International

felines are getting bigger and bigger

The cat is a good example of domestication: in 10,000 years, it has gone from solitary hunter to undisputed master of homes. Initially, cats were appreciated for their ability to hunt rodents away from crops, whereas now it is mostly for emotional reasons.

Between these two stages, we miss important elements, not only in terms of their journey, but also in how they have changed by attending humans.

However, a study shows that this proximity would have benefited cats (New Window) in a unique way in the history of domestication by allowing them to grow in size.

We are not talking here about weight gain related to an obesity phenomenon: since their domestication, cats seem to have seen their size increase by 16% compared to their distant ancestors.

More surprising still, this discovery was possible thanks to the special link that has been established between these felines … and the Vikings, these Scandinavian warriors and explorers who launched raids all over Europe during part of the Middle Ages.

From Egypt to Denmark

The domestic cat has been living with humans for at least 9500 years, but the various species found today are mainly domesticated animals in Egypt in the year 1500 BC.

According to work published in 2017 (New Window) , Egyptians may have specifically selected cats with the most docile behavior. By allowing only the least aggressive or least solitary animals to reproduce, they gradually transformed this wild and independent animal into a less feral species.

These cats then dispersed easily across Europe by being on board the boats to control rodents. This is how cats with Egyptian genetic origins came to Denmark in the 2nd century. Their numbers increased considerably at the beginning of the Viking Age, between the 8th and 11th centuries.

The Vikings particularly liked cats because they protected their boats and farms from vermin. And also, their coat was used in the manufacture of warm clothes.

The cat is a good example of domestication: in 10,000 years, it has gone from solitary hunter to undisputed master of homes. Initially, cats were appreciated for their ability to hunt rodents away from crops, whereas now it is mostly for emotional reasons.

Between these two stages, we miss important elements, not only in terms of their journey, but also in how they have changed by attending humans.

However, a study shows that this proximity would have benefited cats (New Window) in a unique way in the history of domestication by allowing them to grow in size.

We are not talking here about weight gain related to an obesity phenomenon: since their domestication, cats seem to have seen their size increase by 16% compared to their distant ancestors.

More surprising still, this discovery was possible thanks to the special link that has been established between these felines … and the Vikings, these Scandinavian warriors and explorers who launched raids all over Europe during part of the Middle Ages.

From Egypt to Denmark

The domestic cat has been living with humans for at least 9500 years, but the various species found today are mainly domesticated animals in Egypt in the year 1500 BC.

According to work published in 2017 (New Window) , Egyptians may have specifically selected cats with the most docile behavior. By allowing only the least aggressive or least solitary animals to reproduce, they gradually transformed this wild and independent animal into a less feral species.

These cats then dispersed easily across Europe by being on board the boats to control rodents. This is how cats with Egyptian genetic origins came to Denmark in the 2nd century. Their numbers increased considerably at the beginning of the Viking Age, between the 8th and 11th centuries.

The Vikings particularly liked cats because they protected their boats and farms from vermin. And also, their coat was used in the manufacture of warm clothes.