Sunday 28 February 2021

How domestic cats came to be in a nutshell

Evolution of the species. How domestic cats came to be in a nutshell.
Evolution of the species. How domestic cats came to be in a nutshell. Screebshot.

Some people want to know how domestic cats evolved to where they are today. To answer the question you have to believe in Darwin's theory of evolution as set out in his book On the Origin of Species published on Thursday, 24 November 1859. If you believe in his theory as opposed to creation by a God (creationism) then you have to study the theory of evolution to fully understand it. 

Remember that life emerged on Earth 3.5 billion years ago so evolution is a slow process. That's way we have the species we have. It took millions of tiny changes. Also the first early human ancestors orginate from 3.5 million years ago.

Darwin's On the Origin of Species
Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

This will allow you understand how domestic cats came to be - the first part of the story. The video below explains it quite nicely I think. It is quite complicated. 

Image: MikeB.

You can click here too if you want to read about the evolution of the family of cats.

The theory of evolution explains how natural selection produced the family of cats. There are about thirty-six species of cat, one of which is the domestic cat. All the others are wild cat species. The domestic cat is essentially a domesticated North African wild cat.

Over the ten thousand years of domestication of the North African wild cat, the species evolved from being striped tabby cats to a wide range of coat types. This happened naturally and then people intervened through formal selective breeding or artificial selection since about 1850. Although there would have been some selective breeding by people on an ad hoc basis in the early development of the domestic cat as they preferred coat types.

Through artificial selection, as carried out under the auspices of cat fancy (cat breeders who create purebred cats of a certain breed for cat shows and for sale) about 104 cat breeds were created, as an absolute maximum. To these purebred cats you have to add the vast majority of domestics cats namely random bred cats. Also we must not forget the cats who should be domesticated but are feral (wild), the feral cats.

Random bred cats are still evolving through natural selection. That, in a nutshell is how domestic cats came to be...!

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