The earliest evidence for cat domestication comes from Chinese farms dating to 5,300 years ago, a new study confirms.
While ancient Egyptians loved their felines, it looks like China beat Egypt as being the first to discover the merits of cats. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pinpoint the early Chinese village of Quanhucun as being the likely ground zero for cat domestication.
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"At least three different lines of scientific inquiry allow us to tell a story about cat domestication that is reminiscent of the old ‘house that Jack built' nursery rhyme," study co-author Fiona Marshall, a professor of archaeology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a press release.
"Our data suggest that cats were attracted to ancient farming villages by small animals, such as rodents that were living on the grain that the farmers grew, ate and stored."
She continued, "Results of this study show that the village of Quanhucun was a source of food for the cats 5,300 years ago, and the relationship between humans and cats was commensal, or advantageous for the cats. Even if these cats were not yet domesticated, our evidence confirms that they lived in close proximity to farmers, and that the relationship had mutual benefits."