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History of domesticated cats

4 September 2015

Do cats really have nine lives? Do they always land on their feet? Are black cats lucky or unlucky? There are many myths and legends surrounding cats, but how have they ended up as one of the top three most popular household pets in the world today?

The Ancient Egyptians were the first to keep domesticated cats approximately 4,000 years ago. They were used to control vermin and other pests, and were worshipped as gods and goddesses – in fact the death penalty was imposed on anyone guilty of killing a cat, and cats were also mummified before being buried – a high honour indeed, originally reserved for kings and pharaohs.

 

The Ancient Egyptians were the first to keep domesticated cats

 

The Ancient Egyptians were the first to keep domesticated cats

 

Other ancient civilisations gradually began to domesticate the cat and tame felines were taken to Italy, and then slowly grew in popularity across Europe. They eventually arrived in the New World with the Pilgrim Fathers. Whilst the shorthaired domestic cat spread across the world from Egypt, longhaired cats came later from Turkey and Persia (now Iran). The domestic cat also spread from India to China and Japan.

During the Middle Ages, cats were persecuted for a period of time as they were associated with the devil but by the eighteenth century cats had become popular worldwide as household pets.

Non-pedigree domestic cats (moggies) are, according to statistics, the most popular household pet in the UK, accounting for approximately 92% of the cat population. There are also many recognised breeds of pedigree cats around the world with the Persian cat currently being the most popular here in the UK. 

 

The Persian cat is currently the most popular pedigree in the UK

The Persian cat is currently the most popular pedigree in the UK

 

Willows have a comprehensive range of Looking after your cat information sheets. These care guides cover such aspects as feeding, exercise, dental care, grooming, vaccination, worming, insurance, scratching and responsible pet ownership. There is also more specific information relating to the different life stages of your cat and they provide links to our more detailed Pet Health Information Sheets and other external sources of information. We hope you will enjoy using this resource.

Looking after your kitten

Looking after your cat

Looking after your pregnant cat

Looking after your senior cat