Predators in the wild, fluffy at home: let’s celebrate International Cat Day

    10 Aug 2021

    Probably the first people who managed to adopt cats 9,000 years ago were farmers in the Middle East. Curious about it? Let’s get to know the details and celebrate International Cat Day.

    About this celebration: it takes place on August 8th, every year. It was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), an animal welfare organization, one of the largest in the world, based out of Canada. It is a day to raise awareness for cats and learn about ways to help and protect them. International Cat Day is set aside to celebrate the bond between humans and their feline friends.

    Since 2020, feline charity International Cat Care has been the custodian of International Cat Day. This is a British not-for-profit organization striving to improve the health and welfare of domestic cats worldwide since 1958.

    International Cat Day is also referred to as World Cat Day in some countries, and since its inception, it has been growing worldwide.

    Owning a cat has been shown to improve mental health and relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. So when you don’t have someone to cuddle with, any black, ginger, Persian, Siamese, Burmese, Bengal, Shorthair, Munchkin, Balinese, RagaMuffin, or any old stray cat will do the trick.

    Many countries also celebrate national cat days to raise awareness about feline adoption. Canada and the US also celebrate national cat day in their countries on August 8 and October 29, respectively. Japan marks national cat day on February 22 and Russia on March 1.

    How our ancestors adopted a cat: a short story

    The story How fluffy savages found themselves on the sofas of city apartments, is long and confusing. We thank Oksana Struk for a brief scientific guideline.

    In ancient Egypt, where cats played an essential role in both ordinary and religious life, people used them in ritual burials in honor of Bastet, the goddess of joy, fertility, beauty, and love, and at the same time – the patron saint of cats. Mummifying their pets, the ancient Egyptians sent them to eternal life. And for a long time, Egypt was considered a place of domestication of cats.

    But in 2004, archaeologists in Cyprus excavated a 9,500-year-oldeightTechnology tomb that found two skeletons: a human and a cat. The latter got there, apparently, not by accident. Currently, the find is considered the oldest evidence of the coexistence of cats and humans. The researchers concluded that the history of the domestication of wild cats might be different than previously thought.

    Explaining the chronicles of domestication, scientists suggest that the first was usually a dog, which was domesticated long ago and repeatedly in the Paleolithic. This is an animal that came with a human from the Pleistocene. Then there is a Neolithic explosion when in settlement of Chatal-Goyuk in southern Anatolia, a cow, a goat, and a sheep are domesticated simultaneously, and wheat and barley are cultivated. This happened about 10-11 thousand years ago. Then comes the cat’s appearance, which actually comes to humans with a basic set of animals and plants of the “Fertile Crescent.”

    In 2017, a team of scientists, analyzing the DNA of several hundred ancient cats remains, found that probably the first people who managed to tame these animals 9,000 years ago were farmers in the Middle East. Wild cats began to visit human settlements for the sake of rodents, which were attracted by grain. Therefore, cats belong to the group of animals that have domesticated themselves and a dog, pig, and later a chicken and a pigeon.

    From southwest Asia, cat tracks lead to Bulgaria and Romania. The second wave of domestication is believed to have taken place in Egypt several thousand years later. “Egyptian” cats came to Europe during the Roman Empire and advanced further into the Viking Age. They were probably brought by ship by sea to northern Europe.

    Domestic cat’s “superpowers”

    After covering considerable distances, the cats eventually colonized the streets of towns and villages. They are considered one of the most successful mammals on the planet, reaching almost all corners of it. Human has already made several attempts to count the number of domestic cats, both through national and international organizations, but it is not easy. Therefore, estimates for the census of cats range from 200 million to 600 million individuals.

    The ability to survive successfully in the city can be explained by the fact that the cat is basically adapted to it. The Libyan cat, from which the line of domestic cats came, lives in a subtropical, semi-desert environment with mountain systems. So the cat is comfortable in the urban landscape. Our stone houses for him, roughly speaking, are like rock massifs for his wild ancestor. They are alien to the forest cat, common in Eastern Europe, accustomed to forest landscapes.

    One of the worst invasive species

    Settling on the planet, cats were among the hundreds of the worst invasive species. They are fierce fighters of the local fauna, and this is the dark side of feline expansion. The problem is the number of stray cats. And, for example, the most painful things for countries like Iraq in this context are the lack of a sterilization program.

    (Speaking about stray dogs, e.g., we frequently find the news that Iraqi officials are using guns to deal with its stray dog problem, a decision that has sparked concerns about animal cruelty).

    Cats go to hunting grounds and protected areas and destroy rare species and rabies because a cat is a link between nature and human settlement one way or another. Therefore, cats should be vaccinated, neutered, and under human control (not killed).

    Why cats are so nice

    The cats used really “heavy artillery” to make friends with humans: a snout, round human-shaped with a short nose and large eyes. A cat looks like a child from the beginning, even if it is wild. And perhaps this was the driving force that attracted man to the domestication of cats. After all, attempts to use other small predators on the farm, such as weasel, ferret, or ermine, are also known. But in the end, the competition was won by a cat with an anthropomorphic snout. Growing up, he retains cheeks, a short nose, large eyes. Even its proportions are similar to the proportions of a human baby, so it is easy to take him in your arms and mess with him.

    A proper environment for a domestic cat

    Owners of a cat can enrich their environment even in a small apartment. First, the space must be multi-level so that the cat can use it vertically. It is not necessary to make special shelves and sleeves; it is enough to create opportunities for movement on the surfaces that already exist: to place a chair somewhere so that the cat can jump on the refrigerator, to free up space on the shelf. Secondly, you can spread food and toys on these surfaces.Do you know that Global Tiger Day is celebrated on July 29 to raise awareness about this big endangered cat? Let’s get to learn more about this magnificent relative of domestic cats!

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