History of the Domesticated Cat

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© Mark Knobil / NGT

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.

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© Jodi Kendall

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.


  1. Karen
    September 2, 2012, 5:32 pm

    WHY would you feature somebody like Nina Atkins and those stupid “wedding” scenes!? What a complete waste of valuable air time that could have been utilized to benefit cats. Then to make it even worse, you basically encouraging that sort of irresponsible “breeding” by promoting what she can sell her genetic mutations for. Disgusted. What a complete wasted opportunity to promote and educate about shelter cats…there are MILLIONS of cats being killed every year in the US due to lack of space in shelters and you decided to showcase Nina Atkins!? What is wrong with the producers of this program? I am appalled at the poor content of this program. Such a dissappointm

  2. […] are believed to be about 600 million domesticated cats in the world. Scientists who’ve conducted DNA studies believe most felines […]