Keeping Cats As Pets Began 5,000 Years Ago

It might be hard to believe, but cats weren’t always domesticated pets. Once upon a time, someone actually invited these tyrants into the house and the rest, as they say, is history.

According to recent findings, the first wild cat (or what we now call a stray) began hanging out with humans maybe over 5,000 years ago. While excavating a Stone Age village in China, researchers have found the earliest evidence of cats and humans — their first step in becoming the pets (and Internet stars) we love today.

According to Fiona Marshall, an author of this study, cats were domesticated by farmers while dogs were domesticated by hunters. Makes sense. All domestic cats trace their roots to the Near Eastern wild cat (they’re adorable, Google it), but few other details have surfaced about just how they came to be household friends. In Cyprus, about 9,500 years ago, a wild cat was buried very closed to a “high-status” human, which tells us that cats were special to people even then. Four-thousand-year-old Egyptian paintings depict people caring for kitties as well.

Bones and other findings in the Chinese farming village are showing that the cats there ate large amounts of grain and lived to old age, which means they may have been fed by humans.  However, according to scientist Carlos Driscoll, even if the ancient kitties were looked after in some ways, they weren’t quite treated like pets. Their bones were thrown in trash pits with bones of other wild animals (such a depressing image!), and may have just been “tolerated” by people rather than cared for by them. Can you imagine?

Anyway, thank you, ancient China! I have you to thank for Grumpy, Lil Bub, Pudge and Colonel Meow!

[USA Today]

[Image via Catster]