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How did cats become their size?(How and where do they come from)?
Question Date: 2014-03-16
Answer 1:

Domestic cats that we are familiar with are commonly believed to have been domesticated in Egypt, but according to some studies, they are descended from African wildcats that lived around 8000 B.C.E. in Western Asia/the Middle East.

Domestic cats belong to the genus Felis. The cats of this genus are all relatively small, getting to be no larger than 40 inches long, which are only about 10 inches longer than an average housecat. How did members of this genus get to be this size? Cats, as other organisms, evolve according to the rules of natural selection. Generally speaking, individuals from each generation that were more fit for their environment survived and produced offspring, and their particular size happened to be a trait that was selected for from one generation to the next.

Answer 2:

Housecats - the kind you are familiar with - are from Egypt (and/or the Middle-East), and that is roughly their natural size. There are many other kinds of cats, two species of which that I know of live in California. One is Puma concolor, the cougar or mountain lion (they're the same thing), and they can be human-sized or larger.

Answer 3:

It’s great to wonder about the origins of something we might see every day!

Domestic cats belong to a group of animals called the “Felidae”, and this group can be divided into 2 other groups or “subfamilies”. One subfamily include tigers, lions, jaguars and leopards, while the other group (the “Felinae”) includes cheetahs, lynxes, ocelots and small cats like the domestic cat. The Felinae subfamily can be divided again in to evolutionary groups called “genera”, and the domestic cat is a species that belongs in the “Felis” group. The Felis group probably evolved 8-10 million years ago, in the area near the Mediterranean Sea. These cats are smaller, as natural selection likely favored animals in this region that could live on small prey and live in smaller shelters, such as sand dune caves.

The domestic cat is most closely related to, and might be a sub-species of, Felis silvestris, also called a Wildcat. Wildcats are small cats that live today throughout most of Africa, Europe and southwest and central Asia, including parts of India and China. It’s not known when exactly members of the Felis silvestris species starting living with humans as pets, but it could be as early at when humans began agriculture in an area of the Middle East called the Fertile Crescent, about 10,000 years ago. It’s known that as early as 4,000 years ago, Egyptian culture revered cats, and even prayed to a cat goddess, so it’s thought that humans may have developed a domestic relationship with cats during that time. Since then, domestic cats have been bred by humans to create different “breeds” with special coat colors and characteristics (like flat-faced Persian cats, or hairless Sphynx cats), although all the cat breeds are still the same species.

(P.S. Impressively, there are 37 different species making up the Felidae family!)

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