Study Reveals How Cats Came To Dominate The World — By Doing Nothing

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Using DNA that traces back 9,000 years, scientists have uncovered how the domestic cat (who probably hates you) came to be.

Who's really the owner, you or your cat? 

That side-eye, the unnecessary clawing, the knocking-things-off-counters mean-spiritedness. And does your cat even cuddle with you?

How did we get here?

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Well, a new study that analyzed and traced ancient cat remains and their DNA back 9,000 years (to their origins in the Middle East) might be able to tell you, The Atlantic reported. Now, you can find cats on every continent except Antarctica, naturally.

It took researchers about a decade to complete the study because of how difficult it is to access cat skeletons and mummies. Out of the 352 cats they examined, only 209 had plausible DNA due to the extreme heat of places like Egypt ruining DNA.

Turns out modern domestic cats come from either Anatolia, current-day Turkey, or Egypt, and were most likely domesticated by farmers who noticed how they caught small prey like mice, BBC reported.

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"I would say cats chose human company, but it was a commensal relationship — it was profitable to both sides," lead researcher Eva-Maria Geigl told BBC. 

The cats followed humans along the trade routes, even on ships, reaching Europe in 4,400 BCE and breeding with wildcats there. As territorial creatures, cats don't move much on their own, Live Science reported.

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Since then, cats haven't really changed much. Behavior-wise, they're accustomed to humans, but physically, they look about the same. (Breeding based on fancy fur patterns came about in the 19th century.) Researchers attribute this lack of evolution or change to cats never really needing humans to domesticate or breed them into good hunters. 

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Nothing's changed on that note. 

Banner/thumbnail image credit: Flickr User Stephen Duncan

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