Finally, we now know how these felines conquered the world and became internet celebrities!
A research led by evolutionary biologist Claudio Ottoni of the University of Leuven in Belgium analyzed 209 genomes of cats dating between 9,000 and 100 years old. With this, they were able to pinpoint the history of cat's domestication.
Descending from a species Felis silvestris with five subspecies, our feline pets today are actually successors of just a single breed, African wildcat or Felis silvestris lybica. According to researchers, such ancestor has been tamed in two waves.
First, about 9,000 years ago, these wildcats have proven themselves useful to farmers as pest control. With that, they have possibly tamed and bred more and more of these feline accompanies to help kill rodents. These cats then found their way to travel and spread north (central Eurasia).
The second, and perhaps the most famous, happened in ancient Egypt a few thousand years after the first. Nobody would've missed the beauty of Egyptian cats especially with the modern appreciation of cat antics. However, “it's still [actually] unclear… whether the Egyptian domestic cat descends from cats imported from the Near East or whether a separate, second domestication took place in Egypt,” Claudio Ottoni, who co-authored the study in Nature Ecology and Evolution, pointed out, though. “Further research will have to show.”
Nonetheless, this lineage spread widely around Europe most probably due to its help on eliminating mouse pests on boats, even on Viking warships.
The researchers also found that today's common blotched tabby pattern of spots and stripes appeared not until during the 14th century. Fancy breeding then became a thing during the 19th century, considerably increasing the aesthetics of then adorable feline companions. Now, these furry (and extremely moody) friends are conquering almost everybody's houses all over the world and even the social media.
And that is how such solitary creatures are now in your lap, purring its heart out.