How cats became domesticated. You might not know this, but cats were once considered domesticated animals.
Believe it or not, cats were first domesticated in the Near East about 9,500 years ago. At the time, they were kept mainly for their hunting abilities, as they were effective at catching small prey. Over time, their popularity grew and they eventually became one of the most popular pets in the world.
But how did cats become domesticated in the first place? How did they go from being wild animals to being our furry companions? In this article, we’ll take a look at a timeline of cat domestication and explore some of the factors that contributed to their transition from outdoor animals to indoor pets.
How cats became domesticated – Prehistoric Times: The First Cats
Cats have been domesticated for a very long time—longer than dogs, in fact. Scientists believe that cats were first domesticated 10,000 years ago, in the Middle East.
Back then, cats were used to help with rodent control. They were also prized for their hunting abilities and often kept as pets. Over time, cats became more and more domesticated, and eventually they spread all over the world.
There are a few different theories about how cats became domesticated. One theory is that people began to breed cats specifically for their hunting skills. Another theory is that cats began to hang around human settlements and gradually became tame through exposure to humans.
Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure—cats have been domesticated for a very long time, and there’s no sign of them going back to the wild anytime soon!
Ancient Egypt: The Rise of the Cat God
You may think of cats as being domesticated for only a few hundred years, but the truth is that they’ve been living with humans for thousands of years. Cats were actually worshiped as gods in ancient Egypt, and it was there that they first began to be bred and tamed.
Back then, cats were considered to be sacred creatures, and they were even used to protect the Pharaoh’s tomb from rodents. The goddess Bastet was the most popular cat deity, and images of her often show a woman with the head of a cat.
Cats soon began to spread throughout the world, and by the 1800s, they were common household pets in Europe and America. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Early Greece and Rome: Cats as Pests and Vermin
You may be surprised to learn that cats were not always domesticated animals. In fact, for the first few centuries after their introduction into Europe, cats were considered pests and vermin.
This is because cats were useful to humans only as hunters of rats and other small creatures. They were not considered pets, and were often killed when they wandered into towns or villages.
It wasn’t until the late 1800s that cats began to be bred and kept as pets, and the first cat show was held in England in 1871.
The Middle Ages: Cats as Symbols of Witchcraft
So how did we get from ancient Egyptians to where we are today, with cats curled up on our laps and purring away? It’s a long journey, and there are a lot of interesting stops along the way.
One such stop is the Middle Ages, when cats became associated with witchcraft. Some people believed that cats were able to transform themselves into other animals, and that they were possessed by the devil. As a result, cats were persecuted and killed in large numbers.
It was a dark period for cats, but thankfully things started to change in the 1600s. More and more people were beginning to see the benefits of having cats around—they kept rodents away, they were good for keeping barns free of vermin, and so on. And over time, these positive associations outweighed the negative ones, until eventually cats became the beloved companions they are today.
How cats became domesticated – The Renaissance: A Change in Attitude
When the Renaissance hit Europe in the 14th century, there was a change in attitude towards cats. They were no longer seen as pests or animals that were only good for catching rats; instead, they were considered to be elegant and beautiful creatures.
And this is when we started to see paintings. And sculptures of cats that portrayed them in a more positive light. For example, the painting. “Gatto con gattina” (or “Cat with Kitten”) by Tiziano Vecellio shows a cat playing with its kitten. And the detail in the painting is incredible.
This new appreciation for cats led to them being gradually domesticated. And by the 18th century they were an integral part of many households. So next time you’re cuddling with your kitty, remember that you have the Renaissance to thank for it!