So what is it that makes us love cats so much? It can’t possibly be a love for buying endless supplies of lint rollers, so we turned to the scientists for an answer.
Cats and humans have had a close bond for thousands of years – 10,000 years, to be precise.
In June, archaeologists uncovered kitty remains in the Near East and Egypt with DNA that matched that of our domesticated friends today. In other words, the species of cat that Egyptians preferred cuddling with 10,000 years ago is the same as the one purring next to you now. They’re as close in DNA as two critters can possibly get.
The researchers found that all of our modern domesticated cats are descendants of Felis silvestris lybica, a type of wildcat common to North Africa and Western Asia in the ancient world. As it turns out, your cat’s (super) distant relatives have been friends with your (super) distant relatives for longer than our brains can fathom.
While most cats are brought into the home today for the purpose of looking cute and providing companionship, humans and cats started their long-standing cohabitation on a completely different foot.
Thousands of years ago, cats across Asia, Africa, and Europe were drawn to farms because that’s where their food liked to hang out. While farmers were frustrated with mice and rat populations, wildcats were excited by the endless supply of slow, chubby foot.
Farmers quickly saw the benefit of having cats around - more cats, less mice, better crops - and even went so far as to take their new feline friends with them as they migrated across the continents.
Cats even became beloved travel companions aboard ships. The cats would keep the mice population in check and get free room and board, while travelers and traders could rest assured that their precious goods weren’t being nibbled on by vermin.
As humans gradually moved away from agriculture-based societies and opted for impressive new industrial developments, they had every opportunity to part ways with their cats. With the growth of cities and industry, cats were no longer as useful as they once were on farms.
However, cats had made their mark on us humans and it turned out that our two species made quite a lovely match. People began living closer together in towns, suburbs, and cities, and their cats came right along with them.
Today, despite the fact that cats don’t serve us in any practical ways (just try asking Fluffy for help with the chores), their presence in the home has been well established. Thankfully, it’s hard to get over a 10,000-year-long relationship.
According to research collected by the ASPCA, more than 85.8 million cats are living in homes throughout the United States serving no more purpose than being lovable, adorable, heart-warming companions. And we’re perfectly OK with that.