The History of Cats

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The domestic cat is a thing of beauty-sleek, silent, curious. There are currently over 80 breeds of the domestic cat recognized by one cat registry or another. Some do not recognize the “exotic” breeds of cat, like the Bengal, Savannah or Caracal. What is interesting, however, is that all these breeds originated from one strain of cat, more than 9500 years ago.
Dogs have been domesticated much longer, originally for their working capability as guard and hunter. Cats were not domesticated until human beings settled down, established agriculture, and more importantly, began storing crops. Crops were jealously guarded because of their value through the lean winter months, but tribes lost countless bags to a very small enemy -mice. So, when cats began hanging around the encampment catching and eating their fill, people encouraged the cats to remain, effectively taming them. Cats were often revered in the ancient cultures.
In Egypt, they were believed to be companions to the goddess Bast. They were often mummified, as a symbol of the people’s respect and as an offering to Bast.
In Europe, the cat took an ominous turn, becoming associated with witchcraft and the devil, sometime around the 14th century. Black cats in particular are seen as evil. Thousands of cats were burned for being “witches familiar’s.” It is speculated that with the decrease in the cat population, the rat population increased exponentially, and may have contributed to the deadly bubonic plaque that nearly wiped out Europe, which began in 1334.
Today, the cat is the most popular house pet, with more than 82 million is the US alone, more than 500 million worldwide. They are affectionate, playful, curious companions that bring light and laughter to millions of people.
*Remember, cats are private creatures, and may not show you when they are sick or in pain. They may just hide under the bed, or sleep more. Don’t forget to bring your cat in for an annual exam!

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