised by people have the tendency to behave quite like our familiar house cats. A great theory been proposed where Felis libyca, the African Wild Cat is considered to be the most prominent ancestor of today’s domestic cats along with several other wild breeds.
The early period of domestication of felines is not certain with just small amounts of evidence is existing. By 6,000 B.C. statues found in Anatolia, now modern-day Turkey, reveal women playing with domestic cats. Felines had plainly become affectionate and common pets by that time. The earliest found writings about cats appear by around 4,000 B.C. in Egypt where they were frequently kept to eliminate small rodents. It was an excellent time to be a cat living in old Egypt. Domestic pet cats were believed to be the personification of the goddess Bast, and mummified cats have been discovered.
The Romans carried the domestic cat northward into central Europe and westward to Britain during the expansion of their empire. Felines were embraced and admired by the Romans as wonderful hunters. As they continued to Northern and Easter Europe,the Vikings used them as both rodent hunters and pets. The Viking goddess of love and war, Freyja, was closely aligned with cats as she is portrayed in a chariot which is pulled by really large winged cats.
It was very hard to be a cat during the Middle Ages. Pet cats were thought to be the familiars of witches and in league with the devil. Because of this superstition, cats were regularly killed during feasts or celebrations. The Europeans suffered tremendously for their cruelty to their cat population. The elimination of so many cats allowed the number of rats to increase at an alarming rate, which fostered disease and ultimately resulted in the Black Death which killed many Europeans. Eventually, the cats’ cleanliness and hunting adeptness made them popular again in Europe. By the 1600s, individuals in France started putting little holes near the bottom of their doors to permit their pet cats to come in and leave as they pleased. During this time, Asian cats continued to be superb hunters and cherished pets. Felines were often considered to be a sign of luck and good fortune.
The history of cats is fascinating and worthwhile of a lot more research. They are such an amazing animal and have definitely earned a place in history right along side of us.