Dogs have been by our side for at least 30,000 years and are completely domesticated. Cats, on the other hand, didn’t join the human family until 9,000 years ago. You may not think of your adorable kitty as a wild animal, but according to new research that tracked the genome of cats, our feline friends are only semi-domesticated.
Dogs, cats, and other carnivores share a lineage with a 55 million year old ancestor called Dormaalocyon latouri, a tiny two pound tree dweller believed to have dined on smaller mammals and insects. Scientists think it looked like a cross between a squirrel and a very small panther, with a cat-like snout and prominent tail. One of the earliest ancestors of mammals found, it lived in humid forests. Evolution is a complicated and surprising process.
Our house cats have only been living with humans for a relatively short period of time, and little is known about their domestication. Unlike dogs that live in a social structure, cats are solitary creatures. The most likely reason cats began to interact with humans was because the felines hunted rodents in food supplies which were in close proximity to people, and humans rewarded docile cats that stayed close by with food. However, cats have never fully given up their solitary nature.