‘Felis Silvestris Catus’, or the Domestic Cat, developed as a new species around 5000 years ago when there was a social shift among the people of North Africa who for the first time ceased a nomadic existence in order to settle on fertile land and farm food. Excess grain was stored for leaner times and this attracted the destructive attention of mice. The sand brown African Wild Cat, Felis Silvestris Lybica, was, and still is, present in the area hunting small prey in the steppes, savannas and bush-land. Some plucky individuals were tempted by the abundance of their favourite rodents to come into the villages and live off the easy pickings. This suited the farmers well as their stores were protected.

In Egypt, cats became prized for the value of their work as pest-controllers, their inspiring fertility and their resemblance to lions, the most powerful of beasts. They became increasingly important in religion, with the cult of the cat goddess Bast elevating their status to sacred and worshipped VIPs. During this time it became common practise to keep cats confined for the first time, and they were bred and pampered in temples. (More is covered on ‘Evolution of the Cat in Issue 10 of Pet Focus Magazine.) To find out more about different feline breeds, click the menu on the left.

 

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