|Domestic Leopard Cat|
Wild leopard cats may have been domesticated by farmers in China more than 5,000 years ago, according to a new study of feline fossils.
Side view of a domestic cat skull from the Neolithic site of Wuzhuangguoliang (Shaanxi, 3200-2800 BC). Photo Credit: J. D. Vigne-CNRS/MNHN.
These cats were of a different species than the ancestors of today's house cats, which suggests that at least in the early history of pets, humans may have had two different kinds of kitties keeping them company.
Today's pet cats (Felis catus) descend from the wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) native to the Middle East andSouthwest Asia. It's typically thought that humans and cats first got cozy in the Near East some 10,000 years ago, after the birth of agriculture.
A cat was found buried in the same grave as a human at a 9,500-year-old Neolithic settlement in Cyprus. Cat burials nearly 8,000 years old have also been found at an elite cemetery in Hierakonpolis, in Egypt.