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I found the quote I used on this while I was researching Sunday and Monday's entries for Diamond. I thought it very appropriate as domestic felines so quickly revert to their wild origins when allowed to run feral.
Many people know what dogs were domesticated from wolves, but what about cats? How did they come to live with humans? A study published in the July 2007 issue of the journal "Science" helps answer that question. Using genetic methods, scientists from the National Cancer Institute and the University of Oxford report that the origins of the common household cat can be traced back 100,000 years to ancestors in the Middle East. This much earlier than the earliest archaeological evidence of feline domestication that dates back 9,500 years to Cyprus.
By looking at the DNA of wildcats and domestic cats, the research team found five matriarchal lines from which all modern domestic cats have descended. Their ancestors, the Near Eastern (Asian) Wildcat (Felis Sivestris Ornata), still lives in Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. It is believed that the domestic cat's ancestors become helpful to early farmers by hunting rodents and that domestication evolved out of the relationship between humans and cats. In turn, cats followed their human companions as they migrated across the globe.
It is still however, believed that domestic cats developed their long standing relations with humans in Egypt, and that the spread of domestic cats across the globe started with domestics smuggled out of Nile Region. (It was illegal to export a cat from Eqypt.)
I used the Wild Kingdom kit from Raspberry Road Designs on this piece.