Our domestic cats are the most recently evolved species within the Felidae family.
The Felidae family as I mentioned before have 37 species in 18 genera belonging to 3 subfamilies, found worldwide except Antarctica but introduced to Australia. These 3 subfamilies are:
Pantherinae – these are the felines that roar – like tigers, lions, leopards and so on)
Felinae (all other small cats)
And Acinonychinae (Like the Cheetah)
The earlier ancestors of today’s domestic cats (Felis Catus) spread from southwest Asia and into Europe as early as 4400 BC. The cats likely started hanging around farming communities in the Fertile Crescent about 8000 years ago, where they settled into a mutually beneficial relationship with human as rodent patrol.
To find out more about how cats became our pets and other interesting facts about cats, listen to the episode on Anchor, Spotify or Google Podcats.
National Geographic, Britannica, Mental Floss
The Carnivores by R.F. Emer
Big Cats Genomic, research paper, Stephen J. O’Brien and Warren E. Johnson
How the Leopard got its spots: a phylogenetic view of the evolition of felid coat patterns, by Lois Wordelin and Lennart Olsson
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