Many people today have pets for pleasure and companionship. Nearly any animal can be a pet, such as hamsters, rabbits, birds, fish, frogs, horses, and even cats and dogs. Besides being a loving companion, pets serve many other purposes as in protecting homes, destroying vermin, and providing a means of transportation. The elderly and the childless couples can rely on a pet as an emotional outlet. In addition, pets can be kept for their beauty, rarity, or for the beautiful sounds that birds can make. Today pets are usually purchased from breeders, pet shops, or animal shelters rather then individually captured and tamed. All pets were made domestic, including cats.
Cats are the second most popular pets in the world at this time. Of the two most popular pets, cats are the easiest to maintain and do not need to be taken out for exercise. Being small means cats are not big eaters and only have to eat one or two times a day. Cats can play with string, balls, and anything that may fascinate them. On the other hand, cats can be your companion while you sleep, read a book, or watch television. The life of a cat can be very interesting if you are willing to spend time with them and learn their personality. Every cat has its own personality. Cats can live to be 15 years old, and in that time a cat owner can find that a cat is a man’s best friend. The origins of a cat can be very interesting, considering that the cat first began its life with the early Egyptians and other cultures. The domestic cat, the most popular cat of the cat family, is a very laid back cat, sleeping most of the day. Other types of cats like the tiger, lion, and the cheetah are some of the fiercest animals in the wild. Looking back in history, and comparing the earlier cats to modern day cats, we discover that today’s cats do not eat to live, but live to eat.
Where did cats come from? “Cats were not around when dinosaurs existed, after they disappeared, hoofed animals evolved and led to saber-toothed cats” (Rutherford 8). There are many additional subdivisions of cats in the world today. “Pseudaulurus, the first true catlike animal, lived about 20 million years ago and roamed the forests of Europe and North America hunting for small mammals and birds” (Brown 1147). Eventually, more cats began revealing themselves to the world and began living a dominant life. “Two animals become similar when they are exposed to the same food sources and environment conditions” (Rutherford 10). Many cats have approximately the same traits as each other, but the cheetah and the saber-tooths are completely opposite. “The cheetah is the cat furthest from the saber-tooth’s in having small canines to allow for the larger nasal opening that enables it to increase its air intake during a high speed chase” (Tabor 10). There is not much evidence that shows how far cats date back that we know about. “The earliest known remains of a leopard were found in Siwalik Mountains of India and date from about 1.5 million years ago” (Brown 1148). Saber-toothed cats were one of the longest existing cats on earth. “Some saber-toothed cats were still around only 13,000 years ago, so they survived as a subfamily for nearly 34 million years” (Tabor 10). Panthers, Lynxes, leopards and other wild cats existed over 10,000 year ago (Rutherford 11). The transition of cats took place over a period of 50 million years; longer than any human has been around. Cats are truly one of the oldest animals still on this earth.
The Egyptians were the first to realize the importance of cats. “Cats began teaming with people about 2,000 BC in Egypt” (Cats 1). There is evidence that points to small wild feline species having been tamed up to 8,000 years ago. “Egyptian Pharaohs were the first to tame cheetahs, and from 1500 BC onwards, cheetahs and dogs were their hunting animals” (Rutherford 15). Early Egyptian art verifies that cats were honored as female deity (Cats 1). Much of the Egyptian art appears to us as paintings on the inside of tombs, or wooden carvings of figures of cats. “Eventually the Egyptians began linking animals with human traits” (Rutherford 27). A lion-headed woman, Bastet or Bast, was one such icon. “At Beni Hasan, an Egyptian archeological site, more than 300,000 mummified Bast cats were unearthed” (Luke 20). There was no loss more painful then the death of a cat. “At a cat’s death, every member of the family shaved off their eyebrows in mourning” (Rutherford 30). The booming of each and every great culture from the pharaohs to the British Empire is the claim of cats (Dempsey 1). A cat was one of the most respected animals in the Egyptian culture.
Other cultures’ opinions on cats varied from “rodent vacuums” to the “rain makers”.”In China cats were believed to have the power to drive away all evil spirits and were kept in houses for that purpose” (Henderson 67). Many superstitions still exist regarding cats. “Black cats seem to cause bad luck, while white cats give off good luck” (Levin 1). Despite those civilizations, cats never again arise as far as the Egyptian right of individuality (Steve 1). People still believe that cats can heal a person’s soul. “Japanese sailors sailed with tortoiseshell cats to protect them from ghosts and to give them warning of storms” (Henderson 68). Christians despised the cat for depicting the image of Satan, such as a witch’s black cat. Cats and Christianity came to Europe at the same time, from just about the same part of the world (Hofmann 13). “All cats faced persecution from the early Church for their paganistic connection to cults” (Luke 20). The Egyptians were not the only culture to reflect the cat in their art. “Ancient Greek, Roman, and Indian art also depicted cats on vases, marble relics, coins, and sculptures” (Cats 1). All cultures have different beliefs about cats, but many cultures apply the cat to everyday living.
Domestic cats can be found in almost every home of a cat owner. Most cats are domestic unless bred otherwise. “The domesticated cat appeared first in the Middle East more then 3500 years ago, though there is some evidence of a jawbone discovered on Cyprus in 1983 – that such cats existed in 6000 BC” (Rutherford 11). On ships, cats were the mice catchers and other rodent eliminators. “Cats even traveled to North America with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower” (Coll 2). During the 1700’s, explorers, colonists, and traders from Europe brought the domestic cat to the Americas (Cat 219). The transformation from wild to domestic came over a long period of time. “Despite domestic living, our pet cats have retained many features of their wild ancestry” (Tabor 8). Although cats have angelic faces, it was one of the last animals to be domesticated. “After domesticating horses for transportation, cattle and swine for food, and dogs and leopards for hunting, man began a cautious relationship with the equally cautious domestic cat” (Rutherford 11). From that time on cats began their growth in homes. “As man thrived, so did the domestic cat, as a result of the massive increase in food supply for both house and feral animals” (Tabor 9). Domestic cats are more popular in the home than any other specially bred cats, considering that creating special breeds did not catch hold until the mid-nineteenth century (Taylor 9). Domesticated cats have an astonishing popularity compared to any other cat in the wild or bred for cat shows.
All types of cats come from the same, basic evolution. “Cats are meat-eating, or carnivores, and great hunters; they have sharp, pointed teeth called canines and claws that can be retracted into their paws” (Brown 1147). Cats have very keen senses, which allow them to stalk their prey. “All cats have well-developed sight and very sharp hearing, which allows them to make successful hunting forays at dawn and dusk” (Rutherford 14). Cats must be able to merge in with their environment, to flee the pursuer and pursue their target (Rutherford 18). Some characteristics of the cat outweigh others without competition. “Cats have a strong sense of smell, which is used more for detecting and communicating with other animals than for hunting” (Rutherford 14). All cats are linked to one another through their traits and characteristics, but no cat can “beat” the cheetah. “The cheetah is the undisputed champion of sprinters in the animal kingdom; no other creature can surpass it for it’s bursts of speed” (Brown 341). Cats occupy all continental landmasses apart from Antarctica and Australia (Cats 1). Due to the cold in Antarctica no animal that is warm-blooded can survive on its own. Cats are found in more places over the world than any other animal.
Most cats today live better lives then some American people. “Today, the cat maintains its position as a respected, but rarely feared, member of the animal community” (Currah 17). Other cultures respect and treat the cat with utmost dignity. “In India today, the Hindu religion urges followers to provide food and shelter for at least one cat” (Coll 1). Egyptians still pay their dues to the cat in Egypt. “Almost everyone in Egypt owns a cat. Those who don’t, still participate in the culture by leaving out table scraps for the roaming felines that happen to pass by” (Reilly 43). Some Americans treat their cats as family members. Most cats are fed twice a day, and have dry food and water out the rest of the day to snack on. “A stimulating video game can help entertain your indoor cat, giving their instincts a jump-start” (Vanderheidn 18). The simplest things in everyday life can amaze a cat. By playing, the cat learns to put its abilities to full use, improve its intellect, and burns up excess energy (Mondadori 205). Breeding an animal was a way of getting the animal to its fullest ethnic group. Keeping and breeding pedigree cats has long since ceased to be the privilege of the wealthy (Verhoef 43). “Most pet cats today do not die a natural death; their lives are ended by veterinarians who will put an end to a painful illness or a very old cat with many problems, and their owners are with them up to the end” (Moyes 1,2). Superstition says that cats have nine lives because of all the mischief they can get into and how close they come to their demise.
Cats are the easiest animals to live with, they are not messy eaters, keep themselves clean, and are easy to clean up after. Cats comfort you when you’re down, and can amuse you with their many talents, like playing with a ball of string. Cats are truly mans best friend. Cats are not the latest trend, but have been around for millions of years. Egyptians worshiped them as goddesses. Many other cultures had luck and fortune superstitions regarding cats. World cultures took cats on boats or would have them in their homes just because of a superstition. The domestic cat is well known for its preciousness, and angelic faces. The domestic cat is the only cat that people consider having in and around their homes. Considering the size of wild cats’, people would not want them as a pet or a security blanket. The modern day domesticated cat is one of the smallest cats, but can run and climb much faster and higher then we can. The modern day cat is used mostly for the purpose of a companion. Without a companion we humans have no one to tell our deepest desires, and most profound secrets, and cats can surely keep a secret.
We have learned that the evolution of a cat did not just begin yesterday, but has been around for over millions of years. Cats did not just show up on someone’s doorstep; we humans have developed a well-tuned, meat-eating beast. As a cat owner, I have been educated by this project as far back as 35 million years ago. Since cats are tied into the dinosaur era, not only did I learn about cats, but about dinosaurs too. As for the future, cats will still maintain the title as the second most popular pet. Possibly one day the cat will surpass the dog and become known as man’s best friend. I believe that as cats gain popularity in today’s society, they will eventually need to be walked on leashes; therefore, eliminating their freedom to roam outdoors. The possibility may come for cats to be licensed in the same way that dogs are. If you are planing on getting a cat, I suggest that you get it from the A.S.P.C.A. or from a nearby shelter. Many unwanted cats go to shelters and see their doom in eight days; that’s unless someone comes by and adopts one. It would be a good idea to get your cat spayed or neutered, so that the pet population would be better controlled. This was an interesting project that not only took a tremendous amount of time and research, but also gave me a better understanding of the cat world. I enjoyed doing the research, typing, and a whole lot of brainstorming. It has definitely taught me organizational skills and file making. This project has given me a jump-start for college and will make researching a paper a little less of a challenge. I look forward to doing more research papers in college with the knowledge I have gained through this experience.
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