Saturday 12 August 2023

From 1 to 250 million domestic cats in 10,000 years

At the moment the news media is discussing the domestication of the cat. A good moment to present the story in a different light as indicated in the title. 

At one time - we are unsure exactly when but perhaps around 10,000 years ago - there was one domestic cat. The first domestic cat in the world. Well, they weren't exactly domesticated, more tamed North African wildcat but for sake of keeping things simple we'll call that first, precious cat 'domesticated'.

From 1 to 250 million domestic cats in 10,000 years
Image: MikeB

Of course, the person with whom the cat resided had no idea that they were making history! But they were. It was entirely novel at the time. But also, at that time the dog had been domesticated for about 10,000 years already!

Anyway, 10,000 years later humankind has around 250 million domestic cats living on the planet it is believed. The number is a guess so please don't quote the figure as a fact as it is not.

The trouble with the internet is that what starts out as an estimate or even a guess becomes fact after it has been recycled hundreds of times online through various website but mainly news media websites.

To the approximate quarter of a billion domestic cats, we can add a similar number of feral and stray cats making a grand total of around half a billion (500,000,000).

For me, the equal number of feral cats strongly indicates that cat domestication has been an unmitigated failure despite the fact that their presence in millions of homes has brightened up the lives of their human caregivers. But there should be no feral cats.

Each feral cat is a failure in cat domestication. A failure in cat ownership and caregiving. In the early days of cat domestication by the Ancient Romans I suspect that there were very few feral cats.

Domestic cats were perhaps more important and relatively rare. As they become ever more commonplace their value decreased leading to poor cat caregiving, carelessness leading to domestic cats becoming unwanted strays and ferals.

This carelessness in cat ownership would have led and still does to allowing them to procreate. Back in the day there was no such thing as spaying and neutering or veterinarians.

Now we have vets and still careless people allow their cats to procreate to swell the number of feral cats further.

The worst case of humankind's relationship with the cat is in Australia where there is legalised cat cruelty on a large scale as the authorities poison, shoot and kill in any way possible the feral cats on that continent with no thought to dealing with the 'problem' humanely.

Australia is the ultimate example of failure in cat domestication as it is full of cruelty.

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