Where Do Domestic Cats Come From?

Cats   We know that they like to chase lasers and lick their asses   But there's a lot we do not know about the pretty Whiskers, how their cuddles come from   domestic ancestors, and when evolved from wild animals   We used to think that the earliest historical evidence of domestic cats was from the old   Egypt, like the art and mummified remains of 4000 years ago   But now some clues point out that domestic cats are older, and come from separate places   throughout the globe.  
 
The oldest domestic cat skeleton we found was in 2001, on the island of   Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea   Scientists assumed that this cat lived 9500 years ago, which makes sense historically.   That's after people had started growing in the Fertile Crescent, that not-so-desert area   In parts of Western Asia and North Africa   Farming involves storing extra crops somewhere, and piles of tasty grains   They attract rodents.   And for hungry cats, that's a free fork   So one hypothesis is that wild cats could have started to take some food, and they would have become friendly   with humans.  
 
The humans were happy to have them, since they dealt with the pests, and they were fluffy and pretty   At this time, we think that humans had already domesticated other animals, such as dogs, cattle, and sheep,   so adding another furry friend does not seem so unusual.   And we thought that this Cyprus cat was a pet for a couple of reasons:   First, Cyprus is an island without native cats, so someone must have taken   the cats in a boat.  
 
And, if they were not a little meek, that would have involved a panicked animal scratching everything   You should know how difficult it can be to take a cat out of control to the veterinarian only   and on return.

  In addition, the cat was buried with a person, probably its owner, and surrounded by carved shells.   Wild animals would not receive this special treatment, and if the cat was a dinner, his bones would have been   separated and probably scattered.   All this evidence is aligned with a study published in the journal Science in 2007, which sought   the genetic origins of domestic cats   These researchers discovered that our feline friends are closely related to the wildcat   Felis silvestris, specifically, the subspecies of the Near East   Your eyes too, if you look at this cat, will support this evidence because they look a lot like   to domestic cats.   
 
Then, many signs point to domestic cats being separated from their wild cousins in the Fertile Crescent.   But wait.   Some other scientists discovered probably domestic cat bones in 2001 in a village that grew millet   in Central China   A detailed analysis of the shape of the jaw bone shows that these cats were not related to the   wild cat.   Instead, they were a type of leopard cat, which is a completely different genus.  

From tunnels of small animals throughout the excavation site, and ceramic containers that looked like   To store grain, the researchers were pretty sure that this village had a rodent problem.   And looking at the carbon isotopes in the bones of cats, it was pretty clear that they ate   many small animals and ate a lot of millet produced by humans.  
 
This was the first convincing evidence to support the hypothesis that domestic cats   eat grain.   But this domestication occurred in different types of cats, around 5300 years ago, in the   another extreme of this great land mass.   So, what is the true story?   The Chinese or Middle Eastern domestication of cats?  
 
Well, there's no reason why domestication could not have happened twice in two separate places   with two separate species of cats when people started to grow grain.   But remember?   Genetically, all our modern cats seem to be descended from the wild cat, not the leopard cat.   Maybe the domestic cats were nicer and had an advantage to win our love.   Look, domestication leaves its mark on the genome of an animal.  

So even if anyone who loves their cats jokes that their cats are very independent to be   considered domesticated, we can observe these genetic traces.   A 2014 collaboration between a group of American universities looked closely at the genome   of the domestic cat, using 22 different races from different places.   
 
The study found recent changes in the genes that control the development of the cat's nervous system.   These genes can play a role in how domestic cats, for example, behave less defensively   in new situations, and they can change their behavior in response to rewards.   In other words, compared to a wild cat, it is genetically more likely that Hairy will walk towards you   with a friendly tap of the head and ask for treats.   This could explain why our cats are extra cuddly, the ones that got along best with the   humans could take advantage of our rodent pests and our leftovers from the table, and they survived to pass   your genes   Then, in a certain sense, the cats domesticated themselves.   And it seems that they did it more than once.  
 
Which means that the popularity of cat videos was practically inevitable.   Thank you for watching this episode of SciShow, brought to you by our patrons at Patreon.   They are people who decide to give us money but they should not do it to make this program   it can be available to anyone for free.   If you want to become one of those people and help us finance some of our future channels that   we have not released yet, you can go to patreon.com/scishow.  
Cats   We know that they like to chase lasers and lick their asses   But there's a lot we do not know about the pretty Whiskers, how their cuddles come from   domestic ancestors, and when evolved from wild animals   We used to think that the earliest historical evidence of domestic cats was from the old   E...