Feline Genetics Help Pinpoint First-Ever Domestication of Cats, Study Finds Cat Genes Reveal How Invention of Agriculture Bonded Cats with People in Ancient Mesopotamia, Leading to Worldwide Feline Migration with Humans

Nearly 10,000 years ago, humans settling in the Fertile Crescent, the areas of the Middle East surrounding the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, made the first switch from hunter-gatherers to farmers. They developed close bonds with the rodent-eating cats that conveniently served as ancient pest-control in society’s first civilizations. A new study at the University of Missouri (MU)found this lifestyle transition for humans was the catalyst that sparked the world’s first domestication of cats, and as humans began to travel the world, they brought their new feline friends along with them. Leslie A. Lyons, PhD, a feline geneticist and Gilbreath-McLorn Endowed Professor of Comparative Medicine in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, collected and analyzed DNA from cats in and around the Fertile Crescent area, as well as throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, comparing nearly 200 different genetic markers.

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