Whether they are wild or domesticated, cats are highly intelligent, social animals. They are capable of learning new things and have a keen sense of smell, hearing and sight. They have also evolved to communicate with humans using meowing, which allows them to express their happiness and frustration.
Cats have been around for millions of years, but scientists still don’t know where they came from. In fact, it is unclear if cats originated in the wild or if they were domesticated. However, there are several theories to explain the origin of cats. Those theories include the hypothesis that cats were deliberately tamed by humans, and the theory that cats evolved to serve humans as pets and vermin hunters. Whether cats were domesticated or not, they have a thriving relationship with humans that has lasted for millennia.
A study published in Nature has shed light on how cats became domesticated. Researchers studied the genetics of 37 living cat species. They were able to identify 8 lineages. In the ancient world, cats were more similar to marsupials than they are today. They were also more sociable than their ancestors, which would have made them attractive pets.
Cats were first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent, which is modern day West Asia. The Fertile Crescent was an area that provided easy access to food sources, such as rodents and wild prey. Farmers accepted cats as pets and vermin hunters. In the Classical period, cats accelerated their migration to Europe and Africa. The first lineage of domesticated cats reached Europe around 4400 B.C.E. A second lineage spread into the Old World around 1500 B.C.E. During this time, trade in agricultural products expanded the range of cats.
The modern feline genome was not complete, but researchers were able to identify some useful genetic markers. These markers can help scientists trace when selective breeding began. They also provided a useful measure of evolution. In 2007, scientists sequenced the genome of the Abyssinian cat Cinnamon. The resulting gene pool is similar across the world.
The same research team compared the genetics of 37 living cat species. These include the felis (cats) and felids (larger true cats). These are classified as feliforms, which are also known as carnivorans. Felines have retractable claws, shorter faces, and tend to be meat-eating animals. They are also pounce-predators.
The study also found that cats had the most genetic variation in their coat colors. This is similar to other animals that were selectively bred. It is possible that the splotchy fur color helped ancient humans recognize animals in a crowd.
The researchers also studied ancient cat skeletons. They found that there were several cats that sported glutamate receptors, which are responsible for learning in humans. These receptors were also present in cats that boarded ships with humans. These cats are the ancestors of today’s house cats.
The study also found that cats were more intelligent than they might have seemed. The ancestors of modern domestic cats were not very intelligent, but their intelligence evolved with the passage of time.