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Ancestors of Domestic Cats
For almost 2000 years the cat was a god to the aneient Egyptians. Cat worship was at it's peak about 950 B.C. We have learned alot about the ancestors of the domestic cat through the Egyptians.

Cats or Felidae are found all over the world. Wild and domesticated are so much alike that scientists have not subdivided them. Scientists think that all cats had common ancestors. The domestic cat has been around for less than 5000 years.

The ancestors of the cat were traced back mostly through the teeth of fossils. The first creatures had sharp teeth and looked like little wolves. These Carnwora were fierce hunters of small rodents. They probably pranced like a horse ,ate like a hog ,had eyes like a dog and brooded like buffalo. All those animals had the same ancestor, Arctorcyon. That was the Tertiary era. It was about twenty million years ago. About one million years ago the Arctoryon vanished ,but the creature left descendants.

About one million years ago, Cynodons were the intermediate between dogs and short legged civet cats from Africa. The oldest true cat was found on the east coast of an African island called Madagascar. The Arctocyon, Cynodon and Miacis fossils were found in the period of Eocene or New Dawn. There were no cats found in the Oligoceneor or Scantly New period.The Dinictis was found in Nebraska in Miocene or Less New period. It was agile and intelligent. It evolved into the forty different cat species of today.

The most famous of all the cat ancestors is the Mchaerodus or Saber-toothed Tiger. Very few Saber-toothed Tigers survived the ice age,near the end of the Tertrary era. They did not learn to live in caves. In the Quaternary era,the age of man,the Saber-toothed Tiger was last found in England. Lynx, leopard and wild cats, did learn to live in caves. They were called cave lions and they were big ! The largest is called Felis Atron ,which means savage cat. It was found in North America.

Many believe,the Persions were first to domesticate the Felis Lybrica ,the small intelligent African wild cat. The Egyptians imported the domestic cat from Persia about 1500 B.C. ( Some scientists believe the Egyptians could have had the domestic cat as early as 2500 B.C.)Scientests learned alot about the domesticated cat through theEgyptians. They left a written history of cats and mummified cats.

The cats were spoiled and pampered by everyone ,in ancient Egypt. The cats became a god. The cat goddess was called Bastet or Bast or Pasht. The cat became the goddess of sun, moon , motherhood, love, protecting the dead, decreeing success or failure of crops , making rain and helping the sick, especially children. In Egypt if you harmed a cat , you could be punished by death.

Domestic cats were spread over the world by people. They were brought to America soon after Columbus. There were cats on the Mayflower.

The domestic cat of today is a small carnivorous animal. It has retractile claws, keen hearing and smell, excellent night vision and an agile body. They are still good hunters. There are about 36 breeds. The two main groups are the short - haired and the long - haired cats. The domestic cat has not evolved much in written history.

Saber-toothed Tiger ( Machaerodus)

It was one of the most famous ancestors of the cat.

Persian (long haired)

Persian cats are the most popular pedigreed cats. pedigreed cats.

American or Domestic Shorthair

Short haired cats are the most common breed. common breed.

As you can see I really love cats! I injoyed doing a report on a subject I love. I learned some new and interesting things about the ancestors of cats. I want to thank my mom for organizing help and encouragement. I also want to thank my mom's friend,Janet, for the Egyptian cat and the papyrus she brought to me, from Egypt. I sure hope you enjoyed reading my report. I loved doing it!

Conger, Jean, The Velvet Paw: A History of Cats in Life , Mythology and Art, Ivan Obolensky Inc., New York, 1963.
Steck, A., Judith, The Complete Book of Cats, Gallery Books Smith Publisheres Inc., New York, 1979.
Cat, Domestic, Funk and Wagnalls New Encycloedia, Vol. 5, 1990, Funk and Wagnalls Corporation,Clifton, New Jersey, pgs. 356-357.

This report was written in 1994.

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