What is the cat’s ancestor?

Par Pawtounes 7 Min de Lecture

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Who is the cat’s ancestor? The cat is an independent animal that appreciates the caresses and presence of its owners. Nowadays, cats can be found on the streets, in homes and elsewhere. These balls of fur serve as household companions. Some people also use cats to get rid of rodents. But how much do you really know about cats? Can you establish their genealogy from the phylogenetic tree? More to the point, where do they come from? What is their ancestor?

Cat ancestor
What is the cat's ancestor? | Pawtounes

In this article, discover the true origins of the cat, this exceptional animal that amazes you every day! We’ll also explain all the adventures that led the cats from the bush to the house.

What is the cat’s ancestor? How long has it been domesticated?

Have you long thought that the cat’s ancestor was the European Forest Cat(Felis silvestris silvestris)? You’ve got it all wrong! After all, the latter is just the cat’s cousin. So you’re wondering who the cat’s real ancestor is? Without further ado, we reveal the name of the cat’s true ancestor.

The true ancestor of the cat is the Felis Silvestris Lybrica, also known as the gloved cat. This cat was discovered in the Middle East in the 13th millennium BC.

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Characteristics of the ancestor of Felis Silvestris Lybrica

The Gloved Cat, also known as the African Wild Cat, is characterized by its wild nature and hunting instinct. When it first appeared, it fed mainly on rodents. These species were themselves attracted by the seed stocks stored by early farmers. It was only after the wild cat was domesticated by man some 6,000 years ago that its diet began to diversify.

According to the results of a study carried out in 2020 by Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland, remains of the cat’s ancestor have been found in caves. A discovery which suggests that its cohabitation with humans was already optimal long before it was domesticated. However, it has been shown that the cat lived in Egypt and Europe.

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What is the cat's ancestor? | Pawtounes

The evolution of Felis Silvestris Lybrica

Thecat’s ancestor went through several evolutions before being considered a domestic cat (Felis Silvestis Catus) . It is a member of the felidae, more precisely of the felinae (small cat) family. In ancient times, particularly in ancient Egypt, the cat was sometimes considered a sacred animal, sometimes an expensive toy. But in the Middle Ages, the conception of this animal changed radically, and in a negative way.

From the 14th century onwards, people began to regard wildcats as a demonic species straight out of hell. At the time, popular thought attributed to the cat the ability to have seven lives, literally. What’s more, since they were considered to be witches’ pets, they were condemned to be burned at the stake. However, when it comes to cats as witches’ pets, we’re mostly talking about black cats. The black cat has always been synonymous with bad luck. People who owned a black cat in those days risked the death penalty if they were discovered.

Stages in the domestication of the cat’s ancestor

Everything changed with the Neolithic revolution, more precisely with the birth of agriculture, around 8000 BC. The domestication of the cat’s ancestor came about when populations began to store their seed stocks. This has encouraged the proliferation of rodents in the villages and has been a powerful asset for feral gloved cats. These seasoned hunters found a way to ensure their survival.

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What is the cat's ancestor? | Pawtounes

It’s thanks to this hunting instinct that man began to appreciate these little felines and later domesticated them. These animals are agile and clever, making them an excellent way to combat rats, mice, snakes and the like. It should also be noted that the cat was first domesticated between 500 and 6,000 years ago.

What’s the advantage of human domestication of cats?

From wildcat to domestic cat, the Felis Silvestris Lybrica has evolved physically, metabolically and behaviorally. It’s not possible to pinpoint the exact period when the cat was domesticated. However, domestication was a gradual process, especially as the cat posed no real danger to humans. When they followed mankind on their journeys through Europe and Egypt, cats were easily approached and stroked.

When the gloved cat first appeared in Greece, it was no longer as wild as before. His rodent-hunting instincts have calmed down, especially with competition from weasels and ferrets. It was therefore more easily accepted and integrated into households. His docility, refinement and elegance earned him a special place among the Greeks. Indeed, cats were considered a precious gift and were given to important people.

Despite this integration into human daily life, the domestic cat as we know it today has not lost all the faculties of its ancestor. He still shows independence and his hunting instinct sometimes shows through.

Cats adopted worldwide

After domestication, the cat was adopted by man, as numerous iconographic representations attest. Today, there are around 600 million domestic cats of all breeds in the world (Discover all the cat breeds that exist in this article). So we can say that the cat’s ancestor has ensured its descendants. Today, there are wild descendants of the domestic cat’s ancestor in Africa, which you can identify by several criteria. These include their gloved feet, large legs and tawny fur.

The cat’s ancestor is the gloved cat, also known as the African wildcat. This cat met man by chance through the rodents that roamed around the fields and crops. The domestication process was a long one. Eventually, however, the cat became a household pet. Today, cats are less primitive than their ancestors.

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