The earliest known indication for a tamed African wildcat was excavated close by a human grave in Shillourokambos, southern Cyprus, dating to about 9,200 to 9,500 years before present. As there is no evidence of native mammalian fauna on Cyprus, the inhabitants of this Neolithic village most likely brought the cat and other wild mammals to the island from the Middle Eastern mainland.[13] Scientists therefore assume that African wildcats were attracted to early human settlements in the Fertile Crescent by rodents, in particular the house mouse (Mus musculus), and were tamed by Neolithic farmers. This commensal relationship between early farmers and tamed cats lasted thousands of years. As agricultural practices spread, so did tame and domesticated cats.[14][6] Wildcats of Egypt contributed to the maternal gene pool of the domestic cat at a later time.[49] The earliest known evidence for the occurrence of the domestic cat in Greece dates to around 1200 BC. Greek, Phoenician, Carthaginian and Etruscan traders introduced domestic cats to southern Europe.[50] By the 5th century BC, it was a familiar animal around settlements in Magna Graecia and Etruria.[51] Domesticated cats were introduced to Corsica and Sardinia during the Roman Empire before the beginning of the 1st millennium.[52] The Egyptian domestic cat lineage is evidenced in a Baltic Sea port in northern Germany by the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century.[49]
Female cats are seasonally polyestrous, which means they may have many periods of heat over the course of a year, the season beginning in spring and ending in late autumn. Heat periods occur about every two weeks and last about 4 to 7 days.[178] Multiple males will be attracted to a female in heat. The males will fight over her, and the victor wins the right to mate. At first, the female rejects the male, but eventually the female allows the male to mate. The female utters a loud yowl as the male pulls out of her because a male cat's penis has a band of about 120–150 backwards-pointing penile spines, which are about 1 mm long; upon withdrawal of the penis, the spines rake the walls of the female's vagina, which acts to induce ovulation. This act also occurs to clear the vagina of other sperm in the context of a second (or more) mating, thus giving the later males a larger chance of conception.[179]
The cat (Felis catus) is a small carnivorous mammal.[1][2] It is the only domesticated species in the family Felidae and often referred to as the domestic cat to distinguish it from wild members of the family.[4] The cat is either a house cat or a farm cat, which are pets, or a feral cat, which ranges freely and avoids human contact.[5] A house cat is valued by humans for companionship and for its ability to hunt rodents. About 60 cat breeds are recognized by various cat registries.[6]
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