It has taken a while for scientists to piece together the riddle of just when and where cats first became domesticated. One would think that the archaeological record might answer the question easily, but wild cats and domesticated cats have remarkably similar skeletons, complicating the matter. Some clues first came from the island of Cyprus in 1983, when archaeologists found a cat's jawbone dating back 8,000 years. Since it seemed highly unlikely that humans would have brought wild cats over to the island (a "spitting, scratching, panic-stricken wild feline would have been the last kind of boat companion they would have wanted," writes Desmond Morris in Catworld: A Feline Encyclopedia), the finding suggested that domestication occurred before 8,000 years ago.
In 2004, the unearthing of an even older site at Cyprus, in which a cat had been deliberately buried with a human, made it even more certain that the island's ancient cats were domesticated, and pushed the domestication date back at least another 1,500 years.
On any of the surprising number of Web sites dedicated entirely to wisdom about cats, one will find quotations like these: "As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat" (attributed to Ellen Perry Berkeley); "The phrase 'domestic cat' is an oxymoron" (attributed to George F. Will); and "A dog is a man's best friend. A cat is a cat's best friend" (attributed to Robet J. Vogel). Of course, there is such a thing as the domestic cat, and cats and humans have enjoyed a mostly symbiotic relationship for thousands of years. But the quips do illuminate a very real ambivalence in the long relationship between cats and humans, as this history of the house cat shows
Just last month, a study published in the research journal Science secured more pieces in the cat-domestication puzzle based on genetic analyses. All domestic cats, the authors declared, descended from a Middle Eastern wildcat, Felis sylvestris, which literally means "cat of the woods." Cats were first domesticated in the Near East, and some of the study authors speculate that the process began up to 12,000 years ago.
While 12,000 years ago might seem a bold estimate—nearly 3,000 before the date of the Cyprus tomb's cat—it actually is a perfectly logical one, since that is precisely when the first agricultural societies began to flourish in the Middle East's Fertile Crescent.
When humans were predominantly hunters, dogs were of great use, and thus were domesticated long before cats. Cats, on the other hand, only became useful to people when we began to settle down, till the earth and—crucially—store surplus crops. With grain stores came mice, and when the first wild cats wandered into town, the stage was set for what the Science study authors call "one of the more successful 'biological experiments' ever undertaken." The cats were delighted by the abundance of prey in the storehouses; people were delighted by the pest control.
"We think what happened is that the cats sort of domesticated themselves," Carlos Driscoll, one of the study authors, told the Washington Post. The cats invited themselves in, and over time, as people favored cats with more docile traits, certain cats adapted to this new environment, producing the dozens of breeds of house cats known today. In the United States, cats are the most popular house pet, with 90 million domesticated cats slinking around 34 percent of U.S. homes.
If cats seem ambivalent towards us, as the quotations from cat fan-sites indicate, then it may be a reflection of the wildly mixed feelings humans, too, have shown cats over the millennia.
The ancient Egyptian reverence for cats is well-known—and well-documented in the archaeological record: scientists found a cat cemetery in Beni-Hassan brimming with 300,000 cat mummies. Bastet, an Egyptian goddess of love, had the head of a cat, and to be convicted of killing a cat in Egypt often meant a death sentence for the offender.
Ancient Romans held a similar—albeit tempered and secularized—reverence for cats, which were seen as a symbol of liberty. In the Far East, cats were valued for the protection they offered treasured manuscripts from rodents.
For some reason, however, cats came to be demonized in Europe during the Middle Ages. They were seen by many as being affiliated with witches and the devil, and many were killed in an effort to ward off evil (an action that scholars think ironically helped to spread the plague, which was carried by rats). Not until the 1600s did the public image of cats begin to rally in the West.
Nowadays, of course, cats are superstars: the protagonists of comic strips and television shows. By the mid-90s, cat services and products had become a billion-dollar industry. And yet, even in our popular culture, a bit of the age-old ambivalence remains. The cat doesn't seem to be able to entirely shake its association with evil: After all, how often do you see a movie's maniacal arch-villain, as he lounges in a comfy chair and plots the world's destruction, stroke the head of a Golden Retriever?
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-brief-history-of-house-cats-158390681/#TtEl4Vf7BtvuzJ1K.99
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One of the most amazing and popular traits of the Siberian Cat is it's extremely low allergen level. Fel d1 is an enzyme in a cats saliva that is often the major cause of allergic reactions in people. Because of their low Fel d1 levels, many people who have never been able to have a pet, can and do live comfortably with a Siberian. The Siberian Cats are the only cats known to have this unique and rare trait.
Raising Siberian cats does not deprive rescue / shelter cats of finding a home. Most of our Siberians are placed in homes with adults and children who have moderate to severe cat allergies. No one should have to be without the unconditional love of a pet!
An ancient long-haired breed now popular in the United States is far from new to the Asian continent and Europe. The Siberian Forest Cat is sometimes referred to as simply the “Siberian Cat” or the “Siberia”. In Germany it is known as the “Sibirische Katze”.
Siberians were common cats roaming the Russian markets and the countryside of their homeland of Siberia. Cats were first brought into Russia by Nobles because they were considered to be exotic pets. The domestic cats mated with the European and Asian wild cats (Felis Silvestris) that were already there. Only a few of those cats who were strong adapted to the harsh Siberian climate and survived. Russian immigrants were said to have carried this breed with them as they journeyed to cold Moscow and St. Petersburg leaving the cold inhospitable climate of the North. The breed continued to survive the harsh winters and climate and developed a thick fur and waterproof, oily coat. During this time no one bothered to develop the Siberian into a pedigreed cat. Russia did not allow citizens to own any kind of household pet, pedigreed or otherwise, because of the food shortage.
Despite the fact that the Siberian is a natural breed and is the national cat of Russia, its familiar presence allows it to be taken for granted rather than worthy of note in Russian literature. Finding written information in Russia is understandably fairly difficult.
Many stories have been told about this breed which we are not sure are true today. The Siberian Cats first appeared in recorded history in the year 1000 AD. The breed, as it spread throughout Europe, was noted in Harrison Weir’s late nineteenth century book, “Our Cats and All About Them”, as one of the three longhairs represented at the first cat show held in England in 1871. The second written proof was in 1925 from the book “Brehms Tierleben” where a stocky longhaired red cat named Tobolsker coming from Caucasus is mentioned. Siberians can be found in Russian paintings that are hundreds of years old.
Also in Russian folklore these magnificent cats made their homes in Russian monasteries. In the monasteries they would walk along the high beams and use their speed, strength, and agility. The Siberians would be on the lookout for intruders, and yet show the monks loyal and loving companionship. The Siberian is also Russia’s native cat. With all of this information we all can see that it is not a new breed to Europe.
Approximately 80% of those with a history of allergies to horses or rabbits, or food allergies to egg white or pork, or break out with hives around cats will still react to low Fel d1 Siberians. These people are having secondary reactions to something other than Fel d1.
Visit Cats 101 for more information on the wonderful Siberian!
It depends on how far back in history you want to go. The first mammals (ancestors of people, cats, dogs, etc) were small mouse-sized animals that lived at the same time as the dinosaurs 150 million years ago.
Sometime during the Miocene era (about 25 million years ago) species of cats and dogs evolved along with many of our modern animals.
The domesticated cat we know came from a species of small desert cat in Asia. Of course there were many other large felines such as saber-toothed cats that were around in North America when man entered the continent about 10-15 thousand years ago and lived contemporaneously with mammoths.
Cats became somewhat "domesticated" when man began to raise and store grain as the cats came for the mice and other rodents that fed on the seeds. So the cat was always valued for its rodent control capabilities.
The seafaring people living on the shores of the Mediterranean would take cats with them on their voyages (also to catch rats on ships) and so the cat spread throughout the world with this free ticket to expand their territory.
Cats are not pack animals like dogs so they have always had a more independent nature than dogs - not easily trainable and just as loving and responsive as dogs to a good meal and a comfortable home.
This breed may be fairly new to the United States, but it's far from new to the Asian continent and to Europe. Exactly when and how the Siberian made his way to Siberia (and subsequently to Moscow and St. Petersburg) is not known, but it is theorized that the breed arrived with Russian emigrants. The cats survived and developed into a hardy, long haired breed able to withstand the unforgiving conditions of the region. The breed then spread throughout Europe, and the Siberian was noted in Harrison Weir’s late nineteenth century book, Our Cats and All About Them, as one of the three longhairs represented at the first cat show held in England in the 1700s.
Breeder Elizabeth Terrell of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is credited with bringing the Siberian to the American cat fancier. As a Himalayan breeder and aficionado of Russian culture, Terrell responded to a 1988 article in a cat publication asking for breeders willing to donate or trade Himalayans to help establish the breed in Russia. She contacted Nelli Sachuk, a member of St. Petersburg's Kotofei cat club (pronounced COT-ah-fay), which is a member of the international division of ACFA. Kotofei, named after a fabled Russian character that had the head of a cat, is one of the few Russian cat clubs that extend official pedigrees. Until recently, Russia did not allow citizens to own any kind of household pet, pedigreed or otherwise, because of the housing and food shortage. It wasn't until 1987 that Kotofei was formed and breeding records started being kept. The first cat show in Moscow was held in 1988.
Terrell sent four Himalayans to Nelli Sachuk and in exchange received three Siberians from Sachuk on June 28, 1990, one male (with the impressive name of Kaliostro Vasenjkovich) and two females (Ofelia Romanova and Naina Romanova).
Before long, the Siberian had captivated Terrell's heart and pocketbook. She found herself investing thousands of dollars and long hours into obtaining more cats and establishing the Siberian as a recognized breed in America. Other breeders and fanciers joined her and they began the long process of winning association acceptance.
Terrell based the American standard on the Russian standard, adapted to American cat fancy terms, of course. Terrell's concern about the breed was that getting true stock was difficult and time-consuming, and not every feline called a Siberian was actually pedigreed. Unless the cat is registered with one of the Russian cat clubs, complete with a metruka (certificate of birth), he could be merely one of the domestic mixed breed cats available very inexpensively in the Russian markets. Since it's become known that Americans will pay hard currency for Siberians, some cats may be misrepresented. Other people, uninformed about the differences between pedigreed and mixed breeds, will represent their cats as Siberians, just as many Americans will call any long haired cat Persian or Angora. Obtaining a Siberian from Russia from now on, says Terrell, will be a little like playing Russian roulette.
Terrell has formed an inter-registry breed club called Taiga (pronounced Tie-GAH, named after the Taiga forests of Siberia) to help maintain the breed's purity and to promote the breed in the cat fancy. While this breed is still rare, fanciers have shown interest and the response has been positive. Full acceptance should be only a matter of time.
Copyright © 1998 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CAT BREEDS by J. Anne Helgren.
History Of The Siberian
Siberian cats come in all colors. They do well by themselves or with a sibling and always bring joy to anyone who is lucky enough to be owned by one...or two!
A Brief History of House Cats From the Smithsonian
Many people with cat allergies can often handle the Siberian with no problem. The allergen for most people is a protein in the cat's saliva called Fel d1. As they groom themselves, they spread the saliva over their coats. Fel d1 is also present in the sebaceous glands (skin) and the anal glands, which explains sensitivity to litter boxes. There are two ways to test cats for their Fel d1 levels – by saliva sampling or fur sampling. Each test has its own set of values. All of the cats in our breeding program are saliva tested and the results are posted here on our website. However, not all kittens and offspring will be as low as the parents. We do offer a money back guarantee and all of this is outlined in our sales agreement.
Saliva Test Range for Adult Siberians is 0.25 to 16 mcg
50% of Siberians saliva test below 2.5 mcg
15% of Siberians saliva test below 1.0 mcg
4% of non Siberians saliva test below 2.5 mcg
0.25% of non Siberians saliva test below 1.0 mcg
Saliva Results for Siberians: 0.08 mcg - 27 mcg
Extremely low: 0.2 - 1.0
Very low: 1.0 - 1.7
Low level: 1.7 - 2.5
Medium Low: 2.5 - 4
Normal / High: 4 - 16
Very High: 16 - 27
What is the history of cats, In general?
The Personality of the Siberian
It may be that "nobody owns a cat," but scientists now say the popular pet has lived with people for 12,000 years.
If You Have Allergies...
People have a natural tendency to want to categorize things, to be able to name the group to which something belongs. And so it is with cats. We all want to be able to place a breed name on our favorite companion. But the truth is that the vast majority of cats in the United States are random-bred (often referred to as domestic) cats belonging to no breed whatsoever. This does not mean that is it a lesser cat, but that it simply is not a member of a defined breed.
We urge anyone with cat allergies to visit and pet our cats for a while, before making the decision to buy one in order to test for any reactions. We enjoy meeting people and the cats certainly enjoy the extra attention.
Please understand that hypoallergenic means
REDUCED ALLERGIC RESPONSE
It does NOT mean
NO ALLERGIC RESPONSE
More Recent Information On The Siberian Cat
Cats have the reputation of being independent and aloof, this in no way applies to the Siberian! Siberian cats are under-foot, in your face, very personable and want to be near their owners. They enjoy the company of children, dogs, and other animals. They are fearless and easygoing and not much disturbs their natural calm and equanimity. They seem to know when they are needed for psychological and moral support and spend time with the person who needs that support. They are a quiet breed that expresses themselves in a melodic way through sweet mews, trills, chirps, and lots of purring. If you take the time to talk to a Siberian they will talk back, and it doesn't take long to understand just what they are saying! All types of toys intrigue them, some learn to play fetch while others are intrigued by the moving cursor on the computer screen or sit and watch, entranced, as you type. We have a cat that loves to watch movies and will sit for hours doing just that! Acrobatic by nature, the Siberian will play hard, often executing amazing somersaults in pursuit of a feather toy. An over enthusiastic kitten may need to be rescued while attempting to climb the bricks on the fireplace or jump to the top of a bookshelf. Siberians stay playful throughout their lives. Because of their sweet, fearless, calm nature, and low allergen levels, Siberian cats are fast becoming the cat of choice in "Pet Therapy". They are also very quick to learn and are a real hoot at agility!
Siberian kittens of different age's. Most of the time kittens will play well together. Every once in a while though, older kittens will get a little rough and intervention is necessary.