DOGS are the most diverse species on the planet. We manipulate their size, shape and behaviour to fit our needs. Everything from Chihuahuas to Great Danes, sheep dogs to greyhounds and a lot more in between.
But what about our felines friends? Cats all look the same, their heads may be slightly differently shaped, their coats maybe be short, long hair or no hair at all. But basically a cat is a cat.
Perhaps it’s because we can’t get them to work for us and as every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat.
All domestic cats, some scientists believe, descended from a Middle Eastern wildcat, Felis sylvestris, which literally means “cat of the woods.”
Cats were first domesticated in the Near East, and some studies speculate that this process began up to 12,000 years ago.
The ancient Egyptian reverence for cats is well-known; scientists found a cat cemetery in Beni-Hassan with 300,000 cat mummies. Bastet, an Egyptian goddess of love, had the head of a cat and to be convicted of killing a cat in Egypt, often meant a death sentence for the offender.
Ancient Romans held a similar reverence for cats, as they were seen as a symbol of liberty.
In the Far East cats were valued for the protection of treasured manuscripts preventing them being destroyed by rodents.
For some reason, however, cats were demonized in Europe during the Middle Ages.
They were seen by many as being affiliated with witches and the devil and many were killed in an effort to ward off evil, unfortunately an action that helped to spread the plague, which was carried by rats.
Dogs were used by hunter gatherers to help find food but cats only became useful to people when we began to settle, farm and store surplus crops. The cats invited themselves into grain stores to hunt mice, the cats were delighted by the abundance of prey in the storehouses and people were delighted by the pest control.
Humans would select and favour cats who were more docile and willing to interact with people, so changing their behaviour and coat colours to the many types we have today.
Domestic or house cats give their “staff” many hours of companionship and are less demanding than dogs, as they have independent personalities and can entertain themselves; don’t need to be taken for a walk and will probably sleep most of the time.
Feral and farm cats are useful to us by keeping vermin numbers down in their environment.
However, we must be careful to neuter our cats, as their numbers can quickly become out of control and the local wildlife and bird populations can be threatened.
Did you know; a cat can’t climb head first down a tree because every claw on a cat’s paw points the same way. To get down from a tree, a cat must back down.
On average, cats spend 2/3 of every day sleeping. That means a nine-year-old cat has been awake for only three years of its life.
A cat’s brain is biologically more similar to a human brain than it is to a dog’s. Both humans and cats have identical regions in their brains that are responsible for emotions.
According to Hebrew legend, Noah prayed to God for help protecting all the food he stored on the ark from being eaten by rats.
In reply, God made the lion sneeze, and out popped a cat.
So cats are good to have around especially the black cats as they are an omen of good luck if they cross your path or decide you are good enough to live with.