The cat: a mysterious creature, at once loving and aloof. As a species, cats are proven survivors – they thrive on the islands of Antarctica, alongside giant lizards in the Galapagos and as urban scavengers in the world’s biggest cities.
Across the globe, there are more than 600 million domestic cats living in homes on six continents. But how did it become a human companion? Researchers are studying the cat’s DNA blueprint to learn more about its journey from wild animal to sofa-loving pet.
Normal wild cats are solitary, elusive animals, hunting in the darkness of night. And by examining the contents within a wildcat’s stomach, researchers are discovering clues about its relationships with humans.
According to Charlotte-based veterinarian Joy Fine, “wild cats will often not eat the intestinal tract of herbivores – such as rabbits – as they usually don’t eat vegetation.” So if the natural prey is found within a wild cat’s stomach, this indicates that the animal is feral, with normal wild feeding and hunting behaviors – but cooked foods and house mice in the intestines signal that cohabitation with humans.
Did people once intrude upon wild cat habitat or did the feral feline venture close to settlements by choice?
Learn more about the domesticated cat by tuning in to Science of Cats, Wednesday 12/22 at 10P et/pt on Nat Geo Wild.