Domestic cats today are significantly smaller and more varied in colour compared to the Ancient Egyptian era

This is a short note to remind us that today's domestic cat is smaller and more varied in coat colour and pattern compared to the domestic cats of Ancient Egypt and earlier.

Domestic cats today are significantly smaller and more varied in colour compared to the Ancient Egyptian era

Domestic cats today are significantly smaller and more varied in colour compared to the Ancient Egyptian era. Image in the public domain.


This is because all the domestic cats of Ancient Egypt were very similar to their wild ancestor the North African wildcat. This is essentially a mackerel/spotted tabby cat and the same size as a large domestic cat nowadays. The average domestic cat size in Ancient Egypt was the same as a current large domestic cat.

In illustrations from Ancient Egypt we see what appear to be semi-domesticated wildcats which is what they were. They were not fully domesticated in those days. No doubt they hunted for most of their nutrition. It is quite hard to visualise all the domestic cats being essentially the same as we are very familiar with a huge variety nowadays. 

Over several thousands of years the domestic cat evolved into a more delicate, smaller creature with a multitude of coat colours and patterns. They developed these new coat types because of informal selective breeding on the back of spontaneous genetic mutations. There was no need for the cats to wear great camouflage. If people liked the coat it stuck and did not fizzle out as it would have in the wild.

The blotched tabby pattern is relatively recent - read about it by clicking the link below:

Evolution of the blotched tabby pattern of domestic cats

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