Donna is a writer and lover of cats. She has been a cat parent for many years. She loves sharing her love for all cats big and small!
The Ancient House Cats Royal Line
How did wild cats transition from being wild and free for thousands of years to co-existing with humans, and when did they become a part of modern-day family households? What happened and why?
How Did Cats Learn to Coexist with Humans?
First, let's travel to the granaries in ancient Egypt; Egyptians stored grain in silos due to the expected famine; they needed to save all the grain in preparation for this event.
For seven years, the Egyptians stored massive amounts of grain, and as a result, it attracted rodents. This grain attracted rodents, and the rodents attracted wild cats that ate the rodents and other pests that came to feast on the grain.
Many people marveled at how the wild cats made a difference, and the rodent infestation dwindled, so the people continued to feed the cats to keep them coming back (and it worked)!
Ancient Cats Learn to Socialize
Soon, the wild cats stayed around because they loved socializing with humans and knew the people would feed them.
Cats are highly social creatures and have an innate need for human companionship!
Did Cats Domesticate Themselves?
Ancient cats adjusted to socializing with humans and yearned for more of this social attention. They became increasingly comfortable interacting with humans, especially since they were fed plenty of food and had a warm place to live!
However, cats instinctively have an independent personality, but some immediately become attached to their humans.
The Ancient African Wild Cat
The African Wild Cat kept the rat infestation under control and stopped the deadly diseases from infesting people; this improved their quality of life. Soon, the Egyptians started worshiping their cats.
They claimed their cats were goddesses, known as:
During this time, Egyptians implemented laws prohibiting the killing of any feline, and the punishment was death if you killed a cat!
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The Romans used cats in the Far East to protect their treasured manuscripts from destructive rodents who rummaged through all their things, leaving them in heaps of ruin.
At this time, cats were valuable, loved, and treasured!
By the 18th Dynasty in the Middle Ages A.D., the modern cat was born; interestingly enough, all are descendants of Feliz Sylvestris.
Cats Get a Bad Rap
In the Middle Ages, Europe started demonizing cats. During this era, cats were labeled as evil creatures and said to be conspiring with witches and the devil!
Cats were indeed getting a bad rap due to this fact, resulting in all the people becoming afraid of them, which led to the mass killing of thousands of cats.
The Bubonic Black Plague
People thought that if they killed all cats that it would ward off evil spirits. They were causing a rapid decline in the cat population and resulting in the overpopulation of black rats in Northern Europe, which caused the Bubonic Black Plague!
Many people got sick, and thousands died!
The Royal Lineage
Scientists Find an Ancient Cat Cemetery
Scientists found a 300,000 mummified cat cemetery in Beni-Hassan; they also found evidence of cats living with their humans back in 7500 BC on the island of Cyprus.
Smaller wild cats originated from Tell Sheikh Hassan al-Rai during the Uruk period 5500-5000. And in an ancient tomb, archeologists discovered a cat wearing a collar dating back to the Old Kingdom's fifth dynasty.
By the 18th Dynasty in the Middle Ages A.D., the modern cat was born; interestingly enough, all are descendants of Feliz Sylvestris, and there are 40 to 50 recognized cat breeds worldwide. The population of domestic cats increases daily!
Modern Feline Heritage Lines:
- The Big Cats: Lions, Tigers, and smaller wild cats
- African Wild Cat: Also known as the Savannah, the Serval, and Sand Cat
- Canadian Lynx: “Wizened cat of the Woods.”
- South and East Asia: Bengals and the Ocicat originate from the Asian Leopard
- The Serengeti Cat: Cross-bred between Oriental Shorthair and Siamese
Domestic Cat Facts
There are two kinds of hybrid cats: "natural" and "human-bred," but how can one tell the difference between the two?
Two Types of Hybrid Cats
- Natural hybrids: domestic cats (feral) of various breeds mate with a certain wild cat species.
- Human-bred hybrid: two different domestic breeds are specifically selected to be bred together.
A Feline's Average Lifespan
What factors go into a cat's lifespan?
- Environment: Is your cat an "indoor" or "outdoor" pet? A feral cat's average lifespan is from 3 to 5 years!
- If your cat is outdoors, they are exposed to fleas and ticks, territory-related catfights where its wounds can become infected, or giant predators can attack them.
- Maintenance: Spay and neuter your cat
- Health: Keep your cat current on shots with regular veterinarian visits
- Food: Offer healthy food and plenty of clean water
- Breed of Cat: Know that certain species may suffer from health issues resulting in a shorter lifespan
Indoor Cat Facts
The average lifespan of an indoor cat is longer than a feral cat because your indoor cat is not exposed to the elements, large predators, and cars. If you feed your indoor cat healthy food, provide fresh water, and have occasional vet visits, they live up to about 15 to 20 years!
Over the years, felines have continued to help control pest infestations on farms, in sheds, and in homes while withstanding bad raps and hardships. Ancient cats lived in the wild for thousands of years, and when they became domesticated, they became loved and cared for by the modern-day family!
No matter what they went through, they managed to survive and thrive in this world and are forever known as survivors of ancient/domestic cats!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Donna Rayne
Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on January 02, 2020:
Thank you, Peggy, I keep my cat inside as well. The life of a feral cat is a dangerous one and this causes them to live short lives! I adore my cat and spoil her rotten. She is 7 months old now and I need to get her fixed soon.
I appreciate your thoughts and kind words!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 02, 2020:
What an interesting and fact-filled article about cats. Discovering over 300,000 mummified cats must have amazed those who first discovered that ancient cemetery! I wish people would spay and neuter their cats. It would help cut down on the overpopulation of unwanted cats. Far too many live the life of feral ones or are euthanized because no one wants them. Our last two were kept indoors.
Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on December 23, 2019:
I was taught the same thing when my children were babies. My grandmother (bless her heart) told me not to let my cats around my baby!
Thank you for reading!
Blessings to you as well.
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on December 23, 2019:
As I understand it, cats were falsely accused of causing SIDs (Sudden Infant Death) because they are naturally drawn to the smell of milk breath. It is said that a cat can "suck the breath" from an infant so some grandparents even today say not to let a cat near your baby. That is just an old wife's tale or superstition. Sad that cats get such a bad rap.