An older woman sits in her garden with her cat on her lap

There’s no question we’ve become a feline-obsessed culture. They’re in a majority of American homes, they’ve infiltrated YouTube, and cat characters abound in pop culture. And when we look at the cats we love, it can feel overwhelmingly like we just couldn’t live without them – aside from all the obvious reasons (they’re beautiful, clever, snuggly, and smart).

The history of cat ownership was initially built on mutual benefit, but has become so much more.

Where It Began

What’s so striking about our affinity for all things feline is that, originally, we didn’t domesticate cats because they did things for us. Unlike horses that hauled heavy goods, or goats that provided meat, cats just started poking around ancient settlements looking for their own snacks. 

Approximately 10,000 years ago, these Near Eastern predators were indirectly attracted by our first efforts toward large-scale agricultural endeavors. Various rodents brought in by the abundance of grain facilitated what would eventually become the best possible friendship.

The Theory Is…

While other predators like foxes or raccoons entered human settlements around the same time as our cats’ ancestors, they didn’t end up making the same connections. One theory is that cats, with their big eyes, chatty conversations, responsive mewling, and playfulness may have reminded us of human children 

In other words, their aesthetics paired with exceptional hunting prowess, earned their right place among early people of Egypt and Syria. 

Moving On Out

It is believed that the ancient relatives of today’s domestic cats were brought from the Middle East to Europe around 3000 years ago. Prized for their pest control capabilities, Romans may have brought cats between battle sites all over Europe.

Feline migrations ultimately settled in the United Kingdom where they were picked up by the Vikings about 1000 years ago. 

Praised, then Persecuted

About 300 years afterwards they were taken to Norway to populate the northern countries. People began to suspect cats of an involvement in witchcraft. Quite terribly and sadly, cats were hunted, slaughtered, and burned by the hundreds of thousands.

In a heavy dose of feline irony, rodents were implicated in the quick spread of Europe’s Bubonic plague. Had cats been around in greater numbers, human casualties could have been drastically reduced.

American Felines

Traders leaving Europe for the New World always had cats on board. Thus, the introduction of domesticated cats in America was established, and the history of cat ownership has never been the same. 

Cat Ownership

With millions of well-loved cats in the U.S, owning a cat has never been so easy or fun. And, with overall wellness care, disease prevention, and dental care, cats have never enjoyed longer, healthier and happier lives. 

If you have additional questions about feline history or cat ownership, please contact our exclusively feline hospital. Cat Care of Vinings is always here for you!