A Short History Of Cats
It appears strange that there was ever a time when cats were not a part of our lives. It’s been less than 10,000 years since cats swaggered into our lives. Hardly an eye blink in the grand sweep of life on this planet. Why were cats so late to join our team? The basic answer is they did not need us to outlive. Cats were surviving just okay on their own. Then, people invented agriculture. Agriculture resulted in ample scale storage of grains which attracted the whole and well-known group of freeloaders, mice and rats. Grain attracted rodents. Rodents attracted cats who consider them tasty meals. The result was that cats set up housekeeping more or less human settlements. Eventually, cats being cats, moved right on in.
Who were these first cats?
The first clue lies in where the practice of agriculture was first. Agriculture first took root (no pun intended) in the Middle East in a grand sweep from modern-day Turkey to Egypt. Within this ground ranges the African wild cat, Felis Libyca. African feral cats are slightly bigger than our modern house cats and are yellow with muted stripes. These cats have a docile, almost laid back nature.
Interestingly, these cats still tend to live and hunt near human dwellings today. Locals still like to capture and rear youthful wild cats as pets. When mature, feral cats raised by humans tend to behave markedly much like our familiar housecats. A fantastic case can (and has) been advanced designating Felis Libyca as the leading founding population for domestic cats. At least two other varieties of wild cat are speculated to have contributed to the genetic makeup of domestic cats. One is Felis silvestris, The European wildcat who gives the impression to have added darker markings and a peppery spirit to the African wild cat base. Additionally, from Asia, comes the Pallas or Steppe cat (Felis manul) that gives the impression to have contributed long-haired coats to the mix.
The early period of domestication of cats is vague, with only patches of evidence. Though, by 6,000 B.C., statues discovered in Anatolia (modern Turkey) show women playing with domestic cats. Cats had become familiar and affectionate pets by that time. The earliest written files about cats appear by close to 4,000 B.C. in Egypt, where they were mostly kept to hunt mice and rats from stored grains. It was a fantastic time to be a cat in elderly Egypt. Domestic cats were thought to be the embodiment of the goddess Bast (or Bastet). There was a necropolis at her leading temple at Bubastis that contained mummified cats.
Romans spread the domestic cat northward into central Europe and westward to Britain in the course of the expansion of their empire. Cats were rapidly adopted and admired as marvellous hunters. And they continued to move north and east in Europe. The Vikings used cats as both rodent hunters and pets. The Viking goddess of love and war, Freyja, was consorted with cats. Big winged cats drew her chariot. It additionally became the custom to give new brides a pussycat in her name.
The Middle Ages was a terrible time to be a cat. Cats were told to be witches familiars, in league with the devil. As a result of this superstition, killing cats were routine in the course of festivals. Once in a while they were even burned lively or thrown off tall buildings. The Europeans paid heavily for their cruelty to cats. The deaths of numerous such cats approved the rodent population to rise out of control, bringing in the Black Death, which killed so much of the European population. Eventually, the cats’ cleanly ways and hunting prowess redeemed them in the eyes of the people of Europe. By the 1600s, people in France began placing little holes near the bottom of their doors to permit their cats to enter and leave as they please.
In Asia, cats continued to be familiar hunters and cherished pets. Cats were often subjects for drawing and painting in China. In Japan, cats in the sort of Maneki Neko, frequently portrayed as a sitting cat with one paw raised and bent, are considered a good fortune. They are often discovered in businesses to draw in cash.
The history of cats is a fascinating one, worthy of a much more in-depth study. It fosters a recognition for the celebrities and talents of our pets.