Categories: Cat History

When was the first domesticated cat?

I am writing this to correct an error and perception that the Ancient Egyptians domesticated the wildcat. They did not to the best of my knowledge.

One of the first domestic cats in Cyprus grave circa 9,500 ago. This picture (words added) is in the public domain.

The first domesticated cat walked the planet thousands of years before the Ancient Egyptians domesticated cats. This needs to be said because a lot of websites state that the Ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate the cat (the North African wildcat to be specific). In fact Google places first a National Geographic article which is misleading.

The civilisation that is called Ancient Egypt started (‘coalesced’) about 5,000 years ago in 3100 BC. At that time the wild cat had been domesticated elsewhere in some areas for about 5,000 years; well before Ancient Egypt.

“As the Cyprus cats attest, there must have been tamed cats in other parts of the Middle East for thousands of years before the Egyptians began to transform them into domesticated animals.”

Dr Bradshaw in Cat Sense

“The most likely scenario, then, is that the earliest settlers of Cyprus brought with them wildcats that they had captured and tamed on the mainland.”

Dr Bradshaw

On Cyprus, in a Neolithic grave, archeologists dug up a skeleton of a person and next to the person was the skeleton of a cat. Because the person had asked that he be buried next to his cat it is believed, quite reasonably, that the cat was a companion of the person and domesticated. The cat had been killed to be with their owner after death. The grave was dated at about 9,500 years ago.

“On Cyprus, the earliest remains of cats coincide with and are found within the first permanent settlements, about 7500 BCE, making it highly likely that they were transported there.”

Dr Bradshaw

7500 BCE is 7500 years before Christ and 9,500 years ago.

There is also evidence of ‘prehistoric importations’ of tamed cats to other Mediterranean islands such as Corsica, Sardinia and Mallorca.

It is argued that tamed or semi-domesticated would have been deliberately transported to these islands on boats because the boats were too small for a stowaway wild cat to hide and why would they do it anyway.

So there you have it. To the best of our current knowledge, the first domesticated cat existed around 9,500 years ago on Cyprus and other Mediterranean islands and were transported to them from the mainland on boats well before Ancient Egypt (as we describe it) existed.

P.S. There is a difference between ‘tamed’ and ‘domesticated’ but there is an overlap. It is believed that the early domestic cats were at least semi-domesticated and on occasions fully domesticated and in a relationship similar to today’s domestic cats.

Please comment here. Comments are welcome.
Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. Some people have insulted me homophobically by saying I am gay. I am not. I have had a girlfriend for more than 20 years.

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