Where are domestic cats from?

Ultimately, domestic cats are from the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East – see map:

Fertile Crescent

The domestication of the wildcat was a mutual arrangement (to the benefit of both people (farmers) and cat alike). The domestication of the cat occurred long after the wild dog was domesticated. It is now believed that the initial domestication of the North African wild cat (otherwise known as the Near Eastern wildcat- Latin scientific name: Felis silvestris lybica) took place in what is referred to as the “Fertile Crescent” (see the crescent shaped area in the map). This includes Egypt and Cyprus. Although most evidence of domestication comes from the fertile Nile Delta.

The Near Eastern wildcat was, at its earliest, domesticated some 9,000 years ago, it is believed, because feline remains were found in a human grave on Cyprus in the Mediterranean. A cat’s tooth from 9,000 BC was found in Jericho, Israel and remains have been found in the Indus valley near Harappa.

So if we go back far enough, we can say that domestic cats are from an area called the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East and this is where the wild cat was at first semi-domesticated and then more fully domesticated and “owned” as is the case nowadays.

Note: there is still some disagreement about the classification of the wild cat. The current thought is that there are five species (no doubt someone will disagree with that):

Domestication of the near eastern wildcat

Over the thousands of years of semi-domestication and domestication the domestic cat was transported to various places throughout the world by land and ship, including, for example, Great Britain at the time the Romans initially occupied the country around 200+ AD. The domestic cat came to the USA with the pilgrims in the early 1600s. The Maine Coon is perhaps the first descendent of these cats and an esteemed purebred cat nowadays when once it was a farm cat.




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