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Why are domestic cats so small?

Because they are descended from the North African wildcat, a cat of similar proportions and appearance even after about 10,000 years of domestication. I suppose you might ask why was the North African (African-Asian) wildcat domesticated?

Comparison domestic and wildcat ancestor.
It is because the place where they were first domesticated - the Fertile Crescent (in the area of Syria) was suited to farming and it so happened that this wildcat was present in that landscape. The cat and farmer met and the rest is history as they say. The North African wildcat has a relatively nice temperament suited to domestication.

There are other small wildcats who are also suited to domestication to various extents e.g. the margay, but it just happened that the North African wildcat got their first perhaps because 10,000 years ago the Middle East was a developing and active area for farming. Farmers would have encroached onto the wildcat's territory forcing them together. There may have been conflict between human and cat but some farmers liked their presence for their rodent killing habits.

There must have been the very first domestic cat. At that time there was a single domestic cat in the world. Now there are around half a billion domestic and feral cats.

It is worth arguing that the question is incorrect formulated as what is small? There are smaller animals than the domestic cat and there are larger ones. They are small compared to us. It might be argued that the domestic cat is somewhere in the middle range of animal size. Therefore it could also be argued that they are not small. I think perhaps the reason why the question has been formulated is because the questioner is comparing the cat to the size of humans. Therefore relative to humans the domestic cat is small. That is not a good reason to ask, "Why our domestic cat so small?"


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