The Incredible History of Domestic Cats

History of cats.

Cat lovers are united in their appreciation of all members of the family Felidae. Whether you love the cheetah, lynx, leopard, lion, tiger, or any of the 37 species on this family tree, you’re bound to have equal admiration for the domestic cat. Despite being linked genetically, wild cats and domestic cats are seemingly from different worlds. On a journey that began over 10,000 years ago, the history of domestic cats continues to captivate people worldwide.

A Place Among Giants

The Fertile Crescent is a famous stretch of land that comprises modern-day Egypt, Cyprus, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel. Home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations, the Fertile Crescent was the perfect land for early agricultural discoveries. In contrast with their nomadic ancestors, early settlers of the region put down firm roots where they farmed the land. 

Where There Are Mice

Rodents, attracted to ancient grain storage systems, were easy prey to Middle Eastern wildcats, or felix silvestris lybica. This natural pest control was mutually beneficial, and a long-lasting friendship between humans and felines was forged. The history of domestic cats evolved over the next several millennia into the recognizable versions (pet, stray, and feral) that we see today. 

Felis Catus

Today’s domestic cat is known as Felis Catus. While content to stay in human settlements, many early versions of today’s cats traveled the world with their ancient humans. We know this because of ancient burial sites in Cyprus, Egypt, and Rome. The history of domestic cats also involved stints at sea, serving as mousers on such ships as the Mayflower. 

Elapsed Time

Cats were free to come and go until about 70 years ago, when people started to keep them inside the home. This was simultaneous with the development of kitty litter and commercial cat food. Modern veterinary medicine has influenced the history of domestic cats by keeping them safe from contagious diseases and parasites. 

Wild Ones

Today’s domestic cats are biologically the same as they were thousands of years ago. Their primal goal of survival is the same as wild cats, but their lives follow very different paths. While cats that live outdoors hunt every day for food, domestic cats rely on a full bowl of crunchy kibble or savory canned morsels. 

The history of domestic cats was forever changed after the practice of spaying and neutering was introduced in the mid 20th century. Until that time, it was impractical to keep intact cats indoors. Before it became common practice to sterilize domestic cats, they would mate and give birth outdoors just as their wild relatives did. 

The History of Domestic Cats

Socializing domestic cats early on in life makes all the difference to their ability to feel safe and comfortable in the presence of people and other animals. As we strive to improve the lives of domestic cats, our own lives get better, too. They are integral members of millions of homes around the country, making the history of domestic cats forever linked with our own.

Cat owners love their furry best friends and want the best care for them. Please give us a call at (615) 646-7387 with any questions or concerns. Our team at Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital is always happy to help!