Ancient Egypt, first domestic cats

This video is called Ancient Egyptian Cats.

From ANI news agency:

Mummies reveal Egyptians were original cat breeders

Monday 28th May, 2012

The mystery about how cats went from running in the wild to becoming our domesticated furry friend may have been solved after analysing the genetic makeup of Egyptian cat mummies.

The results of a study of DNA from the remains of ritually slaughtered animals found in tombs have suggested that Ancient Egyptians were the first to breed the domestic cats, according to The Sunday Times.

In a paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, scientists at the University of California Davis claimed that in order to keep up with the demand of cats as sacrifices to the gods, the Egyptians had large catteries where felines were bred for slaughter, the Daily Mail reported.

The research project, headed by Jennifer Kurushima, a scientist at the University of California Davis, said: “Modern cats can trace their genealogy to the time of the pharaohs. The Egyptians may well have been the first cat breeders, an important step in the domestication process of cats.”

The Egyptians revered cats and it is heavily featured in Ancient Egyptian art as early as 4,000 BC.

They worshiped feline goddesses like Mafdet, the goddess for protection of dangerous animals, who was most commonly depicted as a woman with a lion or cat-head, and more famously Bastet, the cat goddess of beauty, women and fertility.

It was to these two goddesses that the Egyptians sacrificed the ancestors of the modern domesticated cat more than 2,200 years ago.

The aim of the study was to find genetic similarities between the mummified cats and modern cats and wild cats, to work out how long ago humans turned them into pets.

Kurushima and team extracted mitochondrial DNA from three mummified cats found in tombs and compared it with samples from modern wild cats and domestic cats.

“Millions of cat mummies were offered and buried in areas throughout Egypt. To supply the demand for votive offerings, catteries were established to raise large numbers of felines for slaughte,” Kurushima said.

Cats have long been popular household pets not only for their cuddly fur and great companionship.

Their vermin hunting skills led to cats becoming popular as pets in North Africa nearly 4,000 years ago, apart from a period of time in the Middle Ages when they were hunted alongside ‘witches’ and accused of being associated with the devil.

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