The Cat | A Short Story of Ancient Egypt

For the longest time, it was believed that cat domestication began in ancient Egypt around 3100 BCE. Cats, which were considered sacred, were once venerated in Egypt. Archeological research, however, suggests that the domestication of cats began even earlier in Western Asia around 7500 BCE.

When it came to ancient Egypt, the current hypothesis is that African wildcats were attracted to agricultural settlements in the Fertile Crescent due to the presence of rodents. Cats were tamed by farmers to eat the mice that were drawn to the harvest. The mutually beneficial relationship between the cat and the farmer lasted thousands of years. As wide scale agriculture became more widespread, so did the practise of keeping domestic cats.

Despite the domestication process that took place over millennia, cats have only undergone minor changes in their anatomy and behaviour. Even after domestication, they were still very much capable of surviving in the wild.

Among domestic cats, males are known to be more likely to fight than females. Among wildcats, the most common reason for cats to fight is competition, specifically the kind that takes place between two males to mate with a female. In such cases, most fights are won by the heavier male.

When cats become aggressive, they try to make themselves appear larger and more threatening by raising their fur, arching their backs, turning sideways and hissing or spitting.

Serious damage, however, is rare, as the fights are usually short in duration. The loser typically runs away with little more than a few scratches to the face and ears. Cats not only chase mice, but are even willing to threaten animals larger than themselves to defend their territory, such as dogs and foxes.

Feral cats are domestic cats that have reverted to a wild state. They are unfamiliar with and wary of humans and generally roam freely in both urban and rural areas. Feral cats may or may not live alone. Most are found in large colonies, which occupy a specific territory and are usually associated with a source of food.

Famous feral cat colonies are found in Rome around the Colosseum and the Roman forum. Some of the cats that reside in the wild are being fed and given medical attention by both volunteers as well as the passerby that loves cats.

Cat statue of Bastet in the Louvre Rama, CC BY-SA 3.0 FR

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