Domestic Wild Cat
Michael (creator of this website) with tame serval at A1 Savannahs - photo by Kathrin Stucki.
I'm currently doing some research on domesticated wild cats. There are 2 main areas that I'm looking into:
- Cats and their owners - how they trained the cat, their motivation, their relationship with the cat, how the cat is cared for daily etc.
- animal behavior that can be scientifically explained.
If you have any more information, leads or suggestions to offer I would be very appreciative.
Thanks for the question. I'll answer it on the same page for formatting reasons.
I think the first thing is to agree on what domestication means. The dictionary definition is: any of various animals that have been tamed and made fit for a human environment (thefreedictionary.com). So it essentially means tamed and on that basis the first domestication of the wild cat is of interest. An answer to the first question you pose can be found in a post I made today called Cat Worship. In this post I discuss in passing the ancient Egyptians who took African wild cat cubs and tamed them as mousers and to catch snakes in an area of the Nile delta (Bubastis). Here was one of the earliest cases of domestication of the wildcat and it thought that the modern version of the domesticated African wild cat is the Egyptian Mau, which is still both a domestic cat and a feral cat in Egypt.
These early domestications would be fairly easy and the purpose was functional, to protect grain etc. The relationship between human and cat would be similar to that which exists today but the cat would have been semi-feral in ancient Egypt, I suspect.
A visitor actually made a post about her domestic wild cat, an African wild cat: My Pet African Wildcat.
The larger wildcats were often used as accessories in the hunting of game. I have made a post on that: Hunting with Cheetahs
The large wildcats were used for entertainment in hunting expeditions as mentioned above and as status symbols. Cheetahs can be very friendly.
The laws in the USA (where most domestic wild cats live) are confusing I find because it varies widely from state to state. New York is well known for tight laws and I mention Oregon in this post: Keeping Wild Cats.
Servals are commonly adopted as cat companions. Sometimes it works but often times the human side to the relationship is inadequate. Please see, for example: Serval Cat Escapes and Tame and Socialised Serval Cat.
Kathrin and Martin Stucki who own and manage A1 Savannahs keep serval cats. The last link above is of me and a very tame serval cat. You might like to ask them. You can Google A1 Savannahs. They are very busy people, however, please remember.
The Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) is an organisation that are exclusively concerned with wild cat conservation and keeping wild cats. You might like to talk to them. A1 Savannahs is accredited by FCF. A1 Savannahs do a wonderful job of socializing wild cat hybrids. This is very close to creating a domestic wild cat.
Some time ago I made a post on my Blogger site about taming wild feral cats and kittens. That too is akin to taming a wild cat and creating a domestic wild cat.
For academic and scientific information on wildcats I would use Google Scholar (new window) and search.
I hope this helps a bit. The fact is that the domestic cat is a domestic wild cat. It happened first some 9,500 years ago in Cyprus it is thought. The 600 million domestic cats today stem from these early domestications which were carried out in a common sense way. It could be argued that the wild cats domesticated themselves largely because they came to the human settlements and caught the rodents. The people let them stay. Not much training going on and the relationship was created for the common sense reason that it improved the lives of both parties to the relationship....Michael