Saturday, November 14, 2015

Do Cats Come From Tigers & Lions?

Whether you’re watching a cuddly kitten play with a ball of string or a full grown moggy stalk a bird in the back garden, there’s no denying that the resemblance between felines and their ‘big cat’ counterparts is uncanny. So do our furry four legged friends actually come from tigers and lions?

Wild cats get tamed

According to historians the first wild cats were domesticated around 4000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians. They used the felines to control pests and protect their food, much as they do today!
The cuddly domesticated house cats we love so much today are in fact descendants of lions and tigers, who are successors of early carnivores known as miacids. From here modern wild cats evolved into three key species – the European wild cat, the African wild cat and the Asiatic desert cat. Animal scientists believe the common tabby markings of the domestic cat indicate lineage of the African wild cat.

New research reveals domestic cats share the same ‘personalities’ as African lions

Still not convinced that your domestic house cat shares serious similarities with the fierce lions and tigers that prowl African and Asian plains? The latest research from the Bronx Zoo and researchers at the University of Edinburgh makes a number of fascinating comparisons between the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) and several of its wilder relatives. These include the Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), snow leopard (Panthera uncia), and of course, the almighty African Lion (Panthera leo). In a nutshell, the study came to the not so surprising conclusion that when it comes to overarching personalities, domestic cats are essentially miniature lions.

The researchers published their extraordinary findings in the Journal of Comparative Psychology and have already made global headlines.

As part of the study each of the species was assigned a personality type from the widely used Five-Factor Model. While the psychometric classification system is usually used by mental health professionals to categorise human personalities, the researchers adapted it for feline traits. Interestingly, the domestic cat demonstrated the same dominance, impulsiveness and neuroticism seen in the African lion. This means that ‘roars’ and ‘meows’ might not be so different after all!
Environmental testing plays a crucial role in helping zooologists determine the origins of animals. To find out more about its application in the modern science sphere, ‘Enhancing Environmental Testing’ is a fascinating read.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Moyan Brenn


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