Cats have always been a source of fascination for mankind throughout history. Today cats have become one of the world’s most popular pets perfectly suited to the lifestyle of our day. They are beautiful, enigmatic and easy-to-care for pets. But where and when did the domestic cat originate? It has been about 4000 years since the first cats were domesticated. The Ancient Egyptians were the first to keep and use cats to control vermin and other pests to protect stores of food.
In Ancient Egypt, the cat was reversed as a hunter and worshipped as gods and goddesses. The ancient Egyptians imposed the death penalty for killing cats and cats were also mummyfied before being buried. Other ancient civilizations later began to domesticate the cat and took tame felines to Italy where they slowly spread around Europe. The shorthaired domestic cat spread across the world from Egypt while long haired cats came later from Turkey and Iran. The domestic cat also spread from India to China and Japan. Except for a short period of persecution in the middle Ages when cats were associated with the devil, by the 18th century cats had become popular household pets worldwide.
Evolution of cats
All modern cats developed about 10.8 million years ago in southeast Asia. Nimravids, similar to a saber-tooth, date back 35 million years ago, but their descendants went extinct long. Cats have highly developed Predator skills-fast, dexterous and with five weapons (four clawed paws and a mouthful of fangs), evolution has created few Predators more perfect for the task. Panthers includes the following species: lions, leopards, jaguars, tigers, snow leopards, clouded leopards and Bornean clouded leopards. Wherever these cats live, they are the dominant Predator. All of them roar, except for the two clouded leopards.
All little over nine million years ago, the bay cat lineage formed. Small to medium in size, the Bay cats, Asian golden cat, Bornean bay cat, Marbled cat, are limited to forested areas in Southeast Asia. The next split came 8.5 million years ago with the caracals. The caracals, African golden cat and several are all native to Africa. They have distinctive long legs and large ears. During the time that cats were developing distinctive lineages in Africa, they were also traveling to North America.
Cats and the sense of touch
Cats are very sensitive to touch. The most touch sensitive places on a cat’s body are its:
A cat’s whiskers are the most sensitive part of its body. They contain special hairs set deep in the skin called vibrissae. A cat will be aware of the tiniest movement in the air because of his amazing sense of touch. This helps cats to be such efficient hunters.
Cats and the sense of smell
Humans have 5 million cells in their noses to help sense odor. Cats have an amazing 200 million of these cells. Cats use smell tocommunicate with other cats determine potential risk or pleasure learn about their surrounding environment locate prey.
Domestic cats today still take many characteristics from their wild ancestors. The arresting eye, body, shape, feeding and grooming habits are the same along with the ability to pounce into action at any given moment. It is this link that makes the domestic cat so fascinating around the world. The non-pedigree domestic cat, the Moggie is the most popular house pet today with the black and white Moggie being the most popular followed by the black cat followed by the Tabby cat. There are also 36 recognised breeds of pedigree cats around the world with the Siamese cat being the most popular. Most homes today that keep pets have at least one cat in residence.
During the Middle Ages, many people believed cats had supernatural abilities. After all, they were able to see and hear things people couldn’t. Now that we have a better understanding of cats, we know that there is nothing supernatural but that cats have heightened senses to help them survive as solitary nighttime hunters.
Cats need only 20 percent of the light intensity that people need to be able to see at night. Their eyes see movements and objects at very low light levels. During the day and in well-lit conditions, cats don’t see as well as people. Their ability to distinguish separate objects is far inferior to a human’s ability to distinguish separate objects. Cats compensate for this with their amazing ability to see motion, which they can detect much more quickly than humans.
Taste abilities of cats
Cats taste senses are actually less developed than human taste senses. Humans have about 9000 taste buds, while cats have only 475. However, cat taste helps them determine which foods are healthy for them.
Cats can hear sounds that we humans can only imagine. They are able to detect sounds that are three times higher than those humans can detect.
Black cats are considered very unlucky in the European and European-American traditions. Among Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavian people, it is said that one sets out on a journey and a black cat crosses the road ahead, one’s only safe course of action is to turn back and return home. Tales of shape-shifting black cats and black cats who are in communication with the Devil are also a feature of European folkbelief. Concomitant with these negative feelings about black cats is the notion that they are particularly favoured as witches familiars — hence their almost universal use on Halloween decorations.
The Sphynx appears to be a hairless cat, although it is not hairless. The so called hairless Sphynx, also known as the Canadian Hairless Cat. The gene of hairlessness has appeared as a spontaneous mutation several times during the past century.
The so called hairless Sphynx, also known as the Canadian Hairless Cat. The most famous early hairless cats are probably the two cats owned by a New Mexico resident that have come to be known as the “Hairless Mexican”. Most sources agree that the first breeding program for hairless cats was initiated in Canada in 1966, when a domestic shorthaired cat produced a hairless kitten. The Sphynx cat became a recognised breed in the mid 1970’s. These early cats were at first called “The Canadian Hairless”, “Moonstone cats” and “Canadian Sphynx” – with time, “Sphynx” become the official name.
The hairlessness is caused by a recessive gene. The Sphynx’s lack of hair causes it to sweat and also makes it warm to touch. Sphynxes are said to be champion purrers, is very people-orientated and affectionate. They love attention! Sphynxes have a characteristic pose, when standing, of raising one foreleg. The Sphynx is an indoor cat only. Their skin is very sensitive due to the lack of hair and they can sunburn easily. Sphynxes are not hypo allergenic.
The only known living cats of modern times that could possibly be recreated Mexican Hairless cats are Pywacket and his sister, which were both adopted from a shelter.
Some interesting facts about Cats
I. The Sphynx cat is actually quite well-muscled and robustly healthy, with a few obvious weaknesses.
II. The skin should have the texture of Chamois leather. It may be covered with very soft hair that is often described as peach fuzz.
III. Whiskers and eyebrows may be present, either whole or broken, or may be totally absent.
IV. Many cats of this breed develop pot bellies.
V. Sphynxes are known for their extroverted behaviour. They display a high level of energy, intelligence, curiosity and affection for their owners.