Until recently, domestic cats were thought to have come from ancient Egypt about 4,000 years ago. But a new study conducted in China from an archaeological dig site has found even older evidence of human and cat relationships.
An agricultural village in China was one of the first successful agricultural communities in the area. Complete with millet granaries, it was a popular rest stop for rodents and other small mammals to start inhabiting. There is evidence in the settlements that the farmers reinforced structures to be rodent proof, this tells us that these animals were probably eating the grains stored there. The jaw bones of cats were also found there and suggest they hunted these same rodents. The jaw bones also suggested cats living there tended to live longer than in the wild otherwise. Similar findings have been found around the Old World including the Fertile Crescent. With this sparse, but strong evidence, researchers have hypothesized the humans had unintentionally domesticated the cat while encouraging it’s residence in agricultural communities as to control pests.
When and where cats were first domesticated is still unknown and likely happened slowly in multiple locations. From this evidence, researchers have concluded that cats were useful on the farm, but not so much before that.
Now there’s 600 million pet cats around the world, and most of them don’t catch anything, except your attention.
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