The history of cats begins about 60 million yeasr ago with the weasel-like Miacis. It is believed that this small predator is an ancestor of all now living predators, including dogs, bears, polecats and so on. About 10 million years later the Dinictis appeared – the earlies cat’s ancestor , that looked exactly like the modern cats. All now-a-days cats are it’s direct descendants. The family of the early cats developed in two separate branches – saber-toothed and pure cats. The saber-toothed were big and strong but with smaller brain.
They lived about 34 million years. They disappeared about 12 000 years ago. The group of the little cats differentiated about 12 million years ago. They inhabited Asia, Africa, North and South America and their variety fastly increased. The predecessor of our domestic pets – the wild cat and the other relatives appeard about 1,5 million years. All cats – small and big – originated from the small Miacis and the middle-sized Dinictis.
Now in the Felidae (the biological family of the cats; a member of this family is called a felid) exist 37 felids. Out of the domestic cats in the group of the small cats(Subfamily Felinae) also belong the African Golden Cat, the Puma, the Wildcat, the Sand Cat, the Serval, Ocelot (Leopardus) and others. The group of the big cats (Subfamily Pantherinae) includes Lion (Panthera leo), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Tiger (Panthera tigris).
The beginning of the co-living between the man and the cats is not exactly found. The earliest data of that kind is the Ancient Egyptians attempts to domesticate wild cats about 4000 B.C. Out of that recent researches found ancient tombs with skeletons belonging not only to human beings, but also to cats. These tombs are found in Cyprus and dated about 7500 B.C.
Today the cats are among the most common pets. About 1% of them are pure breeds and the other 99% are crosses between diffrent breeds – mostly the domestic long-haired and short-haired cats.
The ancient egypteans worshiped the cats believing that they are materialization of the godess Bast (Bastet or Thet). The punishment for killing a cat was death and sometimes the cat’s body was mummified like a man’s body.
In the Middle Ages were believed to be fellows of witches and sometimes were burn alive, thrown from high buildings or just killed, anathematized by the Pope. As a result the rat’s population increased and that led to easily spread of the plague.
Today the black cats are still believed to bring bad luck, but this is not so common. They are one of our favorite pets and bring us a lot of pleasure and happy moments.