In 10000, is we domesticated cats or cats domesticated us?


Produced: Popular Science China

Production: EVEE (School of Life Sciences at Peking University)

Produced: Computer Network Information Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

“A dog is a man’s best friend. A cat is a cat’s best friend.”

Friends who have raised cats may have heard of the playful words above,


Dogs are the best friends of human beings, and cats are the best friends of cats.

Although with joke, it also truly reflects the contradictions of humans in the process of getting along with cats for a long time.

Different from their “roommates” -dogs, for their own shit officers, cats are sometimes tender and cold. While tranquility like water, there was a trace of wildness and difficult to tame, so that many times, we will be curious about a problem-

Is cat really domesticated?

I think that except human beings are good friends of cats, we are just shoveling officers (manual dog head) (picture source: Hill ’s PET)

Cats that have not been “raised” in 1000

For scientists,

Whether the cat has been domesticated is also a question worthy of controversy.

For this issue, archeological records may give us some answers.

Family cats and wild cats are very similar in bone shape, which makes many problems complicated. Fortunately, through other information assistance, we can still see the history of the cat’s cat being domesticated from the cat remains found in the human site.

In 1983, archeologists discovered a cat’s jawbone on the island of Cyprus. Because cats are not indigenous peoples on the island, this discovery shows that humans have brought cats on the continent to the island, but it does not necessarily mean that humans have started to domesticate cats.

But the discovery of a tomb subsequently determined the connection between the cats and humans on the island of Cyprus.


The researchers discovered a human grave. There was a small pit near the bone, buried 24 complete shells, and other stone tools and funerals, which meant that the deceased enjoys a certain social status.

What is exciting is that in addition to the 40 cm of human bones, a cat’s skeleton is found, and the relatively complete and surrounding sedimentary materials indicate

Someone dug a grave for the cat, then put the cat in it and bury it quickly.

Human cats found in Cyprus (picture source: reference 1)

It is worth mentioning that the period of this tomb was about 9500 years ago, so scientists speculated that the domestication of cats may occur 9500 years ago.

Later, the research on the genetic of domestic cats and wild cats pushed the domestication history of the cat for a while, pushing it to 10,000 years ago.

Specifically, in this study, scientists sequenate and analyze the DNA samples of 979 wild cats and cats in southern Africa, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and the Middle East.

Studies have shown that wild cats can be divided into 5 major spectrums (Lineage), which are

European wild cat (

F.S. Silvesstris

), Desert cat (

F.S. Bieti


), Asian wild cat (

F.S. Ornata

), South Africa wild cat (



And a spectrum that includes a family cat, wild cat distributed in the Middle East, and African wild cats. Researchers call this spectrum

African wild cat (

F.S. Lybica


The genetic spectrum of wild cats and cats (picture source: reference 2)

What is the problem?

In a word, it is,

The family cats are currently distributed around the world, and their ancestors are the sub -types of African wild cats.

It is worth mentioning that in the spectrum system of African wild cats, the African wild cat DNA samples and domestic cat collected from the remote desert of Israel, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which is almost inherited inherited, which means that this means

The Middle East may be the “happy hometown” of the cats

African wild cats, what are the differences between do you think of your own master? (Picture source:

Furthermore, scientists estimate the start time of domestic cat domestication through molecular sequences, but due to

Molecular theory

It is not applicable to the group that is too close. Therefore, it can only be known that the domestication of cats has occurred in this period of time in the past 10000 years.

Another study published in 2017 is right

Modern cat

And from the archeological site from 15000 years ago to the 18th century AD

Ancient cat

The DNA of the remains analyzed and found that it was found

There may be two waves of domestication in the cat:

The first time it happened in the crescents of about 7,500 years ago; the second occurred during the Greece and Roman periods. At that time, a large number of cats were spread from Egypt, spread north to the Baltic Sea, and east to Iran.

This process significantly increased the genetic component of African wild cats in the cat gene.

New moon fertile land, red area in the picture (picture source: Wikipedia)


Seeing this, everyone has basically understood that the domestic cat domestication history is not short, about 10,000 years ago.


After such a long time of domestication, why is the cat in our family often look like “raising and not familiar”?

Mild artificial choice and wild cat

If you want to answer this question, we must first understand what is domestication?


The growth and reproduction of a biological kind of biological is gradually subject to the process of using and controlling.

For humans, the domestication of moving and plants marked a major change in human history and had a very profound impact. Without our ancestor’s domestication of crops, poultry and livestock, there is probably no today we are full.

Human domestication has cow’s rock painting (picture source:


In fact, domestication

It is a gradual process, not an overnight emergency.

According to the definition of domestication, everyone can also guess that the domestication process of animals is mainly divided into two stages: the first stage humans

Capture and breed

Animals, and the second stage will go

Consciously control

Breeding by domesticated animals.

In this process, humans obviously occupy a dominant position,

Artificial selection of orientation will be retained to the benefits of human beings, so that individuals with favorable traits to reproduce more


This is well reflected in many human domestic pets and livestock, especially dogs. Our ancestors set the dogs to a good helper for guarding and hunting, which made the dog and their ancestors -wolfs have a large difference.

Wolf and dog (picture source:

But for cats, the situation is different.

When we call a cat enthusiastically, it may only blink in a blink of an eye to respond, even ignoring it.

In addition, cats also retain their keen hunting skills than dogs. Most of the abandoned cats can survive independently without human help.

Cat is hunting (picture source:

For this phenomenon, a mild manual choice may be a suitable answer.

In 2014, a study published in the academic journal “Academy of Sciences” compared the genome characteristics of the cat and wild cats, and found that

The difference between the cat and its wild cat ancestor on the genome is far less than the difference between the dog and the wolf


The genome of the cat has more milder artificial selection characteristics

In the past research, most of the scientists think

The encounter between the cat ancestor and human beings began with the game between cats and mice

In the new moon, people start to hide grains, which is convenient for the breeding and growth of rats. The co -living rats are obvious to the temptation of cats. At the same time, human food residues are also attractive to wild cats, which makes the ancestors of home cats start to enter the scope of human activities.


The life of them entering human beings does not mean losing their freedom

(This seems to be really a slag cat).

Cats and mice (picture source: Victor)

Cats can catch mice without causing much damage. Besides, many cats are very cute, which greatly increases the tolerance of the cat’s ancestors, which makes the cats spread out with the human agricultural civilization. Essence

However, this relatively loose connection between cats and humans has left the cat’s genes without leaving too many traces of artificial selection.


In addition, compared to dogs (about 30000 years), cats have been domesticated for relatively short. It was not until the past two centuries that people have spent great energy on the cultivation of new cats in the cat. Today, most cat varieties were cultivated on the British Islands in the 19th century.

The cat exhibition in the UK in 1871 (picture source:

Therefore, if you want a family cat to have a “home” cat, what you need may be


Longer domestication time

,as well as

More effortless artificial selection

Who is the domestication party in both directions?

In fact, the domestication of the cat has basically finished, but the shoveling officials, when you shovel, you will have such a question:

Lazy like me, why do you still shovel the master every day? Who is “domesticated”?

In order to raise cats in cities, humans invented cat litter and developed the habit of shovel. When the cat flipped the basin, scratched the furniture, and was arrogant and rude, humans still adhered to the basic obligations of the shovel officer.

Not only that, in the shopping cart, cat food, cat litter, and the zero -zero always reminded themselves, who is the real owner.

Dear friends, what kind of answer will you give for the above question?


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Driscoll, C. A., Menotti-Raymond, M., ROCA, A. L., HUPE, K., Johnson, W. E., Geffen, E. ET Al. (2007). The near Eastern OF Cat DOMESTINCE, 317 (5837) , 519-523.

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Driscoll, C. A., Macdonald, D. W., & O’Brien, S. J. (2009). From wild animals to domestic pets, an evolutionary view of domestication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(Supplement 1), 9971-9978.

Montague, M. J., Li, G., Gandolfi, B., Khan, R., Aken, B. L., Searle, S. M., et al. (2014). Comparative analysis of the domestic cat genome reveals genetic signatures underlying feline biology and domestication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111 (48), 17230-17235.