Why were cats domesticated?

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It is likely that the domestication of cats involved more negotiation then intention. The dominant theory about the beginning of the mutually beneficial relationship between cats and people is that felines began to live near sites of human habitation because mice had made the same choice.

Nature uniquely equipped felines with gifts of speed, agility, superb hearing, sight, and motion detection. As independent, lone predators, a cat is also highly interested in a return on his investment and would be naturally attracted to a steady food supply.

People obviously perceived the benefit in the arrangement. Not only did cats protect their food stores, but the sociable animals also removed disease-carrying vermin. It’s difficult to say exactly when cats were domesticated, but archaeologists place them on the Greek island of Cypress living in concert with humans by 7500 BC.

The difficulty in being precise about the time of domestication stems from the fact that “domestic” and feral cat populations can and do interbreed. Also, cats have the ability to phase in and out of domestication. Even the most feral cat can be persuaded to give in to his sense of sociability and “come in the house.”

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