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What Did Domestic Cats Evolve From

Prevalence Of Toxocara In Domestic Cats

Where Do Domestic Cats Come From?

Domestic cats in Africa are kept as pets or to control pests such as rats or snakes . There are limited studies on feline helminthiasis and cat keeping practices; however, there seems to be low deworming prevalence and poor owner awareness of feline zoonotic helminths. A study in Nigeria reported that only 3% of owners dewormed their cats at least once a year and only 17.5% of pet owners were aware of the zoonotic potential of feline helminths . Toxocara cati is not usually the most prevalent helminth reported in cats in Africa. The helminth was the second most prevalent in cats in Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya . The prevalence of T. cati has been reported at 32.5% in Ethiopia , 23.3% in Kenya , 48.5% and 47.1% in Nigeria. Research on helminthiasis in ownerless free-roaming cats in Nigeria found 55.9% and 16.7% of cats infected, while a study in Egypt reported a prevalence of 9% . An age-bias prevalence was reported in Nigeria with cats aged 06 months having higher odds of infection; however, no sex-biased prevalence was found .

Leslie A. Lyons, Jennifer Dawn Kurushima, in, 2012

The History Of Cats In Ancient Egypt: Gods And Cats

Everyone knows that the Egyptians worshipped felines as gods, but did you know that cats were so revered there that killing one was punishable by death?;

Like in the Middle East, Egyptian cat historyshows they were employed by the ancient Egyptians as mouse-catchers.

They were in charge of protecting crops and stopping diseases from spreading among the people.;

They did a great job and raised the quality of life of Egyptians to a whole new level. Thus marking a turning point in the history of cats so much so that felines soon started to be seen as more than just useful animals, but as sacred creatures that represented life and prosperity.

And it wasnt just ordinary people who held cats in high esteem.

Pharaohs were commonly buried with their cats as they believed that felines brought good luck and a safe journey to the afterlife.;

Whats more, archaeologists are still discovering hieroglyphics, pictures, and carvings of cats shown wearing expensive jewelry or taking up prominent positions, thus demonstrating their importance to this ancient civilization.

So even cat history proves it: felines were born to be adored.;;

Cats were so beloved in Egypt that according to legend, the Persian army carried cats with them when they fought the Egyptians, knowing that their archers would not fire and risk hurting the precious felines.;

The Egyptian goddess most associated with cats is Bastet, the goddess of love. She had the head of a cat and could also turn into one.

The Evolution Of Cats

The pantherlike ancestor to the cat family first appeared in Southeast Asia, about 10.8 million years ago. Prior to the use of DNA studies in cats, it was difficult to trace the Felidae family history, because feline fossils are rare, and difficult to tell apart.

In 1997, Warren E. Johnson and Stephen J. OBrien performed DNA analyses of 37 living cat species, which allowed them to divide todays cats into 8 lineages.

The great roaring cats were the first to branch off, about 6.4 million years ago. The ancestor of modern domestic cats was the last to appear, about 3.4 million years ago. A small wildcat species was first domesticated in the Near East 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.

As sea levels rose and fell, cats migrated to new continents and developed new species. It is estimated that cats migrated to North America from Asia across the Bering land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska about 9 million years ago. Later, several American cat lineages returned to Asia. With each migration, the cats evolved further and changed into an ever-growing array of sizes and types of felines. Based on the DNA and fossil evidence, the Johnnson-OBrien team was able to demonstrate a series of at least 10 intercontinental migrations of cats over the past 10 million years, in which cat were able to colonize the world.


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Genetic Testing Concerns In Hybrid Cat Breeds

A normal level of genetic variation among cats is expected, typically far less than 1% of a sequence that codes for a protein. Herein lies a problem for hybrid cat breeds. The evolutionary time between the appearances of different cat species is millions of years,50 not the hundreds to thousands of years between the appearance of cat breeds and populations. An Asian Leopard cat had a common ancestor with the domestic cat about 6 million years ago, the Bobcat about 8 million years ago, and the Serval about 9.5 million years ago. The Jungle cat is more closely related to the domestic cat than the Asian Leopard cat is. In addition, for some of these wild felid species, different subspecies have been incorporated into the breed. The DNA sequence of a domestic cat and one of these wild felid species will have many genetic differences, maybe a several percentage difference, less for the jungle cat, more for the Serval compared with that of a domestic cat. The genetic differences are most likely silent mutations, but the variation will interplay with genetic assays and may cause more allelic dropout than what would be normally anticipated. No genetic tests have been validated in the hybrid cat breeds, although they are used frequently. As mentioned, these allelic differences can cause allelic incompatibilities, which could produce reproduction problems and other health issues.

Angela L. Witzel, … Donna Raditic, in, 2012

Genetics: Saving The Scottish Wildcat

How did domestic cats survive evolution?

As the northernmost representative of the European wildcat, the Scottish wildcat lives under environmental and climatic conditions unlike those experienced by any other wildcat. It is also critically endangered, thanks to interbreeding with feral domestic cats. According to the latest rough estimate, perhaps only 400 pure Scottish wildcats survive. But sorting the Scottish feline from hybrids and domestic cats is challenging because they all look so similar. To that end, the authors recently discovered a unique genetic signature of the Scottish wildcat that permits precise identification. This development will facilitate implementation of legal protection of this animal.

Today the Cat Fanciers Association and the International Cat Association recognize nearly 60 breeds of domestic cat. Just a dozen or so genes account for the differences in coat color, fur length and texture, as well as other, subtler coat characteristics, such as shading and shimmer, among these breeds.

Thanks to the sequencing of the entire genome of an Abyssinian cat named Cinnamon in 2007, geneticists have identified the mutations that produce such traits as tabby patterning, black, white and orange coloring, long hair and many others. Beyond differences in the pelage-related genes, however, the genetic variation between domestic cat breeds is very slightcomparable to that seen between adjacent human populations, such as the French and the Italians.

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Cat Ancestry: Where Do Cats Come From

Many cat owners are convinced that their cat doesnt really need them. In other words, not all of us are fully convinced that our house cats are fully domesticated.;

However, the cats that live in our homes have many differences from the species that they originally evolved from and they went through quite a bit of trouble to become what they are today.

Keep reading to learn about our pets ancestors, where they are now, and how domesticated our feline friends truly are.;

This Is The Ancient Animal Your Cat Evolved From

It’s still around, by the way.

by Ilana Strauss;|; Friday, December 15, 2017

by Ilana StraussFriday, December 15, 2017

Every time I look at a poodle, part of me thinks “You should be a wolf.” Humans have bred wolves and other wild canines for thousands of years, and they’ve come out looking like stuffed animals.

But what about cats? I had no idea what animal domestic cats came from. Lions? Jaguars? I did a little research, and I learned about the African wildcat, an animal that was likely domesticated by the ancient Natufians in Israel about 10,000 years ago. All modern cats came from this wildcat.

Oh, and guess what? African wild cats still live today in Israel, the Mediterranean and Africa. And people have taken photos of them. So without further ado …

Drum roll …

Believe it or not, this isn’t a housecat. It’s an African wildcat.

Oh snap! It looks like a regular cat. I cracked up when I saw that photo; I’d been expecting something way more Mufasa than Puss in Boots. If I saw that thing rooting around in garbage cans near my house, I’d just think it was a stray.

Granted, they’re not exactly the same. Housecats have bushier tails than African wildcats, and they come in many more colors and patterns. African wildcats have longer legs than domestic cats, which help them trot across terrain and pounce on their prey.

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Findings: The House Cats Ancestor

Researchers examined DNA belonging to nearly 1,000 wildcats and domestic cats from across the Old World to determine which subspecies of the wildcat, Felis silvestris, gave rise to the house cat. They found that the DNA clustered into five groups, based on similarity of sequence, and noted that the wildcats within each group came from the same region of the world . The domestic cats, however, grouped only with F. silvestris lybica, the Middle Eastern wildcat . This result established that all domestic cats are descended from F. s. lybica alone .

In 2000 one of us set out to tackle the question by assembling DNA samples from some 979 wildcats and domestic cats in southern Africa, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and the Middle East. Because wildcats typically defend a single territory for life, he expected that the genetic composition of wildcat groups would vary across their geographical ranges but remain stable over time, as is observed in many other felid species. If regional indigenous groups of these animals could be distinguished from one another on the basis of their DNA, and if the DNA of domestic cats more closely resembled that of one of the wildcat populations, then he would have clear evidence for where domestication began.

Timeline: From Wild To Mild

How We Domesticated Cats (Twice)

Researchers believe, based on archaeological and historic records, that the transformation of the Middle Eastern wildcat into a ubiquitous pet transpired over thousands of years.

10,5009,500 years ago House mouse remains preserved with human stores of grain in Israel; origin of agriculture and of permanent human settlements creates opportunities for cats willing to get close enough to humans to hunt house mice

9,500 years ago Human and cat double burial on Mediterranean island of Cyprus; earliest evidence of special relationship between people and cats

3,700 years ago Ivory cat statuette sculpted in Israel; suggests cats were a common sight around human settlements in the Fertile Crescent

3,600 years ago Artists paint domesticated cats from Thebes, Egypt; oldest clear evidence of fully domesticated cat

2,900 years ago Cats become official deity of Egypt in the form of the goddess Bastet; huge number of cats sacrificed and mummified in her sacred city indicates that Egyptians were breeding domestic cats

2,300 years ago The height of cat worship in Egypt; the Ptolemeic rulers maintain strict bans on the export of cats

2,000 years ago Cat remains preserved at the German site of Tofting in Schleswig and increasing references to cats in art and literature show that domestic cats were common throughout Europe

1800s Most of the modern breeds developed in the British Isles, according to writings of English natural history artist Harrison Weir

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One Hell Of An Experiment

A research team led by geneticist Carlos Driscoll of the National Cancer Institute and scientists at the University of Oxford in England found five matriarchal lineages to which modern domestic cats belong.

“This tells us that domestic cats were sort of widely recruited, probably over time and space,” Driscoll said.

But people probably weren’t going out and catchingor herdingcats.

“The cats just sort of domesticated themselves. People today know that you can’t keep a cat inside , and 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent you couldn’t just shut the window.”

Farmers were likely the first to domesticate wildcats. The animals may have been helpful in hunting mice and other pests that plagued farm fields in the early human settlements, which had just sprang from the first agricultural development.

Agriculture led to cities and towns, as well as a new ecological environment that cats were able to exploit.

There are some 600 million house cats around the world, study co-author O’Brien added.

“Domestication was one hell of a successful natural experiment.”

Natural Vs Artificial Selection

Artificial selection is unique in that, as the name suggests, it is wholly unnatural. That insight seems at first trivial, but reflection reveals just how extraordinary and fundamental artificial selection has been to human success as a species. It was no more than 12,000 years ago that humankind began to consciously harness the 4-billion-year evolutionary patrimony of life on Earth. Exploiting the genetic diversity of living plants and animals for our own benefit gave humans a leading role in the evolutionary process for the first time. Agricultural food production has allowed the human population to grow from an estimated 10 million in the Neolithic to 6.9 billion today, and still expanding . Today, 4.93 billion hectares are used for agricultural practices, which also account for 70% of all freshwater consumed . The worlds species are going extinct at a rate 1001,000 times faster than the historic background rate, primarily as a result of habitat loss, which is itself overwhelmingly driven by conversion of natural habitats to agriculture. However, to date no domestic animal has gone extinct . The consequences for the planet have been profound, and have included the complete transformation of almost every natural ecosystem on Earth.

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Biomedical Science And Conservation

Domestic cat females have been used as animal models in reproductive science for decades, and compared to laboratory rodents,;they offer many advantages because of greater similarities in follicular anatomy and gamete biology with women. Fertility;preservation approaches developed in the female cat have direct applications to human reproductive medicine . Of course, the domestic cat also has been a critical model to better understand the reproductive biology of wild counterparts.

Felids express marked variations in reproductive mechanisms among species. Identifying the type of ovulation and effect of seasonality on reproduction for each species is particularly important as these two characteristics impact both natural and assisted breeding efforts. The ability to easily and safely assess reproductive status through noninvasive means is vital to our understanding the causes of poor fertility of cats in natural breeding situations and in response to assisted reproductive procedures. In the nearly three decades since fecal steroid techniques were developed for wild felids, over 300 papers have been published that describe gonadal cycle patterns for just over half of the species. Thus, an impressive endocrine database now exists, and hormone monitoring has played a major role in the breeding management of many felid species.

Tanya Burkholder DVM, DACLAM, … Henry J. Baker DVM, DACLAM, in, 2015

You Have Probably Seen A Domestic Cat More Than Once In Your Life

How did domestic cats survive evolution?

Scientists claim domestic cats have lived with us from 12,000 years ago to present. The evidence for this is that there are fossilized cats from that time period that were found among the evidence of human civilizations. Presently, domestic cats can be found on every continent except for Antarctica, due to their amazing ability to adapt. There are species of the domestic cat that live in tundras, wetlands, urban areas, etc.;

A domestic cat can eat small animals like rabbits, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish,;invertebrates, and insects. You may also know them to eat processed foods that humans buy from the grocery store. Domestic cats are not only hunters, they are also hunted. Their predators include coyotes, owls, red tail hawks, eagles, raccoons, and sometimes dogs.;They are not preyed on as much as other creatures if they are indoor cats.; A domestic cat has caught a cicada.

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Dna And Phylogenetic Evidence

Current taxonomy tends to treat F. silvestris, F. lybica, F. catus, and F. bieti as different species. A 2007 study of feline mitochondrialDNA and microsatellites of approximately 1,000 cats from many different regions showed 5 genetic lineages of the wildcat population. These lineages included:

  • Felis silvestris silvestris
  • Felis silvestris bieti
  • Felis silvestris ornata
  • Felis silvestris cafra
  • Felis silvestris lybica

This study showed that F.s. lybica included domesticated cats and that wild cats from this group are almost indistinguishable from domesticated cats. Along with DNA analysis, phylogenetic studies were also conducted to narrow down the evolutionary history. Phylogenetic trees were generated based on mitochondrial DNA analysis. In each study Bayesian, maximum likelihood, and parsimony maximum likelihood trees all produced identical results. They each show that F.s. ornata, F.s. cafra, and F.s. lybica were all very closely related to a common ancestor. It also showed that this group of variations are monophyletic, meaning they share a common ancestor not shared by other groups. The trees also helped show that F.s. lybica gave rise to the domesticated cats of today. F.s. silvestris showed a very early branching away from the other groups, but still shares a very early common ancestor with the rest of the clades.

The Making Of The Cat

From the tall grass savanna of Kenya to the forested slopes of the Rockies, from the steaming jungles of Indonesia and the crags of the Himalayas to your very own living room, cats prowl our planet. Some are large and imposing, celebrated for their predatory power. Others are small and elusive, their spots blending into the shadows. Not to mention our familiar moggie companions that purr and yowl for a tender back scratch. At whatever size, and whatever form, we seem to have limitless adoration and fascination for the felines that inhabit our planet. Our affection for them runs so deep that were even transfixed by those that slipped into extinction long ago. There is no more potent symbol of the Ice Age than Smilodon fatalis, the great saber-toothed cat preserved by the hundreds in the thick muck of the La Brea asphalt seeps. Living or dead, we love cats.

Up from the Ashes;

A protoypical miacid, an early ancestor of cats. | Credit:;

The First Cat;

Rise of the Swordtooth

A 20th century reconstruction of Smilodon, the great sabertoothed cat. |;Credit: The Prelinger Archive

The felid lineage. | Source:

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