When were cats domesticated?

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It’s extremely difficult to determine when cats were domesticated for two primary reasons. Domestic cats have always interbred with feral cats. Additionally, even feral cats have a tendency toward sociability and can be “domesticated.”

When archaeologists attempt to determine a date for domestication, they look primarily at size compared to larger feral cats, as well as evidence of cat habitation outside of perceived normal ranges.

In some instances cats have been found on archaeological digs with very clear clues as to their role in society. For instance wearing a collar, or being buried in a ceremonial fashion with a human body.

The earliest archaeological evidence is found on the Greek island of Cypress. Several animal species including a domesticated variety of cat were introduced on the island by 7500 BC.

There are many theories about why cats chose to live with people at all. In all likelihood the first “house” cats were attracted to human settlements for the simple fact that mice were also attracted to the ready food supply.

The cats were welcomed because they served a vital function in protecting grain supplies and curbing the presence of disease-carrying vermin. Basically, it was a good deal for all concerned — with the possible exception of the mice.

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