DNA Reveals Origin Of Domestic Cat

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Scientists have found that all domestic cats descended from wild cats from the Middle East—in particular, from the Fertile Crescent, which was located in what is now Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. This means that domestic cats in different areas didn’t originate from the wild cats in those areas as was once thought. Domestic cats in Europe did not come from the European wildcat. Today’s domestic cats all descend from five female cats from the Middle East. It was due to humans transporting their cats that domestic cats spread throughout the world.

Archaeological evidence points to cats being domesticated much earlier than once believed. It has long been thought the Egyptians first domesticated the cat around 4,000 years ago (2,000 B.C.) But, findings published in 2004, revealed that a Neolithic site on Cyprus had provided the earliest archaeological evidence of domestic cats from 9,500 years ago (7,500 B.C.) The DNA and archaeological evidence supports the theory that cats and people began sharing their lives as humans began to settle and farm, and had grain stores that needed to be protected from vermin.

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