How Cats Domesticated Humans (10 Little-Known Facts)

If you think you know cats or are convinced you own yours (instead of the other way around), think again. Here are a few little-known facts about your mysterious feline friend. 

1. The Fertile Crescent: Ancient Home Of The Modern Cat

African Wild Cat (Felis silvestris lybica), Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Kalahri desert, South Africa.

The beginning of human civilization, as it turns out, also marked the onset of cat-vilization.

Around 10,000 years ago, there was a shift from nomadic behavior to the earliest recorded settlement in Fertile Crescent, parts of the modern-day Middle East.

Early storages of farmed grain resulted in the infestation of mice, which attracted wild cats, Felis lybica, into human communities.

This self-selection evolved into their status as the modern cat. Since the cats were helping protect the grain, humans let them stay, but it's interesting to note that cats chose humans!

2. Cats: The Original Immigrants 

Cute funny white street skipper cat enjoy warm summer sun light sitting on vintage wooden sailing boat at village marina on bright summer day. Funny pet on fishing sailboat vessel.

For the same reason, cats soon found their way aboard ships, hunting mice and protecting food and cargo. Cats spread out along ancient maritime trade routes and ended up all over. 

Cats, kittens actually, were a favorite pet of Vikings and were usually brought along during their conquests.

So they did have a soft side! (The Vikings, not the cats....)

Presently, cats live on all continents except Antarctica!

3. War Cats Invaded Egypt

the head of an animal on a human body, the head of a cat in knightly armor. modern design, magazine style.

Did you know that in 525 BC, the Egyptians lost a war to the Persians because they revered cats too much?

That's right! In a cunning move, the Persians rode to battle with thousands of cats at their side and even painted their armor with cat figures.

Not to worry, our feline friends weren't harmed! As soon as they saw the cats, the Egyptian army fled and surrendered.

Egyptians believed that the protection goddess Bastet could transform into a cat and revered cats as divine creatures.

4. Sea Water Is Fine, Thank You

Ok, not really. Hear me out on this one.

Today's cats retained a number of characteristics from their desert-dwelling ancestors, including the ability to survive on salt water!

Their wild forerunners were specially adapted to water scarcity, and their kidneys can filter the salt and allow them to rehydrate.

Check out this cat drinking seawater!

Compared to dogs, cats can survive with considerably less water, but their pee is much more acidic, so keep their drinking bowls fresh!

Having said all that, cats should not be drinking salt water, certainly not in large amounts, and not on a regular basis. This is a survival tactic that can come with a price.

Make sure that your cat always has access to fresh drinking water.

5. You Can Quote Me On That

blurred cat's paws with long and sharp claws on cat fabric sofa.

The Hungarian word for quotation marks 'Macskaköröm' has feline origins. It literally translates to cat claws because the symbol resembles a cat's scratch marks.

In their language, the first quotation is placed below the passage and the closing quotation is above it, which appears like this - ,,Dogs come home when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you later. - Mary Bly"

6. Calico: The X-Factor

Calicos don't sing and dance, and do magic tricks... so what makes them extra special?

The males are among the rarest in the world!

Only 1 in 3,000 born males can be a calico. Despite popular assumptions, "calico" is not a cat breed, but rather a term for tri-colored felines.

It has everything to do with their genetics. Normal tomcats have XY chromosomes while male calicos have an extra X chromosome, typically resulting in a genetic oddity - XXY.

That said, can calico cats give birth to calico kittens? Find out here!

Don't forget to check out these cute calico cats!

7. You Can’t Hide Your Blinking Eyes

Close up Scottish fold cat head with shocking face and wide open eyes. Frighten or surprised cat when look at something.

No, this isn’t the opening line of the famous Eagles…

Kitties blink at each other as well as at humans as a way of communication. You see, in cat language, they rely on your eyes to gauge whether you’re a threat or not.

Referred to as a ‘cat kiss’, give your feline friend extra affection through slow blinking.

If they love you as well, you might get a slow blink from them back. If not, don’t worry, your kitty just doesn’t feel socially obligated to return the kiss.

8. I’m Not Hydrophobic, I’m Just Lazy

cat rest in the pool on the air mattress

Cats aren’t really afraid of water, in fact, most of their counterparts in the wildlife–lions, and tigers–have been observed to go for regular swims. So why do they hate getting wet?

A bath entails too much effort on their part to dry themselves and groom with their tongues. Also, their self-grooming habits are perfectly ok to keep them clean.

Did you know that some cats do enjoy going into the water? Turkish van cats are known for this trait!

9. The Ninth Wonder Of The World, The World Wonders

Closeup Surprised Maine Coon cat with opened mouth

Though cats are sometimes said to have nine lives, they, unfortunately, don’t. Their dexterity and agility contribute to the belief that they are somewhat immortal.

The mysticism that envelopes cats can be traced back to ancient Egypt where they were worshipped.

In Spain, cats are believed to possess seven lives whereas, the Arabic and Turkish cultures are convinced they merely have six.

10. Do I Look Domesticated To You?

9 year old male tabby cat lying in a brown paper bag.

Animals kept as pets or livestock have histories of being controlled, bred, and conditioned to need and accept the care of humans.

Cats, however, have been noted to retain their hunting skills in a way that other domesticated animals have not.

There has been much speculation regarding the true category of modern house cats but the question remains- is it appropriate to call them domestic if they are perfectly capable of surviving in the wild on their own?

Some have speculated that cats, with all their inherent and uncanny abilities, could have the power to conquer the world.

Sounds absurd, right? Well, look around; they already have.

Of course, whatever side you take on the philosophical debate, cats are in fact domestic animals that require our care.

Whether they are pampered indoor cats or feral cats who manage to - barely - survive the harsh environment, all cats deserve love and care. Feral does not mean wild.

Speaking of survival skills, did you know that there have been cases of cats who survived being frozen? Check out these incredible frozen cats who survived the odds!

Some elements on this page may have been created by our team using advanced AI to provide you with top-notch cat inspired ideas. Read more about our AI Content Policy.

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