Sunday 1 March 2009

Cat History

The Egyptians of Antiquity made the cat god-like under the features of the protective goddess Bastet, symbol of fruitfulness and maternal love, whose worship was mainly in the town of Bubastis.

The archaeologists discovered very many mummies of cats which show at which point the Egyptians venerated them; one can see these mummies in places such as Paris (museum of Louvre), in London (British Museum) or Cairo (Egyptian Museum of Cairo). As animals for hunting rodents, ancient Greece for a long time only used animals of the weasel family (e.g. ferrets).

Aristotole quotes the presence of a market to cats in Athens. The Romans, on the other hand, dedicated a passion with the cat: initially held with the upper classes, the use of which was spread in all the Empire and all the layers of the population, ensuring the dispersion of the animal in all Europe.

Please note: this page is a search engine (SEO) optimisation test page. This short post was an experiment! I Google translated a piece of cat history from Wikipedia France I think it was and made one or two small amendments and posted it. The idea was to see how Google would treat it. As you can see it ranks well in a Google search (April 2011) , proof that Google no matter how good it is, cannot actually read the words.....

Update 1st June 2011: Well the test worked out quite well. Google quite liked the page. So what about cat history?

Cat history is really about wildcat history because the wild cats occupy by far the majority of the time of over the entire period of the history of the cat.

The first cats originate from about 5 millions years ago while the domestic cats were on the planet about 9,000 years ago. You can see the massive difference.

Once the first cats were domesticated in the middle east including Cyprus called the fertile crescent as it is watered by the great rivers of the area, it was thousands of years until the concept of purebred pedigreed cats took hold.

The beginnings of cat breeding to enhance appearance probably occurred before the cat fancy started in the late 1800s in England. The cat fancy is the breeding and showing of purebred cats.

I suspect that there were cat breeders in the Middle East of Japan or indeed Siam (Thailand many hundreds of years ago. It is simply that they were not recognized as purebred cats.  You also have what I call "de facto" purebred cats. These are cats that have evolved in an island habitat and so interbreed to create a particular appearance. They are recognised as purebred and not registered with cat associations but are purebred nonetheless. A good example is the Bharaini Dilmun. This is a current cat. The Manx would have been technically purebred before the breeders made it their own as they are both naturally occurring cat breeds.

Once the cat fancy started and told hold there was a flurry in the creation of new breeds in the middle of the 20th century. The first cat breeds were the Angora, Siamese, Persian and Abyssinian.

In and around the 1970s to the end of that century there was a big interest in wildcat hybrids. These are exotic cats. They have wild blood. The first was the famous Bengal cat. The most exotic of the wildcat hybrids is the Savannah in my opinion.

Wildcat hybrids occur rarely in the wild. It is thought incidentally that the Abyssinian, an all domestic cat (no wild blood) originated as a wildcat hybrid (a cross with a jungle cat) on the west coast of India in the middle of the 1800s.

A major landmark in cat history was the worship of the cat by the Egyptians. The consensus is that the Egyptians loved their domestic cats. But was this really the case. I don't think so. It was a relatively good time for the domestic cat in comparison to the horrible middle ages. During that dark age cats were linked to witchcraft. When you think about it is not far from worshiping a cat shaped god called Bastet by the ancient Egyptians.

Today, there is no room for new cat breeds. The extreme breeding days are waning and people prefer the natural (e.g Maine Coon) over the extreme appearance (modern Persian). There is a slight backlash against the wildcat hybrid. Four states in the USA ban them and Australia too.

There was talk recently in the Times newspaper about doing the same in the UK. I believe this is incorrect as the Savannah cat is no threat to native species or if you like any more so than feral cats.

Which leads me briefly to say that there is currently a war against the feral cat in the USA. It is said that there are equal numbers of feral and domestic cats in the USA. There is a feral cat problem that in fact is a human behavior problem only most people don't see it that way.

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