Unlocking The Mysteries Of Cats: The Extraordinary History Of A Time-Honored Pet
Cats have been a part of our lives for a really long time.
From prehistoric felines to harbingers of evil, cats have made their way into our hearts and homes in many ways.
This book will help you learn all about the evolution of cats over millions of years, how they first came to live with us as pets, their impressive hunting skills and why ancient people feared them.
It will tell you fascinating tales like the link between a sexist zoology book and prostitutes; why one woman was accused of being shapeshifter because she was wounded; and how far back cats’ ancestry truly goes.
It’s incredible how cats went from prehistoric felines to harbingers of evil, and eventually pounced their way into our hearts and homes.
The Fascinating Evolution Of Today’S Cuddly Cats
Cats may look like they are unassuming, sleeping peacefully on your lap all day, but in truth they have evolved over 30 million years of evolution.
The earliest known cat ancestor – Proailurus – weighed around 20 pounds and had a body shape similar to that of a civet.
It had more teeth than the modern-day cat and a less complex brain.
From then, cats descended from Pseudaelurus which had teeth more similar to modern cats.
From this species, two relatives appeared: saber-toothed cats which eventually went extinct and Felinae – the ancestors of today’s cats.
Even though fossil records make it hard to trace exactly how felines evolved into domesticated cats, we can tell that their close relative – the wildcat – has been around for as long as two million years!
While ancient Egyptians were close with their pet cats it wasn’t until the eighteenth century that widespread domestication took place.
Before this people benefitted from having feline friends nearby by having them catch rodents for them.
Paintings in tombs dating back to 1450 BC capture family members with pet cats nearby or being fed or sometimes even held on a leash.
Cats: Nature’S Supernatural Hunters – The Amazing Traits That Make Them Deadly Predators
Cats are known for their excellent hunting skills, and that’s all thanks to their superior senses and sharp teeth.
Their big and round eyes come with highly flexible pupils that let them see in virtually any darkness, giving them an edge over other predators.
Their hearing is also incredibly sensitive – cats can hone in on even the smallest sounds like a mouse scurrying across the floor and honing in on its target.
On top of their vision and hearing, cats also have an incredibly acute sense of smell that is 30 times better than that of humans.
This gives them the ability to hunt even when there’s no sight or sound around.
Finally, cats have sharp canine teeth which they can use to clamp down onto their prey and paralyze it instantaneously.
This combination of keen senses and sharp teeth make cats superb hunters – it almost appears as if they have a supernatural radar!
People Have Long Feared And Misunderstood Cats, Seeing Them As Magical Or Sinister Creatures
Throughout history, people have long attributed cats with superstitious and mischievous behavior.
In the Middle Ages, it was thought that cats were magical, even tied to witchcraft in some way.
This notion likely comes from the fact that cats are far more independent creatures than other domesticated animals; they don’t obey commands or please easily.
Many people saw this independence as unholy behavior which lead to suspicion of anyone who kept a cat.
Furthermore, the belief that cats could mysteriously disappear and reappear only further associated them with witchcraft activities such as shape-shifting.
Elizabeth Morse was accused, and found guilty in the seventeenth century of transforming into a white cat-like creature to attack her neighbor – an allusion to her being a witch..
The end result of these superstitions was often horrifically abuse for cats during certain time periods in certain parts of the world, such as in France where Christian communities would burn them alive and hang them from maypoles hoping it would bring about good fortune or chase away evil spirits.
Thankfully over time these beliefs have changed due to increased education and understanding of what cats really represent.
The Long History Of Associating Cats With Femininity, Sexuality, And Prostitution
For centuries, cats have been associated with femininity and viewed as a symbol of female sexuality and prostitution.
This can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where the goddess Bastet had feline features and represented maternity and sexual allure.
This connection between cats and women has endured for centuries, as evidenced by works of art like Francesco Bacchiacca’s Portrait of a Young Woman Holding a Cat from 1525.
Here, the wide-eyed cat serves to represent the woman’s burgeoning sexuality – a representation that continues today.
The comparison between Cats and prostitutes was first made in the 1400s, when female prostitutes began being referred to as “Cats”.
The term was used due to these woman’s natural sense of self-preservation – like cats they would often “pretty themselves up” in order to make money.
Naturalist and writer Alphonse Toussenel reinforced this comparison in his 1855 book Zoologie Passionelle, referring to cats and prostitutes alike as animals that care for themselves, enjoy loud parties and are unsuited for long-term relationships.
From Villainous To Venerable: How Cats Have Evolved In Human Perception
Today, cats are considered to be individuals and we celebrate their independence and intelligence.
Gone are the days where cats were simply viewed as symbols of something sinister, instead being regarded more like members of a family.
In the US, people are encouraged to refer to themselves as “cat guardians” rather than “pet owners”, in order to avoid treating them as property.
We’ve complexified our views on cats and their gender and sexuality has become much more broadly accepted than in previous years.
Instead of fearing or feeling intimidated by cats, we recognize and appreciate them for their ability to care for themselves without relying on other humans.
Furthermore, we’ve even started celebrating these traits in literature with books such as Rudyard Kipling’s The Cat That Walked By Himself which celebrates a cat’s independent spirit, charm and clever use of intelligence when a human decides whether or not it is allowed into her cave with her baby.
We must continue celebrating cats for all that they are – unique and fascinating animals who have a long history of owning independence by taking charge of their own lives.
The overall takeaway from this book is that cats are incredible creatures who have evolved over millions of years and deserve our love and respect.
Just a few hundred years ago, humans viewed cats with suspicion and mistreated them, but now we know better.
Cats are loyal companions and intelligent animals who bring joy to all those lucky enough to share their lives with them.