happy cat face maskFelines Domestic Cats

Cat History

Domesticated house cats are important to people because they provide companionship and are expert hunters of rats and mice and other household pests. Some ancient, superstitions said cats were symbols of darkness and danger and that cats were demonic in nature. This is probably because the people didn't understand how cat's eyes can pick up faint rays of light which give the impression that their eyes glow in the dark, plus cat fur can sparkle from static electricity if conditions are right. Also, cats are active primarily during twilight, the period between dawn and dusk. This period of time was called the witching hour by superstitious people. Cats can hear the high frequency noises made by mice and rodents that humans can't hear. Cats can also see in near darkness to locate prey and have a much better sense of smell than humans. This must have been very puzzling to people before science discovered cat biology. A 2007 genetic study indicates all house cats descend from about five female African Wildcats around 8000 BCE, from the Middle East. There are possible instances of domestication as early as the Neolithic era.

Cats are currently the most popular pet in the world, cats and folk art with cats can be found almost everywhere in the world. There are hundreds of folktales and superstitions about wild and domesticated cats.

Cats communicate vocally by meowing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling and grunting. Cats also have unique cat-specific body language such as waving their tails, laying back their ears back and stretching.

Felines were prized and protected in ancient Egypt. In fact the mythology of the cat having nine lives is rooted in Egyption folk lore which gifted them with nine lives. Genetic studies have revealed that all house cats are descended from Middle East African Wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica) dating as far back as c. 8000 BCE.

Tales About Cats

A few tales about cats include:

  • Cheshire Cat Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - child story where a cat's head appears without its body
  • The Cat Red Dwarf - modern science fiction story about a Felis Sapiens evolved from the domestic housecat
  • Puss in Boots french fairytale - cat uses trickery and deceit to gain power and wealth
  • Maneki Neko Japanese sculpture - ceramic cat believed to bring good luck to the owner
  • in Norse mythology, Frigga, or Freyja, the wife of Odin, rode in a chariot pulled by cats (I'll bet she didn't get very far)