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Human-Cat Relationship Goes Back Further (then previously thought)
Associated Press ^ | 4/8/04 | RANDOLPH E. SCHMID

Posted on 04/08/2004 10:00:53 PM PDT by SoCal Pubbie

WASHINGTON - While ancient Egypt provides the first written record of cats, a burial discovered on Cyprus indicates that humans and felines may have become associated much earlier — extending 9,500 years or more into the past.

AP Photo

It's a relationship that has ranged from their being adored as gods in the Nile valley to their slinking into medieval witchhood and rising again to be revered in poet T.S. Eliot's verses and in the stage show "Cats." Today, more than 30 percent of American homes host a cat.

Jean-Denis Vigne of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris believes the relationship first blossomed with the development of agricultural societies 10,000 or so years ago.

"It seems that cats probably came more and more frequently into villages where grain stocks attracted numerous mice," said Vigne. "I think that human beings rapidly understood that they could use cats for reducing the number of mice."

It was Vigne's research team that uncovered the carefully buried cat on Cyprus, placed just inches from a human burial that also contained polished stones, shells, tools and jewelry. The graves are estimated to be 9,500 years old.

The cat belonged to the Felis silvestris species, a wild cat, which was significantly larger than modern domestic cats. The cat's bones were placed carefully, parallel to the human, and showed no signs of butchering, another indication that the animal may have been a pet, Vigne said in a paper in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

The finding seems to be evidence of cats being tamed earlier than previously thought, said Melinda Zeder of the Smithsonian Institution (news - web sites)'s National Museum of Natural History.

If the cat was intentionally buried with the human, which it seems to have been, Zeder said, "what they've got is pretty good evidence of a kind of relationship with humans."

It's hard to know whether it was a pet or a working mouser because "the bones aren't talking," said Zeder, president of the International Council for Archaeozoology.

What may be surprising is that there hasn't been evidence of an earlier relationship with cats, she added, noting that indications of human-dog relations go back 12,000 years.

Blaire Van Valkenburgh, a biology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, agreed that the finding is "the first suggestion that there was a significant emotional attachment" between a human and a cat.

"They make a good case that they were buried at the same time and it shows that whoever buried it cleared a special spot for it," she said. "That makes it significant."

Vigne noted in his paper that there have been older remains of cats — specifically a jaw — found on Cyprus, but it was not associated with a human grave. Cat bones about 9,000 years old were also found near Jericho, but there was no indication of domestication, though that may have been under way in several places at about the same time.

Cats are not native to Cyprus, so their presence on the eastern Mediterranean island indicates they were brought there at some point.

"The first discovery of cat bones on Cyprus showed that human beings brought cats from the mainland to the islands, but we couldn't decide if these cats were wild or tame. With this discovery we can now decide that these cats were linked with humans," Vigne said.

The best known ancient evidence of cats comes from Egypt, where the animals were bred 4,000 or more years ago. Cats were often included in Egyptian art and worshipped as the cat goddess Bastet.

Stones engraved with images of wild cats and other animals have been discovered from Western Asia and dated back to the Early Neolithic — 4000 to 3000 B.C.

This may be evidence that cats had spiritual significance for humans, according to Vigne, though the real meaning of the representations is irreparably lost.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: archaeology; cats; cyprus; domesticatedanimals; economic; felines; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; mousers; pets
The first Viking Kitty?
1 posted on 04/08/2004 10:00:54 PM PDT by SoCal Pubbie
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To: SoCal Pubbie
Cat: The other white meat.
2 posted on 04/08/2004 10:01:44 PM PDT by Redcloak (Over 13,000 served.)
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To: All
Rank Location Receipts Donors/Avg Freepers/Avg Monthlies
South Korea




10.00
1

Thanks for donating to Free Republic!

Move your locale up the leaderboard!

3 posted on 04/08/2004 10:03:29 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (If Woody had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened!)
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To: Redcloak
Well, it didn't take long for the jackasses to arrive. I wonder when they were first domesticated?
4 posted on 04/08/2004 10:04:09 PM PDT by SoCal Pubbie
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To: Redcloak
Plus, you need to find some new material. You're about as clever as Al Franken.
5 posted on 04/08/2004 10:05:03 PM PDT by SoCal Pubbie
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To: SoCal Pubbie
Cats are cool bump >>>>>>>
6 posted on 04/08/2004 10:06:21 PM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: SoCal Pubbie
So the question remains:  After all these thousands of years, do cats still look down at us because they're too stupid to figure out a good thing, or because they've figured out the "good thing" is stupid?
7 posted on 04/08/2004 10:09:01 PM PDT by Psycho_Bunny
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To: BenLurkin; Tabi Katz
Here's another cat loving bump. I do love cats, very much. As my brother once said, God made them for decoration. But they are also excellent rodent controllers.
8 posted on 04/08/2004 10:13:25 PM PDT by jocon307 (The dems don't get it, the American people do.)
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To: Psycho_Bunny
I think they've figured out that we're stupid enough to give them a good thing while they look down on us. :)

Love cats bump!
9 posted on 04/08/2004 10:14:40 PM PDT by ellery (Our court system is a joke)
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To: ellery
In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods.

Cats have never forgotten this. :)

10 posted on 04/08/2004 10:18:50 PM PDT by ihatemyalarmclock
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To: ellery
In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods.

Cats have never forgotten this. :)

11 posted on 04/08/2004 10:21:05 PM PDT by ihatemyalarmclock
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To: SoCal Pubbie
Today, more than 30 percent of American homes host a cat.

I note that the author was wise enough to say "host" instead of "own".

12 posted on 04/08/2004 10:22:07 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon
We "host" three cats in our home.
These are not them.


13 posted on 04/08/2004 10:24:30 PM PDT by ride the whirlwind (GOP - grace over pressure)
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To: SoCal Pubbie
"I think that human beings rapidly understood that they could use cats for reducing the number of mice."

I cat thought this was funny. She says the truth is that cats rapidly understood that they could use humans to open cans.

Don't believe her? Ask yourself whether you open more cans than your cat catches mice.

14 posted on 04/08/2004 10:33:22 PM PDT by bayourod (To 9/11 Commission: Unless you know where those WMDs are, don't bet my life that they don't exist.)
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To: SoCal Pubbie

Felis silvestris

15 posted on 04/08/2004 10:36:48 PM PDT by concentric circles
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To: bayourod
One of our kitties is the prissiest cat you'll ever meet. Her name is Harley, but we call her Miss Priss.

She will only eat Friskies canned food, in gravy, at room temp.

Friskies Dinner? No.

Cold Friskies? No.

Dry food? Surely you jest!

Only moist Friskies room temp in gravy will do!!

Stupid priss cat of the world...
16 posted on 04/08/2004 10:41:26 PM PDT by 4mycountry ("Completely concretely" - - That's "the power of the 'Freeper'.")
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To: Psycho_Bunny
do cats still look down at us because they're too stupid to figure out a good thing, or because they've figured out the "good thing" is stupid?

http://www.MyCatHatesYou.com

17 posted on 04/08/2004 10:42:47 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: 4mycountry
My last girlfriend moved out and left her cat. I couldn't remember the cat's name so I started calling her "kitty", so she started calling me "waiter".
18 posted on 04/08/2004 10:46:49 PM PDT by bayourod (To 9/11 Commission: Unless you know where those WMDs are, don't bet my life that they don't exist.)
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To: bayourod
I think mine calls us "loyal subjects".
19 posted on 04/08/2004 10:49:28 PM PDT by 4mycountry ("Completely concretely" - - That's "the power of the 'Freeper'.")
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To: SoCal Pubbie
7500 BC? Seems unlikely. If you don't have milk cows, or stores of grain, what good are you to a cat?

OTOH maybe agriculture goes back that far. If it does, I'm sure the cats promptly noticed.

Bet the dogs were sore about that...

20 posted on 04/08/2004 10:53:09 PM PDT by Graymatter
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To: SoCal Pubbie
Dog: "You feed, me, pet me, take care of me: you must be God."

Cat: "You feed me, pet me, take care of me: I must be God."

-ccm

21 posted on 04/08/2004 11:17:12 PM PDT by ccmay
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To: SoCal Pubbie
We're ancient!!


22 posted on 04/08/2004 11:47:24 PM PDT by spodefly (I've decided not to include a tagline with this post.)
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To: Redcloak
sabretooth

Cat: The other white meat.

Well, they were likely eating us long before...
23 posted on 04/08/2004 11:57:37 PM PDT by walford (http://utopia-unmasked.us)
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To: SoCal Pubbie
Actually, I was half serious. These ancient cats may have been originally kept as a food source.
24 posted on 04/09/2004 12:24:09 AM PDT by Redcloak (Over 13,000 served.)
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To: SoCal Pubbie
Fascinating. They buried Sylvester, and left me with Felis Domestic Cuss.

Today, more than 30 percent of American homes host a cat.

But most of us 30% have enough to make up for those who are not enlightened enough to be properly owned.

The cat's bones were placed carefully, parallel to the human, and showed no signs of butchering, another indication that the animal may have been a pet

They don't recognize Royalty when they see it. The cat died, and naturally they had to bury a peasant with it, to continue caring for it in the Afterlife. It is only its due.
25 posted on 04/09/2004 2:25:49 AM PDT by ApplegateRanch (The world needs more horses, and fewer Jackasses!)
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To: ihatemyalarmclock
heeeeee!
26 posted on 04/09/2004 9:16:54 AM PDT by ellery (Our court system is a joke)
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To: jocon307
The 70% of home dwellers who don't keep a feline companion don't know what they're missing! Cats are real live teddy bears.
27 posted on 04/09/2004 6:09:23 PM PDT by Tabi Katz
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To: SoCal Pubbie; *Gods, Graves, Glyphs
Just adding this to the GGG homepage, not sending a general distribution.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.

28 posted on 07/21/2004 8:04:27 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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Just updating the GGG information, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

29 posted on 08/25/2006 12:00:45 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Thursday, August 10, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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