Almost all the cats of the small species of wild cat that is called the “wildcat” are hybrids. At some stage in their lineage an ancestor mated with a domestic cat. It may have been thousands of years ago but nearly all of them are not “purebred”.
This is because the domestic cat – whose ancestor is the wildcat – has always been ready to mate with the wildcat and vice versa. The wildcat created the domestic cat and the domestic cat mated with its creator and made it impure.
This near 100% hybridozation of the wildcat makes it difficult to locate the places where the wildcat first domesticated itself. The earliest remains are said to be in Cyprus dated to about 9,500 years ago.
However, common sense tells us that the first domestications of the wildcat would have occured in many other places in and around what is called the “fertile crescent”. These first domestications probably occurred hundreds and perhaps thousands of years apart.
I think it is sensible to speculate that the first domestication of the cat would have taken place in the wider area that is the Middle East and North Africa going up to Turkey and adjoining areas.
Revolutions in some the countries of this area by the citizens demanding democracy has lead to turmoil and instability in the area for several years. The scientific name for the first domesticated wildcat is felis silvestris lybica. The last word is named after Libya, one of the countries still unsafe for visitors after a revolution and continuing uncertainty and disruption.
Apparently the most comprehensive study to date includes samples of DNA from:
- two colonies of cats in southern Israel,
- three cats in Saudi Arabia and
- one cat in UAE
To complete the study, DNA samples are required from:
- North Africa
The genetic information can then be assessed to work out where the domestication of the cat began. These countries and areas are not suited to a scientific study researching the origins of the domestic cat.
It is rather ironic that the very civilised act of the domestication of the wildcat took place in an area that was relatively slow to take up the most civilised way to govern a country: a democracy.
Ref: Cat Sense by John Bradshaw