Study reveals cat-human relationship dates back to 10,000 years
From feral cats, to a friendly feline to a ‘grumpy’ internet sensation, humans have long had a complex, often mutually beneficial relationship with cats. Now in a DNA study released by the journal, Nature, Ecology & Evolution, researchers are learning how cats spread in the ancient human world. The study is the latest look at how wild cats became relatively tame and learned to live among people. Domestication may have begun 10,000 years ago as people settled in the fertile crescent, which includes the land around the Tigris and Euphrates river. Researchers extracted DNA from bones, teeth, hair and skin from 209 ancient cats as old as 9,000 years from Europe, Africa and Asia as well as 28 modern feral cats. The study of the cat DNA found evidence of two major waves of movement from the Middle East, in which people took cats with them. Over time, the wild felines adapted to the man - made the environment and got used to being around people. The team also studied ancient Egyptian cat mummies. Researchers say the appearance of domesticated cats in Egypt means they had traveled there by sea. Mona Khalil is the chairperson of the Egyptian society of mercy to animals in Cairo. She says the fact that the ancient Egyptians mummified cats show they had a special status in their society. Thousands of years later, cats still hold a special place in peoples’ homes and hearts.