Have you ever wondered how the mysterious feline predators became modern cats?
Cats have become the internet sensation of the last decade. Not only are they adorable, but they amuse us with their playful antics, are the perfect cuddle-buddies, and provide excellent companionship.
When the going gets tough, they can also make for some great stress relievers - yes, just ten minutes of petting can actually reduce your stress!
However, it hasn’t always been like this! Our adorable cats, the beautiful felines that we cherish so much today, were once appreciated for their predatory instinct only and ‘employed’ as pests’ controllers.
So, what happened along the way? How did the connection with our modern cats develop so deeply that they are now our most spoiled family members? Let’s have a look.
The Cat Evolution
While Cat-lore actually dates back to ancient times, recent studies have uncovered that all of them (from the smallest, most domesticated feline to the largest, wildest one out there) have evolved from the same species.
In essence, every feline in the cat family is actually descended from the tiny black-footed catlike animal called the Pseudaelurus.
It used to roam Central Asia 11 million years ago and eventually went extinct. In between, low sea levels of the day allowed it to migrate to Africa via the Red sea, where the local landscape led to its evolution into many sub-species of medium-sized cats.
Here’s a little timeline for you to understand the evolution of the ancient cat into the modern, domesticated one that we see and love today:
- Debunking the Egyptian Myth: Advancements in Molecular Biology have debunked the myth that cats were domesticated 3500 years ago in Egypt.
- A Dedicated Feline Evolution Timeline: The origins of our modern cat can be traced back to several locations in the Middle East, with a varying timeline that started around 8000 BCE.
- Going to Cypress: our real clue to the domestication of cat’s dates back to the discovery of cat remains on the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus. That’s when people started crossing the seas on primitive boats, and it’s safe to assume that these kitties got to the island on boats, granted that they were just as averse to water as their modern cat counterparts.
- Around the World in Kitty Haze: From here on out, the evolution of the cat can be traced all over the world.
- Modern Cats in Modern Times: Fast forward to the Egyptian reverence of our furry friends, and you’ll get a fine blueprint for the common modern cat today.
A Scientific Assessment of our Cat Friends
Now that you know how primordial felines evolved into modern cats, we must understand how their ancient antics are still intrinsically intertwined in their DNA. Any cat parent knows that they’re highly independent animals. In fact, there have been entire studies on this particular feline behavior.
For example a study by behavior specialists at the University of Lincoln, UK found that cats are incredibly autonomous — even more so than humans. They are not dependent on others to provide a sense of protection.
But don’t think that they don’t love you!
A similar study done in 2017 found that when it comes to eating, playing with toys, or interacting with their favorite human, they’ll pick people every single time. Cats are very sensitive to human emotions and moods and they understand us much more than we think they do! Of course, any cat lover already knows this. Cats’ aloofness makes their love for us even more special.
These studies have taken us to a whole different level of appreciation for our feline friends, and the recognition that they do make wonderful animal companions.
Slowly by sharing our everyday lives with them, we have finally come to realize and appreciate all that these beautiful fluffy creatures have to offer. They, with their soft toe beans and wet noses have crawled their way into our hearts and left paw prints all over it, just like they only know how to do it.
So, who are the Modern Cats?
- More than anything else, they are family members: we love them unconditionally, we talk to them, we rearrange our plans around them, sometimes we may even argue with them, but just a little head bump from our furry friend is enough to make peace.
- They have all of the best products available on the market - interactive toys, automatic feeders, luxury cat beds, water fountains, sometimes even self-cleaning litter boxes! (We can’t help but want ONLY the best for them!).
- They have a job – believe it or not even if cats are considered lazy, they do like to have a job. Each cat has its own personality and it can help us accomplish things! The wise cat can help us in our spiritual journey, the healer can make us feel better, the funny one can lift up our spirits… Or they support an important cause like adorable @smush and @hamilton_the_hipster_cat.
- They are great travel companions - even though we think that cats would rather stay in their own place, they also enjoy new adventures! Your feline friend would rather be with you than being left at a boarding facility. With all of the modern travel gears available nowadays for our kitties, we can find ways to make the trip a positive experience for them too!
- They have their own Instagram account to share their life experiences with other kitties, and some of them even become celebrities (@cobythecat or @venustwofacecat, anyone?)!!!
- They take care of us – they take the time and patience to make sure that we’re okay. They bring us appetizing offerings of mice, leaves, and bumblebees to help us feed ourselves. They lick our hands to make sure we’re clean, and they snuggle up to keep us safe.
- They choose to live with us just as much as we choose to live with them. Because they’re independent creatures, we should cherish the fact that cats have chosen to stick by our sides. They just need love, affection, and maybe a little bit of catnip.
We humans have finally realized that these mysterious creatures are perfect just the way they are.
The modern appreciation for cats is the recognition that these beautiful living beings are special souls that we have the privilege to know and love. The fact that more and more people today consider their pets as family, makes it just the right place for them. There and in our hearts.