The relationship between cats and humans dates back thousands of years. They were widely associated with the gods in ancient civilisations, have been the subject of myths and legends, and their amusing and individual character an inspiration to artists.
The earliest evidence of the relationship between humans and cats was the discovery of a grave in Cyprus that was dated to 7,500BC. Just 18 inches away was another grave, that of a young cat with its body lying in the same direction as the human remains, indicating the relationship between the two. Cats are usually associated with ancient Egypt where they were considered representations of the gods. They were also connected with religion in many other cultures such as in Siam, Japan, China, and Burma. By 500AD cats had spread throughout Europe, the Middle East and much of Asia. The first evidence of domestication of cats in Wales was in 936AD when a law was enacted for their protection. It is thought that by 1000AD the cat had conquered the world!
The cat family can be divided into three genera. The Panthera genus includes the lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar (the great cats). The Acinonyx genus’ only member is the cheetah. The third genus is the Fells and includes the puma, ocelot, bobcat, serval, lynx, and the house cat.
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