Formerly, it was carelessly thought that our house cats were simply the progeny of tamed pairs of the European wildcats; but anatomy has denied the probability of this and historical investigation shows that they came from another source. Historical evidence, which includes innumerable mummies, shows that the cat was domesticated by the Egyptians before the time of the oldest monuments of their civilization.
Moreover, the characteristic specific markings of the caffrc cat (still wild as well as tame in the Nile Valley) reappear unmistakably in our common house cats in spite of the fact that interbreeding with other species has intervened. A well-marked variety of this cat, known as the Mediterranean cat, was and is found in ancient times as well as now in Syria and eastward. It is established that many centuries before the Christian era the Egyptians, Cretans, Phoenicians and other men of the Levant were constantly voyaging all over the Mediterranean Sea. They were busy founding trading-posts on both its shores, where finally arose and spread the extensive civilizations of Greece and Rome on the north, and of Carthage on the south.
With these colonists undoubtedly went their friendly and useful mousers. That they then were crossed somewhat with the native wildcat seems to be shown by the appearance of the peculiar form we call "tabby" cats. In brief, this is the history of the common European house cat and also those of America and most of the civilized world because of immigration. However, in the remote and isolated East exists races of domesticated cats of more local origin. Prof. G. Martorelli, of Milan, Italy, made a special study of this whole subject and he has concluded that the ordinary domestic cat of India has descended from the Indian desert cat.
From it, he says, are derived their common spotted breed, while the fulvous breed seen in India has been produced by a cross with the native jungle cat. Both these have interbred with the imported western cats in recent years. The Persian or ''Angora" long-haired breeds may probably have come from the Pallas' cat of central Asia; and the curious Siamese cat is regarded as derived from the golden cat. Whether accidentally or by the design of breeders, intermingling of these various species and races has produced the bewildering variety of forms now seen.
NOTE: This article is for information only. See your veterinarian for medical advice.
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